Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

good croply the Nethe planter

on within 15 per cent. of the prices of other rival countries. The money expended upon West India estates in general does not leave the owner, even after a good crop, more than 6 per cent. If sufficient land was cultivated to supply the Negroes with provisions, it would be attended with advantage to the planters themselves slaves might be bred to keep up the stock, and the little slaves from seven years and upwards might be useful.”

Such were Mr. Irving's opinions when examined before a Committee of the House of Commons.

1792.

Translation of an Edict of the King of Denmark, for the Abolition of the Slave Trade carried on by his Subjects ; dated at Copenhagen, 16th March, 1792.

“ We, Christian the Seventh, by the Grace of God, King of Denmark and Norway, &c. &c., do hereby make known, that, in consideration of the circumstances attending the slave trade on the coast of Guinea, and the transporting of Negroes, purchased there, to our West India islands; as well as, likewise, because it fully appears that it would be good and serviceable if the carrying of Negroes from Guinea could be avoided, and that our West India islands, in time, could be cultivated by labourers born and trained up on the same, who from their youth might be used to the work, the climate, and their employers — we have caused investigations to be made as to the manner, and how soon, a regulation hereof might be accomplished.

66 And, in consequence, it appears, beyond a doubt, that it may be rendered possible, as well as beneficial, for our West India islands to do without the purchase of Negroes, after the plantations have been stocked with a sufficient number; a suitable assistance in this case to be made to such of the planters as may stand in need thereof, and due care to be taken to promote marriages between the Negroes, and moral instruction.

In order, therefore, to do away the improprieties that are and have been annexed to our West India possessions, on account of the importation of Negroes, and to the end that the importation of Negroes may in time become altogether extinct, we do hereby make known, command, and require, for the information of every individual, that it is our gracious will, so far as relates to a part of these regulations, and which it is requisite should be immediately made known :

« . With the beginning of the year 1803, that all traffic in the slave trade by our subjects shall cease on the African coasts, and

elsewhere, out of our possessions in the West Indies; so that, after the expiration of the intervening time, no Negro man or woman, either on the coast or other places, must be purchased for or by any our subjects, or carried on board ships belonging to our subjects, or be imported for sale into our West India islands; and every transaction to the contrary, or against this interdiction, shall, after the above time, be deemed illegal.

“ 2. In the intervening time, from the present to that of the end of the year 1802, it shall be allowed to all nations, without exception, and under all flags, to import from the coast into our West India islands, male and female Negroes.

“ 3. For the healthy male and female Negroes that shall be imported during the aforesaid time into our West India islands, we do hereby allow, that within one year of their being imported, the following quantities of raw sugаr may be exported from the islands to other places in or out of Europe, either in our own or foreign ships, viz. for every full-grown male or female Negro, 2000 lbs.; and for every half-grown the one half thereof, viz. 1000 lbs. without exception in respect to sexes; but for the children nothing.

66 4. The duty on the importation of slaves fixed by the edict of the 9th of April, 1764, and the 12th of May, 1777, we graciously set aside as to the female Negroes that shall hereafter be imported; and, on the contrary, an additional one half per cent. over and above the present duty, shall be paid on all such sugars as shall be exported to foreign places, in return for male and female Negroes imported.

66 5. We further declare it our will, that in regard to a proper conduct between the two sexes, the kop tax for female Negroes, and girls who work in the plantations, and are not house Negroes, shall cease from and after the beginning of the year 1795; but this tax, for the said time, shall be doubled for all plantation Negro men.

“ 6. The exportation of male and female Negroes from our West India islands is strongly prohibited from this time forward, such being excepted from the prohibition as the laws require to quit the same, and likewise such as, in very scarce instances, it may be deemed proper, by our governors-general and government in the West India islands, to suffer to leave the same.

" According to which, all and every one have to regulate themselves."

The average of the expences of the government of the island of Cuba, between the years 1788 and 1792, was 1,826,000 piastres, distributed in the following manner :

Piastres. For Santiago de Cuba - - - - 146,000 For the Havaña

290,000

Humboldt's New Spain, vol. iv. p. 234.

Piastres. Marine expences

- 740,000 For keeping the fortifications of the Havaña in repair 150,000 6 Purchase money of tobacco from the island of lo Cuba, which goes into Spain " - -

{}500,000

The average, for the same time, for Porto Rico, was 377,000 For Trinidad

- 200,000 For the Spanish part of St. Domingo - - 274,000

Upon the 14th of January, Fort Dauphin was surprised by the Mulattoes, and the garrison massacred. All the white inhabitants of Ouanaminte shared the same fate, and in the morning the place was set on fire. At the same time all the sugar-works in the parish, and in Maribarou, canes, mills, and buildings, all were burnt. From six o'clock until noon the fires were blazing.

M. Thouzard, the commandant, was suspected of betraying the fort into their hands, as part of a plan of the royalists to raise the Blacks against the republicans...

At Petit Goave, in St. Domingo, the Mulattoes were masters, and held in confinement thirty-four white persons, whom they reserved for vengeance. On the publication of the amnesty, they led them to execution — each was broken alive upon the wheel ; and in the midst of their tortures, the Mulattoes read the proclamation aloud, affecting to consider it as a pardon for the cruelties they were then committing. .

In a letter which was sent from the colony to their deputies to the legislative assembly in Paris, it was stated, “ That the people of colour wore the ears of the Whites in their hats instead of cockades; that for their colours they carried a white infant, impaled upon a pike; that they had torn children from their mothers' womb, and given them to the pigs; that they had forced a husband to eat his wife's flesh, after killing her. before him; and lastly, that they had sunk a vessel laden with white women, who were trying to escape."

The commissioners returned separately to France in March and April. Roome was the only one who during their stay had conducted himself with respectability.

In the northern province, the rebel Negroes having destroyed all the provisions on the plain of the Cape, took possession of the surrounding mountains, where they planted provisions by the directions of Jean François.

On the 4th of April, the legislative assembly in France published a decree, containing eleven articles. They declared, that the people of colour and free Negroes in the colonies ought to enjoy an equality of political rights with the Whites; and decreed, that the inhabitants

Soirées Bermudiennes, pp. 105. 151.

es should procehe people primary and they pos

shoulo that the in a trust, Pat the

the national and for St. Domus at Cape Fran

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 num. ber 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 dispositions for the attack, ranged their troops in the Champde-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.

Soirées Berm

es,

p.) &

Edwards, vol. iii. pp. 114, 116, 117. 118, 119.

heir frankncanthonax on aire,” met with sicomposed the m

ad converupper; Wiche commencer

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.

6 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 !" &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,

« AnteriorContinuar »