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Alums Triumphant Return: Jared Hardesty Addresses Western Civ Series

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jared Hardesty, who graduated from ONU with a major in History in 2008, returned to give the Western Civilization talk on Tuesday April 13. Jared, who is currently working on his Ph.D. at Boston College, delivered a talk titled "The Horrors of St. Domingue: Haiti, Racial Revolution, and the West.

Despite some early technical problems outside of his control, Jared delivered a virtuoso performance. He told gathered students and faculty of the repercussions of the successful slave revolt in Haiti (1791-1804), which included the flight of white residents to Cuba and later the United States. Many of these refugees had artistic and literary skills and so the impact of the revolution's brutality grew in the telling and showing, causing slave owners in the U.S. to have increased paranoia of a slave revolt there. Among the lurid tales they told to newspapers were accounts of rape, brutality, and cannibalism, that increased fears of such atrocities at the hands of American slaves.

Jared began with a summary of the events leading up to the refugee's flight, including the role of Toussaint L'Ouverture, who won early victories over the Europeans, the LeClerc Expedition, which stopped in Haiti on their way to garrison the Louisiana Territory, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who completed the revolution and threatened to execute all white residents. Along the way, he told the audience how the slave revolution fit into the larger story of Western Civilization. The white refugees fled to Cuba and safety, but their troubles were not over, and the Spanish administration of Cuba expelled them after Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Spain. Many of the refugees finally settled in the U.S., where they began spreading their stories of slave atrocities.

The Haiti Revolution had important consequences for the France and the U.S. Napoleon's plans for occupying the Louisiana Territory had to be canceled and the U.S. ended up buying the territory for only $15 Million dollars. Also, news of the only successful slave revolution in world history encouraged further slave rebellions, such as Gabriel Prosser's unsuccessful attempt in 1800.

Student comments were uniformly favorable, and faculty members were pleased to see what a professional Jared has become. We expect great things of him, and his skill in delivering this lecture only reinforced those expectations. Well done Jared and best of luck in your continued studies!