CAPACITY OF THE NEGRO RACE
Sclf-0obernment, lant 6ibilihb lrogrtss,
DEMONSTRATED BY HISTORICAL EVENTS
SUBSEQUENT ACTS OF THAT PEOPLE SINCE TIIEIR NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE.
LECTURE BY REV. JAS. TIIEO. HOLLY.
PUBLISHED FOR THE AFRIC-AMERICAN PRINTING CO.,
JOHN P. ANTHONY, AGENT.
WILLIAM H. STANLEY, PRINTER.
DIUE bAA PAhIrE Ey MO. EPEE
F~vP1-C- -kl EB 0j"'
CAPACITY OF THE NEGRO RACE
Self-ohternnmnt, aB gibilitb progress,
DEMONSTRATED BY HISTORICAL EVENTS
-' "D .. ... :' '
-AiD THE- -
BUBSEQUENT ACTS OF THAT-P"OPLE aMoHE THIR NATIOAI IDEPZNDBNOE.
LECTURE BY REV. JAS. HBO. HOLLY.
PUBLISHED FOR THE AFRIC-AMERICAN PRINTING CO.,
JOHN P. ANTHONY, AGENT.
WILLIAM H. BTANLEY, PEINTEB.
- 7- i -
ENTEBmD ACCORDING TO ACT OF CONGrBBS, IN THE YEAB 1857,
BY JAMES THEODORE HOLLY,
IN THE CLrz's OmrrO OF Tm Dma BCT COUT CoT or CONNzECTICUT.
To REV. WILLIAM C. MUNROE,
RECTOR OF ST. MATTHEW'S CHURCH, DETROIT, MICHIGAN.
REV. AND DEAR SIR :-Permit me the honor of inscribing this work to you.
It is a lecture that I prepared and delivered before a Literary Society of Colored
Young Men, in the City of New Haven, Ct., after my return from Hayti, in the
autumn of 1855; and subsequently repeated in Ohio, Michigan, and Canada
West, during the summer of 1856.
I have permitted it to be published at the request of the Afric-American
Printing Company, an association for the publication of negro literature, organ-
ized in connection with the Board of Publication, which forms a constituent part
of the National Emigration Convention, over which you so ably presided, at its
sessions, held in Cleveland, Ohio, in the years 1854-6.
I dedicate this work to you, in token of my appreciation of the life-long ser-
vices you have so sacredly devoted to the cause of our oppressed race ; the ardor
of which devotion has not yet abated, although the evening of your life has far
advanced in the deepening shadows of the approaching night of physical death.
And as the ground-work of this skeleton treatise is based in the events of
Haytian History, it becomes peculiarly appropriate that I should thus dedicate
it to one who has spent three of the most valuable years of his life as a mission-
ary of the cross in that island; who there deposited the slumbering ashes of his
own bosom companion a willing sacrifice to her constancy and devotion; and who
yet desires to consume the remainder of his own flickering lamp of life by the
resumption of those labors in that island, under more favorable and better auspi-
ces, in the service of Christ and his church.
Finally, I dedicate this work to you as a filial token of gratitude, for that
guidance which under God, I have received from your fatherly teachings; by
which I have been awakened to higher inspirations, of our most holy religion ;
aroused to deeper emotions of human liberty and quicker pulsations of the univer-
sal brotherhood of man; and thereby animated with a more consecrated devotion
to the service of my suffering race than might otherwise have fallen to my lot.
Deign, therefore, I beseech you, to accept this dedication as the spontaneous
offering of a grateful and dutiful heart
I have the honor to remain,
Rev. and Dear Sir,
Your most Devoted Friend and Servant,
In the cause of God and Humanity.
JAMES THEODORE HOLLY, Rector of S. Luke's Church.
NEW HAVEN, CONN., AUGUST 1st, 1857.
The task that I propose to myself in the present lecture, is
an earnest attempt to defend the inherent capabilities of the
negro race, for self-government and civilized progress. For
this purpose, I will examine the events of Haytian History,
from the commencement of their revolution down to the pre-
sent period, so far as the same may contribute to illustrate
the points I propose to prove and defend. Permit me, how-
ever, to add, in extenuation of this last comprehensive pro-
position, that I must, necessarily, review these events hastily,
in order to crowd them within the compass of an ordinary
REASONS FOR ASSUMING SUCH A TASK.
Notwithstanding the remarkable progress of philanthropic
ideas and humanitarian feelings, during the last half century,
among almost every nation and people throughout the habit-
able globe; yet the great mass of the Caucasian race still
deem the negro as entirely destitute of those qualities, on
which they selfishly predicate their own superiority.
And we may add to this overwhelming class that cherish
such self-complacent ideas of themselves, to the great preju-
dice of the negro, a large quota also of that small portion of
the white race, who profess to believe the truths, That God
is no respector of persons;" and that He has made of one
blood, all the nations that dwell upon the face of the earth."
