FALL, 2002


Teronie Donaldson
ENG 24
Fall, 2002


            Picture yourself as an African American (black) in the 1960’s during the height of social unrest between the United States government and African-American people in American society. The utter feeling of helplessness in not being able to fight back against the vast racism, bitter looks, police brutality and other abuses you as a black individual would encounter on a daily basis.  Now imagine during all this negativity a glimmer of hope shines in your direction by the way of a newly formed group of fellow African Americans, in your same predicament, named the Black Panther Party for self defense, whose sole purpose is to try to get you the rights you are meant to have and fight back against this racist American society.  Wouldn’t you start to gain a little but of hope in the future, now that other fellow blacks are teaching you self-awareness and coming to the rescue in helping you fight back?

Thesis: Through their idea of self-defense and their Ten Point program, the Black Panther Party of the 1960’s had a positive and lasting impact on African American society.

History:  Origin of Black Panther Party.

The Black Panther Party (BPP) was born in the 1960’s, a period of stress when black people were moving away from the philosophy and strategy of non-violent action toward sterner action against the United States government.  The Black Panther Party was a progressive political organization that spearheaded the most powerful movement for social change in America since the civil war and the revolution of 1776.

The BPP was formed by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California, October 1966.  The formation came in the wake of the assassination of Malcolm X, (a black leader who was a great influence on the party ideals), on the heels of the massive black uprising in Watts, California – and at the height of the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Newton and Seale developed the skeletal outline for this organization, originally named the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.  The Black Panther had been the symbol of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, formed by the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Alabama in 1965.  SNCC selected the black panther as the emblem of its organization, and the Black Panther party chose the name because the panther is reputed to be an animal that never makes an unprovoked attack but will defend itself vehemently when attacked (Pinkney p99). Another symbol that was used by the BPP was the raised black fist, this symbolized power and unity. Usually the Party would chant “Power to the People” while raising their fists.

            The BPP combined elements of socialism and Black Nationalism, insisting that if government and businesses did not provide full employment, the community should take over the means of production.  These elements resulted in their support of the Black Liberation Movement (BLM).  BLM promoted the development of strong black – controlled institutions, calling for blacks to work together to protect their rights and improve their economic and social conditions.  The BPP also emphasized class unity, criticizing the black middle class for acting against the interest of other less fortunate blacks.  Newton was the BPP’s minister of defense and Seale was its chairman. 

            Newton and Seale, shortly after forming the Party, outlined a Ten Point Platform and Program to help black people establish fundamental change in America. The ideology of the party embraces some aspects of other revolutionary movements and ideologies, particularly Marxism-Leninism, but black unity and black autonomy are at the core of its platform and program (Pinkney p98). The BPP’s overall goals were to advocate black self-defense and restructure American society to make it more politically, economically and socially equal.

Principles of Self-Defense

            Due to Malcolm X’s huge influence on Newton and Seale, the two men decided to employ self-defense as one of the party’s main reason for existing.  The term “self defense” was employed to distinguish the party’s philosophy from the non-violent theme of the civil rights group (the Louisiana based) Deacons for Defense.

            BPP’s idea of self-defense was caused by the strong need to protect themselves from the police, other law enforcement, and the racist way of American life.  During that time (60’s) there was a violent white backlash, manifested in the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, endorsed by the benign neglect of President Nixon and Congress, codified in the so called Black codes. These codes led to the rampant lynching of blacks, blatant denial to blacks of every civil right, including the right to vote, worship and use public facilities.

            From these events, blacks waged fierce survival struggles in America, creating various groups such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) of Marcus Garvey. NAACP’s purpose was to promote the integration of blacks into society as full, first-class citizens and the UNIA’s purpose was to promote the independence of blacks and eventually a return to Africa.  However, no other group was like the BPP, with respect to their defense strategy.  The BPP was the first black group to carry weapons.  Newton studied law, thus he knew that according to Amendment II in the constitution:

 A well regulated militia, being necessary to security of a Free State, the Right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

            This amendment supported the BPP’s right to carry weapons, and indeed they did.         It wasn’t uncommon to hear of the police brutalizing a person to death for no reason at all. The BPP would patrol the black ghetto areas with guns and law books to protect blacks from police brutality.  The neighborhood watch by the panthers proved to be very useful.  In fact, they saved many lives.

