Fort-Liberté (also Ville de Fort Liberté; Kreyòl: Fòlibète; the Taíno named it Bayaha, English: Fort Liberty) is the administrative centre of the Nord-Est (Northeast) Department of Haiti, on Haiti's Northeast coast 56 kilometers (34.8 mi) east of Cap Haïtien and west of the Dominican Republic. The town is located on the Bay of Fort Liberté (19°67'N 71°83'W) It's former (French) colonial name is Fort-Dauphin (from 1731 to 1804) at times also Ville de Bayaha.
Fort-Liberté has a coastal traffic port that also receives international cargo and serves as a fishing port. Local agricultural products include sugarcane and citrus fruits.
The Spanish settlement there, under the Taíno name of Bayaha, was founded in 1578, making the town one of the oldest on the island of Kiskeya.
Henry Christophe, as King Henri I of Haiti (Henry 1er), renamed the city Fort-Royal and he took his royal title there on March 26, 1811. In 1820 after Christophe died the name was changed back to Fort Liberté.
Fortifications around Fort-Liberté
Fort Dauphin is also the name of an important fort that was built om the bay, it is also sometimes called: Fort Saint Joseph (Patron Saint of the town Fprt Liberté) or Fort Liberté. Other fortifications in the area include: Fort Labouque, Batterie de l'Anse, Fort Saint Charles and Fort Saint Frédérique.
General Rochambeau's capture of the fort
On February 2, 1802, "a division of Leclerc's army, commanded by General Rochambeau, an old planter, landed at Fort Dauphin, and ruthlessly murdered many of the inhabitants (freedmen) who, unarmed, had been led by curiosity to the beach, in order to witness the disembarkation of the troops." (James McCune Smith in a speech reproduced in "Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence...")
In his memoir Toussaint Louverture writes: "... I received a letter from Gen. Rochambeau, announcing "that the column which he commanded had seized upon Fort Liberty, taken and put to the sword a part of the garrison, which had resisted; that he had not believed the garrison would steep its bayonets in the blood of Frenchmen; on the contrary, he had expected to find it disposed in his favor." I replied to this letter, and, manifesting my indignation to the general, asked to know, "Why he had ordered the massacre of those brave soldiers who had only followed the orders given them; who had, besides, contributed so much to the happiness of the colony and to the triumph of the Republic. Was this the recompense that the French Government had promised them?"
José Martî at Fort Liberté
- Memoir of Toussaint Louverture, Written by Himself
- Toussaint L'Ouverture and the Haytian Revolutions - 1841 Speech by James McCune Smit mentions Rochambeau's capture of Fort Dauphin.
- Beard, J. R. (John Relly) (1863). Toussaint L'Ouverture: A Biography and Autobiography. Chapel Hill, NC: Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH. Online Publication (p. 295 - 328)
- Dunbar, Alice Moore (editor) 1914. Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence The Best Speeches Delivered by the Negro from the days of Slavery to the Present Time. New York: The Bookery Publishing Co.. Available at Project Gutenberg . p.