Haiti: Her History and Her Detractors/Part I: Chapter VII
The English occupy Port-au-Prince—Polvérel and Sonthonax try to cause disunion among the colored men—They leave Saint-Domingue—Toussaint Louverture deserts the Spanish cause and joins the French—André Rigaud expels the English from Léogane—The treaty of Bale—The English attack Léogane—Toussaint Louverture goes to the help of General Laveaux imprisoned at Cap-Français by Villate—Arrival of the new Civil Commission—Sonthonax—Toussaint Louverture, Commander-in-Chief of the Army—Hédouville—The English abandon Saint-Domingue—Hédouville causes enmity between Toussaint Louverture and Rigaud Civil war between Toussaint and Rigaud—Rigaud is defeated and compelled to leave the island.
At the beginning of 1794 the English were in possession of Arcahaie, Léogane, Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Jérémie, and of the whole province of La Grand'Anse. In the North the Spaniards occupied Gros-Morne, Plaisance, Lacul, Limbé, Port-Margot, Borgne, Terre-Neuve, etc. On December 6, 1793, Toussaint Louverture, who was fighting for Spain, became master of Gonaives. General Laveaux, appointed acting Governor-General by Sonthonax, was at Port-de-Paix; and the mulatto Villate held the highest military command at Cap-Français. On leaving the latter place for Port-au-Prince, the Civil Commissioner transferred his powers to the mulatto Péré. Thus a Governor-General, a military commander and a civil delegate were all three in command at a time when circumstances called for unity of action.
Sonthonax left Cap-Français in a state of great indignation at the defections which were daily increasing the number of France's enemies. The wealthy planters and the European officers espoused the Spanish cause—they did not scruple even to join the followers of Jean-François, Biassou, and Toussaint Louverture. The very men who a few years previous had had naught but the utmost contempt for the slaves were now helping these very slaves to wage war on their own country. Some colored men such as Savary, at Saint-Marc, and Jean-Baptiste Lapointe at L'Arcahaie, following the example given them by the whites, in their turn betrayed the trust placed in them. Their conduct angered Sonthonax to such a degree that he began to distrust indiscriminately all the colored men. Then began the unfortunate policy of division which was destined to bring about disastrous consequences, the bad effects of which it has been so difficult to root out in Haiti.
In July, 1793, Polvérel and Sonthonax had written to the mulattoes, trying to incite them against the whites and cautioning them to be on their guard concerning the general freedom of the slaves. However, it so happened that events had made this dreaded general freedom an accomplished fact. Therefore those desirous of exploiting either the mulattoes or the blacks had to resort to the divide et impera maxim. In consequence nothing was spared to excite the mutual jealousy of the men of the black race and to sow discord among them.
In the mean time, Sonthonax, on his arrival at Port-au-Prince, had ordered the disbanding of the militia. He set free Guyambois, who had been imprisoned by Polvérel for having been the leader in the conspiracy which was destined to place Saint-Domingue under the authority of a triumvirate consisting of himself, Jean-François, and Biassou. Through Guyambois, Sonthonax entered into relations with Halaou, a black chief, who, in order to preserve his influence over his followers, pretended to be in communication with Heaven through a white cock which was his inseparable companion. The Civil Commissioner invited Halaou to Port-au-Prince, where a banquet was given in his honor at the Executive Mansion. A report that the death of Beauvais, who was at La Croix-des-Bouquets, was decided upon, began to be noised abroad. Upon leaving Port-au-Prince the black leader unfortunately went to La Croix-des-Bouquets; this step served to confirm the rumor which had been set afloat. In consequence, Pinchinat and Montbrun made up their minds to do away with him; and Marc Borno undertook to carry out the criminal project. He started at once for La Croix-des-Bouquets, where, on his arrival, he ordered a sergeant to kill Halaou. A bloody fight ensued, in which the followers of the latter were defeated. This murder was provoked by the instigation wrongly or rightly attributed to Sonthonax, who did nothing to conceal his distrust of the colored men. He soon appointed as commandant of "the place" of Port-au-Prince the white General Desfourneaux, who, having been arrested by Polvérel's order, and tried by a court martial presided over by Montbrun, harbored a bitter grudge against this mulatto officer. Montbrun was the highest military authority at Port-au-Prince. The appointment of this new officer was not to his liking. His displeasure increased, when, contrary to hierarchic discipline, Desfourneaux was directly authorized by Sonthonax to supply a regiment with new soldiers. The commandant of the place availed himself of the opportunity to enlist and arm all the whites, whose hostility toward the colored men was a recognized fact. The latter, blacks and mulattoes, who formed the "Legion of Equality" under the command of Montbrun, became uneasy. A conflict was thus made inevitable; it occurred during the night of March 17, 1794. Montbrun's soldiers attacked and defeated Desfourneaux's. The streets of Port-au-Prince were again stained with blood at a time when the union of all its inhabitants was of absolute necessity to its successful defense.
At the beginning of January, 1794, an English squadron, under the command of Commodore John Ford, had appeared in the harbor. The energetic refusal of Sonthonax to surrender the city had impressed the English; they withdrew without making any attack. But they were not long in returning with stronger forces. On May 30 their fleet was again in the harbor. The landing forces, with General White at their head, were reinforced by the French counter-revolutionists under the command of Baron de Montalembert, H. de Jumécourt, and Lapointe. Against this army of about 3,000 men Port-au-Prince could not oppose more than 1,100 soldiers. The English occupied the city on June 4. Thereupon the Civil Commissioners retreated to Jacmel, when on June 8 the corvette L'Espérance arrived from France. Captain Chambon notified them of the decree of impeachment adopted against them by the Convention on July 16, 1793. The Commissioners lost no time in sailing, leaving the defense of the colony to the care of Laveaux in the North and of Rigaud in the South.
Before leaving Jacmel, Polvérel wrote to Rigaud on June 11, denouncing Montbrun as a traitor. Yet the Civil Commissioners took no steps to have the traitor court-martialed; instead of this he continued to exercise his powers as Governor of the West. Thus to the mulatto Rigaud fell the task of arresting and dismissing the mulatto Montbrun, which served but to foster distrust and jealousy.
After the departure of the Civil Commissioners two military chiefs were in command in the colony: Laveaux and Rigaud. A great portion of the territory was occupied by the English and the Spaniards.
