Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/67

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59
The "Affranchis" Exercise Their Political Rights

Louis XVI furnished the colonists with a pretext for renewing the struggle. The Colonial Assembly tried to stir up the people with a view of getting rid of Sonthonax, Polvérel, and Ailaud. These latter frustrated the plan by taking energetic steps: by an order on October 12 they dissolved the Assembly of Cap-Français and all the other popular assemblies. In place of the Colonial Assembly they organized what was called the "Commission intermédiaire" (Intermediary Committee), consisting of twelve members: six whites and six colored men. Thus for the first time the representatives of the black race sat, in a political body, by the side of the arrogant colonists who formerly had had naught but contempt for them. Pinchinat, Jacques Borno, Louis Boisrond, François Raymond, Castaing, and Latortue were the first "affranchis" officially admitted to the honor of participating in the administration of the colony. The colored men did not content themselves with belonging simply to the Intermediary Committee, they took a large part in the organization of the municipalities; they even held public offices. Civil and political equality was henceforth an accomplished fact. But much blood was still to be shed; and the black race was to struggle heroically and successfully to preserve forever an advantage for the winning of which so many lives had been sacrificed.

The pride of the colonists suffered greatly; it seemed impossible for them to accept such a situation. At Cap-Français they plotted a conspiracy, in which even the new Governor-General, d'Esparbès, took part. The Civil Commissioners were able to prevent disturbances only by resorting to extraordinary measures. Assured of the devotedness of the colored men, they proceeded without hesitation to arrest General d'Esparbès and forty white officers, all of whom were taken on board and kept as prisoners in the harbor of Cap-Français. General Rochambeau became acting Governor-General. For a while the firm attitude of the Civil Commissioners preserved peace. They thought that they could now safely look after the welfare of the various prov-