Yes, I say, we may add a large number of the noisy agita-
tors of the present day, who would persuade themselves and
the world, that they are really christian philanthropists, to
that overwhelming crowd who openly tfaduce the negro; be-
cause too many of those pseudo-humanitarians have lurking
in their heart of hearts, a secret infidelity in regard to the
real equality of the black man, which is ever ready to man-
ifest its concealed sting, when the full and unequivocal rec-
ognition of the negro, in all respects, is pressed home upon
Hence, between this downright prejudice against this
long abused race, which is flauntingly maintained by myriads
of their oppressors on the one hand; and this woeful distrust
of his natural equality, among those who claim to be his
friends, on the other; no earnest and fearless efforts are put
forth to vindicate their character, by even the few who may
really acknowledge this equality of thq races. They are
overawed by the overpowering influence of the contrary sen-
timent. This sentiment unnerves their hands and palsies
their tongue; and no pen is wielded or voice heard, among
that race of men, which fearlessly and boldly places the
negro side by side with the white man, as his equal in all
respects. But to the contrary, every thing is done by the
enemies of the negro race to vilify and debase them. And
the result is, that many of the race themselves, are almost
persuaded that they are a brood of inferior beings.
It is then, to attempt a fearless but truthful vindication of
this race, with which I am identified-however feeble and
immature that effort may be-that I now proceed to set forth
the following address:
I wish, by the undoubted facts of history, to cast back the
vile aspersions and foul calumnies that have been heaped
upon my race for the last four centuries, by our unprinci-
pled oppressors; whose base interest, at the expense of our
blood and our bones, have made them reiterate, from gene-
ration to generation, during the long march of ages, every
thing that would prop up the impious dogma of our natural
and inherent inferiority.
AN ADDITIONAL REASON FOR THE PRESENT TASK.
But this is not all. I wish hereby to contribute my influ
once-however small that influence-to effect a grandeur and
dearer object to our race than even this truthful vindication
of them before the world. I wish to do all in my power to
inflame the latent embers of self-respect, that the cruelty
and injustice of our oppressors, have nearly extinguished in
our bosoms, during the midnight chill of centuries, that we
have clanked the galling chains of slavery. To this end, I
wish to remind my oppressed brethren, that dark and dismal
as this horrid night has been, and sorrowful as the general
reflections are, in regard to our race; yet, notwithstanding
these discouraging considerations, there are still some proud
historic recollections, linked indissolubly with the most im-
portant events of the past and present century, which break
the general monotony, and remove some of the gloom that
hang over the dark historic period of African slavery, and the
accursed traffic in which it was cradled.
THE REVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF HAYTI,
THE BASIS OF THIS ARGUMENT.
These recollections are to be found in the history of the
heroic events of the Revolution of Hayti.
This revolution is one of the noblest, grandest, and most
justifiable outbursts against tyrannical oppression that is re-
corded on the pages of the world's history.
A race of almost dehumanized men-made so by an
oppressive slavery of three centuries-arose from their slum-
ber of ages, and redressed their own unparalled wrongs with
a terrible hand in the name of God and humanity.
In this terrible struggle for liberty, the Lord of Hosts di-
rected their arms to be the instruments of His judgment on
their oppressors, as the recompense of His violated law of
love between man and his fellow, which these tyrants of the
new world had been guilty of, in the centuries of blood,
wrong, and oppression, which they had perpetrated on the
negro race in that isle of the Carribean Sea.
But aside from this great providential and religious view
of this great movement, that we are always bound to seek
for, in all human affairs, to see how they square with the
mind of God, more especially if they relate to the destinies
of nations and people;-the Haytian Revolution is also the
grandest political event of this or any other age. In weighty
causes, and wondrous and momentous features, it surpasses
the American revolution, in an incomparable degree. The
revolution of this country was only the revolt of a people
already comparatively free, independent, and highly enlight-
ened. Their greatest grievance was the imposition of three
pence per pound tax on tea, by the mother country,withouttheir
consent. But the Haytian revolution was a revolt of an un-
educated and menial class of slaves, against their tyrannical
oppressors, who not only imposed an absolute tax on their
unrequited labor, but also usurped their very bodies; and
who would have been prompted by the brazen infidelity of
the age then rampant, to dispute with the Almighty, the pos-
session of the souls of these poor creatures, could such brazen
effrontery have been of any avail, to have wrung more ill-got-
ten gain out of their victims to add to their worldly goods.
These oppressors, against whom the negro insurgents of
Hayti had to contend, were not only the government of a
far distant mother country, as in the case of the American
revolution; but unlike and more fearful than this revolt, the
colonial government of Hayti was also thrown in the balance
against the negro revolters. The American revolters had
their colonial government in their own hands, as well as their
individual liberty at the commencement of the revolution
The black insurgents of Hayti had yet to grasp both their
personal liberty and the control of their colonial government,
by the might of their own right hands, when their heroic
The obstacles to surmount, and the difficulties to contend
against, in the American revolution, when compared to those
of the Haytian, were, (to use a homely but classic phrase,)
but a tempest in a teapot," compared to the dark and lurid
thunder storm of the dissolving heavens.
Never before, in all the annals of the world's history, did a
nation of abject and chattel slaves arise in the terrific might
of their resuscitated manhood, and regenerate, redeem, and
disenthrall themselves : by taking their station at one gigan-
tic bound, as an independent nation, among the sovereignties
of the world.
