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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The Samaná Affair

I recently visited the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for the first time. I could try to describe the elation I felt, sitting in the reading room under the auspices of Aaron Douglass’ Aspects of Negro Life murals, but listening to poet and activist Sonia Sanchez tell the story of her first visit to the library will give a better sense of what the Center has long represented for black culture and history.  I will turn instead to what the Schomburg Center holds that might be of interest more specifically to scholars of the Haitian Revolution.

The Schomburg Center is home to extensive archival collections related to Haiti. Lately I have been working on King Henry I, and I have to say that the Kurt Fischer Archive–the exploration of which I devoted this first visit–has very little in connection to the Kingdom of Haiti. However, it has much to offer regarding the Southern Republic. Perusing through those documents, I found out about the  Samaná affair, a peculiar episode regarding Jean-Pierre Boyer’s annexation of Santo Domingo in 1822.

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