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Atrocity, Race, and Region in the Early Haitian Revolution: The Fond d’Icaque Rising

Summary and Keywords

Set within a larger analysis of class relations in the Haitian Revolution, this is a microhistory that intersects with several important themes in the revolution: rumor, atrocity, the arming of slaves, race relations, and the origins and wealth of the free colored population. It is an empirical investigation of an obscure rebellion by free men of color in the Grande Anse region in 1791. Although the rebellion is obscure, it is associated with an atrocity story that has long resonated in discussion of the revolution. Formerly the least-known segment of Caribbean society, research has shed much new light on free people of color in recent decades, but much remains to be clarified. In certain ways, they are the key to understanding the Haitian Revolution, because of their anomalous position in Saint Domingue society and the way their activism precipitated its unraveling. The Grande Anse region had a unique experience of the revolution in that white supremacy and slavery were maintained there longer than in any other part of the colony. Based primarily on unexploited or little-known sources the article demonstrates the range and depth of research that remains possible and suggests that a regional focus is best way to advance current scholarship on the Haitian Revolution.

Keywords: Haitian Revolution, free coloreds, rebellion, race relations, slavery, Saint Domingue, atrocities

In Caribbean slave society, lines of color, class and culture tended to overlap and so reinforce one another. The overwhelming majority of blacks lived in slavery. Whites almost monopolized large-scale property-owning and managerial, administrative, and professional posts. Those neither white nor enslaved were largely of mixed racial descent and constituted a middle sector of rural smallholders and urban proprietors and wage-earners, whose wealth and literacy correlated strongly with their degree of racial intermixture (free black, “mulatto,” “quadroon,” etc.). Of those who married, the great majority generally chose a spouse within the same color category. However, although social and economic class overlapped to a high degree with racial difference (modulated by color and culture), neat lines of stratification were never achieved. This is particularly true of late-18th-century Saint Domingue (modern Haiti), which was unusual for possessing large numbers of working class whites and a substantial class of wealthy nonwhite property owners. The oft-repeated claims that these gens de couleur libres owned a quarter or a third of the colony’s land and slaves are transparently exaggerated.1 Nonetheless, the French colony’s free people of color were both numerous by the standards of the non-Hispanic Americas and exceptionally affluent in the sense that they included many middling planters and a few merchants. They in no sense rivaled the white elite, but in no other part of the New World did they come as close to doing so.

The revolution of 1789–1803 that transformed Saint Domingue into Haiti went further than the other colonial revolutions of the Americas in involving all sectors of society as active participants.2 This accounts for the breadth of its achievements. Self-government, racial equality, slave emancipation, and finally independence resulted from largely separate campaigns waged by the colony’s white, free colored, and enslaved populations. The success of each, it is rarely appreciated, owed a good deal to the interaction between them,3 although they were essentially discrete, incompatible struggles. Generally associated with one particular social sector, they increasingly involved, nonetheless, a composite group of protagonists who crossed racial or class boundaries in a variety of ways.

The initial campaign for colonial autonomy in 1789–1790 was exclusively rooted in the white community, but the first rebellion of the free people of color, the following year, and the great slave uprising of 1791, each had a few white participants, albeit of no particular significance. Much more important, free men of color and, notably, free blacks, formed part of the slave uprising’s leadership, as well as its most effective opponents.4 Free coloreds campaigning for their own political rights at first rejected involvement with the enslaved, but they subsequently incorporated slaves as armed subordinates or were compelled to accept autonomous insurgents as allies. Colonial whites quickly followed suit in arming enslaved workers, and the Spanish and British militaries that invaded Saint Domingue in 1793 came to rely heavily on black soldiers.5 Independence at first attracted only a small minority of white radicals, but in 1793 both white and free colored proprietors opted for secession under foreign suzerainty in order to avoid slave emancipation. To what degree the slave insurgents envisaged independence is not clear, but once Revolutionary France accepted racial equality (April 1792) and slave emancipation (February 1794), the colony’s nonwhites had compelling reasons, in a hostile world, to remain subjects of the French Republic. Only Napoleon Bonaparte’s rejection of both equality and emancipation in 1802 gave the former slaves and free coloreds a common cause in fighting for independence.

Much of the Haitian Revolution’s complexity is to be found in the way these separate but interrelated campaigns mobilized differing casts of characters at the regional level. Most studies of the revolution have come in the form of general histories that inevitably slight such local variation and fail to do justice to its rich archival sources. In the belief that the best way to advance research on the revolution at the current time is through a regional approach, this article focuses on a little-known local conflict, using many underused or entirely neglected sources, and seeks to sketch a still unwritten chapter in the revolution’s history.

The Atrocity

The rebellion of free men of color in the Cayemittes region in early December 1791 gets at best a brief mention in existing historiography and very often is entirely overlooked. Yet it is associated with one of the two or three atrocities that have come to be emblematic of the Haitian Revolution. Of the many garish images that came out of Saint Domingue during fifteen years of conflict, two in particular seized the attention of white contemporaries and of subsequent generations: a white baby impaled on a pike by rebel slaves and a disemboweled pregnant woman whose fetus was replaced with her husband’s severed head.6 Such stories quickly became part of the propaganda of the unfolding revolution, deepening communal hostilities and making reconciliation more difficult. They also powerfully shaped the image of the revolution, lending it a phantasmagoric glow that, according to recent historians, owed much to the Gothic sensibilities of the age, created “cultural trauma” in the Western world, and served to obscure the political issues in question.7 Such incidents can be exceedingly difficult to verify.8 Several scholars have questioned the veracity of the impaled baby story—I think unsuccessfully, because it is better documented than they believed.9 But what of the pregnant woman, Madame Séjournet, reputedly killed by her colored neighbors from Fond d’Icaque?

Thomas Millet

“There was in this commune three or four rich landowners, men of color, whose names were Noel Azor, Lafond, Lepage . . . The first insurrection was the work of these men . . . and the first action these rebels took was to go the house of an unfortunate woman, citizen Séjournet, who was recently married. They entered the house at supper time, murdered her mother, seized her young husband and tied him to a post, raped her in his presence, and forced on her [all sorts of] indignities. . . . And do you think that they stopped there? No. They killed her, opened up her stomach, tore out the child she was carrying, and hit the unhappy husband round the face with it. Then they killed him, left the house, and threw the child in a hog pen.”

