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“12 Years a Slave,” the story of a free Black man kidnapped by slave traders, has won an Oscar for Best Picture of the Year and a slew of other awards. But in one important respect, the movie comes up short. Missing from the film is the slave rebellion and revolt that Solomon Northup portrayed so vividly in his book.
Under the system of lifelong forced servitude, Black people could be tortured to death at a moment's notice with impunity. White oppressors could sense that at some point the coin will flip. This mirrors today, where police continue to kill Black people with impunity.
Once the French army had subdued L’Ouverture and his rebel force, Napoleon intended to advance to the North American mainland, basing a new French empire in New Orleans and settling the vast territory west of the Mississippi River. By 1803, a frustrated Napoleon – denied his foothold in the New World – agreed to sell New Orleans and the Louisiana territories to Jefferson.