Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/65

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57
Army of the "Affranchis" Occupy Port-au-Prince

were made use of by the colonists so as to undermine the authority of the agents of the mother country.

The Decree of March 28 (better known as the Decree of April 4) was received at Saint-Domingue on May 28. Roume, whose powers had been greatly increased, hastened to have it enrolled by the Colonial Assembly of Cap-Français. With the cooperation of Governor de Blanchelande he decided to subdue the colonists of Port-au-Prince. The "affranchis" gladly tendered their assistance. The colored men of Saint-Marc escorted the Civil Commissioner to La Croix-des-Bouquets (June 20). Soon after Beauvais and Rigaud reoccupied Port-au-Prince (July 5). The slaves of La Croix-des-Bouquets, l'Arcahaye, and the Cul-de-Sac plain resumed their work. Freedom, however, was granted to 144 of them upon their agreeing to serve for five years in the gendarmery and to help in maintaining order on the plantations.

Whilst Roume was doing his utmost to restore peace at Port-au-Prince, Governor de Blanchelande had gone to Jérémie, accompanied by André Rigaud. The whites of La Grand 'Anse had flatly refused to accept the Decree of April 4. After defeating the colored men, many of the prisoners taken were put to death; the rest were kept in chains on prison-ships in the harbor of Jérémie; among these were even old men, women, and children. The most that Blanchelande could obtain for them was that they be sent to Cap-Français. Satisfied with this relative success he left for Aux Cayes, where he failed in his campaign against the rebellious slaves intrenched at Platons. Disheartened by his defeat he went back to Cap-Français. André Rigaud succeeded in pacifying the rebellious slaves by freeing 700 of them.

Success had at last crowned the efforts of the "affranchis"; by force of arms, blacks and mulattoes had acquired the exercise of their political rights. In the West and in the South more than 1,000 slaves had obtained their freedom. The first blow had been struck at the colonial system!