haiti; mulattoes political rights struggles

Lucien - June 4 2008, 10:01 PM

When the new Civil Commissioners appointed by France, Sonthonax, Polverel, and Ailaud arrived at Cap-Français (Cap-Haitien) on September 18, 1792, They were accompanied by 6,000 soldiers and by General d'Esparbes, the new Governor-General of the island.

The Affranchis Mulattoes had already gathered imposing forces, and were well prepared to protect and defend by force of arms the rights granted to them by the Decree of April 4, 1792. Their cause was henceforth inseparable from that of the French Revolution.

In the West and in the South of the island the French whites and the Affranchis Mulattoes were carefully watching each other: symptoms of unrest were rampant.

By an order on October 12 1792, the new Civil commissioners dissolved the Assembly of Cap-Français (Cap-Haitien).

In place of the Colonial Assembly, they organized what was called the Commission intermediare (Intermediary Committee), consisting of twelve members: six whites and six mulattoes men. Thus for the first time the Afranchis representatives of the black race sat in a political body, by the side of the arrogant colonists who formerly had contempt for them. Pinchinat, Jacques Borno, Louis Boisrond, François Raymond, Castaing, and Latortue were the first Affranchis officially admitted to the honor of participating in the administration of the colony.

The mulattoes men did not content themselves with belonging simply to the Intermediary Committee, they took a large part in the organization of the municipalities; they even held public offices.

Civil and political equality was henceforth an accomplished fact.
The pride of the colonists suffered greatly; it seemed impossible for them to accept such a situation.

On December 2, 1792: a body of white soldiers refused to acknowledge the authority of a mulatto officer appointed to command Them; They mutinied.

A few colonists and the sailors of the men-of-war hastened to side with the white soldiers.

They attacked the battalion of Mulattoes men, who after a fierce defense, were compelled to yield to the superior forces of their opponents; they withdrew to Haut-du-Cap, where they took possession of the artillery.

Sonthonax arrested and embarked the most important factionists.

The French white colonists sworn to avenge what they considered as a humiliation put upon the white race. They plotted the expulsion of the Civil Commissioners and the extermination of the mulattoes men, when the agents of France would be no longer in the island to protect them.
Beauvais as Chief of the Militia: For a while the French white colonists forgot their own differences and united firmly against their common enemy: The mulattoes.

In their turn they succeeded in stirring up against the Afranchis men the slaves of Fond-Parisien, and of the Cul-de-Sac plain.

The revolt broke out on January 23, 1793.
Thirty-three plantations belonging to mulattoes families were reduced to ashes.

Emboldened by their success the wealthy planters of Port-au-Prince, headed by Auguste Borel, arrested General Lasalle, then acting Governor.

The Afranchis men hastened to render to the Civil Commissioners all the assistance in their power.

A strong army marched against Port-au-Prince.

After a hard and desperate struggle the town surrendered.

Beauvais was appointed commander-in-chief of the militia of the West; and a body of regular troops, the Legion of Equality, was organized, with the mulatto Antoine Chanlatte as its colonel.

Their authority once more established in Port-au-Prince.

Polverel and Sonthonax tried to subdue La Grand'Anse.

For this purpose they dispatched a delegation accompanied by 1,200 soldiers under the command of André Rigaud.

The French colonists had armed their SLAVES and placed at their head a BLACK MAN by the name of JEAN KINA. Aided by the slaves the French white colonists succeeded in expelling from their "departement" all the Affranchis blacks and mulattoes.The army of the colonists was intrenched at Desrivaux.

André Rigaud attacked it on June 19, 1793.
He was completely defeated.

After their victory the whites of La Grand Anse transformed their Administrative Council into a Council of Safety and Execution
At Cap-Français General Galbaud espoused the interests of the colonists and were were plotting against the new commisioners.

Sonthonax and Polverel arrived in town with a battalion of Mulattoes men, with Antoine Chanlatte in command.

They were sufficiently powerful to order General Galband to immediately leave the island and sail for France (June 13).

However General Galbaud raised a rebellion among the crew of the men-of-war; and on June 20 he landed at Cap-Français at the head of 3,000 men. Antoine Chanlatte, gallantly supported by Jean-Baptiste Belley, a free black Afranchi, lost no time in going to the help of the Commissioners.

A bloody struggle occurred in the streets of Cap-Français (Cap Haitien.) Polverel and Sonthonax were compelled to abandon the town, which was left to the mercy of Galbaud's sailors.

On the 21st of June they retreated to Camp-Breda (Toussaint Breda Louverture camp.) Their situation seemed hopeless.

That very day they issued a decree promising full freedom to all the slaves who would take up arms for the cause of the French Republic, promising also that they would be considered the equals of the whites and would enjoy all the rights belonging to the French citizens.

As soon as this decree became known to them, all the blacks followers of Pierrot, Macaya, and Goa hastened to place themselves at the disposal of the representatives of the French Republic.

With a firm determination to earn their freedom, these slaves fiercely attacked the forces of Galbaud; owing to their assistance Cap-Français was stormed on June 23. The sailors had sacked and partly destroyed the unfortunate town by fire. The ill-fated island of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) continued thus to be devastated by fire and sword.

Instead of improving, the situation of the Civil Commissioners daily grew worse.

"In February France was again at war with Great Britain; hostilities soon followed with Spain.

The representatives of France and Spain at Saint-Domingue were both instructed by their respective governments to SPARE NO PAINS, to resort even to the SLAVES, in order to conquer the territory of the other party.

The Governor of the Spanish portion of the island was already carrying out these instructions.

He had won over ***Jean-François, Masson, and Toussaint Louverture,*** whom he loaded with favors and honors.

Jean-François was appointed lieutenant-general of the forces of the King of Spain; Toussaint Louverture became major-general (marechal-de-camp).

"For the first time black slaves were to be seen bedecked with ribbons, crosses and other insignia of nobility." The political struggle of the mulattoes for their political rights would later become a battle for freedom and self-determination on the island of Haiti after they joined their forces with the slaves.

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