At this period the outlook was a gloomy one for France, which seemed rapidly to be losing hold of her colony. At this juncture a man destined to be the most celebrated representative of the black race turned the scales by the weight of his influence and of his sword: Toussaint Louverture deserted the Spanish cause and took up that of France. The prestige of his name sufficed to expel the Spaniards from Gonaives Marmelade, Plaisance, Gros-Morne, d'Ennery, Dondon, and Limbé. The famous name of this great man should not be passed over without a few words as to his life and character. Born on the Bréda plantation at Haut du Cap, Toussaint spent the first fifty years of his life in slavery; "and," says Placide Justin, "this humble condition did not prevent him from reaching the pinnacle of military honors and from rising, not only above the men of his own race, but above the haughty whites, who were compelled to acknowledge his superiority and wisdom." He began life as a herdsman, during which period he occupied his leisure hours in learning to read and write, and in studying the medicinal plants of the country. He afterward became coachman of Bayou de Libertat, then the manager of the Bréda plantation. Toussaint soon won the confidence of his master. Through his knowledge he already had great influence over the men of his race. It was owing to this that he was so instrumental in bringing about the uprising of the slaves in 1791. But he was wise enough not to assume at the outset a prominent part. In this manner he could not be charged with the responsibility of any of the numerous incendiary fires and murders which accompanied the first great manifestation of the slaves; on the contrary he protected Mr. de Libertat and his family, and exerted all the means in his power to find a safe shelter for them until he could facilitate their departure from Saint-Domingue. When success loomed in the future, Toussaint joined the followers of Biassou, whose secretary he became; he had assumed the title of "Doctor of the King's Armies." This title he changed, however, in June, 1793, and styled himself "General of the King's Army." He followed Jean-François and Biassou when they espoused the Spanish cause. But they became jealous of his success at the head of the army he had organized; and Biassou affected to treat his former secretary as if he were still his subordinate. Relying on his influence over his companions and profiting by the prestige resulting from Ms victories over the French, Toussaint threw off the control exercised over him by his former chiefs and declared that he would henceforth receive orders from no one but the representatives of the King of Spain. The conflict became so acute that his soldiers attacked Biassou's. The latter sent a petition to the Governor of the Spanish portion of Saint-Domingue in which the French emigrants who were at Fort Dauphin denounced Toussaint Louverture as a murderer and a traitor; they even requested that he should be put to death. Don Cabrera went so far as to arrest his whole family, including his nephew Moise. The arrest of his relatives showed Toussaint that, in spite of the great services he had rendered them, the Spaniards were inclined to believe that the charges brought against him were not without foundation. At any moment he might be dismissed, imprisoned, and put to death. These considerations perhaps largely influenced him in deciding to join the cause of France; but they were assuredly not the only reasons which determined his decision; the general freedom granted to the slaves, the political rights which blacks and mulattoes enjoyed under the French and which were still denied them by the Spaniards, had also their effect in influencing him. Be it as it may, on the 4th of May, 1794, the French flag was again hoisted at Gonaives: Toussaint Louverture had abandoned the Spaniards. This defection was in itself a revolution. It was destined to settle the fate of a whole race. However, it was France that for the time being was to profit by it.
Unsuccessful in his attack against Saint Marc where Major Brisbane was in command, Toussaint Louverture made up for his defeat by taking possession of Les Verettes, le Pont de l'Ester, and La Petite-Rivière; he expelled the Spaniards from Saint Raphael, Saint Michel, Hinche, and Dondon.
Whilst Toussaint was reconquering for France the portion of her territory formerly occupied by her enemies, Andre Rigaud, on the night of October 5, 1794, attacked and entered Léogane; he also occupied "Fort Ça-Ira" and "l'Acul" in spite of the energetic resistance made by the English. On December 29 the latter, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford, were again defeated by Rigaud in his attack on Tiburon. Cast down by this blow, Bradford committed suicide.
Beauvais also had been active in expelling from Saltrou the English and the French emigrants who were threatening Jacmel. Owing to Laveaux, whose firmness of attitude at Port-de-Paix had checked the English, to Villate who defended Cap-Français against the attacks by land and sea of the combined forces of the Spaniards and the English, to Toussaint Louverture who reconquered almost the whole Northern province, to Rigaud who retook Léogane and kept nearly the whole Southern province under his authority, the year 1794 which had dawned so disastrously for France drew to a close with the foreign invaders having but a gloomy outlook before them.
Therefore the English, who seemed to believe that all means were fair in war, did not hesitate to resort to corruption. They attempted to win over Rigaud to them by offering him a bribe of 3,000,000 francs. The colored officer rejected with scorn this shameful proposal. A similar attempt at bribery was made on Laveaux, to whom only 50,000 francs were offered. Did the English consider the honor of a white less valuable than that of a colored man? The Governor of Saint-Domingue resented the affront; in his indignation he challenged Colonel Whitelock, who had made the proposal to a duel, to which the latter paid no heed. The English were guilty of a still graver offense. Having captured seventy soldiers of the Southern Legion, they sent them to Jamaica, where, by order of Adam Williamson, Governor of the Island, the captives were imprisoned, chained by the neck; and in spite of the fact that they were prisoners of war, they were publicly sold as slaves. Yet Rigaud and his officers were kind in their treatment of 400 sailors of the Switchoold that had been captured at Cayes.
Following the advice of the French colonists, the English restored slavery and established the supremacy of the whites throughout the territory they occupied. Nevertheless, they had among their followers mulattoes and black leaders like Jean Kina and Hyacinthe. Being thus warned of the fate in store for them, should the English be successful, and tranquilized by the Decree of February 4, 1794, by which the National Convention confirmed the general freedom granted by Sonthonax and Polvérel and abolished slavery in all the French colonies, the colored men began to plot on behalf of France. Their conspiracy was discovered at Saint Marc and L'Arcahaie, and they were mercilessly put to death. Elsewhere, however, their defection favored Toussaint's designs.
In February, 1795, Major Brisbane, who was in command at Saint-Marc, attacked the forces of Toussaint Louverture; the English officer was defeated and severely wounded. In his dealings with the prisoners made by him Toussaint acted with great caution. He would not shoot the French colonists and emigrants, but would send them to Laveaux, who had to take the responsibility of putting them to death. In this way he began to befriend the whites.
Throughout all the time that war was being waged, Toussaint never allowed the cultivation of the land to be neglected. With money raised from the products of the soil he was able to buy arms and ammunition from the United States. Rigaud in the South, and Beauvais in the West, also encouraged agriculture; Cayes and Jacmel could in this way entertain an active commercial intercourse with the United States.
The officers to whose care was intrusted the defense of Saint-Domingue had only their own resources upon which to rely. France was in so critical a condition that there was no probability of her sending any help to the colony, which was even without any news from the mother country. The English, on the other hand, received reinforcements in April, 1795. Considerably strengthened by the assistance of the Spaniards and the arrival of the new soldiers, they extended their authority to Mirebalais, Las Cahobas, and Banica. Before long, however, they were destined to be deprived of the support of their allies. On July 22, 1795, the Treaty of Bale was signed and Spain gave up the whole Spanish portion of Saint-Domingue to France.
At about the same time, on July 23, the National Convention adopted a decree stating that the army of Saint-Domingue had well deserved of the country, and appointing Laveaux major-general and Villate, Toussaint Louverture, Beauvais, and Rigaud brigadier-generals. This good news was brought to Saint-Domingue by the sloop of war Venus, which anchored at Cap-Français the 14th of October, 1795. Laveaux, who up to that time had been residing at Port-de-Paix, returned to Cap-Français, which Villate had so valiantly defended against the English and the Spaniards. Taking advantage of the Treaty of Bale, the Governor of Saint-Domingue demanded the restitution of the whole portion of the French territory occupied by the Spaniards; he insisted upon having Jean-François sent out of the country. On January 4, 1796, the black leader left Fort Dauphin for Havana. He died in Spain, where he had kept his rank of lieutenant-general.
The English, however, thought that Jean-François's followers might be useful to them. To win them over to their cause they had recourse to a black man named Titus, whom they supplied with money and arms. Obeying Laveaux's orders Villate attacked and stormed the camp organized by Titus. The latter was killed and his followers dispersed.
