Haiti: Her History and Her Detractors/Part I: Chapter V

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Number of inhabitants of Saint-Domingue—Savannah—The French revolution—Efforts of the colonists to take advantage of it—The affranchis claim their rights—The first conflicts—Atrocities committed by the colonists—Vincent Ogé and Chavannes—Uprising of the slaves—The first Civil Commissioners—Decree of April 4, 1792.

In 1789 there were at Saint-Domingue 520,000 inhabitants, 40,000 of whom were white, 28,000 "affranchis," and 452,000 slaves.[1] The number of maroons was from two to three thousand. Whilst most of the whites led corrupt and dissolute lives, the "affranchis," through domestic virtues, were acquiring much wealth; they possessed a third of the real estate, and a fourth of the personal property of the colony.[2] Yet no regard was shown them. Despite the levelling and philanthropic philosophy which in Europe was moving the heart of the nobility, the colonists became daily more and more haughty and overbearing to the men of the black race; they did all in their power to check the hopes which these new ideas began to raise in the souls of the sorely oppressed slaves.

Through their influence and intrigues the colonists extorted from the weak hands of Louis XVI decisions of the most insulting nature against the "affranchis." The excess of humiliations heaped on them at last moved, even in France, the pity of generous hearts. "La Société des Amis des Noirs"[3] soon extended its mighty support to the lawful claims of those who hitherto were treated like pariahs.

The "affranchis" became more and more conscious of their importance. In 1779, responding to the call of the Comte d'Estaing, 800 blacks and mulattoes[4] left their families and their homes, and went to fight side by side with the soldiers of George Washington. At the siege of Savannah the colored sons of Haiti fearlessly shed their blood for the independence of the United States.[5] After fighting for the liberty of others was it possible that they would willingly tolerate slavery for their mothers, their brothers, and their sisters? Could they be content under the arbitrary rule of a system which had despoiled them of their rights?

But, blinded by their prejudice, the wealthy planters would not make the slightest concession in their favor. They founded in Paris the "Club Massiac," which became henceforth the centre of action of their coterie. Yet at that time the pretensions of the "affranchis" were very moderate. What was it they were claiming? Simply the equality of political rights which was granted to them in 1685 by the Black Code.

By yielding to their requests the colonists would have saved their property, and Saint-Domingue might perhaps have remained a part of the French territory. Still they chose to run the greatest risks rather than share the administration of the island with men whom they considered their inferiors.

From the convocation of the States General, the wealthy planters began to defy the colonial authority, thus giving the first example of insubordination. On their own responsibility they secretly appointed eighteen representatives whom they sent to France. On their arrival at Versailles they found the National Assembly already organized. This first act of insubordination was followed by others still more important. When the news of the fall of the Bastille reached Saint-Domingue, the pretensions of the colonists knew no bounds. They elected municipalities and even an Assembly, which, assuming the title of "General Assembly of the French part of Saint-Domingue," met at Saint-Marc and arrogated full powers. On the 28th of May, 1790, this Assembly adopted a decree which constituted almost a declaration of independence. The attitude and encroachment of this body was naturally highly displeasing to the colonial government, which ordered its dissolution and resorted to force in order to compel its members to disperse.[6] The whites took no pains to conceal from the "affranchis" the discord existing among themselves.

Excluded from all the assemblies elected at Saint-Domingue, the freedmen had never ceased to protest against the arbitrary deprivation of their political rights. Their representatives in France, among whom were Julien Raymond and Vincent Ogé, were fighting hard to put an end to their humiliating position. Through the powerful assistance of the Society "des Amis des Noirs," they were received, on the 22d of October, 1789, by the National Assembly. Later on the "affranchis" offered to France 6,000,000 francs and the fifth of their properties in guarantee of the national indebtedness. The Assembly was not long in taking up the slavery question. Whilst the matter was under discussion, Charles de Lameth, one of the wealthy planters, spoke, on the 4th of December, in favor of the freedom of the blacks and claimed their right to become members of the colonial assemblies.

