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From owner-haiti@lists.webster.edu Mon Feb 3 11:00:24 2003
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 08:34:38 -0600 (CST)
From: Bob Corbett <corbetre@webster.edu>
To: Haiti mailing list <haiti@lists.webster.edu>
Subject: 14663: Burnham: Jorge Biassou in Florida (fwd)
Sender: owner-haiti@lists.webster.edu

From: thor burnham <thorald_mb@hotmail.com>


A moment in black history: General Jorge Biassou

By David Nolan, The Record, [3 February 2003]

Everyone has heard of Gen. Colin Powell. But did you know that two centuries before Colin Powell there was a black general in St. Augustine? His name was Jorge Biassou, and he was one of the leaders of the slave uprising in Haiti in the 1790s, recruiting Toussaint L’Ouverture to the cause. In the twists and turns of international politics, Biassou became a Spanish general.

He came to St. Augustine in 1796 and stayed until his death in 1801. He was the second highest-paid official of the colony. He lived in the Salcedo House on St. George Street (a reconstruction of that building now houses Whetstone’s Chocolates), and commanded a free black militia out of Fort Matanzas (now run by the National Park Service). His funeral was held at the Catholic Cathedral and he was buried at Tolomato Cemetery on Cordova Street. Alas, there is no marker celebrating this black general at any of these places.

Biassou has not only been written about by Jane Landers in her book Black Society in Spanish Florida, but also figured as a character in the 1995 novel All Souls Rising by Madison Smartt Bell, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

David Nolan is a St. Augustine author and historian. For the past 25 years, he has collected and written about the black history of St. Augustine drawing from personal interviews and oral histories, microfilms and news clippings of The St. Augustine Record and The Florida Times-Union, the files of the St. Augustine Historical Society Research Library, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, Atlanta, and other resources from around the United States.