Partial Liberation

            The BPP was the first black group in history to carry guns.  This open show of their weapons was a bold message to law enforcement, saying that we will kill if need be to protect our communities.  The BPP gained their notoriety on May 2, 1967, when thirty Panthers protesting a bill; introduced by an Oakland district representative in the States legislature, Don Mulford, “prohibiting the carrying of loaded firearms on ones person or in a vehicle in any public place or on any public street” (Brisbane p203), later known as the Mulford Act, marched into the California State Capital in Sacramento, armed with loaded weapons and wearing their distinctive black leather jackets and black berets. Out of the thirty panthers, there were six females and twenty-four males. Among them all, only twenty were armed. Newton wasn’t present due to the party’s fear of him getting shot. However, Seale was present. After the thirty marched into the capital, Seale read a statement of their treatment by police and their party’s goal.  After this statement, all of the thirty panthers were arrested. News coverage of this incident opened up national attention to the BPP.  Also, the BPP started to gain “liberation”. They were loved by the oppressed blacks, young and other minority groups of different color. Yet they were hated and feared by the FBI. The FBI director of that time, J. Edger Hoover stated that “The BPP is the greatest threat to internal security of the United States and must be stopped” (Pinkney).


Upon the coverage of the incident, BPP started to attract recruits, leading to the formation of new chapters outside the San Francisco Bay Area and eventually throughout the country. BPP received a vast increase in membership by the thousands—mainly the youngsters. The young people were an important factor to the BPP uprising. They were tired of the normal treatments that the protestors received. The nonviolent blacks and other civil rights workers and demonstrators were being beaten and water hosed by police, spat on and put in jail, merely for protesting social injustices. Thus, the young were ready to fight. The uprising also gained momentum due to the free Huey movement. Newton was shot in the stomach and later arrested in the murder of a police officer. He was also shot]. The free Huey movement caused the vast unity of everyone for the same cause. Hundreds of thousands of blacks and whites had marched through out the streets of Oakland chanting “Free Huey” and all over America in support of this BPP’s cause.

The Ten Point Program and Platform and their Relevancy

     On October 15, 1966 Newton and Seale finalized a draft of the BPP’s Ten Point Program and Platform. The objective for the program and platform was to establish the fundamental want and needs for the black community. This manifesto demanded the express needs be met and oppression of blacks be ended immediately. The points were listed in a specific order, however an achievement of any by the party, was looked upon as a success.

The Ten Points were listed as follows:

1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our blacks and oppressed communities (Brisbane p197).

Relevancy:  The BPP believed that black and oppressed people would never be free unless they could control their own way of life. BPP strongly believed that the self-sufficiency of the individual would make the group that much stronger.  

2. We want full employment for our people (Brisbane p197).

Relevancy: The BPP felt that the government was obligated to give everyone employment or a guaranteed income. This point is derived from point 1, according to the self- sufficiency.

3. We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our black and oppressed communities (Brisbane p197).

Relevancy: The BPP believed they were owed some sort of restoration by the government. The money that would be collected would be distributed through out the black community.

4. We want decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings (Brisbane p197).

Relevancy:  Many black people were living in poor conditions with poor facilities. Some of these places were not even fit to live in. Buildings weren’t up to code. The BPP wanted to the people in these neighborhoods, with government funding to run the operations of the area.

5. We want decent education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society (Brisbane p197).

Relevancy:  The education in the textbooks and school system was withholding the true history of the African American people. BPP felt that if people didn’t have knowledge of self. They would have little chance to know anything else and have an inferior position in the world.

6. We want completely free health care for all black and oppressed people (Brisbane p197).

Relevancy: The BPP felt this was extremely important for the wellness of people, especially the poor who could not afford health care. These people were the most susceptible to diseases.

7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murdered of black people, other people of color, all oppressed people inside the United States (Brisbane p197).

Relevancy: Around this time, police were brutalizing black people at alarming rates and they felt that it should be stopped immediately.

8. We want an immediate end to all wars of aggression (Brisbane p197).

Relevancy: The BPP felt there was no need for the Vietnam War. Their whole philosophy was that we shouldn’t kill others who are oppressed in the same position as we were.