The colonists decided that the time had come to check the audacity of the "affranchis," and as usual they resorted to all kinds of atrocities. In the town of Cap-Français the mulatto Lacombe was hanged, his only crime having been that he dared to present a humble petition claiming the "Rights of man" (Les Droits de 1'homme). At Petit-Goave, a highly respected old man, Fernand de Baudières, a white, was beheaded. He was charged with having drawn up a petition asking, not for equality of rights in favor of the "affranchis," but only for a slight betterment of their condition. At Aquin,[7] a mulatto, G. Labadie, seventy years old, simply suspected of having in his possession a copy of the petition, was attacked by night at his home by the whites. Severely wounded, this septuagenarian,[8] a man universally esteemed, was tied to the tail of a horse and dragged through the streets. At Plaisance, the mulatto Atrel, guilty of having accepted a claim upon a white man, was killed by a band of infuriated people. At Fonds-Parisien[9] the whites set fire to the most important sugar refineries of the "affranchis" Desmares, Poisson, Renaud.[10] In time to come, the slaves who revolted, remembering this merciless destruction of property, in their turn reduced to ashes the rich plantations of the colonists.

The French spared not even the children. At Petite-Rivière de l'Artibonite a party of 25 whites, after searching in vain for a mulatto, ended by killing his two children; in the same locality they murdered a father and his two sons.[11] A black freedman was, without the least provocation, put to death by a party of whites; whilst at Cap-Français there took place a wholesale slaughter of the "affranchis"[12] by the colonists. Such are the atrocities with which the wealthy planters started the French revolution in Saint-Domingue. By and by both "affranchis" and slaves retaliated by taking revenge of all the horrible crimes of which they had been the victims. Many foreign writers unfriendly toward Haiti make mention only of the reprisals; but they intentionally omit all allusion to the frequent revolting crimes which had caused them.

By a decree of March 8, 1790, the National Assembly had, however, indicated the powers vested in the colonial assemblies of the French possessions. And, according to article 4 of the Instructions adopted on the 28th of the same month, all persons 25 years old, owning real estate or domiciled in the parish for two years and paying taxes, were authorized to take part in the election of those assemblies. The "affranchis" possessed the full requirements, and therefore imagined that they would at last be able to exercise their political rights. Their illusions did not last long. The colonists of Saint-Domingue did not consider as persons men of the black race; they regarded them as things. In consequence they were not allowed to vote.

Foreseeing the decision of the wealthy planters, Vincent Ogé, one of the commissioners of the "affranchis," decided to return to Saint-Domingue in order to demand the fair application of the Decree and the Instructions of March, 1790. He assumed the pseudonym of Poissac; and in spite of all the hindrances placed in his way he succeeded in leaving France. He arrived at Cap-Français in the evening of October 16, 1790, and proceeded forthwith to Dondon,[13] his native place. As soon as his arrival became known the colonists took the necessary steps to secure his arrest. From Dondon Ogé went to Grande-Rivière[14] to the house of Jean-Baptiste Chavanne.[15] Of a practical mind, Chavanne was firmly convinced that nothing would be obtained from the whites by persuasion only. He therefore advised an immediate uprising of the slaves. Ogé deemed this plan too radical. In consequence, on October 21, he wrote to Count Peinier, then Governor of the island, saying that he had come to secure the application of the Decree of March, 1790, and that, in order to put an end to an unjust and absurd prejudice, he would, in case of need, repel force by force. As a result of this step, and in spite of his threat, a price[16] was set upon his head, and 800 soldiers were despatched against him. Ogé had only 250 followers. The first encounter was favorable to him. But new forces sent from Cap-Français defeated his small army. He succeeded, with Chavanne and a few companions, in reaching the Spanish part of the island. The Governor, Don Joachim Garcia, had the cruelty to give them up to the government of Saint-Domingue. After a so-called trial, Ogé and Chavanne, to whom even the assistance of a lawyer was denied, were sentenced "whilst alive to have their arms, legs, thighs and spines broken; and afterward to be placed on a wheel, their faces toward Heaven, and there to stay as long as it would please God to preserve their lives; and when dead, their heads were to be cut off and exposed on poles, Vincent Ogé's on the highway leading to Dondon, and Chavanne's on the road to La Grande Rivière, opposite the estate of Poisson." This barbarous sentence was executed in all its horror on February 25, 1791. The northern provincial assembly gathered together in state to witness this inhuman punishment. Ogé and Chavanne, hacked to death, bore their sufferings stoically. For many months following, their unfortunate companions were hunted and when caught were hanged. The method employed for quelling the insurrection was savage and merciless. But the revenge soon to be taken equalled in mercilessness the acts which provoked it. Before the end of 1791 the colonists were to begin to expiate their crimes.

