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of the French colonies should proceed to the re-election of colonial and parochial assemblies—that the people of colour and free Negroes should be admitted to vote in all primary and electoral assemblies, and be eligible to all places of trust, provided they possessed certain specified qualifications — and that three commissioners should be named for St. Domingo, and four for the other islands, with power to call forth the public force whenever they may think it necessary, either for their own protection, or to enforce the execution of their orders. The colonial assemblies were to send home delegates, in such proportions as the national assembly should determine. The commissioners named for St. Domingo were Messrs. Santhonax, Polverel, and Ailhaud: they landed at Cape François on the 13th of September, with 6000 soldiers, immediately dissolved the colonial assembly, and sent M. Blanchelande, the governor, a state prisoner to France, where he was guillotined on the 7th of April, 1793. The commissioners declared that they had no intention to change the system of government concerning the slaves. This was done to pacify the Whites, who found out that the commissioners held secret communications with the chiefs of the Mulattoes in all parts of the colony, by whose assistance they were soon strong enough to avow themselves openly the protectors of the whole body of free Negroes and Mulattoes. They now seized the persons and effects of all the Whites who opposed their projects, and sent a great number prisoners to Europe. They then nominated six members of the last assembly, and six Mulattoes, to raise money from the inhabitants, reserving to themselves the right of expending it. The new governor, M. Desparbes, complained that he was a mere cypher or tool in the commissioners' hands. Upon the 12th of October, the commissioners deprived M. Desparbes of his commission as general, and banished him aboard the ships. Six days afterwards, the general, M. de Cambefort, and the other officers of the line, endeavoured to effect the same with the commissioners, and to send them to France. On the morning of the 19th of October, the soldiers having made their ... the attack, ranged their troops in the Cham de-Mars, close to the barracks. The commissioners assembled their troops and the militia in the Place d'Armes, in the centre of the town; and, masters of the arsenal, they had two heavy guns placed at the entrance of the two streets which led from the barracks, and from the Champ-de-Mars. The conflict was short: the general's troops of the line refused to act, except a party of yellow dragoons, commanded by M. Cagnon. These were attacked by the red dragoons and the dragoons d’Orleans, and dispersed; their commander was killed. This finished the quarrel. The victorious commissioners, that same evening, shipped off MM. de Cambefort and de Thouzard, almost all the officers of the regiment du Cap, and some of the inhabitants of the city, in all about fifty persons, and thus got clear of the leading royalists. - Two members out of the six Whites that composed the moiety of the “ commission intermediaire,” met with similar treatment. They opposed M. Santhonax on a measure of finance: he commended their frankness, and invited them to supper; but, at the hour appointed, they were seized, and conveyed, as state prisoners, on board a ship, and sent to Europe. The ship was taken on her passage by an English frigate, and brought to England. Ailhaud, not agreeing with the other commissioners, quitted the colony. Santhonax and Polverel, by bestowing largesses on the troops, and the assistance of the revolted inhabitants, became masters of the colony. The dreadful scenes which were passing in the mother country enabled these men to prosecute their purposes without controul. “Your greatest enemies (said the commissioners in their proclamation of the 27th of October), were in the midst of you. They are so no longer—you see yourselves delivered from them for ever. Those who had excited or protected the revolt of the slaves — those who had murdered your fathers, your brothers, your wives, your children, burnt and destroyed your properties — those who charged to direct the public force against the brigands, have turned it against yourselves — those who disclosed the secret of your numbers, of your weakness — the place, the day, the moment of the marching, and of the intended attacks — who indicated the circumstances which were favourable for them to advance or to remain quiet—those who distributed to these brigands the arms, ammunition, and provision destined for your defence — those who have occasioned the death of three fourths of the troops sent to your assistance, either by the unhealthiness of their stations, or by their inactivity, or by rashly exposing them to the sword of the enemy—those who left the camps for whole weeks, without one order—those who have so long increased the disputes and so long blown the fire of civil war among the different classes of free men, and who at last would have armed you one against another, because we would have united you all, “au centre d’unité”— these men are no more l’’ &c. M. de Rochambeau was appointed general of St. Domingo, and a plan for a general attack upon the rebels was formed. Leveaux had the command in the north, M. de Montesquiou Fezensac in the south, with whom Polverel proceeded to the west, for all the attacks to be made at the same time. One body of troops, after they had carried the post La Tannerie, was to enter the quarter of the Grande Riviere, and clear that long pass, as well as St. Suzanne, of the Blacks and Mulattoes. At the same time, M. de Rochambeau was to enter the east side, after retaking Ouanaminte, and the other lesser posts, and ascend into the district of Valiere, join his troops to those which would enter by the Grande Riviere, and with their united force free the interior of the Negroes. Between these two principal corps, attacking the two extremities, the smaller ones, in the middle, posted at the foot of the mountains De Trou, were also to ascend and push the Negroes from that side.
smm mmmammommoEdwards, vol. iii. pp. 114. 116, 117.118, 119. Soirées Bermudiennes, p. 18O,
The success of the plan was complete in the east. Ouanaminte, and various other posts, were rapidly carried; but M. Dussas, after having got possession of Morne Pélé, was forced to abandon it the next day, the 12th of November.