Léger-Félicité Sonthonax

“The colonists . . . have painted for you an agonizing portrait of this murder, and they have based this assertion on a letter by citoyenne Desmarais of Jérémie. I will say nothing about the morals of this woman, who is known in Jérémie for the atrocities that she herself has committed against free colored prisoners, but I will tell you that, when facts as serious as those put forward by the colonists are in question, one does not rely on a letter by a woman with an extravagant imagination who can be made to believe any story you want.”10

This interchange came from a series of lengthy public hearings held in Paris in 1795. They concerned the conduct of Sonthonax, the radical official who had been sent to Saint Domingue in September 1792 to enforce the recent law on racial equality and who ended up abolishing slavery. The hearings confronted him and his partner Étienne Polverel with colonists who had fought to maintain the white supremacist and slaveholding status quo while championing colonial self-government and a white settler democracy. Some of them, like Thomas Millet, were from the Grande Anse region at the end of Haiti’s long southern peninsula, which is where these events took place. The two opposing sides argued about evidence and chronology; whether the colored planters had previously killed their white fathers to inherit their property; whether they tried to mobilize white planters’ slaves or just their own; and whether slaves attacked the free men of color because the atrocity repelled them, or because whites put a price on their heads. Other disputes emerged as to whether free colored prisoners were injected with smallpox, and whether a white secessionist planter, Paul Cadusch, had secretly instigated the rebellion at the behest of Antoine Barnave, the prominent Parisian politician.11

The Region

The Grande Anse region had a unique experience of the Haitian Revolution in that its white inhabitants managed to block implementation of racial equality and slave emancipation far longer than in any other part of Saint Domingue, until mid-1798. This was partly due to its geographical inaccessibility. The mountainous spine of the southern peninsula effectively isolated the region from the more populous south coast parishes, and on its eastern flank was a dense forest known as Le Désert that extended for miles.12 In the 21st century, access remains difficult. The large parish of Jérémie occupied most of the region, centered on a small seaport of the same name. Its easternmost cantons were Les Cayemittes, along the coast, and in the interior, Plymouth, which ran up to high peaks that divide the peninsula.

Atrocity, Race, and Region in the Early Haitian Revolution: The Fond d’Icaque RisingClick to view larger

Map 1. The Grande Anse Region. David Geggus.

As the whole region was mountainous, it had been slow to develop. Before 1740, the Grande Anse had few permanent inhabitants; just a few hundred pioneers had cleared patches of coastal forest to create cacao walks and indigo plantations. A map of 1764 indicated that no route had yet been found across the mountains of its uninhabited interior.13 The least settled area, because it lacked the coastal valleys that facilitated development, was the east, a limestone region of strange-shaped formations, caverns, and rivers that disappeared underground. Several of its place-names harkened back to the hunters of the buccaneering period, and during the Seven Years War its only residents were supposedly a dozen old corsairs. In the 1780s, however, the Grande Anse became the scene of a frantic land boom driven by international demand for Saint Domingue’s coffee and cotton.14 Gangs of Africans cleared forested slopes and cut new paths into the interior. In Jérémie, newly arrived African slaves fetched higher prices than anywhere in the colony and house rents tripled in ten years. Building activity in the town was unceasing and, even in Les Cayemittes, sleepy wharfs in the bays of Pestel and Corail began to develop into tiny ports.15

This was the colony’s second coffee boom. By 1789, it was supplying some sixty percent of the Atlantic World market. With Saint Domingue rivaling Brazil as the main destination of the transatlantic slave trade, most African arrivals went to work on mountain coffee estates. Historians of the Haitian Revolution often overlook the colony’s exceptional degree of economic diversification.16 It was never just a “sugar colony,” although it was the world’s main exporter of that commodity, too. Two other common errors regarding the coffee sector are that it was concentrated in the colony’s west and south provinces rather than the opulent north, and that it was closely associated with the free colored community.17 Despite their multiplication in the west and south in the 1780s, the large majority of coffee plantations were in fact still located in the north. And although coffee cultivation helps explain the unusual prosperity of Saint Domingue’s free people of color (because of its low capital entry requirements), there is no evidence they were particularly important to the sector’s growth.18

Real estate was, nevertheless, central to race relations in the colony. On the positive side, white men had, since earliest times, at least occasionally endowed with land or slaves the offspring they had with enslaved or free colored women. They also, more rarely, made bequests to the mixed-race children of others. The issue became a matter of polemic when gens de couleur demanded political rights at the beginning of the French Revolution. Men of color in Paris and Saint Domingue based their claim to equality, not only on the Declaration of the Rights of Man, but on their standing as taxpaying property owners of part-European descent. Colonists, hostile to change, invariably justified white supremacy as a psychological device for controlling slaves, but many also chose to respond that free people of color were undeserving upstarts born out of wedlock who owed everything to their white “benefactors.”19 One of their rare allies among the white planters, the maverick liberal Milscent de Mussé, retorted that three-quarters of free coloreds had made their own fortunes and that only those with white fathers (and by no means all) received endowments. Modern historians have demonstrated the business acumen and patient strategies of accumulation deployed by free colored families. Yet the linkage between racial intermixture and wealth remains undeniable.20

Race relations worsened in Saint Domingue after mid-century; discriminatory restrictions on free coloreds increased, and it became much more difficult for wealthy, light-complexioned people to “pass” as white, which had been quite common in the South Province. Historians attribute this more rigid and divisive color line to various factors, including government fears of racial imbalance and of colonial secession, competition between wage-earners, changing scientific and religious ideas, and resentment of the growing wealth of free people of color.21 Some eccentric proposals to seize and redistribute their property, or rumors of such plans, emerged from time to time, notably in summer 1789 and the following year.22 Some claimed that harassment of free coloreds by poor whites increased in the years before the revolution. In the aftermath of the Fond d’Icaque rebellion, southern whites claimed that the free coloreds’ true nature was misunderstood in France; they were lazy and lived by hunting, merely cultivating a few subsistence crops on their large properties, which “industrious hands” would make much more productive.23

While the coffee and cotton boom benefited both whites and free coloreds, it must have exacerbated these worsening tensions. The land frontier was closing quickly in Saint Domingue during the 1780s, and in the Grande Anse the stakes were high. Rising prices and the land’s high yields attracted investors from the North Province: merchants, planters, lawyers, and military men, who scrambled to lay out new plantations. The process was so helter-skelter that many land concessions overlapped. Surveying in the mountains had always been very approximate, but according to the colonial chronicler Moreau de Saint-Méry, the Grande Anse was an extreme case. Writing in 1789, he joked that “a lot of individuals will have gained nothing but a lawsuit.”24 One of the new investors, Louis Tousard, lieutenant-colonel of the Cap Français Regiment, indeed quickly found his land claim contested by two free colored neighbors of humble origin. They ended up losing two-thirds of the 450 acres they claimed as their own.25

A different type of dispute involved government land grants that had not been brought into cultivation with the speed stipulated by the state. After the first coffee boom had collapsed in the early 1770s, a lot of newly acquired land was left idle. A concession made at that time to an educated quarteron, Bruno Blanchet, and apparently left undeveloped was denounced in 1787 to the land tribunal by a white carpenter. If the charge was proven, the 300 acres would have been reassigned to the carpenter, but the administration was still investigating the matter when the Revolution began.26 In an earlier case where the government did rescind a concession, it reassigned half of it to a man of color, Jacques Lafond, another prosperous quarteron. This encouraged the former grantee to contest the decision (all the way to the Conseil d’État in France). He also managed to extract 20,000 livres ($2,424) from the man of color, apparently profiting from his inexperience in legal matters.27 Blanchet and Lafond would both take up arms in 1791 in the struggle for racial equality.

