Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/115

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
103
Toussaint in Supreme Command

to work in their own behalf; and a decree authorizing the taking possession of the Spanish portion of the island. Upon the refusal of the representative of France to accede to these demands, he was unceremoniously locked up in a poultry-house. They sent for Toussaint, who, however, showed no hurry in taking part in the matter. At last he arrived on April 27, 1800. Taking advantage of Roume's sad plight, he extorted from him the decree authorizing the occupation of the Spanish portion of Saint-Domingue. He intrusted this mission to General Agé, who failed to carry it out; the strong opposition of the Spanish authorities and inhabitants compelled him to leave Santo Domingo.

Until the right time should come for the realization of his plans, Toussaint was carrying on the legislation without paying the slightest heed to the representative of France. He made regulations concerning, 1st, the collection by the Treasury of the income yielded by lands the owners of which were absent; 2d, the postal service; 3d, the administration of the Navy. He took strong measures with the view of preventing any disturbance of public order. He knew by personal experience how to stir up the people. It was by means of nocturnal dances and ceremonies, which the frightened colonists indiscriminately called "vaudoux"; by means of these secret meetings it was that conspiracies were plotted. To influence the uncultured slaves, the leaders had to resort to the supernatural, even going so far as making them believe that they were invulnerable. What is designated as "vaudoux" might be considered as a kind of politico-mystical association which the most enlightened among the blacks very cleverly used to attain their ends. The resolutions adopted, the watchwords were scrupulously obeyed by the members of the sect. Toussaint was better aware than any one what an easy matter it was to disturb the peace through the practice of such an institution; for he was one of the instigators of the slaves' uprising and a witness of the ceremony at which Boukmann administered "the oath of blood" on the entrails of a wild boar. In conse-