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Mr. Hammett, the first Methodist missionary at Tortola, com
menced his labours in the Virgin Islands and Santa Cruz this
year. The exports from the French colony of St. Domingo were 47,516,531 pounds of white sugar, 98,773,300 of brown; 76,835,219 of coffee; 7,004,274 of cotton; and 758,628 of indigo. The produce of 1787, 1788, and 1789, amounted, on an average, to £4,956,780 sterling. Mr. Gregg, secretary to the King's commission, and auctioneer, in disposing of the lands in the ceded islands, stated that he had sold 174,000 acres for £620,000, under a covenant for the purchaser to cut down, clear, and cultivate one acre out of twenty every year, till half the uncleared lands shall be cleared, under penalty of paying £5 per annum for every acre neglected. Of the 106,470 acres of land which Barbadoes is said to contain, there are hardly any not cultivated which are capable of being brought into culture.
In January, the royal order for convoking a general colonial assembly was received at St. Domingo: it appointed Leogane for the place of meeting. The provincial assemblies disapproved of this order, adopted another plan, resolved to hold the assembly at St. Marc, and fixed the time for the 16th of April.
On the 8th of March, the national assembly, in France, voted, “that it never was the intention of the assembly to comprehend the interior government of the colonies in the constitution which they had framed for the mother country, or to subject them to laws which were incompatible with their local establishments: they therefore authorize the inhabitants of each colony to signify to the national assembly their sentiments and wishes concerning that plan of interior legislation and commercial arrangement . would be most conducive to their prosperity.”
On the 28th of the same month, the national assembly passed a decree of instructions for the execution of their decree of the 8th: it consisted of eighteen articles, and contained, among other things, a declaration, “that every person of the age of twenty-five and upwards, possessing property, or having resided two years in the colony, and paid taxes, should be permitted to vote in the formation of the colonial assembly.” And, “that the national assembly would not cause any innovation to be made, directly or indirectly,
Coke's West Indies, vol. iii. pp. 112. 398. Parliamentary Papers, 1789, Slave Trade Examination, John Gregg, Esq. Report of the Lords of the Committee, 1789. Edwards, vol. iii. pp. 24, 25. 63.
in any system of commerce in which the colonies were already concerned.”
The Mulattoes, doubting the meaning of the decree, or not being powerful enough to enforce their claims, sent deputies to the national assembly, to demand an explanation of it.
The general assembly met at St. Marc, on the 16th of April : it was composed of 213 members, of whom twenty-four were for the city of Cape François, sixteen for Port-au-Prince, and eight for Las Cayes, most of the other parishes returned two each; and the colony, as far as regarded the Whites, was allowed to be fairly represented.
M. Peynier, the governor-general, with the officers of the army, tax-gatherers, and all the persons belonging to the courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction, beheld with indignation and dread this great and sudden revolution, and the planters were not united among themselves. The provincial assembly of the north counteracted by every means in their power the proceedings of the general assembly at St. Marc; who, on the 28th of May, published a decree, which became the ostensible motive, on the part of the executive, for commencing hostilities: it consisted of ten fundamental positions.
“ 1. The legislative authority, in every thing which relates to the internal concerns of the colony, is declared to reside in the assembly of its representatives.
“ 2. That no law be considered as a law definitive, unless it be made by the assembly, and confirmed by the King.
“ 3. That, in cases of urgent necessity, a decree of the assembly should be considered as a law provisional :' such decree to be sent to the governor-general, who, within ten days, was to cause it to be enforced, or transmit his observations thereon.
“ 4. The necessity of the case on which such decree was to depend, to be decided by a majority of two-thirds of the assembly.
* 5. If the governor shall send his observations, a majority of two-thirds confirm the decree, and the governor-general shall immediately enforce it.
“ 6. No decree shall be enforced in the colony, until the general assembly shall have consented thereto.
“ 7. In cases of pressing necessity, the importation of articles for the support of the inhabitants shall not be considered as any breach in the commercial regulations between St. Domingo and France.
“ 8. Provided also, that every act executed provisionally, in cases of urgent necessity, shall be sent for the royal sanction. And if the King shall refuse his consent, its execution shall cease.
“ 9. A new general assembly shall be chosen every two years, and none of the members who have served in the former shall be eligible in the new one.
“ 10. The assembly decree, the preceding articles form part of
the constitution of the French colony in St. Domingo. They shals be sent to France, for the sanction of the national assembly and the King—be notified to the governor-general, and transmitted to all the districts of the colony.” Upon the publication of this decree, the enemies to the assembly industriously spread a report that the assembly intended to declare the colony an independant state; and when this report failed, it was asserted that the members were sold to the English. This was believed: the western parishes recalled their deputies; the inhabitants of Cape François renounced obedience to the assembly, and requested the governor to dissolve it. These disputes gave him great satisfaction. At this time the crew of the Leopard, line-of-battle ship, at Portau-Prince, declared themselves in the interest of the assembly, and refused obedience to their captain. The assembly immediately transmitted a vote of thanks to the seamen, and required them, in the name of the law and the King, to detain the ship, and wait their orders. The seamen affixed the vote of thanks upon the ship's mainmast. Two days after this, M. Peynier, the governor, issued a procla
..mation to dissolve the assembly: he pronounced the members and’
their adherents traitors to their country, and enemies to the King. He declared his intention to employ all his force to defeat their projects, and called on all officers, civil and military, for their cooperation and support. His first proceedings were directed against the committee of the western provincial assembly, who met at Port-au-Prince: he determined to arrest their persons; and M. Mauduit, colonel of the regiment of Port-au-Prince, undertook to conduct the enterprize, with 100 of his soldiers. The committee held their consultations at midnight. M. Mauduit found the house protected by 400 of the national guards. A skirmish ensued: several were wounded on both sides, and two were killed on the part of the assembly. M. Mauduit returned, bringing away the national colours in triumph. The general assembly now summoned the people to hasten, properly armed, to protect their representatives; and most of the inhabitants of the adjoining parishes obeyed the summons. The Leopard was brought to St. Marc, for the same purpose. The northern provincial assembly joined the governor, and the preparations on both sides threatened an obstinate and bloody conflict, when the general assembly unexpectedly determined to go to France, and justify their conduct to the King and the national assembly in person. Accordingly, eighty-five members, of whom sixty-four were fathers of families, embarked on board the Leopard, and on the 8th of August sailed for Europe. A momentary calm
Edwards, vol. iii. pp. 35, 36, 37, 38, 39.