Beyond the friction created by such incidents, the property boom may have had a more generalized impact on regional race relations. Moreau de Saint-Méry claimed that “gens de couleur used to have almost all the properties in [Jérémie] parish but they have sold them off progressively as the land gained in value, although some still remain.”28 This would suggest a dramatic change. It is probably a great exaggeration, however.29 It also begs the question of whether coercion or chicanery entered into the process. Perhaps not much—if one accepts Dominique Rogers’ argument that, in matters of civil law, unlike criminal cases, the courts and administration tended to deal fairly with free people of color.30 Nonwhites, moreover, seem to have commonly received a share of government land grants (which, in the French colonies, unlike the British, were free). The question has yet to be studied.31

Above all, the transition that Moreau described was probably not very unusual, although again, the issue remains little researched. In an early study of a mountain parish in northwest Saint Domingue, Gabriel Debien found lots of free colored smallholders selling out in the 1760s to white colonists who were establishing substantial plantations. Many apparently had received their holdings from the colonists who had freed them from slavery; they tended to clear part of the land but, lacking the capital needed to develop it, they later sold out.32 Another study by Debien, of the Matheux mountains in the West Province, reveals a slightly different pattern. Rich and poor whites held the early land grants, around which squatted a small and shifting population of free coloreds. After a few decades of consolidation, an endogamous group of free colored landowners emerged, but the large estates were formed by white investors from outside.33 On the south coast, John Garrigus found that free colored proprietors were associated with indigo, not coffee, cultivation, and that it was whites who introduced coffee in the mountains on land sold to them by free coloreds.34

The expansion of coffee cultivation thus certainly rewarded free people of color, perhaps more for their preparatory role in land development than as direct participants, but it is less easy to conclude that it set up a major confrontation between the white and free colored populations. Race relations in general in Saint Domingue present a considerable challenge to modern scholars, because of the way they varied at the individual and regional level and through time. The traditional picture of increasing oppression abundantly documented by Yvan Debbasch needs more nuance, whereas Dominique Rogers’ revisionist emphasis on integration perhaps demonstrates economic advancement rather more than integration.35 The evidence on racial intermarriage is particularly unclear. In the Grande Anse, mixed marriages (at 3.4 percent of all marriages) were much less common than along the south coast, but perhaps close to the colonial norm.36 Local whites and free coloreds sold each other property and occasionally went into partnership.37 As elsewhere, white colonists sometimes attended the weddings and baptisms of unrelated free coloreds, and a few wealthy nonwhites continued to “pass” as whites in official records (like Vincent Ogé in the North), despite the 1781 law that demanded strict racial labeling.

Garran Coulon, the “official historian” of the Saint Domingue Revolution, thought that racial conflict was “perhaps” more acute in the Grande Anse during the revolution than in any other part of the colony, because “the passions were more concentrated there.”38 The explanation is obscure but appears to refer to the region’s geography and demography. An isolated region of small plantations, it managed to avoid a serious slave rebellion, he stated, because the slave population was relatively smaller than in other parishes. Perhaps more significant, as the differences were not great, the slave population had a large African majority reflecting the region’s recent settlement. As the North Plain uprising of 1791 began in the most creolized (American-born) part of the slave population and was led by creole slaves, there is reason to believe that slaves’ integration into colonial culture shaped their propensity to rebel during these years.39

With Grande Anse whites more confident about controlling their enslaved workers, they were also more willing to resist the demand for racial equality that the colony’s free men of color began to voice in 1789 and for which they took up arms after August 1791. This was especially so because whites outnumbered free people of color locally by a much larger margin than in most of Saint Domingue.40 In this, the Jérémie region resembled towns like Port-au-Prince, Le Cap, and Jacmel. With their large concentrations of white residents, they sought to maintain white supremacy long after whites in rural areas capitulated to the men of color. It may also be relevant that the region’s white population was more balanced between males and females than was usual in the colony, given this factor’s importance in Winthrop Jordan’s explanation of American racism.41 The working-class component in urban society was doubtless a factor, too, but the decisive variable shaping racial politics proved to be the relative danger of slave revolt and whites’ ability to intimidate the free colored community.

The Protagonists

At the center of the Fond d’Icaque affair was one of the region’s interracial marriages, once widely accepted in the South Province but officially discouraged since the 1760s. Antoine Lafond, a Frenchman born around 1710, was one of the pioneer colonists of the eastern Grande Anse. By the 1760s, he had acquired more than 4,200 acres of land in Fond d’Icaque, a narrow valley a few miles from the Cayemittes coast.42 He seems to have raised livestock in the bottomlands and grown coffee on the upper slopes. He married a free mulâtresse and they had four children, Pierre, Jacques, Geneviève, and Marie-Françoise, who, in colonial society, were designated quarterons libres. After Antoine died in January 1780, his daughters immediately married, in a double wedding, men with the same racial label.43 They divided their father’s estate with their brothers and mother, who died a few years later. Marie-Françoise, a widow, was already a substantial heiress. She married Noel Azor.

Azor was another quarteron, but unlike his in-laws, he had been born a slave and had been legally manumitted less than four years earlier. His was an abrupt ascent from being chattel property himself to becoming an important property owner. Azor, however, had probably experienced slavery only as a legal fiction. His black grandmother, Françoise Bureau (officially called Fanchon Mina), who gained her freedom in 1753, had purchased him and his mixed-race mother long before and freed his mother first, so he presumably was raised as a free person.44 Azor was born out of wedlock and no document identifies his white father; perhaps he was the planter Damien Caillaud who had gifted him a 300-acre land grant two years earlier. But like the militia captain, lawyer, and court bailiff who were guests at the Lafond double wedding, Caillaud was among those white colonists who had apparently close relations with various free people of color. Thanks to the land grant and “his own savings and hard work,” the marriage contract stated Azor’s net worth to be 30,000 livres [$3,636], a sizeable sum.45 Like all the men in this group (but none of the women), he was literate.