It is, therefore, the unparalelled incidents that led to this
wonderful event, that I now intend to review rapidly, in order
to demonstrate thereby, the capacity of the negro race for
self-government and civilized progress, to the fullest extent
and in the highest sense of these terms.
PRELIMINARY INCIDENTS OF THE REVOLUTION.
I shall proceed to develop the first evidence of the compe-
tency of the negro race for self-government, amid the histor-
ical incidents that preceded their terrible and bloody
revolution; and in the events of that heroic struggle itself.
When the cosmopolitan ideas of" Liberty, Fraternity, and
Equality," which swayed the mighty minds of France, to-
ward the close of the 18th century, reached the colony of St.
Domingo, through the Massaic club, composed of wealthy
colonial planters, organized in the French capitol; all classes
in that island, except the black slave and the free colored
man, were instantly wrought up to the greatest effervescence,
and swayed with the deepest emotions, by the startling doo-
trines of the equal political rights of all men, which were
then so boldly enunciated in the face of the tyrannical des.
potisms and the immemorial assumptions of the feudal
aristocracies of the old world.
The colonial dignitaries, the military officers, and other
agents of the government of France, then resident in St.
Domingo, the rich planters and the poor whites, (these latter
called in the parlance of that colony "Les petits blancs,)
were all from first to last, swayed with the intensest and the
most indescribable feelings, at the promulgation of these
bold and radical theories.
All were in a perfect fever to realize and enjoy the price-
less boon of political and social privileges that these revolu-
tionary ideas held out before them. And in their impatience
to grasp these precious prerogatives, they momentarily forgot
their colonial dependance on France, and spontaneously came
together in a general assembly, at a small town of St. Domin-
go, called St. Marc; and proceeded to deliberate seriously
about taking upon themselves all the attributes of national
sovereignty and independence.
And when they had deliberately matured plans to suit
themselves, they did not hesitate to send representatives to
propose them to the national government of France, for its
acknowledgment and acquiescence in their desires.
Such was the radical consequence to which the various
classes of white colonists in St. Domingo seized upon, and
carried the cosmopolitan theories of the French philosophers
and political agitators of the last century.
But from all this excitement and enthusiasm, I have already
excepted the black and colored inhabitants of that island.
The white colonists of St. Domingo, like our liberty loving
and democratic fellow citizens of the United States, never
meant to include this despised race, in their glowing dreams
of "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity."
Like our model Republicans, they looked upon this hated
race of beings, as placed so far down the scale of humanity,
that when the Rights of man" were spoken of, they did not
imagine that the most distant reference was thereby made to
the negro; or any one through whose veins his tainted blood
sent its crimsoned tide.
And so blind were they to the fact that the "Rights of
Man" could be so construed as to recognize the humanity of
that oppressed race; that when the National assembly of
France, swayed by the just representations of the Friends
of the Blacks" was led to extend equal political rights to the
free men of color in St. Domingo, at the same time that this
National body ratified the doings of the General Colonial
assembly of St. Marc: these same colonists who had been so
loud in their hurrahs for the Rights of Man, now ceased their
clamors for liberty in the face of this just national decree,
and sullenly resolved To die rather than share equal politi-
cal rights with a bastard race." Such was the insulting
term that this colonial assembly then applied to the free men
of color, in whose veins coursed the blood of the proud plant-
er, commingled with that of the lowly negress.
THE SELF-POSSESSION OF THE BLACKS;
AN EVIDENCE OF THEIR CAPACITY FOR SELF-GOVERNIMET.
The exceptional part which the blacks played in the moving
drama that was then being enacted in St. Domingo, by their
stern self-possession amid the furious excitement of the
whites, is one of the strongest proofs that can be adduced to
substantiate the capabilities of the negro race for self-gov-
The careless reserve of the seemingly dehumanized black
slave, who continued to toil and delve on, in the monotonous
round of plantation labor, under a cruel task master, in a
manner so entirely heedless of the furious hurrahs for freedom
and independence; the planting of Liberty poles, surmounted
by the cap of Liberty; and the erection of statues to the
goddess of Liberty, which was going on around him: this
apparent indifference and carelessness to the surging waves
of. freedom that were then awakening the despotisms of
earth from their slumber of ages, showed that the slave un-
derstood and appreciated the difficulties of his position. He
felt that the hour of destiny, appointed by the Almighty, had
not yet tolled its summons for him to arise, and avenge the
wrong of ages.
He therefore remained heedless of the effervescence of lib-
erty that bubbled over in the bosom of the white man; and
continued at his sullen labors, biding his time for deliverance.
4nd in this judicious reserve on the part of the blacks, we
have one of the strongest traits of self-government.
When we look upon this characteristic of cool, self-posses-
sion, we cannot but regard it as almost a miracle under the
circumstances. We cannot see what magic power could keep
such a warm blooded race of men in such an ice bound spell
of cold indifference, when every other class of men in that
colony was flush with the excitement of liberty; and the
whole island was rocked to its center, with the deafening
surges of EQUALITY, that echoed from ten thousand throats.
