Act of Independence

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Portrait of Jean-Jacques Dessalines.
Portrait of François Capois "La Mort".
Newspaper announcing the name change of Saint-Domingue.
The Haitian Act of Independence (French: Acte de l'Indépendance), declaring former Saint-Domingue independent from France, was drafted by Boisrond Tonnerre and read by Jean-Jacques Dessalines on the Place d'Armes of Gonaïves on January 1, 1804. This marks the beginning of independence for Haiti.

Actually, the first declaration of independence was read in Fort-Dauphin on November 29, 1803; it was signed by Dessalines, Christophe and Clerveaux and drafted by B. Aime. Of note, all of the "chiefs of Saint-Domingue" who signed the first ringing declaration at Fort-Dauphin had been generals of Leclerc 14 months before. Also of note it spoke of St. Domingue while the name was changed to Haiti in the one that was proclaimed in Gonaives.


Gonaïves, January 1, 1804

Year I of Independence'

Today, January 1, 1804, the General in Chief of the Indigenous Army, accompanied by generals and army chiefs convoked in order to take measures tending to the happiness of the country:

After having made known to the assembled generals his true intention of forever ensuring to the natives of Haiti a stable government — the object of his greatest solicitude, which he did in a speech that made known to foreign powers the resolution to render the country independent, and to enjoy the liberty consecrated by the blood of the people of this island; and, after having gathered their opinions, asked each of the assembled generals to pronounce a vow to forever renounce France; to die rather than to live under its domination; and to fight for independence with their last breath.

The generals, imbued with these sacred principles, after having with one voice given their adherence to the well manifested project of independence, have all sworn before eternity and before the entire universe to forever renounce France and to die rather than live under its domination.


Christophe, Pétion, Clerveaux, Vernet, Gabart
Major Generals

P.Romain, G. Gérin, F. Capois, Jean-Louis François, Férou, Cangé, G. Bazelais, Magloire Ambroise, J.J. Herne, Toussaint Brave, Yayou
Brigadier generals

Bonet, F. Paplier, Morelly, Chevalier, Marion

Magny, Roux
Brigade Chiefs

Chaperon, B. Goret, Macajoux, Dupuy, Carbonne, Diaquoi aîné, Raphaël, Malet, Derenoncourt
Army officers

Boisrond Tonnerre


Translation by Mitch Abidor
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2004.

See also

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