The charge of parricide made at the Paris hearings in 1795 clearly could not apply to Noel Azor, and the idea of the Lafond family murdering their seventy-year old patriarch looks, in the absence of any evidence, like a racist fantasy and politically motivated slander. This is especially so, because the colonists claimed the free coloreds had been tried and acquitted by the conservative but racially liberal judge Ferrand de Beaudière. A controversial figure, he had been famously lynched by white colonists in the nearby parish of Petit Goâve in 1789 for favoring the nascent campaign for racial equality. It seems that both the trial and the parricide were imaginary, and combined for rhetorical effect by vengeful colonists who, by the mid-1790s, had seen their world collapse.46 At a time when racial distinctions were increasingly receiving government and intellectual sanction, many whites evidently resented the material success of these mixed-race families, which undeniably owed much to white relatives and others. If Moreau de Saint-Méry was right that the Grande Anse had seen a large shift in landowning from the free colored to the white community, then the inheritances of people like the Lafonds in the 1780s might have appeared all the more “unnatural.”

Atrocity, Race, and Region in the Early Haitian Revolution: The Fond d’Icaque RisingClick to view larger

Map 2. Fond d’Icaque Landholdings. Detail from Library of Congress, Map Division, “Plan du canton de Plymouth” (post-1789, oriented south-north).

Although none of the free coloreds’ individual properties described in the region’s surviving notarial archives were above small-to-middling in size, whites’ resentment was probably sharpened by two factors. One was the free colored landowners’ activity in the land market. Noel Azor, in particular, launched into a series of sales and purchases with whites and nonwhites that must have made him a conspicuous figure.47 The second factor was the extreme interconnectedness of these families, which presumably gave them business advantages in a region where many whites were immigrants. Just as the map of eastern Grande Anse became dotted with the names Lafond, Azor, Broh, and Page, so too did the parish registers of Jérémie as they intermarried and stood as godparents for one another’s children.48 Noel Azor’s half-brother Jean-Baptiste connected the group to the Alliès family of black businesswoman Martonne Guillaume, investigated by Rebecca Scott and Jean Hébrard.49 Various links connected the Lafonds and Azors to the extensive (Le) Page family, who also featured prominently in the Fond d’Icaque rising. The brothers Etienne Simon, François, Jean-Baptiste, and Pierre-Noel, also had a white father they were accused of killing. Sources vary, but the Pages tend to be described as mestifs or tiercerons, one degree more European in ancestry than quarterons.50

As in other parts of Saint Domingue, the first moves in the campaign for racial equality came from the lightest-complexioned segment of the free colored population. Quarterons were prominent in the little-known petitions raised in Grande Rivière du Nord and Petit Goâve in autumn 1789,51 and early leaders usually came from this group: Julien Raimond and his friends on the south coast; Vincent Ogé and Jean-Baptiste Chavanne in the northern mountains; Jean-Pierre Ogé in the Artibonite; and Louis-Jacques Bauvais in the West. Or they were even more European in ancestry, like Pierre Pinchinat and Antoine and Juste Chanlatte from the Saint Marc region.

The Fond d’Icaque Rising

The Jérémie region’s small free colored community appears to have kept a low profile during the early campaign for racial equality in 1789–1790. Details are also sparse for the months following the general uprising of men of color around Port-au-Prince in August 1791. Records for this period later collected by the Civil Commission were lost at sea. The 19th-century historian Beaubrun Ardouin, who came from the Baradères district adjoining Les Cayemittes, wrote that news of the insurgents’ demands and early successes were relayed to locals by Baradères boat-owner (and future Haitian statesman) Étienne Gérin. In late September 1791, Azor and the Blanchet, Page, and Lafond brothers called on the Jérémie town council to adopt the concordat agreements on racial equality that whites in the West had just been forced to accept.52 The town council’s response was to send a National Guard patrol to take over Pierre Lafond’s plantation, and then a larger force to pursue the 30 or so men who had banded together; it arrested ten of them. The council even refused to adopt the evasive but conciliatory policy of the Colonial Assembly in Cap Français, which promised protection to free people of color and to improve their political status “soon.”53

Fortuitously, the president of the Colonial Assembly, Paul Cadusch, then en route to Jamaica, stopped over in the Grande Anse and mediated the conflict. He arranged for the prisoners’ release. The municipality wrote smugly that ignorant free coloreds, after being led astray, were now grateful to be enlightened. For a month, the issue seemed to be settled.54 In his massive report on the “troubles de Saint-Domingue,” Garran Coulon rightly dismissed as absurd the bizarre claim advanced by colonists in Paris that Cadusch was behind the Fond d’Icaque rebellion. Yet he was wrong to think the accusation was fabricated to impress metropolitan radicals.55 The rumor was already taking shape in early December 1791 in the Grande Anse, where Cadusch had fallen ill and stayed over for several weeks. Noel Azor, incidentally, was imposed on to supply him with horses for his travels, as often happened to colored landowners.56 Just like the contemporaneous fantasies that white royalists or abolitionists organized the slave insurrection in the North, the rumor testifies to the atmosphere of suspicion, panic, and misinformation that reigned in the colony as the slave revolt entered its fourth month and race war began to spread through the West and South.

One of the tragic turning points of the Haitian Revolution was the French National Assembly’s decision in September 1791 to backtrack on the race question in the colonies. Once the decision was known in Saint Domingue, the concordat agreements soon fell apart. Vicious fighting began in Port-au-Prince on November 21 and part of the city burned down. In the West, Juste Chanlatte penned a bloodcurdling call to arms: “Let us fly, dear friends, to the siege of Port-au-Prince. Let us plunge our bloodstained arms, avengers of perfidy and betrayal, into the breasts of these monsters from Europe.”57 On December 3, the Jérémie town council began to disarm local free men of color and warned its Cayemittes counterpart that Cadusch might be secretly plotting on Noel Azor’s plantation.58 The next day, Azor and his companions descended on the Séjournet estate.

Little is known about the Séjournets and nothing about any personal enmities that may have developed between them and their neighbors, Azor and Jacques Lafond. Madame Séjournet was a recently married teenager in the late stages of pregnancy. She was living with her husband, three young siblings, and her mother, Madame Plingué, whose family owned several properties in the region.59 Sonthonax was wrong to assert, in 1795, there was only one, unreliable source for the story of her murder. Her death (and those of her mother and siblings) were recounted before the Colonial Assembly by envoys from Les Cayemittes as early December 21, and described in private correspondence from the region. No one, not even Haiti’s early historians, denied that the event occurred, though Ardouin emphasised Sonthonax’s doubts about it.60

The most one can say is that the early accounts contained some errors and seem to have been embellished with time, as the killing became a propaganda set piece. In public letters to French institutions, the Jacmel town council wrote on January 20, 1792 of feeding fetuses to pigs as a generic feature of free colored revolt; the Colonial Assembly specified on February 27 that Madame Séjournet was forced to eat her husband’s flesh; the April 2 letter of Madame Desmarais, mocked by Sonthonax, has the mother hacked to pieces and the three children slashed with machetes and their feet “slowly grilled.” A decade later, the colonist Chastenet-Destère had Madame Séjournet’s feet nailed to the floor and her eyes pulled out with a red-hot corkscrew. The detail of using the fetus to beat the husband’s face appeared in colonists’ notes as early January 12, 1792, but the only source to mention the embedding of Monsieur Séjournet’s severed head was the 1797 history by Jamaican planter Bryan Edwards.61 It was also not strictly true that the mother and children were killed; at least two of the children survived, badly scarred in the burning of the plantation. Aged 8 and 10, they were later sent to school in the United States after their mother’s death about a year later.62