One would have supposed, that at the very first sound of
freedom, the 500,000 bondmen in that island, whose ancestry
for three centuries had worn the yoke of slavery; would
have raised up, at once, in their overwhelming numerical
power and physical stalwartness, and cried out LIBERTY!
with a voice so powerful as to have cleft asunder the bowels
of the earth, and buried slavery and every negro hater and
oppressor who might dare oppose their just rights, in one
But as I have said, they did no such thing; they had a
conscious faith in the ultimate designs of God; and they
silently waited, trusting to the workings of His over-ruling
Providence to bring about the final day of their deliverance.
In doing so, I claim they have given an evidence of their
ability to govern themselves, that ought to silence all pro-
slavery calumniators of my race at once, and forever, by its
powerful and undying refutation of their slanders.
And let no one dare to rob them of this glorious trait of
character, either by alledging that they remained thus indif-
ferent, because they were too ignorant to appreciate the bless-
ings of liberty; or by saying, that if they understood the
import of these clamors for the Rights of Man," they were
thus quiet, because they were too cowardly to strike for their
The charge that they were thus ignorant of the priceless
boon of freedom, is refuted by the antecedent history of the
servile insurrections, which never ceased to rack that island
from 1522 down to the era of negro independence. 'The
negro insurgents, Polydore, Macandel, and Padrejan, who had
at various times, led on their enslaved brethren to daring
deeds, in order to regain their God-given liberty, brand that
assertion as a libel on the negro character, that says, he was
too cowardly to strike for the inheritance of its precious boon.
And the desperate resolution to be free, that the Maroon
negroes of the island maintained for 85 years, by their valorous
struggles, in their wild mountain fastnesses, against the con-
centrated and combined operations of the French and Spanish
authorities then in that colony; and which finally compelled
these authorities to conclude a treaty with the intrepid Maroon
chief, Santiago, and thereby acknowledge their freedom for-
ever thereafter: this fact I say, proves him to be a base cal-
umniator, who shall dare to say that a keen appreciation of
liberty existed not in the bosom of the negroes of St. Domingo.
But again, as to the plea of cowardice, in order to account
for the fact of their cool self-possession amidst the first convul-
sive throes of Revolutionary liberty, permit me to add in refuta-
tion of this fallacy, that if the daring incidents of antecedent
insurrections do not sufficiently refute this correlative charge
also; then the daring deeds of dreadless heroism performed by
a Toussaint, a Dessalines, a Rigaud, and a Christophe, in the
subsequent terrible, but necessary revolution of the negroes;
in which black troops gathered from the plantations of slavery,
met the best appointed armies of France, and at various
times, those of England and Spain also: and proved their
equal valor and prowess with these best disciplined armies of
Europe--this dreadless heroism, evinced by the blacks, I say,
is sufficient to nail the infamous imputation of cowardice to
the wall, at once and forever.
Hence nothing shall rob them of the immaculate glory of
exhibiting a stern self-possession, in that feverish hour of ex-
citement, when every body around them were crying out
Liberty. And in this judicious self-control at this critical
juncture, when their destiny hung on the decision of the hour,
we have a brilliant illustration of the capacity of the race
SIMILAR EVIDENCE ON THE PART OF THE FREE MEN OF COLOR.
But additional and still stronger evidence of this fact
crowd upon us, when we see that the free men of color re-
mained entirely passive during the first stage of this revolu-
tionary effervescence. This class of men, as a general thing,
was educated and wealthy; and they were burthened with
duties by the State, without being invested with correspond-
ing political privileges. From such unjust exactions they
had every reason to seek a speedy deliverance. And this
great tumult that now swept over the island, offered them a
propitious opportunity to agitate with the rest of the free men
of the colony for the removal of their political disabilities.
They had greater cause to agitate than the whites, because
they suffered under heavier burdens than that class. Never-
theless, in the first great outbreak of the water-floods of lib-
erty-tempting as the occasion was, and difficult as restraint
must have been; yet the free men of color also possessed
their souls in patience, and awaited a more propitious oppor-
tunity. Certainly no one will attempt to stigmatise the calm
judgment of these men in this awful crisis of suspense, as
the result of ignorance of the blessings of freedom, when it
is known that many of this class were educated in the sem-
inaries of France, under her most brilliant professors; and
that they were also patrons of that prodigy of literature, the
Encyclopedia of France.
Neither can they stigmatize this class of men as cowards,
as it is also known that they were the voluntary com-
peers of the Revolutionary heroes of the United States; and
who, under the banners of France, mingled their sable
blood with the Saxon and the French in the heroic battle of
Then this calm indifference of the men of color in this
crisis, notwithstanding the blood of three excitable races
mingled in their veins with that of the African, viz: that of
the French, the Spanish, and the Indian; and notwithstand-
ing, they had glorious recollections of their services in the
cause of American Independence, inciting them on-this calm
indifference, on their part, I say, notwithstanding these excit-
ing causes, is another grand and striking illustration of the
conservative characteristics of the negro race, that demon-
strate their capacity for self-government.
THE OPPORTUNE MOVEMENT OF THE FREE COLORED MEN.
