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HAITIANS

 

by Carl A. Brasseaux

Haitian immigrants have established a significant community in New Orleans over the past two centuries. These emigrants from Hispañola are by no means the first to reach Louisiana. During a six-month period in 1809, approximately 10,000 refugees from Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) arrived at New Orleans, doubling the Crescent City's population. Approximately one-third of the refugees were white, an additional one-third were free persons of color, and the remaining one-third were slaves (primarily domestics). The vast majority of these refugees established themselves permanently in the Crescent City.

The early nineteenth-century immigrants had a profound impact upon New Orleans' development. Refugees established the state's first newspaper and introduced opera into the Crescent City. They also appear to have played a role in the development of Creole cuisine and the perpetuation of voodoo practices in the New Orleans area. More importantly, they were responsible for preserving the city's French character for several generations.


 
 
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