Reprisal is probably the easiest lens through which to view these acts, whatever their degree of depravity. It was doubtless relevant that, in Port-au-Prince two weeks before, a pregnant mulâtresse had been disemboweled in the street by white thugs. And in Cayemittes itself, a probable relative of Noel Page, Louis Lachicotte, suffered a horrendous execution by mutilation.63 Whether the Grande Anse whites precipitated the uprising by moving to disarm local men of color, or whether the latter were already responding to Chanlatte’s call to arms, we cannot be sure.

The chief significance of the event is not so much in adding to the revolution’s endless litany of atrocities, but in its impact on the changing relations between the free and enslaved. This is because the free men of color did not rebel alone, but they raised their own slaves, apparently promising them freedom. By December 7, the insurgents had killed twenty-five whites and burned their plantations. Local whites responded by arming two hundred of their own slaves with machetes and pikes, but they were badly mauled by the free coloreds’ sniping in a densely wooded region. Only when their angry slaves persuaded the whites to give them their guns, and they slipped into the forest, were they able to turn the tables. By December 15, local colonists mobilized three hundred more slaves.64 Although some historians have imagined slaveowners undermining the slave regime in Saint Domingue by arming slaves even before the slave uprising, this is mistaken.65 At the Paris hearings in 1795, colonists and commissioners argued who exactly started the process during the fall of 1791, but the Cayemittes uprising has a good claim to be the turning point. Soon afterward, free colored insurgents led slave rebellions in the Léogane mountains and at Petit Trou and mobilized slaves along the south coast. On December 25, white colonists in the plain of Les Cayes decided to arm one-tenth of their slaves. Using slave mercenaries, paradoxically, became central to attempts to maintain slavery in Saint Domingue.66

The Cayemittes free coloreds had little success in recruiting others’ slaves. The region’s pronounced absence of free blacks (who in the North were important intermediaries) probably did not help them. According to the colonists, local slaves were repelled by their atrocities and they volunteered to fight them. Auguste Lachaise, a Louisiana drifter and ex-army captain, led small groups of them in pillaging free coloreds’ plantations. Seeing a good advertisement for slavery, the Colonial Assembly quickly freed some of their number. Simon Page committed suicide when some of his own slaves revealed his hiding place.67 After some intense fighting in February, the insurgents withdrew over the Hotte Massif to the south coast, where free coloreds were in strength.


In April 1792, the French government broke with centuries of colonial policy and made racial equality the law. It had already decreed an amnesty for acts committed by free persons during the revolution. Neither act brought much relief for the gens de couleur of the Grande Anse. Local whites were set on maintaining the status quo. They resisted releasing the several hundred free coloreds they held on ships—for their own protection, they claimed—though smallpox broke out among them. When French troops arrived to enforce the law in the summer, colonists showed them the two badly scarred Plingué boys to undermine their support for the new regime. The prisoners were released but the local government would not allow the insurgents and their slaves to return to their plantations. After the arrival of Sonthonax and the second Civil Commission in fall 1792, pressure on the Grande Anse whites mounted. Exactly how is unclear, but Azor and his companions were back in the Jérémie region in the National Guard at the start of 1793. The two sides soon came to blows. The arrest of a black officer following a street fight during carnival, and the free coloreds’ failure to get a representative elected to the town council led to another armed gathering in the countryside, sporadic fighting, and a second withdrawal (of about three hundred men and women) across the mountains.68

The mention of widows in later records tells us that many of the men were dead within a year, but the circumstances are unknown. Perhaps some were killed in André Rigaud’s disastrous invasion of the Grande Anse in July attempting to bring the region under government control. Maybe others died during the British occupation that began in September 1793 and which saw many executions. British officers found local whites “perfectly savage” in their treatment of prisoners. But though the British considered racial equality essential to winning in Saint Domingue, they reckoned it impossible to implement in the Grande Anse, so implacable was the legacy of past conflicts.69

Primary Sources

Jean-Philippe Garran Coulon, Rapport sur les troubles de Saint-Domingue, 4 vols. (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1795–1797) is an indispensable but neglected starting point for all research on the early Haitian Revolution. Vital for events in the West and South Provinces, but rarely used, is the eyewitness “Précis Historique” manuscript; typescript copies are available in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Manuscrits (Nouv. acq. fr. 14878-79) and University of Florida Library. The main series of government papers for Saint Domingue are Archives Nationales, Paris, Colonies C9 and, for the revolutionary period, Section Moderne, Dxxv. The Archives Nationales d’Outre-mer, Aix-en-Provence, houses the colony’s large notarial archive, parish registers, censuses, and personnel records, important for social history. For the Grande Anse region, the Jérémie Papers at the University of Florida Library supplement these sources. France’s departmental and municipal archives contain numerous collections of private papers.

Further Reading

Blackburn, Robin. The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights. London: Verso, 2011.Find this resource:

    Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

      Garrigus, John. “‘Sons of the Same Father’: Gender, Race and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue, 1760–1789.” In Visions and Revisions of Eighteenth-Century France. Edited by Christine Adams, Jack R. Censer, and Lisa Jane Graham, 137–153. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.Find this resource:

        Garrigus, John. “Saint Domingue’s Free People of Color and the Tools of Revolution.” In The World of the Haitian Revolution. Edited by David P. Geggus and Norman Fiering, 49–64. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.Find this resource:

          Garrigus, John. “Vincent Ogé Jeune (1757–1791): Social Class and Free Colored Mobilization on the Eve of the Haitian Revolution.” The Americas 68, no. 1 (2011): 33–62.Find this resource:

            Geggus, David. Slavery, War, and Revolution: The British Occupation of Saint Domingue, 1793–1798. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.Find this resource:

              Rey, Terry. The Priest and the Prophetess: Abbé Ouvière, Romaine Rivière, and the Revolutionary Atlantic World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.Find this resource:

                Rogers, Dominique. “Les libres de couleur dans les capitales de Saint-Domingue: Fortune, mentalités et intégration à la fin de l’Ancien régime (1776–1789).” Thèse de doctorat, Université de Bordeaux III, 1999.Find this resource:


                  (1.) Nonwhite landowners were almost entirely absent from the heavily capitalized sugar sector, and those encountered in the colony’s voluminous notarial archives are predominantly people of very modest wealth. For some telling details, see John Garrigus, “Saint Domingue’s Free People of Color and the Tools of Revolution,” in The World of the Haitian Revolution, ed. David P. Geggus and Norman Fiering (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), 50; and Garrigus, Before Haiti: Race and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue (New York: Palgrave, 2006), 178–179.