The tumultuous events of this excitement among the
white colonists rolled onward, and brought the auspicious
hour of negro destiny in that island nearer and nearer, when
Providence designed that he should play his part in the great
drama of freedom that was then being enacted. Of course
the propitious moment for the free men of color to begin to
move would present itself prior to that for the movement of
the negro slaves.
The opportunity for the men of color presented itself when
the general colonial assembly of St. Marc's (already re-
ferred to) sent deputies to France, to present the result of its
deliberations to the National Assembly; and to ask that
august body to confer on the colony the right of self-govern-
At this time, therefore, when the affairs of the colony
were about to undergo examination in the supreme legisla-
ture of the mother country, the free men of color seized upon
the occasion to send deputies to France also, men of their own
caste, to represent their grievances and make their wishes
known to the National Assembly. This discreet discernment
of such an opportune moment to make such a movement di-
vested of every other consideration, shows a people who
understand themselves, what they want, and how to seek it.
But when we proceed to consider the most approved man-
ner in which the representations were made to the National
Assembly, by the colored delegates in behalf of their caste,
in the colony of St. Domingo, and the influences they brought
to bear upon that body, as exhibited hereafter: we shall
perceive thereby that they showed such an intimate acquaint-
ance with the secret springs of governmental machinery,
as demonstrated at once their capacity to govern them-
This deputation first drew up a statement in behalf of their
caste in the colony, of such a stirring nature as would be cer-
tain to command the national sympathy in their cause, when
presented to the National Assembly. But previously to pre-
senting it to that assembly, they took the wise precaution to
wait upon the honorable president of that august body, in
order to enlist and commit him in their favor, as the first step-
ing stone to secure the success of their object before the
They prevailed in their mission to the President of the As-
sembly; and succeeded in obtaining this very emphatic
assurance from him: "No part of the nation shall vainly re-
claim their rights before the assembly of the representatives
of the French people."
Having accomplished this important step, the colored dep-
uties next began to operate through the Abolition Society of
Paris, called "Les Amis des Noirs," upon such of the mem-
bers of the assembly as were affiliated with this society, and
thus already indirectly pledged to favor such a project as
theirs, asking simple justice for their race. They were again
successful, and Charles De Lameth, one of the zealous pat-
rons of that society, and an active member of the National
Assembly, was engaged to argue their cause before the Su-
preme Legislature of the nation, although strange to say, he
was himself a colonial slaveholder at that time.
And at the appointed moment in the National Assembly,
this remarkable man felt prompted to utter these astounding
words in behalf of this oppressed and disfranchised class of
the colony: I am one of the greatest proprietors of St. Do-
mingo ; yet I declare to you, that sooner than lose sight of prin-
ciples so sacred to justice and humanity, I would prefer to
lose all that I possess. I declare myself in favor of admitting
the men of color to the rights of citizenship; and in favor of
the freedom of the blacks."
Now let us for a moment stop and reflect on the measures
resorted to by the colored deputies of St. Domingo, in Paris,
who, by their wise stratagems, had brought their cause step
by step to such an eventful and auspicious crisis as this.
Could there have been surer measures concocted for the
success of their plans, than thus committing the president of
the assembly to their cause in the first place ; and afterwards
pressing a liberty-loving slaveholder into their service, to
thunder their measures through the National Assembly, by
such a bold declaration?
Who among the old fogies of Tammany Hall-that junta
of scheming politicians who govern this country by pulling
the wires of party, and thereby making every official of the
nation, from the President of the United States down to the
Commissioners for Street Sweeping in the City of New York,
dance as so many puppets at their bidding-I repeat it-who
among these all powerful but venal politicians of old Tam-
many, could have surpassed these tactics of those much abused
men of color, who thus swayed the secret springs of the Na-
tional Assembly of France ? And who, after this convincing
proof to the contrary, shall dare to say that the negro race is
not capable of self-government?
But to return to the thread of our narrative. When the
secret springs had been thus secured in their behalf, they had
nothing to fear from the popular heart of the nation, already
keenly alive to the sentiments of Liberty, Equality, and Fra-
ternity; because the simple justice of their demands would
commend them to the people as soon as they were publicly
made known in France.
In order to make the very best impression on the popular
heart of the nation, their petition demanding simple justice
to their caste was accompanied with a statement very care-
fully drawn up.
In this statement they showed that their caste in the col-
ony of St. Domingo possessed one-third of the real estate,
and one-fourth of the personal effects of the island. They
also set forth the advantages of their position in the political
and social affairs of St. Domingo, as a balance of power in
the hand of the imperial government of France, against the
high pretensions of the haughty planters on the. one hand,
and the seditious spirit of the poor whites on the other. And,
as an additional consideration, by way of capping the cli-
max, they offered in the name, and in behalf of the free men
of color in the colony, six millions of francs as a loyal contri-
bution to the wants and financial exigencies of the National
Treasury, to be employed in liquidating the debt of their com-
Thus, if neither their wire-working maneuvers, the justice
of their cause, or the conservative influence which their
position gave them in the colony, had not been enough to
secure the end which they sought; then the tempting glitter
of so much cash, could not be resisted, when its ponderous
weight was also thrown in the scale of justice. They suc-
ceeded, as a matter of course, in accomplishing their pur-
pose; and the National Assembly of France promulgated a
decree on the 8th of March, 1790, securing equal political
rights to the men of color.