9. We want freedom for all black and oppressed people now held in U. S. Federal State, County, City and military prisons and jails. We want trials by a jury of peers for all persons charged with so called crimes under the laws of this country (Brisbane p197).

Relevancy: The BPP felt that many people, especially minorities were wrongly accused for crimes that were not committed and were charged by a biased jury. The party felt that everyone should get a fail trail and be judged accordingly.

10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace, and peoples community control of modern technology (Brisbane p197).

Relevancy: Basically, this is the summarization of all the points. They wanted equality and a chance in the world. 

The Positive Contributions of the BPP

            The BPP had a very huge influence on American society, although indirectly, the panthers were responsible for the changes in mass organizing techniques, and propaganda techniques. In addition, the panthers had a practice of women equality. 

The BPP’s mass organizing techniques were simply their way of serving the people. The panthers genuinely went to poor neighborhoods and helped the residents find solutions to their own problems. It was through these techniques that the panthers started up community programs such as free clinics, free breakfast for children and free clothing drives. The panthers were well known to travel in groups. These group gatherings were very effective in campaigning to stop drugs, crimes and police brutality in black neighborhoods. The influence gave many poor blacks people hope for the future, and made the party influence spread far beyond the actual membership.

The field of propaganda was one in which the BPP developed many techniques. The party would spread its message through print media, by way of their own newspaper entitled The Black Panther, and by radio and television. They would also spread their message and ideas through mass rallies, speeches, posters and various different art forms, and symbols such as the black fist. 

The BPP was one of the few large groups, in history, to employ the practice of women’s rights. The Party showed women the deepest of respects during the time when the whole country was in heated debates on women’s liberation issues. Also, this was at a time when other black groups considered a woman’s role to be behind the male or in the home. Panther women would accompany men to all the events. In Addition, woman were a part of the major decision making in the organization.  The party would have women in high places in their organization and would advocate the same treatment for them in other positions in society. This support of women by a popular party would have a profound effect on the way woman were viewed in society for years to come.  As a result, most companies and organizations select women as their leaders, managers or other positions of high power.    


The BPP had a positive effect on the lives of many African Americans and other oppressed peoples. Their influence was great in bringing about changes such as equal treatment for blacks and women, another major change was the permanent adoption of free breakfast and free health care programs by the U.S. government. The BPP was a thorn in the government’s side but a blessing to black people. Their ideology provided blacks with a more concrete way of looking at and analyzing the world. Their impact has lasted until this day. Due to BPP’s negative depiction of police through art and advertisements, police reputation suffered. Because of this that law enforcement and other government officials now make an active effort to recruit blacks as part of the force, in efforts to rehabilitate their image. The BPP had a positive effect on a nation outside blacks. It can easily be said that the BPP wasn’t just an organization it stood for a new way of life, a new hope and most importantly black liberation.  In the words of Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, “POWER TO THE PEOPLE!”.

Works Cited

Brisbane, H. Robert. Black Activism Racial Revolution in the United States 1954-1970. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1974.

Hamilton, Charles V, “Black Panther Party” The World Encyclopedia. Vol. 2, 1997  p.257 http://www.blackpanther.org/ArtlandBooks.html

Jones, E. Charles.  The Black Panther Party [Reconsidered]. Baltimore:  Black Classic Press. 1998.

            Newton, P. Huey. Revolutionary Suicide.  New York:  Writers and Readers Publishing Inc., 1995

            Pinkney, Alphonso. Red, Black and Green: Black Nationalism in the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

            Seale, Bobby.  Seize The Time The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton.  United States: Random

Merla Monize
ENG 24
Fall, 2002

Past and present roles of American women

Today, the average American young woman spends a great amount of her time fantasizing about what her life will be like in the near future. Many have it all planned out: a college education, a promising career, a meaningful relationship, the list goes on. Most of them are unaware that not too long ago society denied women the opportunities to be what they could be, or to do what they could do. A women’s destiny was already determined, even before she was born. She would be treated as a possession instead of a person who had the ability to think and make decisions. Today, women’s roles are continually changing in America. The efforts of several important women have contributed significantly to this change.