followed. M. Peynier resumed the reins of government, and sent to the governor of the Havaña for Spanish troops.
M. Peynier and M. Mauduit were anxious to restore the ancient system.
Upon the 12th of October, James Ogé, a Mulatto, landed in St. Domingo, with arms and ammunition for the people of colour. He joined his two brothers, and they exerted themselves in exciting the Mulattoes to revolt. He sent a letter to the governor, reproaching him and his predecessors with the non-execution of the Code Noir, and demanded that its provisions should be enforced throughout the colony. He required that the privileges enjoyed by the Whites should be extended to all without distinction, and declared himself the protector of the Mulattoes, and his intention of taking arms in their behalf, unless their wrongs were redressed.
He established his camp at Grand Riviere, about fifteen miles from Cape François, and was joined by about 200 followers; who, notwithstanding he cautioned them against shedding innocent blood, proceeded to murder the first white man they met.
At Cape François, the inhabitants proceeded with vigour to suppress the revolt. They soon invested the camp of the Mulattoes, who made less resistance than was expected. Sixty were made prisoners, many were killed, the rest fled to the mountains. Ogé and his brothers took refuge in the Spanish territories.
The white people breathed nothing but vengeance against the Mulattoes, the whole body of whom expected to be proscribed and massacred. They formed camps in different parts, but dispersed upon a conference with M. Mauduit, who was accused of persuading them to postpone their purpose, and of assuring them the King and all the friends of the ancient government were secretly attached to their cause.
In November, M. Peynier resigned the government, and returned to Europe: he was succeeded by M. Blanchelande, who made a peremptory demand of Ogé and his followers from the Spaniards, who delivered them to a detachment of French soldiers in December. Ogé and his companions were lodged in the jail of Cape François.
The deputies who had embarked for France, were received at Brest with shouts of applause, but at Paris the national assembly granted them one audience only, and indignantly dismissed them from the bar: it then decreed, that all the pretended acts of the colonial assembly were utterlynull and of no effect ; that the assembly was dissolved, and all its members rendered incapable of being delegated to any future colonial assembly; and that they should continue in France in a state of arrest, until their further pleasure was made known.
This decree excited surprise and indignation in St. Domingo; and when orders for electing a new colonial assembly were issued, many parishes declared that their representatives were in France, and refused to elect others. M. Mauduit and his regiment became the objects of popular resentment: they wore the avowed signal of the royal party, a white feather, in their hats, and were considered as enemies to the planters. The population of the French colony in St. Domingo was estimated at 544,000 souls, exclusive of troops and sailors. The general receipt of the revenue amounted to 14,673,014 livres. The northern district, which begun at the river Massacre, ended at Cape St. Nicholas, and included Tortuga, was divided into twenty-six parishes: it contained 11,996 white inhabitants, and 164,656 slaves; 288 plantations of sugar, 2009 plantations of coffee; 443 of indigo, and sixty-six of cotton. The inhabitants of Port-au-Prince were estimated at 14,754, of whom, 2754 were Whites, 4000 free people of colour, and 8000 slaves; and the whole population of the western district amounted to 205,759–of these, 12,798 were Whites, and 192,961 slaves: it contained 357 sugar plantations, 489 of cotton, 1952 of indigo, and 894 of coffee. o The population of the southern district was estimated at 82,849 souls, of whom 6037 were white, and 76,812 slaves: it contained o: plantations of sugar, 765 of indigo, 234 of cotton, and 214 of cottee. In March, the Methodists in Barbadoes succeeded in bringing their riotous opponents before some magistrates, who obliged the offenders to pay the expences of the prosecution, and dismissed them, upon their promising never to disturb the congregation any more. The Methodists amounted to sixty-six in society. Towards the close of 1790, the Methodists had so far gained a footing in Nevis, that they had found means to procure a chapel. In May, a mutiny broke out among the French soldiers at Tobago: they beat their officers. Some formed garrisons without any officers, others left the island. The town was set on fire, about two o'clock in the morning. Wooden houses and a high wind spread the conflagration in every direction. Some few magazines which stood to windward were preserved — all the rest of the town was reduced to a heap of ashes. The inhabitants were prevented by the soldiers from stopping the progress of the flames. Every avenue was guarded, and no Negro suffered to enter.
Edwards, vol. iii. p. 57. Coke's West Indies, vol. ii. pp. 149, 150. 174.; vol. iii. pp. 14. 390, 391. 394, 396. 398, Baron de Wimpfen's St. Domingo, p. 250,