The very success of this movement, and the means by
which its success was effected, the opportune moment when
it was commenced, and the immense odds that were against
those that sought its accomplishment-all these things must
hereafter be emblazoned on the historic page as an everlast-
ing tribute to the genius of the negro race, and remain an
ineffaceable evidence of their capacity for self-government;
that may be triumphantly adduced and proudly pointed at in
this and every succeeding generation of the world, until the
latest syllable of recorded time.
THE CRISIS PRODUCED IN THE COLONY BY THIS DECREE.
THE MEN OF COLOR ON TIE SIDE OF LIBERTY, LAW, AND ORDER.
It was when this decree was made known in the colony of
St. Domingo, that the General Assembly of the colony, then
sitting at St. Marc's, expressed the malignant sentiments of
the white colonists, in a resolution that I have already quoted,
viz: they resolved that they would Rather die, than share
equal political rights with a bastard race."
Vincent Oje, a man of color, and one of the delegates to
Paris, in behalf of his caste, anticipated a venomous feeling
of this kind against his race, on the part of the white colo-
nists, when these decrees should be made known to them.
He however, resolved to do whatever was within his power,
to allay this rancorous feeling. He did not therefore hasten
home to the colony immediately after the decree was pro-
mulgated. He delayed, in order to allow time for their mo-
mentary excitement as expressed in the resolution above, to
cool off, by a more calm reflection on their sober second
thought. He also tarried in France, to secure a higher polit-
ical end, by which he would be personally prepared to return
to St. Domingo, to make the most favorable impression in
behalf of his race, and the objects of that decree, on the
minds of the white colonists.
To this end he succeeds in getting the appointment of
Commissioner of France, from the French government, to
superintend the execution of the decree of the 8th of March,
1790, in the island of St. Domingo.
Certainly, he might hope, that being invested with the
sacred dignity of France, his person, his race, (thus honored
through him by that imperial government,) and the National
decree itself, with which he was charged, would now be res-
But not content with accumulating the national honors of
France ; fearing lest the pro-Slavery colonists would disregard
these high prerogatives, by looking upon them as having been
obtained through the fanatical Friends of the Blacks" at
Paris, by those partisans exerting an undue influence on the
National Government: he further proceeds to gather addi-
tional honors, by ingratiating himself into the favor of a po-
tentate of Holland-the Prince of Limbourg; from whom he
received the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and the order of the
Lion. Thus he wished to demonstrate to the infatuated col-
onists, who regarded his race as beneath their consideration,
that he could not only obtain titles and reputation in France,
by means of ardent friends, but that over and above these,
and beyond the boundaries of France, he could also command
an European celebrity.
This was indeed a splendid course of conduct on his part;
and by thus gathering around him and centering within him-
self these commanding prestiges of respect, he demonstrated
his thorough knowledge of one of the most important secrets
in the art of governing; and so far made another noble vin-
dication of the capacity of the negro race for self-govern-
But as we proceed to consider the manner that he after-
wards undertook to prosecute his high National Commission
in promulgating in St. Domingo, the decree of the 8th of
March, 1790, we shall see additional evidence of the same
master skill crowd upon us.
He had now delayed his return from Europe in order to
allow time for the allaying of hasty excitement, and for
the purpose of making the most favorable advent to the
He comes a commissioned envoy of the French nation, and
an honored chevalier of Europe. Nevertheless, with that
prudent foresight which anticipates all possible emergencies,
he landed in St. Domingo in a cautious and unostentatious
manner, so as not to provoke any forcible demonstration
against him. Having landed, he gathered around him a suite
of 200 men for his personal escort, which his station justified
him in having as his cortege; and which might also serve
the very convenient purpose of a body guard to defend him
against any attempt at a cowardly assassination from any
lawless or ruthless desperadoes of oppression in the colony.
At the head of this body of men, he at once proceeded to
place himself in communication with the Colonial Assembly,
then in session; to inform it officially of his commission and
the national decree which he bore; and to require that as-
sembly, as the legislative authority of the island, to enforce
its observance, by enacting an ordinance in accordance with
In this communication of Oje, being aware of their pro-
slavery prejudices, he endeavored to conciliate them by a
peace offering. That peace offering was the sanctioning of
Negro Slavery; for he stated to the assembly that the decree
did not refer to the blacks in servitude ; neither did the men
of color, said he, desire to acknowledge their equality.
This specific assurance on the part of Oje, although it
does not speak much for his high sense of justice, when ab-
stractly considered; yet it shows as much wisdom and tact
in the science of government, as is evinced by the sapient or
sap headed legislators of this country, who make similar
compromises as a peace offering to the prejudice and injustice
of the oligarchic despots of this nation.
