The Pennsylvania Gazette: Blame Now Falls (16 May 1792)

Blame now falls, at least according to the author of this letter, on the "blood–thirsty aristocracy," which has created dissensions among the French. The author also expresses alarm at the thought of the revolt spreading to other islands in the Caribbean.


Extract of a letter from Cape François, April 15th.

"Amidst that unremitting fatigue of mind and body that has for many months past fell to my lot, I snatch a moment, to inform you of our situation and prospects. It would seem that the complete revenge of the ancient Carribbs of this island, who were extirpated by the Spaniards, is to fall upon the devoted heads of the French; not for want of ability in them to repel the evil, if united, but from those fatal dissensions which have been so carefully nurtured by the infernal arts of a blood-thirsty aristocracy, and which threaten, nay, have almost accomplished the total ruins of French St. Domingo.—This place is reckoned the strongest in the island and yet do we by no means think ourselves secure from the town's being taken by an attack, if made with vigor, and by 60 or 70,000 brigands, as we are threatened will soon be the case.—In the western districts of the island, every thing wears the most horrid appearance. The troops are in a state of anarchy, and subordination generally at an end, while the wretched remains of Port-au-Prince are surrounded by an enemy, from whom an attack is every moment expected, and from whose mercy (if conquerors) nothing is to be hoped. To give you an account of the various assassinations, murders, tortures, and excesses of almost every kind that have been committed within these few months, would ask a large volume. Vast numbers of opulent people are reduced to a morsel of bread, by the ruin of their plantations, and are going (many of them) almost pennyless into foreign lands for the preservation of an existence which has become altogether precarious here. We are willing to hope that the ocean which surrounds Hispanola will check the extension of the spirit of revolt; for, if it should become general through the islands, it will require almost half Europe to subdue it. As to myself, I will endeavor to leave this once delightful, though now miserable country, in all June; a country which has become alike ungrateful to the sailor and the mechanic, to the merchant and the philosopher—a country,

Where cruel passions the
warm heart infest
And banish pity from the
human breast,

Where hostile ruffians draw
the vengeful blade
And stain with infant gore
the blushing shade!

I turn, disgusted, from this
horrid scene
Of tortur'd captives, slaves,
and murder'd men,

To where the far-fam'd
Pennsylvania strays,
Renown'd for justice, and
for length of days."

Source: The Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia), 16 May 1792; available on cd-rom (Accessible Archives: Wilmington, Del., distributed by Scholarly Resources, 1998).