Remaining still haughty and full of pride they imagined that the martyrdom of Ogé and Chavanne would so intimidate the "affranchis" that they would not dare to renew the struggle. As a matter of fact, after Ogé's defeat, the free blacks and mulattoes of the South, who, under the leadership of André Rigaud, had gathered on the plantation of Prou, willingly laid down their arms. But this proved to be only a truce. The colored men wanted time in which to form and to mature their plans. Ogé's fate made it clear to them that by force alone they would conquer the power of exercising the political rights which they had vainly endeavored to acquire peacefully.

Tranquilized by their recent victory and the apparent submission of the "affranchis," the wealthy planters began to renew their intrigues against the colonial government. Two battalions, sent from France with a view to helping to maintain order in Saint-Domingue, arrived at Port-au-Prince on March 2, 1791. The friends of the former Colonial Assembly of Saint-Marc, which had been severely arraigned by the National Assembly in a resolution adopted on October 12, 1790, won over the soldiers to their cause. The latter landed in Port-au-Prince in disobedience to the orders given them by the Governor-General, Mr. de Blanchelande. The city was in open rebellion. The prison was stormed. André Rigaud, Pinchinat, and some other "affranchis" who were then in jail were set free. Mr. de Blanchelande left hastily for Cap-Français. The colonists murdered Colonel Mauduit, whose fidelity to the colonial government had displeased them; his body was mutilated and his head, stuck on the end of a pole, was carried through the streets of Port-au-Prince. They usurped the authority and organized a municipality which they called the Western Provincial Assembly.

Whilst the whites were creating this disturbance of the peace at Saint-Domingue, the National Assembly, uneasy concerning the vengeance of the blacks which would most likely follow the inhuman punishment of Ogé and Chavanne, agreed that the time had come for granting some concessions to the "affranchis." Therefore on May 15, 1791, a decree was adopted stating that free-born colored men would henceforth be eligible to the provincial assemblies. This news upon reaching Saint-Domingue at the end of June, 1791, provoked great excitement. The "affranchis," thinking once more that at last they had acquired the rights which they had been claiming with so much perseverance, showed the wildest enthusiasm; but the whites, whose indignation knew no bounds, protested vigorously against this step; they even went so far as to implore the protection of the English. And pretending that the decree of May 15 had not been officially notified to the Governor of the island, they hastened to elect a new Colonial Assembly with power to regulate the political condition of the "affranchis."

The blacks and mulattoes, regarding this action as a challenge, decided to resort to arms. Having gained wisdom from Ogé's misfortune the "affranchis" this time did not trust to chance.

On August 7, 1791, they held a meeting in the church of Mirebalais[17] and appointed a committee of forty members, of which Pierre Pinchinat[18] was elected president. Whilst this political council was striving to obtain from Mr. de Blanchelande the fair application of the decree of May 15, the colored men of Port-au-Prince, secretly assembled on the plantation of Louise Rabuteau,[19] decided on their military organization (August 21). Beauvais[20] was appointed leader of the insurrection; and it was resolved that the uprising should take place on the 26th of August.

