Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/56

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Haiti: Her History and Her Detractors

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[1] and appointed a committee of forty members, of which Pierre Pinchinat[2] 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-

  1. Fifteen miles from Port-au-Prince.
  2. 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.)