                  (2.) David Geggus, “The Haitian Revolution in Atlantic Perspective,” in The Atlantic World c. 1450–c. 1820, ed. Nicholas Canny and Philip Morgan (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 533–549.

                  (3.) The slave uprising of 1791 forced whites to accept racial equality in 1792 to win the military assistance of free men of color, just as the free coloreds’ simultaneous rebellion had facilitated the survival of the slave uprising by obliging the whites to fight a war on two fronts. Napoleon’s attempt to suppress both slave emancipation and racial equality in 1802 precipitated the war for independence. Earlier in the revolution, white colonists’ fear of the metropolitan threat to slavery and white supremacy helped stimulate their pursuit of autonomy and secession, which in turn stimulated the militancy of slaves and free coloreds.

                  (4.) About 2 percent of the army of the main slave leader, Jean-François, consisted of free men of color: see David Geggus Haitian Revolutionary Studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002), 179. Toussaint Louverture, who eventually came to dominate the slave uprising, and may have been its mastermind, was a freedman who had been free nearly half of his life.

                  (5.) David Geggus, “The Arming of Slaves during the Haitian Revolution,” in The Arming of Slaves in World History: From Classical Times to the Modern Age, ed. Philip Morgan and Christopher Brown (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006), 209–232.

                  (6.) See David Brion Davis, “The Impact of the French and Haitian Revolutions,” in The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, ed. David Geggus (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001), 5. The rebellion remains little known because the atrocity was often recounted separately from the events that produced it.

                  (7.) Matt Clavin, “Race, Rebellion, and the Gothic: Inventing the Haitian Revolution,” Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 5, no. 1 (2007): 1–29; Raphael Hoermann, “‘A Very Hell of Horrors’? The Haitian Revolution and the Early Transatlantic Haitian Gothic, Slavery & Abolition,” 37, no. 1 (2016): 183–205; Alejandro E. Gómez, Le Spectre de la Révolution noire: l’impact de la Révolution haïtienne dans le monde Atlantique, 1790–1886 (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2013); and Laurent Dubois, “Avenging America: The Politics of Violence in the Haitian Revolution,” in World of the Haitian Revolution, ed. David Geggus and Norman Fiering (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), 111–124.

                  (8.) For a comparable case concerning the planter “Caradeux le cruel,” see David Geggus, “The Caradeux and Colonial Memory,” in Impact of the Haitian Revolution, ed. Geggus, 239–241.

                  (9.) Jeremy Popkin, “Facing Racial Revolution: Captivity Narratives and Identity in the Saint-Domingue Revolution,” Eighteenth Century Studies 36, no. 4 (2003): 520; and Dubois, “Avenging America,” 111–112; Robin Blackburn, “Haiti, Slavery, and the Age of the Democratic Revolution,” William and Mary Quarterly 63, no. 4 (2006): 670. Hoermann, “‘A Very Hell of Horrors’,” 193, calls it an “apocryphal horror trope.” However, the earliest source regarding the impaled baby is not the propagandistic pamphlet published in Paris and London by the colonists’ representatives but a private letter written soon after the event by a reputable source; it refers to a fetus impaled on a bayonet. See Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer, Aix-en-Provence (hereafter: ANOM), F3/197, Charles Arthaud to [Médéric Moreau de Saint-Méry], 12 Sept. 1791. It is far from being the only contemporary source; cf. F3/197, “Notes de quelques événements,” 14 Jan. 1792; ANOM, F3/141, 213; Boston Public Library, MS_HAITI 70-23; Historic New Orleans Collection, De Puech de Parham Papers, “Bagatelles littéraires d’un créole de Saint-Domingue,” 44; Jean Baillio, Un Mot de vérité sur les malheurs de Saint-Domingue (Paris: J. B. Chemin, 1791), 3.

                  (10.) Débats entre les accusateurs et les accusés dans l’affaire des colonies, 9 vols. (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1795), 1:291, 3:188. I have standardized the spelling of the family names cited, which sometimes varies widely in the documents consulted.

                  (11.) Débats, 1:290–295, 2:144–147, 162–166, 3:172–178, 182–189.

                  (12.) Thomas Millet described Le Désert as arid, uninhabited land, perhaps because the district had been heavily logged in the 1770s. Yet many miles of dark and silent forest remained in the mid-1780s. See Débats, 1:290; Médéric-Louis-Élie Moreau de Saint-Méry, Description topographique, physique, civile, politique et historique de . . . Saint-Domingue, ed. B. Maurel, É. Taillemite, 3 vols. (Paris: Societe de l'Histoire des Colonies Françaises, 1958), [hereafter: “MSM”] 3:1393–1394.

                  (13.) ANOM, G2/509, census of 1733; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris [hereafter: BNF], Cartes et Plans, “Plan de la partie ouest de Saint-Domingue levé par Rolland,” 1764.

                  (14.) The take-off of the British cotton industry at this time jolted demand for Saint Domingue’s high-grade cotton: see David Geggus, Slavery, War, and Revolution: The British Occupation of Saint Domingue (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), 80, 426, 428. Dominguan coffee was drunk widely across Europe and the United States.

                  (15.) MSM, 3:1375–1377, 1383. For local prices of legally imported slaves, see Almanach général de Saint-Domingue 1791 (Port-au-Prince: Mozard, 1791), 174. The region, however, mainly relied on contraband imports. Cotton, the main crop of Les Cayemittes, was sold mainly to contraband traders.

                  (16.) Laurent Dubois, Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (New York: Henry Holt, 2012), 20, states that most slaves worked on sugar plantations, but in fact only one-third did.

                  (17.) Both ideas seem to have been encouraged by Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s influential “Motion in the System: Coffee, Color, and Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Saint-Domingue,” Review 5, no. 3 (1982): 331–388.

                  (18.) The assertions in Stewart King, Blue Coat or Powdered Wig: Free People of Color in Pre-Revolutionary Saint Domingue (Athens: Unversity of Georgia Press, 2001), 124, 266, that free coloreds owned 70 percent of coffee-growing land and one-third of the slaves are not well substantiated.

                  (19.) John Garrigus, “‘Sons of the Same Father’: Gender, Race and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue, 1760–1789,” in Society, Politics and Culture in 18th Century France: Essays in Honor of Robert Forster, ed. Christine Adams, Jack R. Censer, and Lisa Jane Graham (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997), 137–153; David Geggus, “Racial Equality, Slavery, and Colonial Secession during the Constituent Assembly,” American Historical Review 94, no. 5 (1989): 1290–1308; Archives Nationales, Paris, Dxxv/78/77, Marciat to Brissot, April 30, 1791; and Archives Départementales [hereafter “AD”] des Yvelines, Versailles, E1705, Loppinot to Le Breton, letter 109.