There were already symptoms of an alarmingly dangerous nature affecting the domination of the colonists; the slaves who, up to that time, had been seemingly obedient and resigned, began to show signs of their intention of shaking off the yoke. In June and July insurrections took place at Cul-de-Sac,[21] at Vases,[22] and at Mont-Rouis.[23] The whites had recourse to their usual methods: they tried to intimidate the rebels by inflicting horrible punishments on them. Men were quartered alive; and so great a number was hanged that it was sometimes difficult to find enough executioner.[24]

At that time there appeared before the public a man who was to shape the destinies of his race and have a great influence on the future of Saint-Domingue. Toussaint-Bréda, better known under the name of Louverture, acting in connivance with the followers of the Governor of the island, prepared a general uprising of the slaves. Clever and perspicacious, he assumed at the outset a very modest part. He did not endeavor to obtain the command; his friend Jean-François was proclaimed the leader; Biassou was next in command; to Boukmann and Jeannot had been intrusted the mission of giving the signal of rebellion. This matter settled, there remained but to find a way of influencing all the slaves. These were told that the King of France and the National Assembly had granted them three holidays a week and had abolished flogging as a means of punishment; but that the colonists refused to obey the decree. The slaves, however, after their many years of submission, were naturally cautious; they were afraid of being defeated. Boukmann boldly informed them that soldiers were coming from France to second their revendications. And in order to give them full confidence in themselves he performed an imposing ceremony at "bois Caiman" on August 14, on the plantation of Lenormand de Mézy. On their knees, Boukmann and the conspirators, in the presence of a priestess, took solemn oaths on the reeking entrails of a wild-boar, Boukmann swearing that he would lead the rebellion, and the others to follow and obey their chief.

Eight days after this "oath of blood," on the night of October 22, the slaves of the Turpin plantation, headed by Boukmann, rose to a man and gave the signal of the struggle for liberty. The slaves of the neighboring plantations hastened to respond to the call of their comrades. The grievances which had been accumulating for centuries found vent at last. In their turn the masters would be made to suffer the tortures which they had long taken pleasure in inflicting on the unfortunate blacks.[25] In their first paroxysm of anger and revenge the rebels spared neither persons nor things. Armed with pikes, axes, knives, spears,—torch in hand,—they destroyed and exterminated everything that came in their way. Fire and death marked their passage. Jeannot,[26] self-appointed avenger of Ogé and Chavanne, was merciless. In less than eight days 200 sugar refineries and 600 coffee plantations were reduced to ashes; the plain of the North was one immense cemetery.

Jean-François, who had assumed the title of generalissimo and grand-admiral of France, led his followers to the very entrance of Cap-François. On November 14, however, they were defeated; Boukmann was made prisoner and beheaded; his body was then burnt and his head, stuck on the end of a pole, was exposed in the centre of the Place d'Armes of Cap-Français, with a sign bearing the words: "Head of Boukmann, chief of the rebels." The colonists gave no quarter. All the prisoners were at once put to death. Two wheels on which they were tied and their bones broken, and five gallows were kept constantly busy.[27]

Whilst these events were taking place in the North, on August 26, at the Diègue plantation,[28] the "affranchis," in pursuance of the plan adopted on the Rabuteau plantation, took up arms and declared themselves in revolt, with Beauvais at their head. The first encounter took place at the Néret plantation. The whites were defeated; they fled in disorder. From Port-au-Prince troops and artillery were then despatched. A bloody battle was fought on the Pernier plantation. The whites were again defeated, and fled, abandoning their guns, which fell into the hands of the "affranchis." Beauvais then marched with his army to Trou-Caiman, which was fortified.