Oje, however, failed to make the desired impression on the
infatuated colonists, either by his National and European
dignities, or by his peace offering of 500,000 of his blacker
brethren. He fell beneath the malignant hate of the slave-
holding colonists, after defending himself with his little band
of followers, against the overwhelming odds of these sanguin-
ary tigers, with a manly heroism, only equalled by the Spar-
tans at the pass of Thermopyle, and thus has cut for himself
an enduring niche among the heroes in the temple of fame.
He was captured; and after a mock trial, illustrative of
pro-slavery justice; something similar, for instance, to our
Fugitive Slave Law trials in Boston, Philadelphia, and Cin-
cinnati-(though more merciful in its penalty than these)-
this mock court of St. Domingo condemned Vincent Oje and
his brave lieutenant, Jean Chevanne, with their surviving
compatriots, to be broken alive on the wheel.
We forget the error of the head committed by this right
hearted, noble, and generous man, towards his more unfor-
tunate brethren, in order to weep over his ignoble and un-
worthy fate, received at the hands of those monsters of cruelty
in St. Domingo.
I cannot better close this notice of Oje, than by repeating
the concluding lines from a Poem dedicated to him, by that
distinguished man of color, our own fellow countryman, Prof.
George B. Vashon, of McGrawville College:
"Sad was your fate, heroic band,
Yet mourn we not, for yours the stand
Which will secure to you a fame,
That never dieth, and a name
That will, in coming ages be
A signal word for Liberty.
Upon the Slave's o'erclouded sky,
Your gallant actions traced the bow,
Which whispered of deliverance nigh-
The need of one decisive blow.
Thy coming fame, Oje! is sure;
Thy name with that of L'Ouverture,
And the noble souls that stood
With both of you, in times of blood,
Will live to be the tyrant's fear-
Will live, the sinking soul to cheer !"
THE HOUR OF DESTINY FOR THE BLACKS.
This untimely death of the great leader of the men of
color, served only to develop how plentifully the race was
supplied with sagacious characters, capable of performing
daring deeds-it served to show how well the race was sup-
plied with the material out of which great leaders are made,
at any moment, and for any exigency.
Now came the hour for the patient, delving black slave to
begin to move. He has manfully bided his time, whilst the
white colonists were rampant in pursuit of high political pre-
rogatives; and he has remained quiet, whilst his brother-
the freed man of color, has carried his cause demanding
equal political rights, triumphantly through the National
Assembly of France.
But most intolerable of all, he has been perfectly still,
whilst his more fortunate brethren have offered even to strike
hands with the vile oppressor in keeping the iron yoke on his
Nevertheless, he has lived to see both of these classes foiled
by the over-ruling hand of Providence, from interpreting the
words Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity," to suit their own
selfish and narrow notions. He finds these two parties now
at open hostilities with one another. He sees, on one hand,
the despicable colonists inviting foreign aid into the island,
to resist the execution of the National decree and to prop up
their unhallowed cause by the dread alternative of treason
and rebellion. Whilst on the other hand, he beholds the men
of color fighting on the side of the nation, law, and order,
against the white colonists. Amid this general commotion
his pulsations grow quick, and he feels that the hour of des-
tiny is coming for even him to strike.
Yet he still possesses his soul in patience until the destined
moment. At last he hears that France now vacillates in
carrying out the tardy measure of justice that her National
Legislature had enacted. The mother country, that had so
nobly commenced the work of justice, by the national decree,
enfranchising the free men of color, now begins to recede
from the high position she had assumed, in order to favor the
frenzied prejudice of the infatuated colonists. The negro
slave had hoped that by this national act of justice to the
free man of color, that a permanent step had been taken to-
wards universal emancipation, and consequently his own
eventual disenthralment. With this hope he was willing to
continue quietly to wear his galling chains, rejoicing in the
newly acquired boon of his more fortunate brethren, as the
earnest and pledge of his own future deliverance, by a sim-
ilar act of national justice. Thus the way seemed already
paved for a peaceful termination of his servitude.
But, I repeat it again, the toiling black slave at last hears
that the National Government of France vacillates in her
judgment, quails before the storm of pro-slavery invectives,
hurled by the insensate bigots of St. Domingo against the men
of color, and finally, she recedes from her high position by the
National Assembly repealing the decree of the 8th of March,
1790. Thus the slaves dawning ray of hope and* liberty is
extinguished, and there is nothing ahead but the impenetra-
ble gloom of eternal slavery.
This, then, is the ominous moment reserved for the chain-
ed bondmen to strike; and he rises now from his slumber of
degredation in the terrific power of brute force. Bouckman,
(called by a Haytian historian the Spartacus of his race,) was
raised up as the leader of he insurgents, who directed their fury
in the desperate struggle for liberty and revenge, until the work
of devastation and death was spread throughout the island to
the most frightful extent. He continued to ride on the storm
of revolution in its hurricane march, with a fury that became
intensified as it progressed, until the colonists, by some for-
tuitous circumstances, were enabled to wreak their ven-
geance on this negro hero.
But when this first hero of the slaves was captured and
executed by their oppressors, like Oje, the first hero of the
free men of color; the capacity of the race to furnish leaders
equal to any emergency, was again demonstrated.
