Trading with Saint-Domingue will be Punished by Death

After the evacuation of the French troops from the western side of the island at the end of  1803, a small contingent of French soldiers, under the leadership of Jean-Louis Ferrand, fled to the city of Santo Domingo on the eastern side of the island. Since the evacuation agreement signed by the French general Donatien Rochambeau and the General-in-Chief of the Armée Indigène Jean-Jacques Dessalines did not explicitly state that the French relinquished control of the colony, Ferrand and his troops claimed to be the legal authorities for the entire island. Ferrand tried to convince foreign government representatives to prohibit trade with Haiti and enforced his own prohibition of trade with French and Spanish privateers. On February 5, 1805, he issued the Ordinance below that punished anyone caught trading with the “revolted of Saint-Domingue” with death. My research has shown–especially in the case of St. Thomas (a Danish colony) and  Curaçao (a Dutch colony)–that governors were reluctant to support Ferrand’s prohibition on trade. Furthermore, even after they conceded and prohibited the trade, the prohibition was only loosely enforced.[1] This Ordinance, however, was publicized in both colonies and this copy is from the Danish National Archives.

Here is the Ordinance and my translation. As always, corrections and comments are welcome!



L. FERRAND, General of brigade commander in chief of the Army of Saint-Domingue, acting Captain general, Member of the Legion of Honor

THE GENERAL having been assured, by a lengthy experience; that circumspection and respect are wasted, on the scoundrels who, against the will of the Government, whose flag they dishonor, fueling the revolt in Saint-Domingue, by supplying the needs of the revolted; and feeling the need, to put an end to their greed to treat them as pirates,


ALL individuals, whoever they may be, who are found on allied or neutral ships, destined for the ports of Saint-Domingue, that are occupied by the revolted, will be punished with death.

Those who are found on the allied or neutral ships, leaving the ports of Saint-Domingue, that are occupied by the revolted, will be punished with death.

THE General intends that prisoners, taken in these different cases, will be conducted, to one of the ports of Saint-Domingue, that are occupied by the French, where they will be brought before a military Court which will pronounce.

THE present Ordinance will take effect, beginning on the 1st Floreal [21 April 1805] of the current year; and, up until that time, the previously issued Ordinances, to prevent all communication with the coasts of Saint-Domingue, that are occupied by the revolted, will be strictly executed.

THIS Ordinance will be registered with the colonial Inspection[?], one hundred copies will be printed, and published and posted up in all of the towns and districts of the East of Saint-Domingue: the most secure measures will be take, so that it will receive the full publicity, in all of the Caribbean and on the Continent.

Done at the Headquarters of Santo Domingo, the 16 Pluviôse, year XIII, (5 February 1805).

The General Commander in chief, acting Captain general, member of the Legion of Honor,

Signed, L. FERRAND.[2]

[1] Julia Gaffield, “Chapter 1 – I put fear in the hearts of those who engage in this trade”: French Policing of Trade to Haiti,” in “So Many Schemes in Agitation”: The Haitian State and the Atlantic World, (PhD Thesis, Duke University, 2012); Julia Gaffield, International Indecision After the Haitian Declaration of Independence, (in progress).

[2] “Arrêté,” Louis Ferrand, 5 February 1805/16 Pluviose an XIII, Danish National Archives, Generalguvernementet, Breve fra fremmede autoriteter, 1774-1807, A-C, #2.18.1.

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