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  • Adopted


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Committee on Education
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Committee on Education
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City Council
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City Council
Introduced by Council

Res. No. 208


Resolution calling on the New York City Department of Education to acknowledge the participation of Haitian soldiers in the Siege of Savannah and the impact of the Haitian Revolution on the Louisiana Purchase, by adding these events to the public schools’ social studies curriculum.


By Council Members Eugene, Louis and Rose

                     Whereas, The Republic of Haiti, located on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, was originally inhabited by the indigenous Taíno people when Christopher Columbus established a Spanish settlement, which was the first colony in the New World, in 1492; and

                     Whereas, By 1550, only 150 out of hundreds of thousands Taíno remained on the island after being subjected to forced labor, abuse, hunger, mass killings and diseases against which they had no immunity; and

Whereas, In the early 16th century, the Spanish began to forcibly transport large groups of enslaved Africans, most of whom came from Senegambia, Guinea and Congo-Angolan (Bantu) areas, to work in mines and on sugar plantations on Hispaniola; and

Whereas, By the late 17th century, following attacks by the British, Dutch and French and a devastating earthquake in 1591, much of Hispaniola had become unpopulated and the colony increasingly unprofitable, unstable, and neglected by the Spanish, who had become more concerned with extracting gold in present day Central America and Mexico; and

Whereas, In 1697, Spain officially ceded the western portion of Hispaniola to the French, who founded the colony of St. Domingue and created the modern day border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic on the island; and

Whereas, Over the next 100 years, St. Domingue became the most profitable colony in the Americas due to its successful slave-based sugar and coffee industries, which demanded more slave labor and eventually created a 10-to-1 ratio of slaves to free people on the island; and

Whereas, More than 500 freemen from St. Domingue fought alongside the United States (U.S.) Continental Army against the British Army during the Siege of Savannah in 1779, one of the most significant foreign contributions to the Revolutionary War; and

Whereas, On August 22, 1791, an organized slave rebellion, led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, broke out in St. Domingue, marking the start of a 12 year resistance, which culminated not only in the proclamation of independence but also the abolishment of slavery in Haiti; and

                     Whereas, On January 1, 1804, President Jean Jacques Dessalines declared the new Republic of Haiti’s independence from France to become the only republic to rise from a successful slave rebellion, the world’s first Black republic in the Western Hemisphere and the second independent democracy in the Americas after the U.S. in 1783; and

                     Whereas, The significant loss of life and financial burden of the failed efforts to quell the Haitian Revolution prompted France to sell the territory of Louisiana to the U.S. in 1803, a territory that now comprises 22.3 percent of the country; and

                     Whereas, Major Joseph Savary, a Haitian, was the first Black Major in the U.S. Army, and led the Second Battalion of Freemen of Color at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, under then-General Andrew Jackson; and

                     Whereas, The acclaimed naturalist and wildlife artist John James Audubon, a Haitian, inspired the American conservation society that bears his name; and

                     Whereas, Activist, civil rights leader and famed writer of Haitian descent, W.E.B. Du Bois became the editor of the magazine The Crisis in 1910 in New York City (NYC), aimed at exposing the widespread prejudice against persons of color, and which became a major publication critiquing segregation and advocating for civil rights, women’s rights and labor rights; and

                     Whereas, NYC native and famed artist of Haitian descent, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a leader of the neo-expressionist movement during the 1980s, working with other major artists including Andy Warhol, with major exhibits at the Whitney Museum of American Art; and

Whereas, Haiti has a rich history that has significantly impacted geopolitical trajectory of the Western Hemisphere; and

Whereas, Haitians and their descendants have made great contributions to NYC and to the U.S. throughout its history, from major achievements in the arts, athletics, culture, music and science, to social advancement for persons of African descent, to leadership in elected offices from the local to the national level; and

Whereas, According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2009, New York had second largest population of Haitian-Americans with nearly 100,000 foreign-born Haitians and more than 140,000 persons of Haitian descent living in NYC; and

Whereas, The NYC Department of Education services a diverse student population and strives to create an inclusive environment that values the experience, perspective and contributions of all peoples; and                     

Whereas, Social Studies is the study of history, geography, economics, government and civics, and of people and events that have individually and collectively shaped the U.S. and the world; and

                     Whereas, A strong and effective social studies program helps students make sense of the world in which they live, allows them to make connections between major ideas and their own lives, and it helps them see themselves as active members of a global community; and

                     Whereas, Students engaged and challenged in historical thinking, consider many perspectives and cultivate decision-making skills that will serve them well as participating citizens of a democracy; and

                     Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls on the New York City Department of Education to acknowledge the participation of Haitian soldiers in the Siege of Savannah and the impact of the Haitian Revolution on the Louisiana Purchase, by adding these events to the public schools’ social studies curriculum.



LS #3530