These two defeats made it clear to the whites that on the battlefield at least the blacks and mulattoes were not their inferiors. Genuinely alarmed by the simultaneous uprising of the slaves and the "affranchis," the wealthy planters thought that the time had come to sever their relations with France. They sought England's protection and sent to Jamaica for help. The English did not deem that things were ripe for action; in consequence they refused to intervene. Left to themselves, the wealthy planters of Port-au-Prince, in fear of the devastation which had befallen the plain of the North, made up their minds to come to an agreement with the colored men. On October 23, a treaty of peace was signed at the Damiens plantation. By this concordat it was agreed that the "affranchis" would be admitted, on a footing of perfect equality with the whites, in all the assemblies, even in the Colonial Assembly; the sentence against Ogé and his companions would be held in execration and the memory of these martyrs rehabilitated; a solemn mass would be celebrated in all the churches of the Western "département" for these victims, and proper indemnity paid to their widows and children.

When, in pursuance of the treaty of Damiens, the army of colored men entered Port-au-Prince on October 24, Beauvais, its general, and Caradeux, the most aggressive of the planters of Saint-Domingue and commander-in-chief of the militia of the Western "département," were to be seen marching along arm in arm.

In the Artibonite the whites had also signed, on September 22, a concordat with the colored men of Saint-Marc who had taken up arms under the leadership of Savary.

Everywhere the blacks and mulattoes were victorious. They believed that they had at last acquired their political rights.

Whilst the "affranchis" were deluding themselves with the brightest hopes, their enemies in France did not remain inactive. Their intrigues were carried on with such success that on September 24, 1791, the Constituent Assembly adopted a decree stating that "all laws concerning the position of persons without their freedom, and the state of free colored men and blacks, as well as the regulations for the execution of such laws, would be passed by the now existing and the future Colonial Assemblies. … "

This untimely decree put an end to all the advantages which the "affranchis" had just secured by main force. Henceforth their fate depended on the Colonial Assembly, which was in session at Cap-Français since August 9; on that very assembly whose arrogance and hostility toward the black race were well-known facts.

As soon as the colonists of Port-au-Prince became aware of this decree they did not fail to find a pretext for refusing to ratify the treaty of Damiens. On the morning of November 21 a black man by the name of Scapin, a drummer in Beauvais's army, had a quarrel with a white soldier; for this he was flogged and afterward hanged by the whites. Valmé, a colored lieutenant, lost no time in avenging Scapin's death by killing a white artilleryman. This was sufficient cause to rekindle the strife. Both sides took up arms again. After a bloody fight, Beauvais, at the head of his army, marched to La Croix-des-Bouquets. Port-au-Prince was on fire. The whites availed themselves of the opportunity afforded by the disorder and confusion which ensued, to massacre all the "affranchis" of whatever age or sex which they met on their way. More than 2,000 mulattresses[29] were put to death. A white man called Larousse killed Madame Beaulieu,[30] a colored woman who was in an advanced state of pregnancy; he opened her abdomen, tore out the child, and threw it into the fire.

The blacks and mulattoes were in a great state of indignation over these atrocities. Their one desire was for vengeance. André Rigaud, who had left for the South, was as not long in returning at the head of a strong army, which he marched as far as Martissant,[31] where he encamped. On the other side, Beauvais besieged Port-au-Prince on the north and on the east. The water supply was cut off. The whole southern portion of the island was in arms.

At Trou Coffin in the neighborhood of Léogane, a Spanish mulatto known as "Romaine-la-Prophétesse"[32] had gathered a large band of followers. He pretended that he had had frequent apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, and in this way he acquired a great amount of influence over his companions.

In the North the slaves were still in arms, their overtures for peace having been contemptuously rejected by the whites.