Since colonial America, women were considered the weaker sex. Their primary roles were wifehood and motherhood. Other roles were teachers, seamstresses, and mid wives, whenever necessary.  They were expected to be private and to help soften their husband’s characters. Assertive women were labeled as law breakers and were often prosecuted. Ann Hutchinson was such a person. She began to verbally oppose the way the bible was taught in the 16th century. She was later arrested and found guilty of heresy, which resulted in her death (Davison 75). Another was Margaret Sanger who crusaded to have birth control information available to all women. She was viewed by many as the devil’s advocate, a promoter of promiscuity and evil.  She was threatened with imprisonment so she fled to England.

Despite the fact that these women had limited choices, their responsibilities in their home were exhausting, especially if their husbands were plantation owners. Once a woman got married, she was expected to run the house and be in charge of all the home responsibilities. This was a tiresome task for many women, especially if they had many children.          

This early attitude towards women originated with the early Christian theologians. St Jerome, a 4th century Latin father of the Christian church, said: “women are the gate of the devil, the path of wickedness, the sting of the serpent, in a world a perilous object.” Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century Christian theologian also said that woman was “created to be a man’s helpmate, but her unique role is conception…. Since for other purposes men would be better assisted by other men,” (qtd. in WIC 1). Because Christianity was an important part of this society, many people complied by the church’s rules.  Nevertheless, in England and other parts of Europe some women were beginning to enjoy power and prestige such as Queen Elizabeth of England and Catherine the great of Russia. In America women were becoming interested in the Market Revolution, which contributed significantly to changes in their roles.

The market revolution in the 1800s brought many women into the industrialized world. Factory owners began to hire mainly women workers because they were less demanding than men. Many worked in textile factories. Some of them opened boarding houses to house the many workers who were leaving their homes to live in the newly industrialized society.  The women were from all walks of life. Some were widows. Some were brides-to-be who needed extra money to buy necessities for their weddings. Others worked to help educate a male family member. At first working outside the home was a sign of shame for many of these women, but after getting their first pay check their attitudes began to change. They began to see themselves as independent women, capable of providing for themselves, capable of having different roles in society. Some even began to educate themselves. Even though many of these women enjoyed working outside the home, they suffered unfair treatments from their employers. This caused many women to begin striking and protesting which provided opportunities for women to begin venting their feelings (Robinson 1).      

By the mid 1800s, women began to speak out publicly against the way they were being treated in their societies. In the northeastern United State several women’s rights organizations were formed, which led to the enfranchisement of women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone were two leaders of these organizations. They campaigned against women’s inequality, and demanded a wide range of changes in women’s social, moral, legal, educational and economic status. Their most extreme demand was the right to vote. These women were determined and rallied repetitiously for equality. They believed that all women and all men were created equally, and it was time society treated women as human beings and not objects. The struggle went on for several years with one disappointment after another. In July 1848 a major convention was held in Seneca Falls in NY, which resulted in the rectification of the19th amendment. This gave women the right to vote, as well as the rights to equal education and job opportunities. This was a great accomplishment for the feminist movement. It was a step in the right direction which eventually opened more doors for women.

The rectification of the 19th amendment has contributed significantly to the continually changing roles of women today. Education availability has encouraged many women to attend schools and other educational institutions. Even though many are mothers and homemakers, once educated they feel the need to work outside the home. Some have careers that were previously dominated only by men, (such as doctors, lawyers, judges, business owners and politicians).  Some are even serving in the United State armed forces. Women who have not completed their education still have opportunities to have certain careers of their choice. Many believe that they can balance both career and homemaker roles.

Geraldine Ferraro is a former vice presidential candidate whose life is an example of how women’s roles have changed. She was born in Newbergh, New York on August 26, 1935. Her father died when she was eight years old, so she was raised by her mother, who worked as a seamstress. Geraldine prospered academically. She finished high school at 16 and won a college scholarship. She later became a teacher. During this time she put herself through law school. Not long after, she got married and had three children. She spent thirteen years at home raising her children. She later joined the Queens County District Attorney’s office. In 1978 she was elected to congress and served three terms in the House of Representatives then she ran for Vice President. Gereldine Ferraro did not become vice president, but being a candidate was one of the top roles in her life.  In the 1990s, she was appointed by President Clinton to lead the United States delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Former President Clinton’s wife is another good example of how women roles are continually changing. Hilary Rodham Clinton, a mother and wife has been a very prominent person in politics since 1992. While her husband was president she was asked to chair the Task Force on National Health Care Reform.  She is currently serving the United States as a New York senator. She was elected in November 2000. According to Mrs. Clinton, “Our lives are a mixture of different roles. Most of us are doing the best they can to find whatever the right balance is …For me that balance is family, work, and service.” (qtd. White House). Hilary Rodham Clinton continues to balance public service with private life.

