City accepts gift to memorialize Biassou

After winning approval from the Historic Architectural Review Board on June 16th, at the regular meeting of the St. Augustine City Commission tonight, unanimous approval was granted to erect a life-size statue of General Jorge (Georges) Biassou.

Representatives of the Haitian American Historical Society and a delegation with other south Florida officials and dignitaries, made a DVD presentation enumerating the successes of Savannah, Georgia, since erecting a similar monument in that historic city.

The 500 Haitians who fought in the American Revolution at the Battle of Savannah are memorialized by a monument there, and, according to speakers tonight, visitors have benefitted the City of Savannah by an additional $15 million dollars.

Biassou was one of three major leaders of the Haitian Revolution and was the highest ranking Spanish officer in St. Augustine during the late 1700′s. The construction of the monument will occur on the north green of the Visitor Information Center.

The flamboyant general, noted for his gold-trimmed clothes, silver saber, and ivory dagger, commanded a small black militia at Fort Matanzas — an assignment that didn’t sit well with him after commanding an army of thousands.

Biassou died here in 1801 and was accorded a Catholic Mass, a funeral procession to Tolomato Cemetery with drummers, and a black honor guard. The exact location of his grave has been lost to time; however, Haitian community leaders say that they hope to establish a marker at the cemetery recognizing his career.

The General Biassou monument will be a gift from the Haitian American Historical Society.

There are technical details to be finalized with regard to the base for the statue, however, the acceptance of the gift and erection of the memorial monument is approved subject to conformity with those technical requirements.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News contributed painting by Alexandra Barbot

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