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John Howard Smith

shoemaker, soldier, and officer in the First New Orleans Battalion of Free Men of Color, was the first African American recognized by the U.S. government as an officer of field grade status. He was also known as “Vass Populus,” and little is known about his life apart from the fact that he worked as a shoemaker before embarking on a military career.

New Orleans in the eighteenth century was already a vibrantly multiracial and multicultural city, with fully a quarter of its black population being free, variously composed of Africans, African Americans, and mixed-race Creoles. The French created a small black militia, consisting of free and enslaved volunteers, to augment the army in repelling Indian attacks in the early 1730s, and which performed admirably against the British and their native allies during King George's War (1739–1747 Those who had been slaves were eventually granted their freedom ...

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Caryn Cossé Bell

military officer, was born into an influential family of free persons of African descent in the city of Saint-Marc in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (later Haiti). He married the Saint-Marc native Marie Charlotte Lajoie, and the couple had at least two sons, Belton and Bertile Savary. The family fled their native land during the Haitian Revolution and eventually emigrated to New Orleans in a massive Saint-Domingue refugee movement in 1809 and 1810 that nearly doubled the size of the city.

Charles Joseph Savary s life spanned the American French and Haitian revolutions and because of the tumultuous age in which he lived the facts related to his history are scarce fragmentary and sometimes contradictory Part of the problem also stems from circumstances that forced Savary to conceal his identity In Saint Domingue s repressive three caste society and in slave regimes throughout the Americas free men ...