A new era now is in effect. American women are realizing that they can have anything they desire. Not only are desires being satisfied, but women are recognizing that they are capable of succeeding in any role. Society is also accepting these changes, which is a plus for American women. Today, one may say the American women have no excuse to reach their fullest potential, because women of the past have paved the way for them to fulfill their wildest dreams!

Works Cited

Davison, William, Christine, Mark and Michael Stoff. Nations of Nations. NewYork: Mc Graw Hill, 2002.

Robenson, Harriet. Lowell Mill girls.  03 Dec. 2002.Fordham edu.http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/robinson-lowell.html.

Spruill, Marjorie. The History of the Suffrage Movement.  15 Oct. 2002.PBS org. http://www.pbs.org/onewoman/suffrage.html.

White House. Hilary Rodham Clinton. 13 Nov. 2002. http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/firstlady/hc42.html

Women’s International Center. Women’s History in America. 26 Sept. 2002. http://www.wic.org/misc/history.htm.

Taisiya Kapelevich
ENG 24
Fall, 2002

 The Effect of a Soviet Union Collapse on Russian economy

            The former (U.S.S.R) was a union of fifteen countries with one flag, leadership of Russia and the capital-Moscow. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse that played a major role in world politics. The government was run by the Bolshevik Communist Party that was inspired by theories of Karl Marx and the communist manifesto written in 1848. The union of the countries disintegrated in 1991. This period is known as the collapse of the Soviet Union, when most of the states became independent countries. Despite the collapse, Moscow, the capital of U.S.S.R became the capital of the Russian Federation that is still one of the biggest countries in the world. The economics of the Soviet Union ran on the bases of communist principles that suggest that the government controls and owns factories and industry. The government was also responsible, for the wealth of the people, their education, salaries and health under the theories of equality that meant to protect the proletarian class. Today, on the other hand, Russia tries to move into a capitalist economy that enterprises taking the property from the government and run privately based free economy. That politics of Russian government leaves most of the population with economic difficulties and below the line of poverty.

            Karl Marx developed his socialist theories in the middle of the Industrial Revolution in Europe and gathered his ideas in the famous Communist Manifesto of 1848. “Karl Marx developed his theories in the midst of industrial revolution Europe” (Russia & The Soviet Union 160). Marx was outraged that the promises of fraternity, equality and liberty in Europe by leaders, who saw themselves as enlightened, especially in France, ended with more exploitation and misery for the working class. Marx predicted that in order to achieve the ultimate reality- socialism, the world would have to pass 5 stages: “primitive communal or clan society, slave- holding society, feudalism, capitalism and socialism” (Russia and The Soviet Union 161). Capitalism, according to Marx, would be overthrown in favor of communism and the class of the proletarians by that time would be the majority of the population. The goods of the state would be owned by the people, and controlled by their government. “In the new socialist society all its citizens own the productive forces, thereby liberating them from the artificial constrains on production imposed by the capitalists” (Russia and the Soviet Union 161).

            The Bolshevik party created the Soviet Union. It was a party led by Vladimir Ilieych Lenin and the communist theories. Lenin created the Soviet Union with a victory in the October 1917 revolution. This revolution occurred a few months after the Karensky revolution that had brought to power the provisional government and bourgeois leaders.

            The Soviet Union was an empire. The leaders understood imperialism in Leninist terms and, therefore, were not happy to be called names popular for westerners. The Soviet Union was an empire that stood against the western capitalist world- an enemy by theories and ideology. “The union of Soviet Socialist Republics was the great enemy of this world, the leader of the socialist camp” (Empire 288). ”From 1945 to 1991 it was recognized as one of the world’s two super powers” (Empire 289). After the Second World War the U.S.S.R, under Yosef Vaseryonovich Dgukashvilly (Stalin) (1879-1953), annexed most of east Europe and also since “it played the biggest role in defeating Nazi Germany’s bid to dominate Europe” earned its title of an “empire”.