Such was the situation of the colony when, on November 28, 1791, the first Civil Commissioners, Mirbeck, Roume, and Saint-Léger, arrived at Cap-Français. They had been instructed to restore peace in Saint-Domingue and to enforce the enactment of the Decree of September 24. They tried in vain to restore peace in the island. The arrogant Colonial Assembly of Cap-Français, to which the Decree of September 24 had given special powers, thwarted all their good intentions. The "affranchis" knew only too well the futility of expecting any concessions on the part of the planters; they decided to support the Civil Commissioners, hoping that their assistance would secure for them the recognition of their political rights. On the arrival of Saint-Léger at Port-au-Prince (January, 1792), the leaders of the colored army which was besieging the town immediately requested an interview with him. They showed the greatest deference to the agent of the metropolis. Complying with his request they allowed the city to be revictualed. And in order to entirely win him over, they agreed even to raise the siege: they accordingly returned to La Croix-des-Bouquets.

The whites of Port-au-Prince, highly displeased with Saint-Léger on account of his good disposition toward the colored men, refused to assist him in the repression of the crimes which the followers of "Roumaine-la-Prophétesse" were committing in the plain of Léogane. The "affranchis"' very cleverly profited by this opportunity to make themselves useful: Beauvais and Pinchinat placed a body of 100 soldiers at the disposal of the Civil Commissioner.

Whilst Saint-Léger was at Léogane endeavoring to restore harmony and concord between the colored men and the whites, the planters of Port-au-Prince tried to surprise the army of the "affranchis" quartered at La Croix-des-Bouquets. Being warned in time of the approach of the troops despatched against them, Beauvais and his companions retreated into the mountains of Grand-Bois and Pensez-y-Bien.[33] Incensed by the perfidy of the whites, the "affranchis," who up to that time had been very moderate, resorted to radical measures: they roused the slaves of the Cul-de-Sac plain to rebellion. Headed by Hyacinthe,[34] an intelligent and gallant black, these slaves attacked the colonists at La-Croix-des-Bouquets, defeated them and pursued them as far as the neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, which was again besieged (April, 1792).

In the South the struggle still continued between the "affranchis" and the whites; the latter, in order to rid themselves of their foes, called upon their slaves to arm themselves in order to render them assistance.

In the North the slaves who had broken into rebellion tried in vain to make peace. Toussaint, who was not yet known by the name of Louverture, had given the first proof of his perspicacity. Sent to Cap-Français under a flag of truce he was not long in finding out that the Civil Commissioners possessed in reality no power, and that the Colonial Assembly was the supreme authority. Through his advice all parleys were put an end to.

Exposed to the anger of the wealthy planters, hindered by their limited powers and foreseeing grave dangers for the colony, the Civil Commissioners decided to return to France. On April 1, 1792, Mirbeck left Cap-Français; on the 3rd of the same month Saint-Léger sailed from Saint-Marc. Roume, however, remained in Saint-Domingue.

Whilst the foregoing events were taking place in the island of Saint-Domingue, the Constituent Assembly in France had been replaced by the Legislative Assembly. The liberal and generous ideas of the "Girondins" were destined to have a decided influence on the future of the "affranchis." The latter won their first victory at the beginning of December. A decree adopted on the 7th of the same month forbade the use, against the colored men, of the soldiers sent out to the colony. Shortly after this the Legislative Assembly granted to the "affranchis" the equality of political rights for the possession of which so much blood had been shed in Saint Domingue. On March 28, 1792, a decree, approved by the King on April 4, was enacted stating that henceforth free blacks and mulattoes were to have the same political rights as the white colonists; and that, in consequence, they were entitled to participate in the election of the assemblies, to which they were also eligible. Another decree, passed on the 15th and approved on the 22d of June, vested special powers in the Civil Commissioners: instead of being dependent on the Colonial Assembly they were authorized to dissolve that body as well as the other assemblies which were made use of by the colonists so as to undermine the authority of the agents of the mother country.

