Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/64

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Haiti: Her History and Her Detractors

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Whilst the foregoing events were taking place in the island of Saint-Domingue, the Constituent Assembly in France had been replaced by the Legislative Assembly.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