In spite of the services rendered to France by Villate, Laveaux never trusted him. From Port-de-Paix, where he resided, he used to watch every movement of the military commander of Cap-Français.As a matter of fact, Laveaux was displeased at his being kept in the background. As Governor of Saint-Domingue he had now but the native troops to rely on for maintaining his authority; and these he believed more devoted to the officers of their own color than to him. The European officers, the colonists, the royalists, the reactionists had no scruple at going over to the Spaniards and the English. It was not possible to intrust to them the mission of defending the colony. France had thus to resort to the colored men, who constituted the majority of the first freedmen; they rose then to the foremost rank by mere force of circumstances. Through their own fault the whites had lost their preeminence. Rigaud had all the power in the South, Beauvais in the West, and Villate at Cap-Français. The two first fully acknowledged Laveaux's authority; they never failed to keep him aware of their doings. Their devotion to France could not be questioned; they acted bravely in defense of her territory against the English. Villate alone was at variance with the Governor of Saint-Domingue. Nevertheless, the latter deemed it fit to hold all the mulattoes responsible for his quarrel with his subordinate at Cap-Français.
Union Club, Cap-Haitien
Clever and perspicacious, Toussaint at once saw the way in which to turn the mistrust of Laveaux to his own advantage. The latter became a mere puppet in his hands. Beneath his affected mildness was hidden an energetic will; his ambition knew no bounds. Everything must yield before him. Woe to those who dared to stand in his way. Conscious of his superiority over Laveaux, whose narrow-mindedness he was not long in finding out, he proposed to carry out his own interests, under the pretext of accomplishing the Governor's designs. The Agents of France sought to cripple the power of the mulattoes who had given offense to them, thinking that once deprived of their natural allies the blacks easily could be taken back to the deserted plantations.
Toussaint Louverture's intention was to help to reduce the influence of the mulattoes, but in his own behalf and at the expense of those who thought to use him as a tool which they would afterward throw aside. The black man was to prove more clever and a better tactician than the white. The time for action was nearing.
The inhabitants of Cap-Français, displeased with the administration of the Governor, rebelled on March 20, 1796. Laveaux was arrested and imprisoned. The municipality of Cap-Français hastened to adopt a decree investing Villate with the Governorship. This officer, instead of doing his duty by repressing the riot, accepted the office conferred on him by the municipality; thus becoming an accomplice in the attack made upon his official superior. The black Colonels Léveillé and Pierre-Michel protested against such an action. The latter through the medium of Henri Christophe, then a captain, wrote to the municipality demanding the release of Laveaux. He gathered at Fort Belair the black officers Pierrot, Barthélemy, Flaville, etc. Toussaint Louverture intervened energetically on behalf of the Governor. He threatened to lead an attack on Cap-Français if Laveaux were not immediately set free. Such an attitude decided the municipality to reconsider its action. On March 22 Laveaux was set at liberty and Villate withdrew to La Martellière camp. The Governor, however, did not consider himself in safety at Cap-Français; accordingly he went to Petite-Anse, where soon new riots occurred. On March 28 Toussaint came to his help. Two days later the blacks at Cap-Français took up arms; they had been told that Laveaux intended to reestablish slavery. Toussaint Louverture restored order; he became henceforth indispensable and was master of the situation. Entirely discredited, Laveaux was no longer able to maintain his authority except with the support of his former protégé: he appointed Toussaint Lieutenant-Governor. Toussaint was turning to his advantage the mistakes and passions of all.
Whilst Villate was committing the fault of participating in the arrest of the representative of France, Rigaud and his followers were valiantly defending the tricolor flag.
Great Britain had sent heavy reinforcements to Saint-Domingue. In command of over 3,000 men, General Bowyer and Admiral Parker left Port-au-Prince on March 20, 1796; on the 21st the combined land and sea forces attacked Léogane. Alexandre Pétion, who was at that time a major in the army, was in command of Fort Ça-Ira; he compelled the English fleet to withdraw. Renaud Desruisseaux successfully repelled the two assaults made upon Léogane. The English hastened to return to Port-au-Prince when they heard that Beauvais, from Jacmel, and Rigaud, from Cayes, were moving with the greatest haste to aid in defending the town.
In the mean time the Directory had been authorized, by an act adopted on January 24, 1796, to send five Agents to Saint-Domingue. Roume, Sonthonax, Juien Raymond, Giraud, and Leblanc were appointed. Roume was to reside at Santo Domingo. Pie arrived there on April 8, 1796; and his four colleagues landed at Cap-Français on May 12. The new Agents were accompanied by Major-General Rochainbeau, in command of the Spanish portion of the island, Major-General Desfourneaux, and Brigadier-Generals Martial Besse, A. Chanlatte, Beclot, and Lesuire.
The day after their arrival the Agents ordered Villate to appear before them. He therefore returned to Cap-Français, where he was given an enthusiastic welcome by the inhabitants. Displeased with this friendly attitude toward his opponent, Laveaux, at the head of a detachment, charged the crowd: 45 women were wounded.
Villate was at first sent back to his camp; but afterward he was sentenced to be deported and outlawed. To avoid bloodshed he left on the frigate Méduse for France, where he was tried and acquitted.
When Sonthonax left for France in 1794 he already bore feelings of enmity against the mulattoes; he came back to Saint-Domingue with the determination to exert every means in his power to destroy their influence. He found it comparatively easy to carry out his plan; for Laveaux had the same design. There was in consequence nothing else to do but to continue the policy already adopted, and the object of which was to use the blacks against the mulattoes in order to restore to the whites the supremacy which they had lost; afterward the blacks would be dealt with.
At the time when the peace of Bale made it possible to undertake an energetic campaign against the English, the agents of France spent their time in sowing and fostering discord everywhere, instead of trying to unite all those who were willing to defend the cause of the mother country.
Soon after appointing Toussaint Louverture major-general they sent a delegation of three members, Rey, Leborgne and Keverseau, to the South for the purpose of controlling the administration of that province; they decided to cause the arrest of Pinchinat, who was universally esteemed and whose influence was feared by Sonthonax. This delegation arrived at Cayes on June 23, 1796, increased by the addition of Desfourneaux in the capacity of General Inspector of the troops of the South and the West. It was this same General Desfourneaux whose intrigues had provoked an armed conflict in Port-au-Prince on March 17, 1794. Having suffered defeat at the hands of the mulatto Monthbrun, he was, like Sonthonax and Laveaux, unfriendly toward the colored men. Another of the delegates, Rey, having been implicated in an attempt to murder Andre Rigaud in 1793, had been compelled to flee from Caves. And this was the man who had been sent there as the official superior of this general. In this manner Sonthonax and his colleagues plainly showed how slightly they minded wounding the feelings of Andre Rigaud, who, however, had been the one to drive away the English from Léogane and Tiburon, who had kept order and discipline in the whole Southern province, and whose devotion to France could not be questioned. Rigaud's crime consisted in the confidence reposed in him by both blacks and mulattoes, and, in consequence, his influence over them. They charged him with striving for the independence of Saint-Domingue and with keeping out the whites from public offices. Yet at Cayes on the arrival of the delegates two white Frenchmen occupied the position of Orderer (ordonnateur) and Controller of the Treasury, and they were so successful in their management of the finances that the Southern province was able to subsist on its own resources. On account of their devotion to Andre Rigaud, however, they were dismissed and replaced by mere tools of the Agents. The squandering of the people's money began. The order for the arrest of Pinchinat increased the discontent of the inhabitants. But he could not be found, for on July 17 he had left Cayes, taking shelter in the Baradères Mountains.
