Vincent Ogé

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Portrait of Vincent Ogé.

Jacques Vincent Ogé (also Vincent Ogé the Younger) (1750 Dondon, Saint-Domingue - February 6, 1791 Le Cap, Saint-Domingue) an affranchis delegate in France and leader of a mulatto revolt. He had been educated in Paris. He was the son of a wealthy butcher 1 in Le Cap. (Beard p. 46) He led a revolt against the white colonial authorities in Saint-Domingue that lasted from October to November 1790 in the vicinity of Le Cap, Ogé's revolt of 1790 preceeded the Boukman Rebellion in August of 1791 by less than a year, and makes clear that many sectors of Saint-Domingue society were ready to take up arms to put an end to the French cruelties.

Vincent Ogé, member of the Amis des Noirs

As a member of the Friends of the Negro (Amis des Noirs), Ogé had been frustrated by the Assembly's refusal to extend the Rights of Man to mulattoes and decided to take matters into his own hands after his efforts in France such as the 1789 motion to the Assembly of Colonists in Paris did not lead to greater freedom for the affranchis in the colony. Revolutionary France seemed unwilling to extent the ideals of the French Revolution to all sectors of it's colonial empire.

"While residing in Paris he made the acquaintance and enjoyed the familiar friendship of Brissot, Robespierre, Lafayette, and other revolutionists connected with the society Amis des Noirs. From these men he learned his lessons of freedom. (Langston)

Vincent Ogé sent this letter from Grande Rivière, his camp in the Department of the North, to the President of the Assembly of that department:

Ogé's letter to the Provincial Assembly of Le Cap

VINCENT OGÉ TO THE MEMBERS COMPOSING THE PROVINCIAL ASSEMBLY OF THE CAPE.

GENTLEMEN:--A prejudice, too long maintained, is about to fall. I am charged with a commission doubtless very honorable to myself. I require you to promulgate throughout the colony the instructions of the National Assembly of the 8th of March, which gives without distinction, to all free citizens, the right of admission to all offices and functions. My pretensions are just, and I hope you will pay due regard to them. I shall not call the plantations to rise; that means would be unworthy of me. Learn to appreciate the merit of a man whose intention is pure. When I solicited from the National Assembly a decree which I obtained in favor of the American colonists, formerly known under the injurious epithet of 'men of mixed blood,' I did not include in my claims the condition of the negroes who live in servitude. You and our adversaries have misrepresented my steps in order to bring me into discredit with honorable men. No, no, gentlemen! we have put forth a claim only on behalf of a class of freemen, who, for two centuries, have been under the yoke of oppression. We require the execution of the decree of the 8th of March. We insist on its promulgation, and we shall not cease to repeat to our friends that our adversaries are unjust, and that they know not how to make their interests compatible with ours. Before employing my means, I make use of mildness; but if, contrary to my expectation, you do not satisfy my demand, I am not answerable for the disorder into which my just vengeance may carry me.

(Beard p. 46-47)

The Ogé Rebellion of 1790

With money Ogé obtained from the British abolitionist Thomas Clarkson in London, he purchased firearms on a trip to New Orleans in the United States (James p. 73) returning with 250 men to Saint-Domingue (on October 23, 1790, landing near Le Cap) to attempt a mulatto uprising. Unfortunately, though an eloquent speaker, Ogé was no general and was decisively overpowered.

Marcus Rainsford gives this accountin his 1805 book: An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti...:

"During his [Ogé's] residence at Paris, for the purpose of education, he had imbibed, in addition to the natural feelings of his class, all the prejudices entertained at this period against the white planters in the mother country. Having become connected with the society of Amis des Noirs, and inflated with an idea of his own capacity, he was easily persuaded by Robespierre, and other violent members, to attach himself to a conspiracy, supposed to be already ripe in St. Domingo, and requiring only the talents of an active leader to produce the effects desired, in behalf of the people of color. Armed by their means, and charged with all the inveteracy of the party, Ogé arrived in St. Domingo about two months after the Assembly bad left it, and immediately prepared to assume an imaginary command, for which he had no foundation. He found means to convey a quantity of arms and ammunition to a place called Grande Rivière, about fifteen miles from the Cape, where his brother had been prepared to receive it, and, having collected about two hundred followers, exerted himself every where in spreading disaffection; he wrote imperiously to M. Peynier, stating the inattention which had been paid to the execution of the Code Noir, demanding its enforcement, and also an extension of the privileges enjoyed by the whites to all persons without distinction. He took upon himself the character of Protector of the Mulattoes, and declared his intention, if necessary, of arming in their behalf. He established his camp where he had deposited his stores, and appointed his two brothers, and another mulatto, of a ferocious character, named Mark Chavane [Chavannes?], his lieutenants." (Rainsford p. 121f)

Vincent Ogé Dies on the Stake

On November 20, 1790 Vincent Ogé and 23 of his associates, including Jean Baptiste Chavannes, are captured in Hinche - then part of the Spanish controlled part of Hispaniola - on behalf of Governor-Greneral Blanchelande. Vincent Ogé's exceptionally brutal (Kennedy p. 136) torture and death (James pp. 73 - 74) on the stake in Le Cap on February 6, 1791 served only to heat up an already rapidly boiling cauldron of dissatisfaction.


Note 1: Rainsford, in his book An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti..., states that Ogé's father was a coffee plantation owner near Le cap. (Rainsford p. 121)

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
  • James, C.L.R. (1989). The Black Jacobins. Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. (2nd Ed., Revised) New York: Vintage Press. ISBN 0-679-72467-2.
  • Kennedy, Roger G. (1989). Orders from France: The Americans and the French in a Revolutionary World, 1780-1820. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-55592-9.
  • Langston, John Mercer. (1858) The World's Anti-Slavery Movement: Its Heroes and its Triumphs. A lecture delivered at Xenia and Cleveland, Ohio, August 2nd and 3rd, 1858. Online text [Accessed on April 16, 2006]
  • 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. (first published in 1802)

External links