            Despite the Soviet Union’s great power and abilities, its collapse in 1991, and the attempt to transform it  to a capitalist economy, brought a disaster and a situation that caused most of its population to drop below the line of poverty. Common people did not have access to the sources of wealth, only a small percentage of those who were close to power were able to gain their wealth on selling the country’s natural resources like oil and iron.  This was the main reason for emerge of the overall poverty in the country with a very small number of those possessing great wealth. “The average citizen was forced to work at more than one job, to barter or sell personal possessions, and to rely on garden plots to survive. The Gaide team freed almost all prices in January-February 1992, a step that soon succeeded in restocking the empty stores with domestic and imported consumer goods (although often at prices out of reach of most citizens)” (Russia and the Soviet Empire 293-294).

            The new situation enabled those who succeeded to have money to become rich fast, in comparison with the common people that barely survived. This new situation was a major deterioration from the situation in the Soviet Union when the government secured houses, food, education and health services for all its citizens. The former Bolshevik government did it because it was its mission to protect the poor and exploited. Lenin had said in his decree after the October revolution that the Soviet power would recognize the “declaration of rights of the toiling and exploited people” (The Western Heritage 918).

            After the collapse of the Soviet Union the situation deteriorated and most of the population struggled to earn food. New investors implemented capitalist measures in order to become rich in a short period of time. These new investors operated with no mercy and with no attention to great suffering of the common population; “the new entrepreneurs proceeded to discover rich opportunities and to prosper, even when the bulk of the population suffered” (The history of Russia 627). People suffered and although the situation improved a little, still suffer to this day. Many people look for opportunities to leave Russia and try to build their lives in western countries. “As a result, hundreds of thousands of east Europeans have migrated to Western Europe looking for work” (The Western Heritage 1109). The movement of desperate people from Russia and Eastern Europe brought problems like violence and resentment to the western countries, "in response to ethnic tensions, western countries have restricted immigration” (The Western Heritage 1109)

            When the countries like Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia that were members of the Soviet Union considered their future independence, the opinions were divided between those who wanted independence and those who wanted to remain subordinated to Russia. The elite played an important part in these countries’ decisions; those afraid that without the support of the superb Soviet military they would lose an ability to maintain power. The population felt sort of secure under the supervision of the powerful “Mama Russia”, and had doubts about the independent future of their countries, “neither the indigenous population nor most of the republican elite wanted independence” (Empire 383).

            Throughout the history, economic issues were more critical in making decisions than the thesis of nationalism, considered very important in decisions of the national state period. In the late 1880-s, Germany and its then leader William II sent his countrymen to explore the oceans only in order to earn  “a place under sun” for the country. France’s Louie Napoleon III went to a war against Germany and the famous Otto Von Bismarck only to protect his country's respect after Von Bismarck’s ploy of the embracing Ems telegram. It is amazing to see the Russian population that lived in the Baltic parts of the Soviet Union (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia). These people were willing to give up the power of their country – Russia, and give independence to the Baltic countries because of the chance to make money as a result of the free market after the independence, “In the Baltic republics, where this clearly was the case, much of the Russian population believed it would benefit from the economic prosperity to be expected from independence” (Empire 383). Later, this prediction proved to be a mistake. Except for some cases in the Baltic countries, in most of the Soviet Republics outside of Russia, people who owned and directed factories and other businesses lost their positions as a result of Moscow’s loss of power in the countries which declared independence. “The link with Moscow was cut, and the factories themselves were crippled by economic collapse and in no position to rally Russians against republican government.”

            The attempt to change the economy of the former Soviet Union to a free market economy, many times at the expense of nationalism, has proven to be unsuccessful. The government is not in control of many of its resources like oil, iron and especially weapons of  mass dysfunction. As a result, few people control the capital of the country while the majority struggles to get food for their families. Common people are often dependent on bosses for minimum security “Meanwhile the state does not even always pay its own employees, let alone provide security for the ordinary citizen” (Empire 404).

            The new bosses of the “capitalist era” are often involved in crime and the procedure of racketeering in one way or another. That, without the presence of a strong and powerful government to protect citizens, allows the strong people to get stronger at the expense of the weak and needy. Many times, opening a business for a common person is impossible because of the large amounts of “protection” money that he needs to pay to the “local boss”. If one refuses to pay protection money, he or she might come in the morning to his business, only to see that it was totally destroyed. There is also an opinion to get severely hurt for not obeying the “local boss” “so may the regional boss be: certainly he may well have links to the criminal world (Empire 406).