In order to establish their authority more firmly the Delegates were eager to win a few victories over the English. In consequence they instructed Rigaud to storm the fortified place of "Irois" and Desfourneaux was ordered to attack the Davezac camp. On the 7th of August Rigaud assaulted Irois but failed in his attack; he retreated to Tiburon. On his side Desfourneaux, who was accompanied by the Delegates, was equally unsuccessful in his attempt at storming the Raimond camp; he had to withdraw to the Perrin camp. This double defeat in thwarting the plans of the Delegates so irritated them that they were unable to conceal their disappointment. In their report they said that "they could maintain their authority only by fighting the English. A victory together with the kind treatment they intended to extend to the vanquished were to lead them from the South to the North. The colony would be saved and the Frenchmen would be once more its masters."
The blacks and mulattoes were not then considered as Frenchmen. According to the Delegates the whites alone were capable of being the masters of Saint-Domingue. In case of success their intention therefore was to come to an understanding with the colonists of the Grand'Anse, who were known to entertain the greatest hostility toward the members of the black race. The Agents of France who were at Cap-Français had already issued an amnesty in favor of the emigrants and colonists who would join the French cause.
After their defeat the delegates returned to Cayes (August 18, 1796). They dismissed the "Commandant of the Arrondissement," Augustin Rigaud, the brother of General André Rigaud, and replaced him by Beauvais. Their idea in taking this step was that such an appointment could not fail to create bad feeling between André Rigaud and Beauvais, who were both brigadier-generals; they expected that the latter would show much reluctance in obeying the former's orders: consequently rivalry and conflict, they imagined, would surely ensue between the two mulatto generals. Their forces being thus weakened by division, General Desfourneaux would be justified in putting them aside and in assuming the command of the Southern province. The scheme failed owing to too great haste in bringing about the desired result. The Commandant of Arrondissement of Saint-Louis, the mulatto Lefranc, seeming to stand in their way, the delegates decided to get rid of him. He therefore was ordered to proceed to Caves where, on his arrival, Desfourneaux caused him to be arrested. Whilst being taken on board L'Africaine, he succeeded in making his escape and fled to the Fort La Tourterelle, where he fell in with the soldiers of the regiment which had been formerly under his command. André Rigaud was at that time at Tiburon. In the fight which ensued Desfourneaux's soldiers were defeated. In the plain of Cayes, on the night of August 28, Augustin Rigaud stirred up an insurrection among the blacks whom the emissaries of the delegates were provoking against the mulattoes. A few whites were murdered. Desfourneaux and Rey, alarmed by the popular movement, hurriedly left Cayes. Leborgne and Keverseau, who remained at their post, sent immediately for André Rigaud, whose assistance Lefranc and Augustin had also sought. On the arrival of the colored general (August 31) special powers were conferred on him by the delegates. For the purpose of restoring order they were obliged to have recourse to the very man whose influence they had sought to annihilate.
Quiet speedily prevailed. And the measures taken by Rigaud were so efficacious that the captains of the American ships in the harbor of Cayes extended their thanks to him for the protection he offered them.
After having adopted and pursued in a still worse degree the policy followed by Laveaux in setting the blacks against the mulattoes, Sonthonax and his colleagues tried to cast upon Toussaint the responsibility of the discord which they had fomented. In their report to the Directory of the events which occurred in Saint-Domingue they wrote the following: "Some of the black generals remained faithful. They rescued General Laveaux by force. Two opposite factions were the outcome of the disturbance: the blacks and the mulattoes. General Toussaint increased the confusion and instigated the blacks to the severest measures against the colored men. He provoked the conflict and inspired hatred in the heart of both parties."
Toussaint Louverture was nevertheless appointed commandant of the Western province.
General Rochambeau, who stopped at Cap-Français on his way to Santo Domingo, did not approve of all the doings of the Agents; the corruption of the officials was what he censured most severely. He was summarily dismissed by Sonthonax and sent back to France.
While all these intrigues were taking place, the presence of the English seemed to have been entirely forgotten. As a matter of fact they made no effort to avail themselves of the division existing among their opponents.
On June 14, 1796, the Spaniards evacuated Fort Dauphin, which Laveaux occupied; its name was changed to Fort Liberté, which it still retains.
Rochambeau having been deported, there remained but three major-generals in the colony: Laveaux, Commander-in-Chief; Desfourneaux, and Toussaint Louverture. Should Laveaux also be sent off the island, Toussaint would in all probability succeed him, Desfourneaux being already in disfavor. And if only the same could be done to Sonthonax, then would the black general have before him the possibility of attaining the position of highest authority. To obtain this result, Toussaint resorted to a clever device. For the election of the Deputies to the French Legislative Assembly the Agents had summoned to Cap-Français one electoral college only. Up to that time each of the three provinces, North, South and West, had had its electoral assembly. By ordering the electoral college to meet at Cap-Français the Agents thought that it would be a very simple matter to secure the election of men devoted to their party. But they were wrong in their calculations. From Gonaives, where he resided, Toussaint Louverture was able, through the intermediary of Henri Christophe, a member of the electoral college, to rule the elections; he managed to secure the election of Sonthonax and Laveaux, whose removal from Saint-Domingue was indispensable to the realization of his plans. With much delight at having been elected, Laveaux sailed for France on October 19, 1796. Sonthonax, surprised and highly flattered by the honor conferred on him, saw at first in his election but a new token of the devotion of Toussaint Louverture and of the blacks in general. However, he did not seem to be anxious to leave Saint-Domingue, where he was exercising an absolute dictatorship. His colleague, Giraud, disgusted by all the intrigues which were going on in the island, returned to France. He was soon followed by Leblanc, who sailed on the frigate La Sémillante, after having quarrelled with Sonthonax, whom he charged with having tried to poison him: which proves how small was the trust reposed in Sonthonax by his colleagues.
The Agency of the Directory was then reduced to two members: Sonthonax and Julien Raymond, the latter but a negligible quantity. At the end of November, 1796, the news reached Cap-Français that the rank of major-general conferred on Toussaint had been ratified. At the same time the Directory sent to the new major-general a sword and pistol of honor.
Sonthonax, convinced that these demonstrations of his good will had entirely won over Toussaint Louverture, expected that the latter would be henceforth his tool. Relying on his assistance he adopted, on December 13, 1796, a decree ordering the trial of André Rigaud by the Directory and the Legislative Assembly. Without dismissing this general, the decree aimed at curtailing his authority. A. Chanlatte, Beauvais, and Martial Besse were respectively appointed commandants of the arrondissements of Jacmel, Léogane, and Saint-Louis. All of these officers were mulattoes; therefore it was believed that they would become interested in the downfall of André Rigaud, whilst the latter would distrust them: hence would arise fresh discord and the weakening of the power of this class of men. Sonthonax's scheme was a clever one. The Agency declared besides that it would no longer correspond with André Rigaud. To the decree laying the whole Southern province under an interdict the municipality of Cayes responded by authorizing Rigaud to continue in office. And popular manifestations at Jacmel and Saint-Louis prevented Chanlatte and Martial Besse from entering upon their new duties.