The Decree of March 28 (better known as the Decree of April 4) was received at Saint-Domingue on May 28. Roume, whose powers had been greatly increased, hastened to have it enrolled by the Colonial Assembly of Cap-Français. With the cooperation of Governor de Blanchelande he decided to subdue the colonists of Port-au-Prince. The "affranchis" gladly tendered their assistance. The colored men of Saint-Marc escorted the Civil Commissioner to La Croix-des-Bouquets (June 20). Soon after Beauvais and Rigaud reoccupied Port-au-Prince (July 5). The slaves of La Croix-des-Bouquets, l'Arcahaye, and the Cul-de-Sac plain resumed their work. Freedom, however, was granted to 144 of them upon their agreeing to serve for five years in the gendarmery and to help in maintaining order on the plantations.

Whilst Roume was doing his utmost to restore peace at Port-au-Prince, Governor de Blanchelande had gone to Jérémie, accompanied by André Rigaud. The whites of La Grand 'Anse had flatly refused to accept the Decree of April 4. After defeating the colored men, many of the prisoners taken were put to death; the rest were kept in chains on prison-ships in the harbor of Jérémie; among these were even old men, women, and children. The most that Blanchelande could obtain for them was that they be sent to Cap-Français. Satisfied with this relative success he left for Aux Cayes, where he failed in his campaign against the rebellious slaves intrenched at Platons. Disheartened by his defeat he went back to Cap-Français. André Rigaud succeeded in pacifying the rebellious slaves by freeing 700 of them.

Success had at last crowned the efforts of the "affranchis"; by force of arms, blacks and mulattoes had acquired the exercise of their political rights. In the West and in the South more than 1,000 slaves had obtained their freedom. The first blow had been struck at the colonial system!