            The future of Russia is not clear. Those who care for this great country and its fascinating history, culture, literature and nature would like to ignore a future scenario that would compare the country’s destiny with that of Nigeria. This country is ruled by the group of very rich people. All they do is multiply their wealth, while most of the people have no money or jobs and some even starve. The lose of patriotism by Russians, as mentioned above (like those who preferred independence of the Baltic countries at the expense of the pride of their nation), the weaknesses of the state that has problems in feeding the population and the corruption of those who earn money by any means- including crime, brings up a lot of fears for the future of Russia. “A worst case scenario sees Russia as a sort of Nigeria, its vast potential resources squandered by the weaknesses of the state, the gross corruption of the elite, and the total collapse of any sense of patriotism or public service in the population”(Empire 407).

            The destruction of the stabilized Soviet system brought security, food, health and high levels of education to the Soviet people, especially those living in Russia. Nevertheless, the system was proven to be a fatal mistake. The attempts to implement capitalist methods in Russia have so far been a disaster with vicious implications for the majority of the Russian population. Despite all, there is hope for Russia. If one reviews the history of Russia, he or she can learn that through thousands of years, Russia had many struggles, battles and wars, but always came out as a winner.

Works Cited

Lieven, Dominic. Empire. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001

Riasanaovsky, Nicholas V. A History of Russain.6th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002

Thompson, John M. Russia & the Soviet Union. 4th ed. United Kingdom: Westview Press, 1998

Daphney D. Wilson
ENG 24
Fall, 2002

The Haitian Revolution

  Haiti was the first sovereign Caribbean nation to overthrow colonial power through a revolutionary uprising in 1791. The Haitian Revolution had tremendous repercussions in many arenas of the world, but especially was a stepping-stone for Black slaves. It began as a rebellion against slavery and French plantation owners, but became a political revolution, which lasted for twelve arduous years and resulted in independence from France.  Through its thirteen years of both internal and international strife, Haiti overthrew both its colonial status as well as its economic system and in doing so established a new country, the republic of Haiti.


By the late 1700s, the French colony of Saint Domingue (the colonial name of Haiti) had developed into the richest European colony in the western hemisphere. Driven by slave labor and an extensive system of sugar and coffee plantations, Saint Domingue exported more wealth than all of the British North American colonies combined.

The background to the revolution laid in the sharp social divisions of the country.  According to Bob Corbett (1), when the French Revolution broke out in 1789, four distinct sets of interest groups existed: The whites (20,000), The free people of color (30,000), The black slaves (500,000), and The maroons (approximately 10,000).

    While the upper class whites enjoyed a life of extravagance and luxury in Saint Domingue, the black slaves were laboring long sweltering days in the fields, dying from overwork and inadequate food. The free people of color were allowed to own property and actually became masters of plantations and slaves. Yet, although wealthy, they resented being treated differently than the whites. Each group felt the others to be its enemy. The planters hated the officials, despised the poor whites, distrusted the growing wealth of coloreds and feared the slaves. The coloreds and poor whites wanted the privileges of the planters. The slaves, especially on St Domingue, had revolted several times and were ready to do so again. As Professor Geggus states “ slaves claimed that the government in Europe had abolished slavery but that local slave owners were preventing the island governor from implementing he new law.” (qtd. in Knight 6). This was the uneasy situation when revolution broke out in France in 1789. 


The outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 brought about great change in the wealthy French slave colony.  The white population was split into the elite and middle class. The elite supported the King, while the middle class supported the revolutionaries, or Jacobins. With the colony’s rulers weakened by internal conflicts after a legendary Voodoo ceremony in 1971 under the Boukman (Creole slaves), the black slaves rebelled against their owners, killing whites and destroying plantations and crops. C.L.R. James claims the idea (similar to Viktor Frankl) that the slaves seeked salvation through the destruction of what they knew was the cause of their sufferings. (88) The whites that weren’t killed fled to France. More than 1,000 plantations were burned. Ferocious fighting between the various groups continued while Great Britain and Spain both sent invasion forces, hoping to take over the French colony.