The rupture between Sonthonax and Rigaud was complete. It was no difficult matter for Toussaint Louverture to profit by the existing state of things. Being on bad terms with the mulattoes, Sonthonax depended now entirely on him. Toussaint had sided with Laveaux against Villate, because at that time the latter was in his way. But just now he desired to have the support or, at any rate, the neutrality of all classes in order to attain his goal. Therefore it was that though in opposition to Sonthonax's wish he was favorable in his reception of Rigaud's overtures. The friendly relations which resulted between the black and mulatto generals caused grave apprehensions to Sonthonax. It was evident that his enemies were not Toussaint's; and it did not seem as though Rigaud was jealous of the black man who, by his rank of major-general, had become his official superior. In the opinion of the Agent of the Directory, the intimate union of those two men—both all-powerful, one in the South, the other in the North and the West—could only be fraught with great danger for the authority of France. Consequently, no means were to be spared in order to divide them and to provoke bitter enmity against each other, which could only end in strife.
For the time being, Toussaint, by gaining Rigaud's favor, isolated Sonthonax entirely. He also took the precaution of surrounding himself with officers on whose fidelity he could rely.
J. J. Dessalines was in command at Saint Michel, Moise at Dondon, Clervaux at Gonaives, Henri Christophe at Petite-Rivière.
Sonthonax did not even take the trouble of keeping on good terms with General Desfourneaux, whose support, however, might prove useful to him. The latter had displeased him, therefore he decided to get rid of him. To bring about this result he had recourse to Toussaint, who had the greatest interest in the removal of the only officer of equal rank with him. The black general arrived at Cap-Français on the 15th of May, 1797; at night Desfourneaux was arrested and carried on board. Henceforth Toussaint was the only major-general residing in the colony. On the 3d of May Sonthonax appointed him Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Saint-Domingue.
Yet Toussaint had not helped to annihilate Villate's influence in the North; neither had he succeeded in turning Laveaux out of Saint-Domingue, with the idea of becoming subordinate to Sonthonax. Invested with the highest military authority, his ambition was to succeed Sonthonax as he had already succeeded Laveaux. Meanwhile, he felt the necessity of increasing his prestige; so he started on a campaign against the English. He was successful in expelling them from Vérettes and Mirebalais, but he failed in his attack against Saint-Marc.
In the South, Rigaud, true to France in spite of the decree adopted by Sonthonax, had also renewed hostilities against the English. He could not storm Les Irois, but he succeeded in destroying Dalmarie. The English tried once more to win him over to their cause. Writing to him through Lapointe, they endeavored to speculate upon his supposed jealousy of Toussaint Louverture on account of his being appointed Commander-in-Chief of the army. In his reply Rigaud asserted his devotion to France and defended Toussaint. "I must," said he, "repress your insolence and your insulting tone toward the French General Toussaint Louverture. You have no right to speak of him as a coward, since you do not dare to encounter him; or as a slave, because a French Republican cannot be a slave. His black skin makes no difference between him and his fellow-citizens under a constitution which does not bestow dignities according to one's color."
In spite of Sonthonax's intrigues, Toussaint and Rigaud were then still united. The Commander-in-Chief deemed it time for the realization of his plans. After his defeat before Saint-Marc, his soldiers, who were quite destitute, became somewhat unmanageable. He availed himself of this opportunity to complain of the destitution to which his army had been reduced.
Sonthonax felt that all the responsibility for the sufferings endured by the soldiers was cast upon him. Yet he was unable to remedy the ill effects of the bad management of the finances. In the mean time, he had ordered the arrest of General Pierre-Michel. This arrest, preceded by the arrest of Rochambeau and Desfourneaux, without mentioning the attempt to dismiss Rigaud, made it clear to Toussaint that Sonthonax was not over-scrupulous in getting rid of those who stood in his way or who could no longer be of use to him. Sooner or later his turn would come. Besides, should an intelligent administration not soon find the means of providing for their wants, the soldiers, it was to be feared, would rebel. Toussaint was conscious of the power he possessed and he was confident of being able so successfully to manage the finances as to bring back the former easy circumstances.
On August 15, 1797, he suddenly appeared at Cap-Français. On the 20th he reviewed the troops and secured the good will of the officers. He went afterward to Sonthonax. Accosting the Agent with the greatest deference he handed him a letter inviting him, in the interest of the colony, to go to France and take his seat in the Legislative Assembly. Such a request was equivalent to an order. Sonthonax tried to resist. But he had by his own fault lost the sympathy of those whose assistance might have been of use to him. He had not an influential man, not a competent officer to help him in opposing Toussaint. The latter, noticing the inclination of the Agent to adopt an attitude of firmness, withdrew to Petite Anse, where Henri Christophe was in command. At night on August 23 he fired the alarm-gun. Sonthonax understood the warning and decided to sail. He gave way to Toussaint by leaving Cap-Français on August 25, 1797. The Commander-in-Chief despatched Colonel Vincent to France with the mission of explaining his conduct to the Directory, and he charged Sonthonax with having attempted to induce him to proclaim the independence of Saint-Domingue, making use in this way of the same method to which the Agent had resorted against Rigaud. Moreover, Toussaint believed that the French Government would surely be indulgent to him if he succeeded in expelling the English from the colony. In consequence he reorganized his army, and announced his intention of marching against the invaders. Alexandre Pétion stormed the fortifications of La Coupe built by the English, compelling the latter to retreat to Port-au-Prince. Rigaud, in compliance with Toussaint's order, attacked and took possession of Camp Thomas, not far from Pestel. The campaign was then resumed in the West and in the South.
The Directory now began to be uneasy as to the extent of Toussaint's ambition. But, until the conclusion of peace would allow of their sending sufficient forces to help in restoring the supremacy of the whites, they thought it advisable to be careful in their dealings with the black general. Without openly blaming his actions toward Sonthonax, the Directory sent out General Hédouville to Saint-Domingue. The new Agent arrived at Cap-Français on April 20, 1798. His reception was not enthusiastic on the part of the Commander-in- Chief, whose desire was to be supreme in command; for this reason he had sent Laveaux and Sonthonax away from the colony. Therefore, it was against all his speculations to be relegated to the second rank just at a time when the success of his campaign against the English left no doubt as to their early expulsion from the island.
In fact, it so happened that a few days after Hédouville's arrival, General Maitland, who was in command of the English forces and whose resources were quite exhausted, wrote to Toussaint Louverture offering to evacuate Port-au-Prince, Arcahaie, and Saint-Marc. The Commander-in-Chief of the army of Saint-Domingue took possession of Saint-Marc on May 8, 1798, of l'Arcahaie on May 12, and of La Croix-des-Bouquets on the 14th. On the 15th he made a triumphal entrance into Port-au-Prince. "The colonists gave him a gorgeous reception. The priests went to meet him with the banners of the church unfurled. They carried the cross and the canopy, as it was the custom at the reception of the Governors-General of Saint-Domingue. Magnificently dressed white women showered flowers on him. Some colonists even prostrated themselves before him."
White women, who not long ago had regarded the Africans and their descendants with the utmost contempt, were throwing flowers to a former slave! The proud colonists were at the feet of a black man!
