Georges Biassou

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Portrait of Georges Biassou.
Georges Biassou (also Jorge Biassou) (died July 14, 1801 Saint Augustine, Florida 1) was a leader of the 1791 slave revolt and general of the rebel army. Biassou attended the vodou ceremony at Bois Caïman. It was he who launched Toussaint's military career by taking Toussaint on as his aide-de-camp. (Beard, p. 54)

Biassou - launched Toussaint Louverture's Military Career

He was an ambitious man, but unfortunately hot-tempered, suspicious and vindictive. He loved the accoutrements of the good life, particularly women, fine clothes and drink. (Beard, p. 53) Had he paid more attention to the business of being a soldier, his part in the revolution may have taken a different path. He blamed Toussaint for his diminishing military performance and impact, (Parkinson, p. 75), when in fact it was due to his growing self-importance and self-indulgence.

"Though possessed of striking abilities the disposition of this general rendered him unfit for the situation which he held; his cruelty caused him to be deprived of a power which he abused." (Rainsford p?)

Along with the other leaders in the revolution who had no concept of how to wield power for good, he utterly lacked Toussaint's humanity. He slaughtered whites indiscriminately and without hesitation, and sold his fellow revolutionaries into Spanish slavery. (Beard, p. 59)

After Louis XVI of France was beheaded during the French Revolution (January 21, 1793), St. Domingue's slaves despaired of getting any support from France for their cause. 'Naturally inclined to a monarchy, they renounced the revolutionary government [of France], and passed over into the service of Charles IV, king of Spain.' (Beard, p. 6) In one stroke, all of the black military leaders, including Biassou, cast their allegiance with the Spanish king.

That proved to be the beginning of the end of that phase of the revolution. The 1795 Treaty of Basel gave Santo Domingo to France and stripped the power from the Spanish armies on Hispaniola. Having tied their fortunes to the Spanish king, Biassou and Jean-François abandoned their armies. Key to the future outcome of the Haitian revolution, many of those disbanded troops signed on with Toussaint, 'the remaining black commander of stature.' (A Country Study: Haiti)

The Execution of Jeannot Bullet

Biassou had Jeannot Bullet put to death for excessive cruelty - the killing a white civilian in front of his children.

Jean Pierre and Georges Biassou got rid of Jeannot because of his brutality and because he could get in the way of negotiations with the colonial settlers. (Bénot)

Final Years

Fort Matanzas, Florida.
In 1796, Biassou went to St. Augustine in Florida where he bought a large plantation, farmed, ironically, by slaves, but he drank both his land and his money away and died in a brawl when drunk. Toussaint with his usual kindness to women in distress granted his widow a pension." (Parkinson, p. 92)

Biassou died in St. Augustine in 1801. He was the second highest-paid official of the Spanish colony. He had lived in the Salcedo House on St. George Street, and had commanded a free black militia out of Fort Matanzas. His funeral was held at the Catholic Cathedral in St. Augustine and he was buried at Tolomato Cemetery on Cordova Street. (Nolan)


Note 1: Then part of the Spanish colony of Cuba.

Further Reading

  • Landers, Jane. (1999) Black Society in Spanish Florida. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02446

See also

References

  • Beard, J. R. (John Relly) (1863). Toussaint L'Ouverture: A Biography and Autobiography. Chapel Hill, NC: Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH. Online Publication
  • Bénot, Yves, Paris. The Slaves Uprising: What Were They Thinking? The Haitian Revolution: Viewed 200 Years After, an International Scholarly Conference. John Carter Brown Library, Providence, RI. June 18, 2004.
  • Metz, Helen Chapin (editor). (1990). A Country Study: Haiti. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. Library of Congress Call Number F1934 .D64 2001 [Accessed on January 30, 2006] Online publication. ISBN 0844410446
  • Nolan, David. (2003) A moment in black history: General Jorge Biassou. St. Augustine, FL: St. Augustine Record. [Published on February 3, 2003 in the St. Augustine Record].
  • Parkinson, Wenda (1978). This Gilded African. London: Quartet Books. ISBN 0-7043-2187-4
  • Rainsford, Marcus, (1805), An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti: Comprehending a View of the Principal Transactions in the Revolution of Saint-Domingo; with its Ancient and Modern State, London.

External links

  • Augustine.com: Jorge Biassou
  • National Park Service: Fort Matanzas National Monument
  • Yves Bénot, Documents sur l’insurrection des esclaves de Saint-Domingue : lettres de Biassou, Fayette, in Annales historiques de la Révolution française, Numéro 339, mis en ligne le : 27 avril 2006. Online text - Biassou and Fayette letters (French language)