Post-independence Cancellation of Plantation Leases

This is another broadside cataloged (TNA, MFQ 1/184) with the Declaration of Independence and I’m not exactly sure what it means. Dessalines cancels all baux-à-ferme (which I think translates as “fixed-term leases” but I’m not completely sure) on plantations. I suspect that this might have been part of a larger move by the state to acquire plantations formerly owned by white French colonists. Although the decree doesn’t explicitly say that the state would confiscate the properties, it eliminates any potential legal challenges to this move. Any other possible interpretations of this decree?

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Here is my rough translation (corrections welcome):

LIBERTY, OR DEATH
GOVERNMENT OF HAYTI
ORDINANCE

From the 2nd January 1804, 1st year of the independence of Hayti

THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL ORDERS:

That all the fixed-term leases on Plantations, are and will remain terminated.

Sent to all of the principal administrators of the Departments to ensure the execution of this Arrete, that will be read, published and posted everywhere that is required.

Done at the General Square of Gonaives, the 2 January 1804, the 1st year of independence.

Signed, DESSALINES.

AT PORT AU PRINCE, FROM THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING PRESS.

3 Comments on “Post-independence Cancellation of Plantation Leases

  1. That all the long-term leases of plantations, are and remain terminated. (“baux-à-ferme” is a type of lease done, mostly in agricultural tenancy terms for many years in advance. In this case, the leasees or the settlers contracts were declared terminated due to the fact their contract was guaranteed by slavery. Since the country is free, therefore, any contract became obsoleted or invalid. The “baux à ferme” still exists in the French civil code).

    Sent to all of the principal administrators of the Departments to ensure the execution of this Ordinance, that will be read, published and posted everywhere that is required.

    Done at the Headquarters in Gonaives, January 2, 1804, the 1st year of independence.

    • Thank you, Rony! I appreciate your alternative translation and your explanation of the lease!

  2. That all the long-term leases of plantations, are and remain terminated. (“baux-à-ferme” is a type of lease done, mostly in agricultural tenancy terms for many years in advance. In this case, the leasees or the settlers contracts were declared terminated due to the fact their contract was guaranteed by slavery. Since the country is free, therefore, any contract became obsoleted or invalid. This type of contract is still legal in France according to the civil code).

    Sent to all of the principal administrators of the Departments to ensure the execution of this Ordinance, that will be read, published and posted everywhere that is required.

    Done at the Headquarters in Gonaives, January 2, 1804, the 1st year of independence.

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