The Pennsylvania Gazette: Unrest Continues (28 September 1796)

Despite the abolition of slavery by the French, turbulence continued in many parts of the colony. The French relied on local generals, such as Toussaint L’Ouverture, to restore order.


From the Courier Française.
CAPE, 23 August 1796.

Since my first letter, which accompanies this, there has occurred, and there is still occurring, what follows:

At Port-au-Prince, and in the environs, the Negroes are in a state of insurrection; they have burnt many habitations, which had remained untouched till this day. The Negroes will not work.

On this side of Grand Rivière, there is a great rising; the Brigand Negroes have killed a Negro chief named Gagnet, who commanded for the Republic, his family, and the état-major. Fifteen thousand men taken from the principal posts, are to go against the revolters; they doubt much the success of these new Republicans. I deplore the unhappy fate of the inhabitants of St. Domingo. It is impossible for them to come with security to their habitations. The Negroes who have returned to their habitations will not absolutely attend to speak to their masters; they are willing enough to be Republicans, but point de travail [no work]; they think it is contrary to Republican rights; by this title they are to be supplied with all that is necessary.

The mask is thrown off—the Negroes say, haughtily, that St. Domingo belongs to them; on this condition they will work, otherwise not. &c. &c.

Here follows a letter of the Directory, and a proclamation of L. F. Sonthonas, dated August 18th, relative to this insurrection.

This proclamation declares, that the northern part of St. Domingo, is in danger. It orders, that all unmarried citizens from 16 to 25, who are not employed in agriculture or in the offices of Commissioners, be considered in a state of requisition. Those who shall not obey these orders, without assigning a legitimate reason, are to be declared and treated as traitors, and tried by martial law. Emigrants are forbidden, &c.

A letter appears in the Courier Française of this morning, from Henry Perroud, former Ordonnateur of St. Domingo, &c. &c. in which, after saying that the accounts of the distressed situation of that island are fabricated by interested, evil-minded person, enemies of republicanism, &c. goes on to state, that Gonaives, l'Arthonite, la petite Rivière, and their dependencies, enjoy, under the orders of General Toussaint, Louverture, the greatest tranquility; the plantations near the enemy's camps promise a fine harvest. The cultivators rejoice in the sweets of liberty, and work constantly for the houses to which they are attached, &c. &c.

On this the Editor of the French paper observes; We shall not permit ourselves to judge on circumstances so important. We leave our readers to decide between the accounts given yesterday, and the letter we have published to-day.

Source: The Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia), 28 September 1796; available on cd-rom (Accessible Archives: Wilmington, Del., distributed by Scholarly Resources, 1998).