Creole Treaty Rights
An article from Gilbert Martin
On November 30, 1803, according to stipulations in the Louisiana Purchase Treaty and by formal action, the French rendered the entire Louisiana Territory an absolutely free country. And it remained that way until circa 1818, when the legislature of the newly formed state of Louisiana ruled otherwise. By those acts, in deliberate violation of the LPT, Louisiana became just another Jim Crow State in the Deep South.
At the time of the American takeover of the vast Louisiana Territory, tens of thousands of people with lineage to Africa were among the inhabitants. Some were free, but most were slaves. Nevertheless, neither free or slave was ever apprised of their treaty rights. Consequently, both the so-called free people of color and the slaves were forced to suffer the realities of degradation, hostility, and other forms of inequities brought about segregation, discrimination, racism and bigotry. Naturally, an undercurrent of resentment against the Americans flowed throughout the Creole community. And that resentment did not began to abate until after World War II. Prior to that war, the older Creoles did not refer to themselves as Americans.
They considered it an offense should anyone else referred to them as Americans. I saw many older Creoles spit on the ground after mentioning the word "Merican."
As a young Creole growing up during the Great Depression and the Jitterbug era, I didn’t know why my elders hated Americans so much. I was having fun. That did not concern me. So, it would be many decades before I would began to question the origin of my culture. I was fifty years old when my quest began. And another decade would past before I would come across a copy of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. After reading the third article of the treaty, I finally understood why my people were so bitter. So, out of respect for them, I have been trying to bring the United States Government, and the state of California to task for treaty violations. Now, I would like the general public to find out about our plight under American domination.
Enclosed please find a copy of the letter I sent to Kevin Shelly, Secretary of State of California. I would like to have this information published, either in its entirety, in parts, or you may simply write about it. I feel that it’s very important for the Creole community, especially our young, to be apprised of our treaty rights, and to take this information seriously. I feel that it’s time for young Creoles to get involved. My struggle for authoritative recognition for Creole people has passed its third decade. Now, I am tired and should be taking it easy.
However, as a retired master builder, general contractor, and former member of the American Arbitration Association, I see the violation of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty as being the biggest blunder the United States has ever made. The U.S. received 908,380 square miles of territory for $15 million and to provide and guarantee to us, civil and special rights as stipulated in Article III of the treaty. But up until now, the federal government has been acting as if the Louisiana Purchase Treaty is a unilateral instrument. Contrarily, the LPT is a bilateral instrument and must be regarded as such.
Therefore, I have chosen to stand on the opposite, and uncontested, side of the LPT. Therefore, I am calling upon the federal government and all state governments to acknowledge their legal obligations under the LPT, and to repair any and all damage for any and all infractions thereof. Please provide me with whatever help that you can. If there is any question you would like me to answer, or any subject that you would like me to address, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Also, I have enclosed a copy of the certified letter that I sent to Bill Lockyer, Attorney General for the state of California.
Gilbert E. Martin