By 1863, more than four hundred long, miserable years had passed since the first negroes had been taken, from the African continent, to be sold as slaves. For the Europeans, the negro became the very embodiment of strength, labour and a seemingly enviable ability to survive diseases, in places, where the white man perished, in large numbers. This ability to labour in the hottest places on Earth, sealed the negro’s fate, in the Old World of Europe and in the New World of the promising Americas.
In 1863, as the Confederate South in America was fighting a bitter war with the Union North, over the question of slavery, another war was raging near the United States.
The French ruler, Napoleon III sought to capture Mexico. Perhaps it was the knowledge that southern slaveowners had forcibly conscripted their slaves, to fight in a war to keep their own selves in slavery or die where they stood by their master’s hand, that gave Napoléon III the idea of getting his own negroes to fight his war as well.
Napoleon III asked the Pasha of Egypt to supply him with negroes, because he needed men suited to fighting in hot climates.
European sponsored negro slavery sealed the fate of the black man, not only in the places where he was taken, but also in his home, in Africa. Slavery, as an institution, became further, bitterly entrenched in the very fabric of Africa, long after official European and American sponsored slavery ended. Among the areas where the practice continued, was the north of Africa, in Egypt.
In Egypt, the separation of the woolly haired African and the straight haired African, had happened eons before, European slavery began, in 1441, by the Portuguese.
FORGOTTEN HISTORY OF NEGROES IN MEXICO
From as early as 1609, Free Blacks had lived in Mexico. But negro slavery came to Mexico as it did throughout the new Americas.
The two generals who led Mexico’s war of independence from Spain, José María Morelos and Vicente Guerrero … were of African ancestry. “El Negro Guerrero” was the second president of Mexico and he abolished slavery in 1829.
Second French intervention in Mexico (8 Dec 1861 – 21 Jun 1867)
FRANCO – MEXICAN WAR
The Second French Intervention in Mexico was an invasion of Mexico, launched in late 1861, by the Second French Empire (1852–70). Initially the invasion was supported by Spain and Britain.
In 1863, Britain reported in its House of Commons that France had been continuing the slave trade by buying unsuspecting negro soldiers from the Pasha of Egypt.
France’s intervention in Mexico was a consequence of President Benito Juarez’s two-year moratorium, on 17 July 1861, of loan-interest payments to French, British and Spanish creditors.
The French captured Mexico City in 1863, then succeeded in installing an Austrian, Maximilian I of Mexico as Emperor over the Mexicans.
The French Empire then withdrew from Mexico leaving the Austrian emperor of Mexico to rule without much sustained European support from France. The Mexicans continued fighting Imperialism.
By 1867, the Mexicans had restored their republic and executed Emperor Maximilian I, on 19 June 1867.
NUBIANS (NEGRO) EGYPTIANS ENSLAVED BY THE FRENCH TO FIGHT THEIR WAR AGAINST THE MEXICANS
Egypt: 126 dead including 46 from disease
Incredibly, importation of Negroes into the West continued long after the transatlantic trade supposedly ended.
In 1863, an estimated 450 Negro Egyptians, were rounded up off the streets, beaten and forced onto a French ship bound for Mexico. It is not really known how many were brought into Mexico by the French.
They were sold by the Pasha of Egypt to the French Emperor Napoleon III. The negro Egyptians were sent to Mexico to fight for France. It is believed that some 126 were killed in the war.
(Weekly National Intelligencer, Washington, Thursday, 11 June 1863)
DEPORTATION OF NEGROES FROM EGYPT
In 1863, the matter of the forcible exportation of negroes from Egypt to Mexico, at the request of the French government, was discussed in the British Parliament. England, was being careful. They did not want their association with France and support for their military action in Mexico, to be tainted with the stain of negro slavery in West.
(The Examiner, London, 24 February 1863)
Mr Buxton rose to call attention to the purchase and deportation from Egypt of a negro regiment by the Empire of the French. The facts of the case, he said, we are beyond denial. Last year, or at some previous period, the Emperor of the French arranged with the late Pasha of Egypt to hand over to him one or more battalions of his negro soldiers. He understood that the Emperor applied for 1,500 men, but, only one battalion left Egypt before the death of the Pasha.
LORD PALMERSTON in reply said: The facts of the case are these: the French government finding that the exposure of the French troops to the climate of Mexico was attended with a great amount of sickness, thought that by enlisting a certain number of Africans they might secure the service of a body of men, who, by constitution, would be better able to undergo exposure to service in Mexico.
They accordingly send orders to Egypt to endeavour to enlist 1,000 men for service there.￼￼￼
The late Pasha, who was a very easy tempered man, was even disposed to exceed the demands made upon him; and more over, the system of administration in Egypt is, I am sorry to say, in many respects, tainted with the barbarous usage of times gone by, and amongst these usages there prevails the practice of compelling forced labour, and of seizing man whether they will or not, for purposes of ￼employment.
Well the Pasha of Egypt, without a moments delay, ordered a regiment of 450 Nubians to be marched down to Alexandria, and to be forthwith embarked upon the French frigate, without their knowing why or where they were going. ￼￼
That was sufficiently irregular because the Egyptian troops belong to the Sultan, and it is not competent for any vassal to dispose of the troops of his sovereign without authority.
The Pasha had no right to send a regiment of Nubians to serve u see a foreign sovereign without the previous sanction of the Sultan.
That, however, was probably not the intention of the French government, because their instructions were to enlist a certain number of Africans, entirely in accordance with the exercise of their individual wills. However, not contented with that irregularity, the Egyptian government committed an act which was ￼￼ exactly similar in violence and cruelty to that recently committed at Warsaw. They send agents onto the streets and the quays, and they secured every man thought fit for military service or for hard labour.
These people, torn away from their homes and families, were immediately placed on board of tenders and conveyed out to a French frigate in the offing.
￼￼Well, I cannot help believing that the French government, which has expressed a strong dislike and condemnation of the cool operation of Warsaw, and other Polish towns, of season people for service in the Russian army, will feel that this active cool T has been worse, because these people poor Negroes what carried to an unhealthy climate, and that, as far as may be in their power, they will be disposed to make reparation for what has been done.
Her Majesty’s government has expressed their opinion to the French government that the arrangement was perfectly irregular, in violation of the rights of the Sultan, and that the Pasha of Egypt, was not entitled to dispose of the subjects of the Sultan￼.￼￼￼
(The Times, London, Wednesday February 25, 1863)
PASHA OF EGYPT
Isma’il Pasha known as Ismail the Magnificent (31 December 1830 – 2 March 1895), was the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan from 1863 to 1879, when he was removed at the behest of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
His philosophy can be glimpsed at in a statement that he made in 1879: “My country is no longer in Africa; we are now part of Europe. It is therefore natural for us to abandon our former ways and to adopt a new system adapted to our social conditions”.
The Second French Empire was the regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France. Napoleon III was born in Paris on 20 April 1808. Named Charles Louis Napoleon, he was the third son of Louis Bonaparte (the third brother of Napoleon) and of Hortense de Beauharnais (daughter of Empress Josephine by her first marriage).
After the long siege of Puebla in Mexico (March – June 1863) followed by the battle at Camerone (30 April 1863), Mexico fell to French forces on 5 June 1863. Napoleon III installed Maximilian, the brother of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, on the Mexican throne.