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his confession. The persons before whom it was made were members of the council of the northern province, and devoted to the ancient system.
The planters at large declare, that the royalists in the colony, and the philanthropic and republican party in the mother country, made them the victims of their desperate factions, and that General Blanchelande kept that a secret, which, if published, would have saved the colony.
On the 3d of March, Le Fougueux and Le Borée, two ships of the line, arrived from France with troops; who, upon their landing, refused all intercourse with Mauduit's regiment. In consequence, the latter took the white feather from their hats, and
their mander to understand that he had lost their confidence. Mauduit told his grenadiers, that he was willing, for the sake of peace, to restore to the national troops the colours he had taken from them, and deposit them himself, at the head of his regiment, in the church, where they were usually kept ; but he added, that he depended upon their affection to protect him from personal insult.
The next day, the ceremony took place. At the moment Mauduit restored the colours, one of his own soldiers cried out, that “he must ask pardon of the national troops on his knees !” Mauduit started back with indignation, bared his bosom to their swords, and fell pierced by a hundred wounds. These soldiers were afterwards sent prisoners to France.
In May, the claim of the free Mulattoes was brought forward by the Abbé Gregoire in the national assembly, who, on the 15th of that month, enacted, " that the people of colour resident in the French colonies, born of French parents, were entitled to, as of right, and should be allowed the enjoyment of all the privileges of French citizens : and among others, to those of having votes in the choice of representatives, and of being eligible to seats both in the parochial and colonial assemblies.”
Upon the passing of this decree, the deputies from the colonies signified their intention to decline any further attendance.
On the 30th of June, the intelligence of this decree arrived at Cape François. No words can describe the rage and indignation of the white colonists. They had in their first general assembly, which met on the 16th of April, 1790, decreed, that in future no harder duty should be required of the people of colour than from the Whites; and that the harsh authority exercised over them by the royal army officers was oppressive and illegal; but now, when they were to have a vote in framing the laws by which they were to be governed, the Whites unanimously determined to reject the civic oath, or suffer the innovation. The national cockade was every
where pulled down, and a motion made in the provincial assembly, to hoist the British standard instead of the national colours. The inhabitants proceeded to elect deputies for a new general colonial assembly. One hundred and seventy-six members met at Leogane, on the 9th of August, and declared themselves the general assembly of the French part of St. Domingo, and resolved to hold their meeting at Cape François, appointing the 25th of August as the day for opening the session. So great was the agitation of the public mind, that M. Blanchelande found it necessary to pledge himself to suspend the execution of the obnoxious decree, whenever it should come out to him properly authenticated : thus proving that his authority in the colony was at an end.
Alarmed at these proceedings, and dreading a general proscription, the Mulattoes collected in armed bodies, in different places, and on the morning of the 23d of August, before day-break, the inhabitants of the town of the Cape were called from their beds, with the intelligence that the Negroes in the neighbouring parishes had revolted, and that the work of death was begun. Sudden and numerous arrivals of persons who had with difficulty escaped the massacre, were dreadful confirmations of the truth of the report. It was the Negroes of the parishes Du Limbe and De l’Acul: they approached within a league of the town of the Cape. The buildings and canefields were every where in flames, and the conflagrations were visible from the town. They lasted nearly three weeks, the houses in the town, and the vessels in the road, were covered with the lighter particles of the burning canes. Human nature revolts at the detail of the horrible outrages committed, however firmly convinced that the sum of miseries which could be borne by one generation would still leave a larger mass of misery upon the side of the avengers unatoned for.
The governor, at the request of the general assembly, took the command of the national guards, and sent the women and children on board the ships. There were a considerable number of free Mulattoes in the town, the whole of whom would have been murdered by the lower class of Whites, if the governor had not vigorously interposed. A body of them sallied out, attacked the insurgents, killed several, and brought in eighty prisoners.
M. Touzard, with a detachment, strengthened by a party of seamen, marched to attack a body of about 4000 of the rebel Negroes, at the plantation of a M. Latour. Many were destroyed; but their numbers increased in a centuple proportion to their losses, and M. Touzard was obliged to retreat. Had he been followed to the town, it might have been burnt without difficulty.
The governor, determined to act solely upon the defensive, fortified the roads and passes leading to the town. Troops, with
Edwards, vol. iii. pp. 69, 70, 71. 75. 77.
Soirées Bermudiennes, pp. 86. 88. 95.
artillery, were stationed on the Haut du Cap, and the town was surrounded by a strong palisade and chevaux-de-frize. To such of the distant parishes as could be reached either by land or sea, notice of the revolt was transmitted, and the white inhabitants of those parishes formed a chain of posts, which for a short time seemed to prevent the rebellion from spreading beyond the northern provinces. Two of these camps, one at Grande Riviere, the other at Dondon, were forced with great slaughter, the Mulattoes assisting the Negroes.
The Blacks mounted the white cockade; and Jean François, their generalissimo, wore the insignia of several military orders, and took the title of “ Commandant des Armées du Roi." The other chiefs also wore ribbons and crosses; and any white man who would wear a white cockade, needed no other passport to procure leave to pass to the Spanish part of the island.
The Cape was surrounded with a high palisade of large stakes, and its advanced post upon the height, half a league from the town, was in a good state of defence. The forts at Petite Anse, half á league off, commanded the road, which from thence led to the ferry and to the town; and various corps-de-garde, established upon the heights around, seemed to prevent the possibility of a surprise. The Whites from the plain and the hills to the eastward, joined to the inhabitants of Fort Dauphin, Jacquesy, Caraçol, and Petite Anse, protected these positions upon the sea-side. At the foot of the Rocou hill, a camp was established (which was afterwards moved to M. Depardieu's house), composed of Whites, people of colour, and some troops of the line. One still larger was pitched at M. Bertin's house at Port Margot, to keep the rebels of the west coast in check. Lastly, to the south, upon Mount Pélé, two leagues from the Cape, a battery commanded the plain.
