French Cruelties in St. Domingue (1802)

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This is an 1802 account of the Haitian Revolution from an New England newspaper. It details some of the extreme atrocities the French carried out in Saint-Domingue and shows that, in much of the same way as is the case with present day conflicts, the world was watching and did largely nothing to come to the aid of the Haitian (Saint-Domingue) population.

Courier of New Hampshire No. 47 Vol. XIII
Thursday, December 16, 1802

Boston Centinel, Dec. 8.
French West-Indies

The Intelligence from these Islands continue very distressing. An arrival at Philadelphia, from Port-Republican. in St. Domingo, brings accounts to the 2nd November: -- At that time the French. it was understood, were about to evacuate St. Marcs, Gonaives. and Leogane ; and that the blacks were in possession of L'Arcahaye. The fame accounts mention, that the French exercise the greatest imaginable cruelties on the blacks which fall into their hands :-- at St. Marcs, 600 of them were paraded. and ordered yo be disarmed ; and because they resisted the measure, they were all massacred. The dead bodies of the negroes were seen floating on the water by American vessels coming out of the bite of Leogane. It was said, that every week a vessel took 100 to 150 negroes on board at Port-Republic, carried them to sea, stifled them in the hold with brimstone, and then threw the bodies overboard ; and that a brig frequently took blacks on board at the Cape, went to sea, and in a few days returned empty.

An arrival from New-York, from Jamaica, brings accounts to the 5th November ; which inform, of the arrival of a frigate from Cape-Francois, dispatched by Gen. Le Clerc. to solicit of the British government in Jamaica. an asylum for Madame Le Clerc, (who is the sister of Bonaparte) and suite ; the blacks having become so formidable as to render her residence in St. Domingo unsafe. The same accounts add, that the blacks had obtained a victory over the French near the Cape.
No reinforcements had arrived at St. Domingo at the Last dates. The French alone are not the ministers of cruelty and carnage ;- A barge, on its passage from St Marcs to Port-Republic, full of women and children ], was met by a boat armed with eighteen negroes, and every one massacred. - The murderers were shortly after overtaken by a French frigate :-- immediate vengeance was exercised on sixteen, and the other two were torn in pieces by the infuriated whites at Port-Republic. Dessalines and Christophe it is said. have deserted from the French, and joined their color.

The accounts from Guadeloupe, which reach into November, are equally unfavorable to the French, as those from St. Domingo ; and evince that unless speedily and powerfully reinforced, the evacuation of the island by them was unavoidable.
The late intelligence from the the West-Indies rests principally on verbal accounts, and on rumor, which frequently is the echo of falsehood and always of exaggeration  :-- It must therefore be received with difficult, and credited with caution.

See also

  • Antoine Richepanse - Richepanse re-established slavery in the French colony of Guadeloupe in 1802.

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