Upon the 31st of December, the municipality at the Cape ordered, that all persons who should arrive at that port, suspected of emigrating, should be arrested and sent back to France.
Captain Russell, in his Majesty's ship Diana, was off Aux Cayes on the 17th of February, when he received the following letter from Billard, the president of the provincial assembly:—
- “February 17, 1792 – Midnight. “Captain Russell will perceive by the freedom of this short note, that I wish him to feel perfectly at liberty on the question which I have the honour to propose to him. Will he assist us with his marines in a sortie which we are about to make in an hour or two against the brigands? I repeat he is at full liberty in his answer. Our forces are at present far from numerous; and, though each is anxious to exert himself, we want strength. Answer immediately: pardon for the interruption of sleep. In this case Captain Russell would not find it prejudicial to lend Englishmen to combat a horde that might one day disturb Jamaica. The provincial assembly will request it of him in form. I have the honour to wish him a good
night, and to be his very humble servant, BILLARd.”
To this cool request Captain Russell returned the following
anSWel":“Diana, Aux Cayes, February 17, 1792, &c. SIR, Half-past twelve at night.
“Few things would give me more pleasure than a prompt compliance with all your desires. I feel a proportionate degree of pain, that in the present instance I cannot, consistently with my duty as a British officer, comply with your request. It would be
Soirées Bermudiennes, p. 179 Naval Chronicle, vol. xvii. p. 457.
a most flagrant violation of the laws of nations to employ His Britannic Majesty's forces in an hostile manner against any description of the subjects of France.
“I am, Sir, with great respect,
“Your obedient and humble servant, “ T. M. Russell. “To M. Billard,
“President of the Colonial Assembly.”
At a public dinner which was given by the assembly to Captain Russell, he represented to them that there was a Lieutenant Perkins, of the royal navy, confined in a dungeon at Jeremie under the pretext of his having supplied the people of colour with arms. Captain Russell said he had satisfied himself of his innocence—that he had undergone nothing like a legal process, a thing impossible from the suspension of their ordinary courts of justice, owing to the divided and distracted state of the colony; and yet he lay under sentence of death. “Grant me his life,” said Captain Russell – “do not suffer these people to be guilty of the murder of an innocent man, by which they will drag down British vengeance upon the whole island.”
The assembly promised that he should be released. Captain Russell sent Mr. Pipon for the order, which was refused—“ as it was a promise made after dinner, they did not think it binding.” At this time his Majesty's sloop Ferret, Captain Nowell, hove in sight. She had been at Jeremie with dispatches, containing requests from Lord Effingham and Admiral Affleck, that Lieutenant Perkins might be delivered up, which the assembly there, by the following communication, refused; adding verbally, that the imperative voice of the law called for his execution:—
The Council of Commons of Jeremie to Captain Nowell, Commander of His Britannic Majesty's brig the Ferret.
“SIR – However agreeable it has been for us to have you amongst us, our desire would have been not to retard your voyage to the Cayes: our occupations alone have been the cause of your staying here twenty-four hours longer than you intended.
“The law imperiously commands us to retain Mr. Perkins, and to send him to the colonial assembly.
* Jeremie, 16th Feb. 1792.” “ President du Conseil.” Captain Russell immediately proceeded to Jeremie, and sent Captain Nowell on shore with the following letter:— “SIR, * His **** off Jeremie, “I applied to the provisional assembly at Aux Cayes for the liberation of Lieutenant John Perkins, of His Britannic Majesty's royal navy, and my application was immediately and of course complied with. M. Billard, the president, promised me an order to your assembly to deliver him up to me. That order had not arrived at L'Isle de Vache, where I lay, before I sailed, which must be no impediment to your sending him off to me in safety immediately. If, however, it should unfortunately be otherwise, let it be remembered that I do hereby, in the most formal and solemn manner, demand him. Captain Nowell knows my resolulution in case of the least hesitation. “I have the honour to be, Sir, “Your obedient humble servant, “T. M. Russell, “To M. Plique, “Captain of the Diana.
“President of the Council at Jeremie.”
Captain Nowell, on landing, was surrounded by a mob. The president read the letter, and said, “Sir, suppose I do not?”— “In that case,” replied Captain Nowell, “you draw down a destruction you are little aware of Captain Russell has allowed sixty minutes for you to decide—you see, sir, thirty of them are elapsed.” Some one present said, “You shall have him, but it shall be in quarters.” Captain Nowell drew his sabre, and said to the president, “Sir, order that fellow out of my sight, or he dies.” The president did so, and after some further conversation Perkins was led from his dungeon and released. At the door of the prison the rack was placed, on which the next morning he was to have been tortured. On the 2d of March, the council and assembly of Jamaica reenacted their consolidation act, or slave code, which they always do in an original form, as if there were no preceding law existing on the subject; and on every successive call by the House of Commons this ponderous often-seen act is transmitted at full length, so that any amendments can only be ascertained by a laborious collation with the former ones. If the new enactments alone were returned, large sums of the public money would be saved, and how far they had attended to the wishes of parliament be more easily known. Mr. Bryan Edwards boasted that this act had secured as great a latitude of enjoyment and comfort to the slaves as could be done with safety; and the assembly afterwards, in a report of 1799, say, that every thing possible has been done to render the condition of the slaves as favourable as is consistent with their reasonable ser