Jean Baptiste Chavannes

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Jean Baptiste Chavannes (Grande-Rivière-du-Nord about 1748 - Port-au-Prince, February 23, 1791) a mulatto who may have joined the contingent from Saint-Domingue (The Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue) to aid the American troops during the American Revolution. Along with many other prominent free colored leaders in the Haitian Revolution, he is said to have performed with distinction in that unit, though no documentary record of his service has been preserved.

Chavannes' family were prominent coffee planters in the northern part of Saint-Domingue, near the colony's commercial center of Cap Français. The family owned about 20 slaves in the 1780s, though financial difficulties meant that many of those slaves had to be sold to pay debts in 1785. Chavannes was noteworthy among the northern free colored planter class for his close friendships with poorer free blacks, many of whom joined him in his rebellion.

Chavannes sides with Vincent Ogé

After Vincent Ogé returned from his trip to Louisiana to procure weapons, landing near Le Cap on October 23, 1790, Chavannes joined his cause. He pleaded to free all slaves, but was opposed by Ogé, who at this point only wanted to fight for the freedom of the affranchis.

Chavannes and Ogé are captured and executed

After Ogé and his troops were captured and extradited, on the orders of Governor-General Blanchelande, from the Spanish controlled part of the island, Chavannes was brought to Cap Français. Alongside Ogé, he was brutally tortured and executed on February 21st, 1791 in the presence of the provincial assembly and authorities.

He is said to have protested the oppression of people of color by the French colonial authorities until his very last moment.


  • Garrigus, John D., Johns Hopkins University. "Saint-Domingue's Free People of Color and the Tools of Revolution." The Haitian Revolution: Viewed 200 Years After, an International Scholarly Conference. John Carter Brown Library, Providence, RI. June 18, 2004.
  • Pluchon, Pierre, editor (1995). La Révolution de Haïti, Général Pamphile de Lacroix. Édition présentée et annotée par Pierre Pluchon. Editions Karthala. Paris. Biographical index (p. 465). ISBN 2865375714
  • King, Stewart "Jean-Baptiste Chavannes" in _The Encyclopedia of Free Blacks and Free People of Color in the Americas: African-American Heritage of Freedom_, New York: Facts on File, 2011.

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