                  (20.) Michel Mina [Claude Milscent], Adresse à l’Assemblée nationale par les hommes de couleur libres de Saint-Domingue (n.p., n.d.); Dominique Rogers, “Les libres de couleur dans les capitales de Saint-Domingue: fortune, mentalités et intégration à la fin de l’Ancien régime (1776–1789)” (Thèse de doctorat, Université de Bordeaux III, 1999); King, Blue Coat; Garrigus, Before Haiti; and Robert Taber, “The Issue of Their Union: Family, Law, and Politics in Western Saint Domingue, 1777 to 1789” (University of Florida, PhD diss., 2015). The gap between free blacks and their mixed-race counterparts was particularly pronounced. The famous fortune of black freedman Toussaint Louverture was accumulated during the revolution, not before.

                  (21.) Garrigus, Before Haiti, 4–11, 141–170; Charles Frostin, Histoire de l’autonomisme colon de la partie française de Saint-Domingue au XVIIe et au XVIIIe siècles, 2 vols. (Thèse de doctorat d’État, Université de Paris I, 1972), 2:661; and Antoine Gisler, L’Esclavage aux Antilles françaises (Fribourg: Éditions Universitaires, 1965), 95–96.

                  (22.) C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, 2nd ed. (New York: Vintage, 1963), 40–41; Garran Coulon, Rapport, 2:22–25; and AD de la Gironde, Bordeaux, 61J/15, “Extraits du journal dressé par les citoyens de couleur.”

                  (23.) Archives Nationales, Paris, T650/1/5, Alexandre de Kenscoff to Edmond Saint-Léger, 1 Mar. 1792, f. 9; AD de la Loire-Atlantique, Nantes, 1 ET A 34, doc. 134.

                  (24.) MSM, 3:1409.

                  (25.) Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, De Bordes Papers, folder 3, docs. 2 and 7; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Tousard Papers, deed and survey, April 26, 1790. For a possibly comparable case of free colored pioneers “spreading out” beyond their legal concession, see Précis pour le sieur Pierre Dumas (Port-au-Prince: n. p., 1788). One of Tousard’s litigants was Jean-Baptiste Mongol, a mixed-race freedman and butcher. Illiterate and married to one of his slaves, he began purchasing mountain land within four years of his manumission in 1782. See University of Florida, Gainesville, [hereafter: UF] Jérémie Papers, 3/109, 6B/176, 20/12, 20/15a.

                  (26.) UF, Jérémie Papers, Greffe, 1/38, 2/21, 2/46. Quarterons usually were usually children of a white father and mulâtrese mother. Blanchet later played a distinguished role in the revolution and the early Haitian state. An American visitor commented that he could pass for white: Condy Raguet, “Memoirs of Haiti,” Lettre XX, The Portfolio (May 1811).

                  (27.) BNF, Manuscrits, Bellecombe Papers, vol. 1 Frignet to Bellecombe, April 12, 1791, and vol. 3, ff. 34–79, especially Lamothe du Thiers to Bellecombe, December 24, 1789.

                  (28.) MSM, 3:1400.

                  (29.) In 1733, free people of color owned only 16 percent of Grande Anse rural properties, and in the early 1750s whites outnumbered them more than 3:1: ANOM, G2/509, census of 1733; MSM, 3:1400. Keith A. Manuel, “Slavery, Coffee, and Family in a Frontier Society: Jérémie and Its Hinterland, 1780–1789” (MA thesis, University of Florida, 2005), reports few free colored planters in the region’s notarial archive.

                  (30.) Rogers, “Les libres de couleur,” 367–376, 591–592. Yet, during discussions about establishing a seaport in Les Cayemittes, the colony’s top legal officers blocked a proposal to consult local free colored landowners, although other officials were favorable: see Yvan Debbasch, Couleur et liberté: Le jeu du critère ethnique dans un ordre juridique esclavagiste (Paris: Dalloz, 1967), 116.

                  (31.) The data on états des réunions in César-Henri de La Luzerne, Mémoire envoyé le 18 juin 1790 au comité des rapports de l’Assemblée nationale (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1790), show that free people of color could denounce a white person who had left a land grant uncultivated and receive it.

                  (32.) Georges-Ary Chevalier, Gabriel Debien, et al., “Recherches collectives: Chronique documentaire pour une nouvelle histoire coloniale,” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française 7, no. 1 (1953): 95.

                  (33.) Gabriel Debien, Études antillaises (xviiie siècle) (Paris: Armand Colin, 1956), 27–40.

                  (34.) John Garrigus, “Blue and Brown: Contraband Indigo and the Rise of a Free Colored Planter Class in French Saint-Domingue,” The Americas 50, no. 2 (1993): 233–263.

                  (35.) Debbasch, Couleur et liberté; Rogers, “Les libres de couleur.”

                  (36.) Andrée-Luce Fourcand, Projet Grand'Anse partie sud de Saint-Domingue au 18e siècle (Haïti depuis 1804): Étude de la population, généalogie, histoire des familles, Blancs-Libres-Affranchis (Lyon: the author, 2008); Garrigus, Before Haiti, 63, 178; David Geggus, “The Slaves and Free People of Color of Cap Français,” in The Black Urban Atlantic in the Age of the Slave Trade, ed. Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Matt Childs, and James Sidbury (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 107, 294n40; Louis Richon, “Condomois aux Antilles,” Bulletin de la Société archéologique, historique littéraire & scientifique du Gers 1 (1978): 363.

                  (37.) A free colored businesswoman partnered with a white colonist in running Corail wharf: Manuel, “Slavery, Coffee, and Family,” 12, 63.

                  (38.) Garran Coulon, Rapport, 3:102.

                  (39.) David Geggus, “The Sugar Plantation Zones of Saint Domingue and the Revolution of 1791–1793,” Slavery & Abolition 20, no. 2 (1999): 40–42.

                  (40.) The population of Jérémie and Cap Dame Marie parishes was, according to the 1788 census, 21,410, made up of 7.5 percent whites, 4.8 percent free coloreds, and 87.7 percent slaves: Boston Public Library, Ms xHaiti 70-23a. According to MSM, 3:1373, 1400, it was 25,370 and consisted of 10.4 percent whites, 4.8 percent free coloreds, and 84.7 percent slaves.

                  (41.) Winthrop D. Jordan, “American Chiaroscuro: The Status and Definition of Mulattoes in the British Colonies,” William & Mary Quarterly 19, no. 2 (1962): 183–200.

