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.

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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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I Have Avenged America

The Haitian Declaration of Independence is characterized by violent rhetoric that brands the French as the eternal enemies of the Haiti. The Declaration also signals that the war against the French is not over since the “the name French overclouds our Country.” To help remedy this barrier obstructing the development of the new nation, Dessalines initiated a series of public massacres that targeted white French citizens. The well-known “I have avenged America” speech followed these massacres and justified the events. This is a printed copy of the document from The National Archives of the United Kingdom (CO 137-111) and a transcription of a translation of the text from the Connecticut Herald.


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