Furthermore, in September 1971, while the rebellion was still confined to the north, the National Assembly gave political rights to the colored. This outraged the mulattoes who in revenge attacked the French in the south and west. By 1972, all of Saint Domingue was involved in the fighting. Instead of forming alliances and trying to give in to a common interest, the people were betraying, torturing, and avenging on each other.  Finally, French commissioner Sonthonax was sent to restore order. However, without authorization he declared the slaves free. His decree reverberated like thunder (Heinl and Heinl 57).

 In the midst of this confusion, Toussaint Louverture, a former slave, took part in the slave revolt and joined forces with the Spanish against the French. Toussaint, who was Haitian-born, looked to the maintenance of Haitian agriculture as a means to success for the island. However, the masses of African-born slaves, who comprised two thirds of Haitian slaves at the time of the revolution, wished rather to destroy all remnants of the plantation system. In its place, African style subsistence agriculture became the chief activity of Haitians. In a sense, Haiti became a Caribbean replica of Africa. James asserts that Toussaint Louverture “made an unobtrusive entrance into history” (90). Highly skilled in military tactics, Louverture rose high in rank with the Spanish. Yet, when France decided to abolish slavery, he decided to switch sides. He then helped the French drive out the Spanish. In return the French promoted him in their military. Within the next year he ruled the colony. Over the following four years, he forced the British troops to withdraw and defeat his internal rivals. To rebuild the economy, he demanded that both whites and blacks continue to produce their crops without slavery.  Nevertheless, his greatest fear of invasion was around the corner.

As Louverture took charge in Saint Domingue, Napoleon Bonaparte became the leader in France. Napoleons’ plan was to regain control of Saint Domingue as well as reinstating slavery.  In his “American Scheme” to rebuild a French empire in the Americas, Napoleon Bonaparte sent his brother-in-law, General Leclerc, to remove Louverture and restore slavery (Claypole and Robottom 147). General Leclerc and his large army tricked Louverture onto a ship. They transported Louverture to France, where he died in prison. Even though Louverture and his army were swifter than Leclerc, Leclerc succeeded by deceit. Nevertheless, Louverture’s subordinates, Henri Christophe and Jean-Jacques Dessalines led the army Louverture trained in declaring war on the French.


After 13 years of revolutionary activity, the former slaves defeated Napoleon’s forces formally removing France from the island. They also drove all the whites off the land, and changed the name to “Haiti”, which means mountainous. The country was in ruins, the mass population mainly uneducated and struggling for survival. The republic of Haiti, created by former slaves, declared its independence on January 1, 1804. Meanwhile, the United States, Britain, Spain and, of course, France, were all skeptical and nervous about an all-black republic. After all, those large nations were all slave-owning states.

The new homeland, however, faced continued economic hardship. Most of the plantation economy was destroyed and almost half the population had fled or been killed.  Dessalines declared himself emperor of the new state for life. He was later assassinated, and since then Haiti has been poor.

Although the Haitian revolution is seldom acknowledged as a stepping-stone for black slaves, its success led pride to many blacks in America. It was an example to some unsuccessful slaves in the Southern colonies of the United States as well Jamaica and other dependent nations. The revolution was exceptional in the sense that it modified the social, political and economic life of the colony. Yet, still struggling to establish a representative government after a string of oppressive dictators, Haiti suffers from its bloodstained origins to this day.


Claypole, William, and John Robottom. Caribbean Story Book One: Foundations. Essex: Longman Group UK Ltd, 1989.

Corbett, Bob. “The Haitian Revolution, Part I.”  Bob Corbett’s Haiti Page. Webster University. 11 Nov. 2002 http://www.webster.edu/-corbetre/haiti/history/revolution/revolution3.htm>.

Heinl, Robert, and Nancy Heinl. Written in Blood the Story of the Haitian People, 1492-1995. Lanham: University Press of America, 1996. 1-174, 788-789.

James, C.L.R.. The Black Jacobins. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. 88-162.

Knight, Franklin. W.,  “The Haitian Revolution.” The American Historical Review 105.1 (2000):  par 14. 11 Nov. 2002 http://www.historycoop.org/journals/ahr/105.1/ah000103.html

Posted to the Web on December 6, 2002
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