Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/123

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
The Constitution of 1801.

a Governor, the General highest in rank was to exercise the power until the election of a new Governor.

In this manner the Governor of Saint-Domingue no longer owed his authority to France, but to the people of the colony. The mother country had also lost the right of appointing to public offices and of enacting laws for this dependency of hers. After investing Toussaint with all the prerogatives which could satisfy his ambition, the colonists bethought themselves of their interests. The cultivators were then prohibited from leaving their plantations; and it was decided that laborers would be imported to restore and promote agriculture. However, slavery was abolished forever.

Civil and criminal courts and a Supreme Court (Tribunal de Cassation) were organized; but courts martial were authorized to act in all cases of robbery, murder, incendiarism, conspiracies, etc. The Roman Catholic religion was proclaimed the religion of the State; and divorce was prohibited.

To fill up the measure, the Assembly authorized the Governor to put the Constitution in execution without awaiting the approval of the French Government.

Toussaint lost no time in complying with the will of the people of Saint-Domingue. On the Place d'Armes of Cap-Français the Constitution was proclaimed with great pomp on the 8th of July, 1801; it was afterward printed and made public in the whole colony. Toussaint was at the topmost pinnacle of greatness. He sincerely believed that from that time forward he was the legal and legitimate chief of Saint-Domingue, France having only a nominal protectorate on the island.

Some of his lieutenants, however, could not help fearing the probable consequences of so bold a step. Dessalines thought that Toussaint was too much under the influence of the colonists, and that he was not cautious enough in his actions. But he observed great circumspection in his criticism, not caring to get into disfavor with the new Governor-General. Moise, believing that the ties of blood and his oft-proven fidelity made him