Toussaint Louverture had become the protector of the former wealthy planters of Saint-Domingue. Foreseeing the assistance they might be to him he spared nothing in order to secure their good will. Most of the colonists and the emigrants were in the English army. In direct disobedience to the instructions of the representatives of the Directory he granted amnesty to them. From the pulpit he promised them forgiveness; for Toussaint was in the habit of making his speeches or his important declarations from the pulpit of the church. The priests gave him their support and he caused public worship to be observed. Whilst in France religion was being persecuted, in Saint-Domingue the Commander-in-Chief had opened the churches, and after every victory he would be present at a Te Deum in thanksgiving. He rapidly became influential among the whites, to the detriment of Hédouville's prestige. The latter, through obedience to the instructions received from the Directory, appeared to be merciless; he was obliged to put into execution laws enacted against the emigrants, whilst Toussaint was sheltering not only those who were already in Saint-Domingue but also those who continued to arrive in the island.
If the Commander-in-Chief did his utmost to embarrass Hédouville, the latter had no regard for the feelings of the man who was already master of the colony. The young officers recently arrived from France were allowed to make improper remarks concerning the black General; they ridiculed his garb, his religious tendencies. Hédouville boasted that he had the power to dismiss Toussaint from his rank of Commander-in-Chief of the army. The report of all this boasting and malicious criticism angered Toussaint, who already was not too well disposed toward the Agent of the Directory.
Matters soon came to a climax. Rigaud, who still gladly obeyed Toussaint's orders, went to Port-au-Prince in July, 1798, in order to confer with the Commander-in-Chief about a plan of a campaign against Jérémie. The Southern General had defeated the English at Cavaillon and Tiburon. Toussaint and Rigaud left together for Cap-Français, where Hédouville, pleased at having the opportunity of mortifying Toussaint and of exciting his jealousy, gave a most flattering welcome to the mulatto General. True to the policy of the French Government advocating division and discord, the Agent of the Directory managed in this way to sow in the hearts of two gallant officers seeds of hatred which would cause the soil of Saint-Domingue to be once more stained with blood.
However, Toussaint continued in the performance of his duty. He was successful in his negotiations for the evacuation of Jérémie, of which place Rigaud took possession on August 20, 1798. Through his special agent, Huin, the Commander-in-Chief signed with Colonel Harcourt, the representative of General Maitland, a convention for the abandonment of Môle, the last place then occupied by the English (August 16). Almost at the same time (August 18) Dalton, Hédouville's agent at Môle, had come to an agreement with Colonel Stewart for the evacuation of the same place. General Maitland discarded the last agreement and Hédouville's agent was even kept for a while on the Abergavenny, then in the harbor of Môle. Anxious to separate from France the man who was omnipotent in Saint-Domingue, the English were exceedingly deferential toward Toussaint. And when, on October 2, 1798, he took possession of Môle, he was received with much state. General Maitland presented him with valuable guns and a bronze culverin. The English General went so far as to suggest that Toussaint should proclaim himself King, promising the assistance of the fleet to protect him in case of need, provided that Great Britain be granted the exclusive privilege of trading with the island. Toussaint's sound common sense put him on his guard against such a proposal. He refused the crown but deemed it wise to maintain good relations with those he had just expelled from the country.
So, after a partial occupation of five years, the English were compelled to quit Saint-Domingue. The island was forever lost to them.
The expulsion of the English was unquestionably due to the successful effort of Toussaint Louverture in the North and in the West, and of Rigaud in the South. The native soldiers, blacks and mulattoes, had had to bear the whole burden of the defense of the colony, the mother country being at that time unable to lend any assistance. As a reward to these brave officers and soldiers, France would soon arm brother against brother by enkindling a criminal war; she would allow Toussaint to crush Rigaud, and would overthrow Toussaint herself; she would even endeavor to restore slavery in Saint-Domingue.
Meanwhile, Hédouville could not conceal his displeasure at Toussaint's actions. On September 5, 1798, he wrote to the Commander-in-Chief as follows: "I would congratulate you about the reception given you by General Maitland, were I not convinced that you are the dupe of his perfidy; you dared to write to me that you have more confidence in him than in me. What is the meaning of the great number of emigrants who flock to our shores on English cartel-ships? You would do well to remember the orders and instructions I transmitted to you, and you may rest assured that I intend that they shall be obeyed." At the same time the Agent of the Directory declared void the amnesty which had been granted at Port-au-Prince to the emigrants by Toussaint; he also blamed the municipality for having officially attended a religious ceremony. However, in a proclamation on October 10, 1798, in which he recalled the success achieved against the English, the Commander-in-Chief ordered what follows: "Morning and evening prayers be said by the soldiers and that the generals would cause a Te Deum to be celebrated to return thanks to God for the success of the army and for the return to the colony of thousands of emigrants."
Whilst Toussaint Louverture was offering thanksgiving for the return to the colony of thousands of emigrants, Hédouville, on October 14, renewed his order prohibiting the admission into Saint-Domingue of these same emigrants. The conflict between the two generals was assuming an alarming aspect. Several officers under Toussaint's command had already begun to disregard Hédouville's authority. Dessalines, who was Commandant of the Arrondissement of Saint-Marc, had flatly refused to carry out one of his orders. Moise, Commandant of the Arrondissement of Fort Liberté, assumed such a threatening attitude that the representative of the French Government decided to dismiss him. But Toussaint Louverture's nephew, who was fully aware of his uncle's intentions, warned the people to be prepared for all contingencies.
Hédouville, still believing that he could assert his authority, invested Manigat, a justice of the peace at Fort Liberté, with all the civil and military powers. In order to prevent any disturbance of the peace the magistrate ordered the disarmament of the Fifth Regiment. A bloody fight ensued; and Moise, fearing to be arrested, fled to the country, where he set to work to stir up the people (October 16, 1798). A band of armed peasants marched to Cap-Français, where they were joined by Dessalines. Like Sonthonax, Hédouville was then compelled to leave Saint-Domingue. He sailed on October 23, 1798, on the frigate La Bravoure. In a proclamation issued the day before he had censured Toussaint Louverture's behavior in very strong terms. And, in order to divide the blanks and mulattoes, he had authorized Rigaud to defy the authority of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. On October 22 he wrote as follows to the Commandant of the Southern province: "Compelled to quit the colony through the ambition and perfidy of General Toussaint Louverture, who has sold himself to the English, the emigrants, and the Americans,—and has violated his most solemn oaths,—I release you entirely from the authority intrusted to him as a Commander-in-Chief, and I entreat you to assume the command of the Southern Département as designated in the law of Brumaire 4th … "
After the sailing of the representative of France, Toussaint went to Cap-Français, where, in accordance with his habits, he ordered the singing of the Te Deum. He set in motion all the communes of the colony; and they sent to him numerous addresses protesting against Hédouville's behavior. He gave over all these addresses to Gaze, whom he despatched to France to explain to the Directory the recent occurrences in Saint-Domingue. And in order to disclaim the appearance of all pretensions to independence, he hastened to ask Roume, who was at Santo Domingo, to come and reside in the French portion of the island. Meanwhile, he did not conceal his resentment at Hédouville's letter to Rigaud. He quite naturally believed that the Commandant of the Southern province was in full sympathy with the Agent of France. This started a bitter exchange of letters between the two principal military authorities of the colony. Conceit and false pride played a large part in aggravating the disagreement between the two generals.
