Statue vs Resume
The Story of Our Past and Why it’s Relevant Today
Statue vs. Resume
(Reference: The Black Count by Tom Reiss)
Born to French nobility, Antoine Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie (Antoine) was a renegade on the run. In 1738 he arrived on the island of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) where he worked on his brother, Charles Anne Edouard’s, sugarcane plantation until 1748 following a violent disagreement. As he sought his fortunes in Saint-Domingue as a coffee and cacao farmer, he would purchase an African slave woman by the name of Marie-Cassette. Both Antoine and Marie-Cassette had 3 daughters and 1 son. They named their son Thomas-Alexandre Dumas (Thomas-Alexandre).
By Olivier Pichat – Musée Alexandre Dumas, Villers-Cotterëts – Bruno Arrigoni (photo), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4289631
In 1775, following the death of his parents and brothers Charles and Louis, Antoine returned to France only to send for his son Thomas-Alexandre in 1778. Now 16 years old, Thomas-Alexandre had a relatively tall, robust stature for a man at that time. His father ensured that his son was given the higher education so that he (Thomas-Alexandre) would maintain his French noble status despite being of mixed race.
Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, https://harvardmagazine.com/sites/default/files/styles/4x3_main/public/img/article/1012/ND12_31_Image_01_900.jpg?itok=oZqWHGk0
Notwithstanding the racism and class discrimination he endured, Thomas-Alexandre joined the French Army, and would become a notable figure in revolutionary France.
Some of his accomplishments included:
· Second-In-Command of the Black Legion
· Commander-In-Chief of the Army of the Western Pyrenees
· Commander-In-Chief of the Army of the Alps
· Commander-In-Chief of the Army of the West (1793) in the Vendée
· General in the Army of the Rhine (France)
· General in the Army of Italy Commander of Cavalry in the French Campaign in Egypt
Thomas-Alexandre was praised by his peers, including Napoleon Bonaparte, for his notable courage and valour. A goliath in his own right, General Thomas-Alexandre was known for his unrelenting assaults. To his fellow comrades (including Napoleon) he was referred to as “Horatius Cocles of the Tyrol” (a hero who saved ancient Rome), while to his enemies, which included the fearsome Austrians, he was simply known as Der Schwarze Teufel (“Black Devil”).
In 1798, the French Revolutionary Army embarked on a military campaign in Egypt with the goal of conquering African trading centres and the Arab world. Following the bloody Battle of the Pyramids, some of the ruling Mamluks referred to Thomas-Alexandre as “leader” due to his imposing figure and presence. This would enrage Napoleon, and lead to a rift between the two and Thomas-Alexandre’s subsequent expulsion from the campaign.
On the 7th of March 1799, Thomas-Alexandre boarded a small ship and headed back to France. As they crossed the Mediterranean, the ship began to sink forcing them to land at Taranto which, unbeknownst to Thomas-Alexandre, was allied with King Ferdinand IV of the Kingdom of Naples, an enemy of France. Thomas-Alexandre along with his colleagues had their belongings confiscated and were imprisoned until 1801. Upon his release, Thomas-Alexandre was deaf in one ear, almost blind, and partially paralyzed. For the last remaining years of his life and after his death on February 26, 1806 from Stomach Cancer, both Thomas-Alexandre and his wife wrote numerous letters to then Emperor Napoleon pleading for back pay and his military pension, only to be ignored.
In 1913, the statue of General Thomas-Alexandre was erected in Paris where it stood for nearly thirty years. In the winter of 1941, following the Nazi invasion of Paris, Hitler ordered the statue of General Thomas-Alexandre to be destroyed and it has never been restored to this day.
Statues are important. They remind us of some of our greatest accomplishments and failures so that we can study them and grow. Life is about continuous growth both internally and externally and art is its expression.
Thomas-Alexandre symbolizes courage, patriotism, and the freedoms afforded by a republican (not the political party) form of government. His remarkable courage and selflessness paved the way for people of colour in France and around the world to seek some the highest positions in office.
Without Thomas-Alexandre, we may not have modern France. Moreover, without Thomas-Alexandre we wouldn’t have Alexandre Dumas, who shared many tales inspired by his father in some of the greatest literary work in history, three of which includes – The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The man with the Iron Mask.
Like a statue, a resume reveals a compelling story of our past – both good and bad. It tells the reader where you’ve been, and how much you’ve grown. An effective way of enhancing your resume is not by simply deleting its content, rather by adding new skills and experiences, thus rewriting the narrative of your story. To the reader (i.e. employer) this shows ability, humility, and maturity.
Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past by destroying our
history. Lets make history by improving ourselves through education and information.
Nazi’s burn books and topple statues. Those who embrace freedom and liberty preserve them.
#saveourstatues #AlexandreDumas #wisdomwednesday