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Shani Roper

was born on the island of St. Kitts in the British West Indies. Little is known about how he came to be in Falmouth, Virginia, in the 1770s. However, both the towns of Falmouth and Fredericksburg sat on the banks of the Rappahannock River and were bustling eighteenth-century port cities. Many ships leaving the Rappahannock traded goods and provisions in the West Indies. Jeffery Bolster (1997) argues that in the eighteenth century, enslaved Africans worked extensively on ships and schooners, thereby participating in the complex shipping network in the Americas. Many of these enslaved Africans were skilled seamen who were familiar with the geography of major ports throughout the region. Norman Schools (2010 suggests that it is possible that John DeBaptiste was one of many enslaved Africans from the Caribbean who arrived on these ships visiting the port and who either escaped or took residence in ...

Article

Nicolás Ocaranza

Venezuelan army general during the War of Independence and first president of the Republic of Venezuela, was born on 13 June 1790 in Curpa, a village close to Acarigua in the general captaincy of Venezuela. It must be noted that scholarly opinions vary regarding Páez’s racial genealogy. He was the son of Juan Victorio Páez, an official of the Royal Tobacco Monopoly, whose family arrived in Venezuela from the Canary Islands (Spain).

Though the book Documents for the History of the Life of José Antonio Páez (Vol. 1; Caracas: National Academy of History, 1976) mentions that his father initiated an administrative process intended to prove Páez’s “clean white ancestry, without Moro or Indian race,” no reliable documents show that his mother, Maria Violante Herrera, was a woman of white ancestry. And while Paez claims in his Autobiografía that his soldiers called him catire blond man it should be ...

Article

Alfonso Arrivillaga Cortés

was born on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent around 1788. Upon his conversion to Christianity later in life, his given name was changed to Marcos. In April 1797, at the age of 10, he arrived in Guatemala, together with more than 2,000 African- and Amerindian-descended “Caribes,” as they were called in Central America. In the Caribbean Lesser Antilles they were known as “Caribes-Negros,” and carried out an effective war against the British colonists (1795–1796). Upon their defeat they were deported to the community of Roatán on the Bay Islands to the north of the Honduran coast.

The first historical account we have of Marcos is in the 1821 census of the community of Trujillo on the Caribbean coast, around the time that Spain’s Central American colonies declared independence (Archivo General de Centroamérica [AGCA], A1—leg. 99, exp. 1159 The census tells us that at that ...

Article

Miriam R. Martin Erickson

marshal in the Black Auxiliary Troops of King Carlos IV, a black militia group that fought during the Haitian Revolution under the Spanish Crown against the French. Santiago (also known as Jean-Jacques) fought in General Jean-François Papillon’s army in Saint-Domingue. In 1793, two years into the Haitian Revolution, the Spanish government acted on the instability of the region and began recruiting leaders from the slave uprising. Major and minor rebel leaders accepted the Spanish conditions that offered them freedom, land, and privileges in return for conquering French-controlled Saint-Domingue. In early 1794 these leaders occupied most of northern Saint-Domingue, and Spain officially titled them the Black Auxiliary Troops of King Carlos IV. It was during this time in Saint-Domingue that Auxiliary leaders learned both the tactics of political negotiation and how to maneuver within the Spanish legal system, which benefited them greatly during their dealings with the Spanish. By July ...