                  (42.) ANOM, Jérémie parish register, burial, January 3, 1780; MSM, 3:1400; BNF, Cartes et Plans, “Plan de la partie ouest de Saint-Domingue levé par Rolland,” 1764.

                  (43.) ANOM, Jérémie parish register, marriage, February 1, 1780; ANOM. However, Geneviève’s husband Paul Fortunat Jr. apparently was described as quarteron as a courtesy, his father and wife being quadroons, although his mother was black (négresse).

                  (44.) I am greatly indebted to genealogist Andrée-Luce Fourcand, who generously shared with me her notes on these families.

                  (45.) ANOM, Notsdom 1209, marriage contract, January 22, 1780.

                  (46.) See above, note 11. The timing of the Lafond daughters’ weddings, it is true, could support the idea that Antoine Lafond had opposed them. No family members attended his funeral.

                  (47.) The most important were the purchase of 320 acres in Fond d’Icaque (Affiches Américaines, 1789, no. 44, p. 298); and the sale of a 300-acre coffee plantation for 80,000 livres: UF, Jérémie Papers, 1–57, 15 Apr. 1789.

                  (48.) Library of Congress, Washington D.C., Map Division, “Plan du canton de Plymouth”; ANOM, 135AP32, map of Plymouth; ANOM, Jérémie parish registers, 1780–90.

                  (49.) Rebecca J. Scott and Jean M. Hébrard, Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 23–27.

                  (50.) UF, Jérémie Papers, 1/26, and Greffe 4/39; ANOM, Jérémie parish register, 9 Nov. 1780, 6 Aug. 1790. The variant “Le Page” appears to be one that colonists attempted to impose to distinguish the free colored from the white branch of the family.

                  (51.) AD de la Gironde, Bordeaux, 61J15, docs. 20–22; ANOM, F3/194, letter dated 20 November 1789.

                  (52.) Beaubrun Ardouin, Études sur l’histoire d’Haïti, 11 vols. (Paris: Dézobry & Madeleine, 1853–1860), 2:29; BNF, Manuscrits, NAF 14878, f. 57.

                  (53.) Garran Coulon, Rapport, 3:103–107; Procès-Verbaux de l’Assemblée Générale de la Partie Française de Saint-Domingue (Cap Français), [hereafter: PVAG] 194–195. The latter account fudges the council’s disobedience to the assembly.

                  (54.) PVAG, 194–195; AD de l’Isère, Grenoble, 2E378, 16 janvier 92, Pierre Testas to Marc Dolle.

                  (55.) Garran Coulon, Rapport, 3:103–107. Since the start of the northern slave uprising in August, Cadusch had been secretly trying to engineer a British takeover of Saint Domingue; by 1795 the matter was public: see Geggus, Slavery, War, and Revolution, 52–53, 65.

                  (56.) Paul Cadusch, Compte rendu par M. de Cadusch, membre de l’Assemblée coloniale, à ses constituans (Cap Français: Dufour de Rians, 1792), 17–19. Not just white racists, but free colored militants, like Lefranc on the south coast, and westerner Antoine Chanlatte also believed, or affected to believe, in Cadusch’s guilt. See Antoine Chanlatte, et al., Réflexions politiques sur les troubles et la situation de la partie françoise de Saint-Domingue (Paris: Imprimerie du Patriote françois, 1792), 15. Other northern visitors to the Grande Anse gave rise to similar rumors at this time: see Moniteur Général de la Partie française de Saint-Domingue (Cap Français), no. 44, 22 Dec. 1791. On free colored hospitality to white travelers, see MSM, 3:1391.

                  (57.) David Geggus, The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2014), 70–71.

                  (58.) Cadusch, Compte rendu, appendix, 11–12.

                  (59.) The husband was one of the sons of senior financial administrator Charles-Joachim Séjournet, who arrived in Saint Domingue in 1783, most probably Séjournet de Saint-Yon. His brother, Séjournet de Sivrac, similarly had a teenage Creole wife but from a different family. See ANOM, Jérémie parish register, 3 May 1790.

                  (60.) PVAG, 350–351; AD de l’Isère, Grenoble, 2E378, François to Pierre Testas, 12 Jan. 1792; Garran Coulon, Rapport, 3:107; Thomas Madiou, Histoire d’Haïti, rev. ed. (Port-au-Prince: Deschamps, 1989 [1847–1848]), 1:125–126; and Ardouin, Études, 2:29.

                  (61.) AD de la Loire-Atlantique, Nantes, 1 ET A 34, doc. 147, and AD 1 ET A 31, doc. 96; Débats 2:162–166; Gabriel Chastenet-Destère, Précis historique du régiment de Crête-Dragons, 2nd ed. (Toulouse: Benichet, 1801), 198–199; ANOM, F3/197, “Notes de quelques événements,” 14 Jan. 1792; and Bryan Edwards, An Historical Survey of the French Colony in the Island of St. Domingo (London: John Stockdale, 1797), 92. Edwards’s source was perhaps Pierre Raboteau, who was one of his principal informants and had accompanied Cadusch to Jérémie. Desmarais lived about four miles from the Séjournets.

                  (62.) Auguste Nemours, Les Premiers citoyens et les premiers députés noirs et de couleur (Port au Prince: Imprimerie de l’État, 1941), 105–112; UF, Jérémie Papers, Greffe 3:45b, 23 May 1793.

                  (63.) Débats 3:150; Garran Coulon, Rapport, 2:165; and Victor Schoelcher, Vie de Toussaint-L’Ouverture (Paris: Ollendorf, 1889), 55. Schoelcher implies that Lachicotte died in November; this may not be correct, however.

                  (64.) PVAG, 350–351; Geggus, Documentary History, 93–94. As Kongolese were much more prevalent here than in the Northern Plain, the region may present a better case for John Thornton’s argument about their military contribution to the Haitian Revolution in “African Soldiers in the Haitian Revolution,” Journal of Caribbean History 25, no. 1 (1991): 58–80.

                  (65.) Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Ti dife boule sou istoua Ayiti (New York: Koleksion Lakansiel, 1977), 67; Laurent Dubois, Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (New York: Henry Holt, 2012), 25; and Franklin W. Knight, “The Haitian Revolution,” American Historical Review 105, no. 1 (2000): 111–112.

                  (66.) BNF, Manuscrits, NAF 14878, f. 64–65; above, note 5.

                  (67.) PVAG, 350–351; AD de l’Isère, Grenoble, 2E378, Testas to Dolle, 6 Feb. and 4 Apr. 1792; Moniteur Général de la Partie française de Saint-Domingue, no. 44, 22 Dec. 1791.

                  (68.) Archives Nationales, Paris, DXXV/113/895; AD de l’Isère, Grenoble, 2E378, Testas to Dolle, 13 May 1793.

                  (69.) British National Archives, WO 1/59, 209–228, 323–324.