Rigaud enjoyed great prestige in the South. Released by Hédouville's order from all obedience to Toussaint, and thus rendered somewhat independent, there was a possibility of his becoming a dangerous rival. To maintain his authority it would be necessary for Toussaint completely to cripple the power of the only man who could successfully resist him. Therefore he lost no time in beginning to discredit him.Such was the situation when, on January 12, 1799, Roume arrived at Port-au-Prince. After concerting with Toussaint Louverture he called a meeting of Rigaud, Beauvais, and Laplume. At this meeting, which took place at Port-au-Prince, Roume requested Rigaud to resign his position of Commander-in-Chief of the Southern province and to relinquish Petit-Goave and Grand-Goave to Laplume, who was already in command of the Arrondissement of Léogane. By accepting such a proposal Rigaud's authority would have been reduced to nothing practically. So he tendered a full resignation of all his authority; and having been elected
The departure of Rigaud would have removed many difficulties; it would have satisfied Toussaint's ambition for the time being; all power would be his in the colony. All cause of conflict between the natives of Saint-Domingue would thus have disappeared. Knowing as he did the misunderstanding which, since Hédouville's letter, existed between Toussaint and Rigaud, Roume was in duty bound to accept the latter 's resignation. However, he refused it. The policy of France aimed at that time to divide the blacks and the mulattoes in order to be able to restore the supremacy of the whites by subduing each of them individually. Roume, who was cognizant of the ulterior designs of the Directory, was determined to do his utmost to provoke and keep up the mistrust existing between the two parties. He persisted in refusing to accept the resignation which Rigaud again made to him, and he succeeded in deciding him not only to remain in Saint-Domingue but also caused a weakening of his authority by transferring the command of Grand-Goave and Petit-Goave to Laplume. This arrangement did not meet with Toussaint Louverture's full approval, as it still left his rival with a great deal of influence, whereas it was his wish to get him out of the colony. To bring about this end, he determined to avail himself of the first opportunity to make a rupture inevitable. As the consequence of a riot which occurred at Corail, thirty of the malcontents, twenty-nine of whom were black and one white, were imprisoned in the jail of Jérémie; they died from asphyxiation. Whilst this was taking place Rigaud was at Petit-Goave, on his way to Cayes. Upon learning of this unfortunate occurrence Toussaint Louverture, then in Port-au-Prince (February 21, 1799), treated it as a matter of the greatest importance. The drummers went through the streets beating "La Générale"; the whole population was summoned to the cathedral. From the pulpit Toussaint denounced Rigaud as the enemy of the blacks and afterward wrote him a most insulting letter.
Roume purposely held aloof and allowed the quarrel to grow more bitter. Since February 25 he had left for Cap-Français; but he continued to keep up a cordial correspondence with the Commandant of the Southern province. However, he suddenly issued a proclamation in which he denounced Rigaud as a man whose ambition was a menace to the established governmental authority. Nevertheless, Roume did not dismiss him, neither did he inflict on him any disciplinary measure. Instead of this he requested Toussaint Louverture to call the insubordinate to order, thus attaining his end in creating a civil war.
Rigaud found himself in a sad dilemma: he had to choose between fighting or fleeing from Saint-Domingue. He accepted the former alternative—incited by his hasty temper, the recollection of his past services to France and the authority intrusted to him, which he considered his duty to exercise. Toussaint proceeded with his usual caution in preparing for the unavoidable struggle by taking such measures as to insure him success. He gave special thought to the supplies of his army, provisions being somewhat scarce. For this reason lie entered into direct relations with John Adams, then the President of the United States, who appointed Edward Stevens Consul-General at Saint-Domingue. Toussaint's negotiations with England and the United States resulted in a similar commercial arrangement with both countries, to which Roume gave his approval in April, 1799. The two powers pledged their assistance to the black General. In consequence General Maitland advised his agents to give their unreserved support to Toussaint and to do their utmost to prevent a reconciliation between the latter and Rigaud, whilst President Adams placed under an interdict all the southern ports of Saint-Domingue, and by a proclamation of June 26, 1799, prohibited their entrance to all American ships, thus depriving Rigaud of the means of getting provisions and war material. He even went so far as to place American men-of-war at the disposal of Toussaint, so much was he won over to the latter's cause.
The conflict brought about by the intrigues of the Agents of France broke out at last. At night on the 17th of June, 1799, Rigaud's soldiers who were quartered at Pont-de-Miragoane attacked and stormed the fort of Petit-Goave. Bloodshed had started; men were about to kill their own brothers, and all to the greatest satisfaction of the colonists, who saw visions of reconquering their former influence through this great sacrifice of human life. Toussaint displayed his usual activity. After repressing a rebellion at Môle Saint-Nicolas he centred his efforts against Jacmel, which was being besieged by General Dessalines, Commander-in-Chief of the forces in the South. The few ships used in the blockade of the town were inadequate to prevent the landing of supplies of provisions sent to the besieged town. Toussaint then claimed the promised assistance of President John Adams, as a result of which a brig and a frigate of the United States Navy cruised before Jacmel and chased away the small crafts which were endeavoring to revictual the town.
The besieged people of Jacmel had been successively deserted by their leaders Beauvais and Birot; however, they kept up a valiant defense under the command of Pétion, who at the eleventh hour had come to their help. Being unable any longer to resist the famine and the consequent diseases arising from it, they evacuated the town on March 10, 1800. The fall of Jacmel was the beginning of the overthrow of Rigaud. In spite of their great bravery his soldiers could not check the steady advance of Toussaint's more powerful army. On July 28, 1800, Dessalines was at a distance of only three leagues from Cayes, the port of which was blockaded by two frigates and two schooners of the United States Navy. Rigaud's cause was irretrievably lost. Flight was the only course open to him; consequently, he left Cayes and sailed from Tiburon on July 29, 1800, on a Danish ship bound for Saint Thomas.
The 1st of August, 1800, Toussaint Louverture arrived at Cayes. According to his custom he went to the church, where, after the usual Te Deum had been chanted, he ascended the pulpit and proclaimed a full oblivion of all the happenings of the past. For some time to come Saint-Domingue knew no other master. Toussaint had supreme command. He had meantime unfortunately lost the sympathy and devotion of many friends: a fact which he would have bitter cause to regret in the short space of two years after his glorious triumph.
- Letter to Duvigneau dated July 17, 1793. (B. Ardouin, Studies of Haitian History, Vol. II, p. 208.)
- Since April 9 Polvérel, who was previously at Cayes, had been in Port-au-Prince with Sonthonax.
- Even before the conflict of March 18, when Sonthonax was compelled to embark his protégé Desfourneaux, the Civil Commissioner had a great dislike for Montbrun. So he charged the latter with having given up Port-au-Prince to the English. However, Montbrun had fought gallantly at Fort Bizoton, where he was wounded. Notwithstanding this, Rigaud caused Montbrun to be arrested and sent to France; after four years' imprisonment he was summoned to appear before a court martial at Nantes and was acquitted of the accusations brought against him. He served in the French army and was appointed general. He died at Bordeaux in 1831.