All that the colonists could do, with their greatest efforts, was to maintain themselves in these positions. Port Margot was frequently and furiously attacked by the rebels, but gallantly defended by M. Valerot. Roçou, at that time commanded by M. de Rouvrai, repelled the attack of an immense number of Blacks, headed by Jeannot, after an action of three hours. Pardieu was twice attacked by at least 10,000 rebels each time, and successfully defended by two young Creoles, Pageot and Pinaud.
Notwithstanding the town of the Cape was thus surrounded by forts, it was very nearly carried by surprise. A corps of Blacks, about 600 strong, chosen men, left the foot of the Mornes de la Tannerie : in the afternoon, about sun-set, they appeared before Petite Anse, and made demonstrations of an attempt to storm it. The forts fired at them after dark. Having thus given the alarm there, they turned to the left, and crossing a great salt lake, about ten at night, they swam across the little river opposite the hospital,
within gun-shot of the town. From thence passing rapidly to the grand road, their first advantage was the having cut off the communication between the Cape and its grand advanced post above the town. Here an aide-de-camp and some others fell into their hands.
Leaving some to keep possession of the road, the rest divided into two corps – one stormed the hospital, and put its inmates and guard to the sword; the other proceeded to Fort Belair, situated upon
of a hill between the hospital and the Cape, from whence the guns commanded the roads, the town, and the anchorage. At eleven P. M. a soldier, who had escaped from the Negroes by the fleetness of his horse, communicated the appalling intelligence to the town. The inhabitants immediately concluded all their outposts were taken, and that the Cape must fall. The “ Generale" was beat — the troops assembled — all the male Negroes confined to the houses, and all the fires put out. After waiting two hours in suspense, two shots, fired into the town from Fort Belair, completed the terror of the inhabitants. The firing of musketry, however, announced that some opposition was making to their progress; and about two o'clock in the morning the inhabitants learnt that the regiment of the Cape, assisted by some companies of militia, had driven the rebels from their positions, and dispersed them. As soon
as the works for the defence of the town were completed, offensive operations were undertaken against the rebels. M. Rouvrai, with a small army, encamped at Roçou. A war of extermination was carried on by both parties. The rebels had great quantities of ammunition, which the Negroes had stolen from the royal arsenal in the town of Cape François, and secretly conveyed to their friends. Within two months, 180 sugar plantations, and 900 coffee, cotton, and indigo settlements, were destroyed, and the buildings burnt. Twelve hundred families were reduced from opulence to depend on charity for their sustenance and clothing. Upwards of 2000 white persons had been massacred. More than 10,000 of the insurgents had perished by famine and the sword, and some hundreds by the hands of the executioner, in tortures that disgrace the perpetrators, and reduce them as men of humanity almost to a level with their opponents.
On the 26th of September, an English squadron arrived at Cape François to assist the Whites. The officers landed amidst a crowd of grateful spectators, who all joined in one general outcry against the national assembly, and mounted the black cockade, as indicative of their wishes that the English would send an armament and take possession of the colony.
The rebellion soon spread to the western division. Two thousand insurgents, chiefly men of colour, joined by six hundred Negroes, appeared in arms in the parish of Mirabalais, and began their ope
Edwards, vol. jïi. pp. 6. 81, 82. 84.
rations by burning the coffee-plantations adjacent to the plain of the Cul-de-Sac. They repulsed some troops sent from Port-auPrince, and laid waste the country for thirty miles. At length they approached Port-au-Prince; but the slaves on the sugar-plantations in this part of the country not joining the Mulatto chiefs, as they expected, some of the latter declared that they were not averse to a reconciliation, and did not wish to desolate the country, but to support the national decree of the 15th of May.
These sentiments coming to the knowledge of M. de Jumecourt, an eminent planter, he undertook the office of mediator; and, through his well-timed and powerful interposition, a convention, called the “ concordat,” was agreed, upon the 11th of September, between the free people of colour and the white inhabitants of Portau-Prince. It declared the sentence of Ogé infamous and void. It granted to the Mulattoes a voice, “ consultative et deliberative,” in all the assemblies; a perfect equality between them and the Whites; and bound the Whites to observe, without restriction, all laws passed by the national assembly. It stipulated for an oblivion of the past, and an engagement, on the part of the Whites, to admit in fulí force the national decree of the 15th of May.
On the 20th of September, the general assembly at Cape François issued a proclamation, declaring that they would not oppose the operation of that decree, and announced an intention to grant considerable indulgencies towards such free people of colour as were not comprehended in it, meaning those who were born of enslaved parents. They also voted the formation of certain free companies of Mulattoes, wherein men of colour, of all descriptions, should be allowed to serve as commissioned officers.
These concessions produced only a temporary truce; disappointed pride, anger, malice, hatred, and revenge, were burning in the gloomy minds of all parties.
While the justice and necessity of the decree were acknowledged, and its faithful observance promised by the colonial assembly, the national assembly in the mother country voted in a large majority, on the 24th of September, for its repeal.
Doubts had already risen in the minds of the Mulattoes concerning the good faith of the Whites with respect to the concordat, and they had insisted on a renewal and confirmation of its provisions, which was granted on the 11th of October; but no sooner was authentic information received of the proceedings in France, in the repeal of the decree, than all trust and confidence, and every hope of reconciliation vanished for ever. The Mulattoes were not to be persuaded that the planters were innocent and ignorant of the transaction: they publicly declared, that either themselves or the Whites must be utterly exterminated — there was no alternative. In the western and southern provinces they flew to arms,