Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/72

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Haiti: Her History and Her Detractors

the necessity of admitting equality of political rights granted to the free blacks and mulattoes.

On September 22 the English, without striking a blow, occupied also Môle Saint-Nicolas. They were soon in possession of L'Arcahaie, Leogane, Saint-Marc, and of the whole province of La Grand'Anse.

It looked as if France was about to lose possession of Saint-Domingue. In the North the only important places where the French authority was still acknowledged were Fort-Dauphin, Cap-Français, and Port-de-Paix, where General Laveaux, the acting Governor, resided. Yet the Civil Commissioners had not remained inactive whilst these events were taking place. In June they had tried without success to alienate Jean-François,[1] Biassou, and Toussaint Louverture from the Spanish cause. In July Polvérel left for the West, where hostile manifestations against France were threatened. Won over by the Spaniards, two brothers named Guyambois, blacks who had gained their freedom, were planning, first to place three chiefs at the head of the colony—Jean Guyambois, Jean-Francois, and Biassou; secondly, to proclaim the freedom of all the slaves; and third, to share the land among the former slaves.[2] A Frenchman, the Marquis d'Espinville, in connivance with the Spanish Governor, encouraged these schemes. Polvérel frustrated the plot by arresting the two Guyambois and the principal accomplices. However, great excitement prevailed among the slaves when news of this project became known. It was feared that they would be completely won over to the Spanish cause through the promise of freedom and of the partition of the land. Thus the concession made by the Decree of June 21, which granted freedom alone to those slaves who would fight for the French Republic,

  1. Jean-Francois remained true to Spain. In 1802 he was living at Cadiz with the rank and salary of a lieutenant-general in the army of the King of Spain. "He had a large retinue," says Dubroca; "ten black "officers acted as his aides-de-camp." (Life of Toussaint Louverture, note 2.)
  2. These men, devoid of any intellectual culture, were laying down the principles of the future independence of Haiti.