- It is said that Toussaint adopted the name of Louverture after the storming of Dondon when Polvérel had been heard saying, "Cet homme fait ouverture partout" ("This man makes an opening everywhere"). However, the widow of Sonthonax, who knew Toussaint when he was still a slave, says that he was called Louverture before the uprising of the slaves; that his nickname had been given to him on the Bréda plantation on account of his having lost his front teeth. If such were the case, why then did Toussaint sign his name as "Toussaint Bréda" in the first days of the rebellion? We have sought the reason of this change of name; and one of the companions of Toussaint, Paul Aly, told us that Toussaint assumed the name of Louverture because he was the first to receive the mission of preparing the uprising of the slaves in the North. (B. Ardouin, Studies of Haitian History, Vol. II, p. 226.)
- B. Ardouin gives May, 1743, as Toussaint's birthday. According to E. Robin (History of Haiti, p. 71), Toussaint was born in 1745; Placide Justin (History of Haiti, p. 277) is of the same opinion as Robin. But Dubroca (Life of Toussaint Louverture, p. 3) says that Toussaint was born in 1743, whilst Gragnon-Lacoste (Life of Toussaint Louverture) affirms that the right date of his birth was May 20, 1746.
- History of Haiti, p. 277. It would be well to quote here Wendell Phillips's interesting account of Toussaint Louverture: "If I were to tell you the story of Napoleon, I should take it from the lips of Frenchmen, who find no language rich enough to paint the great captain of the nineteenth century. Were I to tell you the story of Washington, I should take it from your hearts—you, who think no marble white enough to carve the name of the Father of his country. But I am to tell you the story of a negro, Toussaint Louverture, who has left, hardly one written line. I am to glean it from the reluctant testimony of his enemies, men who despised him because he was a negro and a slave, hated him because he had beaten them in battle. Cromwell manufactured his own army. Napoleon, at the ago of 27, was placed at the head of the best troops Europe ever saw. Cromwell never saw an army till he was forty; this man never saw a soldier till he was fifty. Cromwell manufactured his own army out of what? Englishmen, the best blood in Europe. Out of the middle class of Englishmen, the best blood of the island. And with it he conquered what? Englishmen, their equals. This man manufactured his army out of what? Out of what you call the despicable race of negroes, debased, demoralized by two hundred years of slavery, one hundred thousand of them imported into the island within four years, unable to speak a dialect intelligible even to each other. Yet out of this mixed, and, as you say, despicable mass he forged a thunder-bolt and hurled it at what? At the proudest blood in Europe, the Spaniard, and sent him home conquered; at the most warlike blood in Europe, the French, and put them under his feet; at the pluckiest blood in Europe, the English, and they skulked home to Jamaica. Now if Cromwell was a general, at least this man was a soldier. … "Some doubt the courage of the negro. Go to Hayti, and stand on those fifty thousand graves of the best soldiers France ever had, and ask them what they think of the negro's sword. I would call him Napoleon, but Napoleon made his way to empire over broken oaths and through a sea of blood. This man never broke his word. I would call him Cromwell, but Cromwell was only a soldier, and the state he founded went down with him into his grave. I would call him Washington, but the great Virginian held slaves. This man risked his empire rather than permit the slave-trade in the humblest village of his dominions. You think me a fanatic, for you read history, not with your eyes but with your prejudices. But fifty years hence, when Truth gets a hearing, the Muse of history will put Phocion for the Greek, Brutus for the Roman, Hampden for the English, LaFayette for France, choose Washington as the bright consummate flower of our earlier civilization, then, dipping her pen in the sunlight, will write in the clear blue, above them all, the name of the soldier, the statesman, the martyr, Toussaint Louverture."
- Spanish commander-in-chief of the South and West.
- Placide Justin, History of Haiti, p. 274.
- Placide Justin, History of Haiti, p. 274.
- B. Ardouin, Studies of Haitian History, Vol. II, p. 446.
- In spite of this decree of the Convention, slavery existed in the French colonies until it was definitely abolished in 1848.
- On his arrival in France Sonthonax was tried and acquitted of the charges brought against him.
- B. Ardouin, Studies of Haitian History, Vol. III, p. 251.
- B. Ardouin, loc. cit., Vol. III, p. 274.
- Letter of General Rigaud to J. B. Lapointe. July 17, 1797. (B. Ardouin, Studies of Haitian History, Vol. III, p. 320.)
- Known at the present day as Pétionville, a summer-resort in the neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
- B. Ardouin, Studies on Haitian History, Vol. III, p. 420.
- B. Ardouin, Studies on Haitian History, Vol. III, p. 470.
- B. Ardouin, Studies on Haitian History, Vol. III, p. 470.
- Ibid., p. 496.
- B. Ardouin, Studies of Haitian History, Vol. III, p. 311.
- On board H. M. S. Camilla, of l'Arcahaie, General Maitland addressed to Lieutenant-Colonel Grant, who had been recently appointed British Agent in the island of Saint-Domingue, a letter of instructions from which I reproduce the following extract: "I do not apprehend that there can be the smallest danger arriving to Jamaica if Toussaint gains the superiority; and so long as this island (Saint-Domingue) is in its present state (that is, of actual warfare) it is equally clear that it is perfectly safe. One great object therefore of your duty here will be to endeavor to keep it in one of these two situations as far as you can, that is, to prevent any amicable arrangement taking place between Rigaud and Toussaint, of which indeed I see no possible chance; and should Toussaint gain the superiority you must exert yourself to the utmost to hinder him from receiving anything like an agent on the part of the Directory. The present will be displaced long before your arrival. … You are to endeavor by every means in your power to keep Toussaint in supreme authority in the island and to enter into any fair views of his that may have this obvious tendency."
- Letter of Toussaint Louverture to John Adams, President of the United States, dated Port-de-Paix, August 14, 1799. Extract: "Mr. Edward Stevens has communicated to me your letter concerning the measures adopted in your proclamation. … Of all the coercive means at my disposal I can make use only of those which this country offers to me in order to repress the criminal audacity of the rebellious Rigaud and of his followers; but other means more powerful are wanting. Without a navy, the pirates of the South, who infest our coasts, plunder and murder Frenchmen and foreigners whom they meet on their way. … With their barges they reinforce the rebellious towns of the North without my being able to go in pursuit of these pirates. It is to put an end to their piracy that, whilst my land forces will endeavor to crush them, I beg of you, full of confidence in your fairness and your principles of justice, to let me have the assistance of some men-of-war. By granting my request you will have the glory to have helped, you and your nation, in repressing a rebellion odious to all the governments of the world. It is of very little importance that in your proclamation you have prohibited the ships of your nation from going to the ports of Saint-Domingue, except to Cap-Français and Port Républicain; such a measure will be of no avail if you have not some strong way to cause it to be respected. By granting my request for a few men-of-war, you repress a rebellion which all the governments have interest in repressing, while you secure the execution of the will of your own Government."
- Beauvais, whom the "affranchis" of the Diègue camp had appointed their leader, was unfit to hold the first rank. Always ready to obey the Agents of France, he was greatly disturbed by the proclamation of Roume branding him with the name of a rebel. In order to avoid the necessity of fighting Toussaint Louverture he fled from Jacmel, of which arrondissement he was commander. The ship on which he set sail for France sank and he was drowned.
- From Saint Thomas, Rigaud went to Guadeloupe, whence he sailed for France on October 2; on his way he was captured and made prisoner by the Americans, who were still lending their assistance to Toussaint. He was taken to Saint Christopher and there imprisoned. He did not succeed in reaching France until the following year on March 31, 1861. (B. Ardouin, Studies on Haitian History, Vol. IV, p. 201.)