  1. These figures are given by Moreau de Saint-Méry. According to B. Ardouin (Introduction to the Studies of Haitian History) the population of Saint-Domingue in 1789 numbered 40,000 "affranchis" and more than 600,000 slaves. Ducoeur-Joly, quoted by Placide Justin, p. 144, claims that the population consisted of 30,826 whites, 27,584 "affranchis," and 465,429 slaves.
  2. B. Ardouin, Geography of Haiti, p. 4.
  3. The Society of the Friends of the Blacks.
  4. Among the volunteers from Saint-Domingue were Beauvais, Rigaud, Chavannes, Jourdain, Lambert, Christophe, Morné, Villate, Toureaux, Cangé, Martial Besse, Leveillé, Mars Belley, etc. (E. Robin, History of Haiti, p. 47.)
  5. "At the siege of Savannah," says Mr. T. G. Steward, quoted by Mr. Benito Sylvain at page 102 of his book (Du sort des Indigènes dans les colonies d'exploitation; Paris, 1901), "the colored militiamen from Saint-Domingue, numbering 800, saved the Franco-American army from total disaster by heroically covering its retreat, which was very near being cut off by Lieutenant-Colonel Maitland." However, some years later one of these militiamen, Martial Besse, then a French general, was not allowed to land at Charleston (South Carolina) without giving bail, on account of his color. The French consul had to interfere in order to secure proper respect for him. (American Historical Association, 1905, Vol. II, p. 1020, Lettre de Létombe, consul à Philadelphia, à Delacroix, Ministre des Relations Extérieures de France.)
  6. Many members of the Assembly took shelter on board the Leopard (8th of August, 1790).
  7. A town in the southern part of Haiti.
  8. Concerning Labadie, Brissot, in a letter to Barnave, says: "One can say to the whites that there are in Saint-Domingue well informed mulattoes who have never left the island. I can quote for instance Mr. Labadie, an honorable old man, who owes his wealth to his work and his intelligence. Astronomy, physics, ancient and modern history, were all familiar to Mr. Labadie, at a time when not one of the whites in the colony knew the A, B, C of these sciences." (B. Ardouin—Studies on the History of Haiti, Vol. I, p. 198.)
  9. Situated in the Western "département" of Haiti.
  10. B. Ardouin, Studies of Haitian History, Vol. I, p. 117.
  11. B. Ardouin, Studies of Haitian History, p. 119.
  12. Ibid., p. 120.
  13. Situated in the Northern "département" of Haiti.
  14. Situated in the Northern "département" of Haiti.
  15. Chavanne was among those who fought at Savannah for the independence of the United States.
  16. A reward of $4,000 was promised to any one who would capture Ogé.
  17. Fifteen miles from Port-au-Prince.
  18. Born on July 12, 1746, Pinchinat was brought up in France. Garan de Coulon says of him: "In his new position he showed, besides his commendable patriotism, wisdom and knowledge, in contradiction of the false impressions which the whites tried to make in France as to the ignorance and incapacity of the colored men." ( B. Ardouin, Studies on Haitian History, Vol. I, p. 179.)
  19. Situated in the neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
  20. Beauvais was one of the militiamen who fought at Savannah. He was educated in France.
  21. North of Port-au-Prince.
  22. In the arrondissement of Port-au-Prince.
  23. In the arrondissement of Saint-Marc.
  24. Placide Justin, History of Haiti, p. 205.
  25. In a pamphlet printed in 1814 ("The Colonial System Disclosed"—"Le système colonial dévoilé), Baron de Vastey mentions the following inhuman punishmets inflicted on the slaves by their masters: Poncet mutilated his slaves; he killed his ow illegitimate daughter by pouring boiling was in her ears (p. 48). Chapuiset, incensed by the loss of one of his mules, caused the keeper to be put alive in the interior of the dead animal; man and beast were then buried (p. 45). At Grande-Rivière, Jouaneau nailed one of his slaves to the walls by the ears; the ears were then cut off with a razor and roasted, and the victim was compelled to eat them (p. 45). At Marmelade, De Cockburn, a Knight of Saint-Louis, buried his slaves up to the neck and used their heads as a game of ten pins (p. 46). At Ennery, Michau threw his slaves whilst alive into hot ovens. In the Artibonite, Desdunes burned more than forty-five blacks alive, men, women and children. Jarosay, in order to have only dumb servants, cut out their tongues. Baudry, honorary member of the Superior Council at Port-au-Prince, at Bellevue flogged his confectioner to death for having been unsuccessful in the making of some preserves (p. 52). Madame Ducoudrai gave from two to three hundred lashes to her slaves; and hot sealing-wax was afterward poured on their lacerated flesh (p.54). Madame Charette put iron masks over her slaves' faces and left them to starve to death (p. 55). At Cavaillon, Lartigue caused his servant Joseph to be quartered alive (p. 57). Guilgaud, Naud, Bocalin tied their slaves to trees and left them to die from exposure (p. 59).
  26. In order to put a stop to the terrible reprisals of Jeannot, Jean-François had him shot. But no white man was punished on account of the cruelties inflicted by the colonists on the blacks and mulattoes.
  27. Rabau (Résumé de l'histoire de Saint-Domingue, p. 77), quoted by Mr. Benito Sylvain (loc. cit. p. 91), says: "Some planters buried the blacks up to their shoulders, and with pincers forced them to open their mouths and to swallow boiling syrup. Others had their prisoners sawed between two boards. I stop; my pen cannot describe such dreadful scenes." A black man, called Bartolo, who at the risk of his life had taken his master to Cap-Français for safety, was sentenced to death for having participated in the uprising; his denunciator, Mangin, was the very colonist whose life he had saved. "The whites," says Colonel Malenfant, "considered every black man as an enemy, and increased in that way the number of rebels; for they massacred indiscriminately all the slaves they could lay their hands on, even those who were peaceful and had not deserted their plantations." (Benito Sylvain, Du sort des Indigènes, etc. (p. 92.)
  28. Situated in the neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
  29. Placide Justin, History of Haiti, p. 219.
  30. B. Ardouin, Studies of Haitian History, p. 282.
  31. In the neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, to the south.
  32. Romaine the soothsayer.
  33. Placide Justin, History of Haiti, p. 234.
  34. Hyacinthe believed that an ox-tail which he always carried in his hand had the power of preserving him from bullets; he was regarded as invulnerable.