A triumvirate of negro and mulatto chieftains now suc-
ceeded these two martyred heroes.
Jean Francois, Biassou, and Jeannot, now appeared upon
the stage of action, and directed the arms of the exasperated
insurgents against a faithless nation, the cruel colonists and
their English allies, whose aid these colonists had invited, in
their treasonable resistance to the National decree, which Oje
came from France to promulgate in the name of the nation.
In order to contend against such overwhelming odds effect-
ally, and for the purpose of obtaining the necessary supply
of arms and ammunition, the insurgents went over, for a time,
to the service of Spain. This government had always regard-
ed the French as usurpers in the island; and the Spaniards
were therefore glad of any prospect of expelling the French
colonists entirely from St. Domingo. Hence they gladly ac-
cepted the proffered service of the blacks as a means to effect
However, we have no reason to regard the Spanish govern-
ment as being more favorably disposed towards the blacks
than that of France. We may rather conclude that Spain
was willing to use the blacks to subserve her end, and after-
wards would doubtless have endeavored to reduce them to a
state of slavery again.
Nevertheless the black slaves and free men of color went
over to the cause of Spain, and used her to subserve their
purpose in driving France not only to re-enact her previous
decree in relation to the men of color; but also to proclaim
the immediate emancipation of the blacks, and to invest them
with equal political rights. For this purpose, three National
Commissioners of France were sent to the island, bearing
these decrees of the Supreme Government.
When this glorious result was thus triumphantly effected,
they left the service of Spain and returned to the cause of
During the struggles that took place while the insurgents
were in the cause of Spain, the three leaders who headed
them when they united with the Spaniards, were shifted, by
the fortunes of war, from their chieftainship, and replaced
by Toussaint and Rigaud-one a black, and the other a
mulatto, when they returned to the service of France.
These two leaders, at the head of their respective castes
in the service of France, fighting on the side of liberty, law,
and order, compelled the turbulent and treasonable colonists
to respect these last national decrees; drove their English
allies from the colony, and extinguished the Spanish domin-
ion therein, and thus reduced the whole island to the subjec-
tion of France.
When we duly consider this shrewd movement of the
blacks in thus pressing Spain in their service at that critical
moment, when every thing depended upon the decision of
the hour, by which they were enabled to accomplish such a
glorious result, we have thereby presented another strong and
convincing proof of the capacity of the negro to adopt suit-
able means to accomplish great ends; and it therefore de-
monstrates in the most powerful manner, his ability for self-
THE AUSPICIOUS DAWN OF NEGRO RULE.
Toussaint, by his acute genius and daring prowess, made
himself the most efficient instrument in accomplishing these
important results, contemplated by the three French Com-
missioners, who brought the last decrees of the National
Assembly of France, proclaiming liberty throughout the
island to all the inhabitants thereof; and thus, like another
Washington, proved himself the regenerator and savior of his
On this account, therefore, he was solemnly invested with
the executive authority of the colony; and their labors having
been thus brought to such a satisfactory and auspicious re-
sult, two of the Commissioners returned home to France.
No man was more competent to sway the civil destinies of
these enfranchised bondmen than he who had preserved such
an unbounded control over them as their military chieftain,
and led them on to glorious deeds amid the fortunes of war-
fare recently waged in that island. And no one else could
hold that responsible position of an official mediator between
them and the government of France, with so great a surety
and pledge of their continued freedom, as Toussaint L'Ouver-
ture. And there was no other man, in fine, that these right-
fully jealous freemen would have permitted to carry out
such stringent measures in the island, so nearly verging to
serfdom, which were so necessary at that time in order to
restore industry, but one of their own caste whose unreserved
devotion to the cause of their freedom, placed him beyond
the suspicion of any treacherous design to re-enslave them.
Hence, by these eminent characteristics possessed by Tou-
ssaint in a super excellent degree, he was the very man for
the hour; and the only one fitted for the governorship of the
colony calculated to preserve the interests of all concerned.
The leading Commissioners of France, then in the island,
duly recognized this fact, and did not dispute with him the
claim to this responsible position. Thus had the genius of
Toussaint developed itself to meet an emergency that no
other man in the world was so peculiarly prepared to fulfil;
and thereby he has added another inextinguishable proof of
the capacity of the negro for self-government.
But if the combination of causes, which thus pointed him
out as the only man that could safely undertake the fulfill-
ment of the gubernatorial duties, are such manifest proofs of
negro capacity; then the manner in which we shall see that
he afterwards discharged the duties of that official station,
goes still further to magnify the self-evident fact of negro
The means that he adapted to heal the internecine dissen-
sions that threatened civil turmoil; and the manner that he
successfully counteracted the machinations of the ambitious
General Hedouville, a French Commissioner that remained
in the colony, who desired to overthrow Toussaint, showed
that the negro chieftain was no tyro in the secret of govern-
He also established commercial relations between that
island and foreign nations ; and he is said to be the first states-
man of modern times, who promulgated the doctrine of free
trade and reduced it to practice. He also desired to secure
a constitutional government to St. Domingo, and for this pur-
pose he assembled around him a select council of the most
eminent men in the colony, who drew up a form of constitu-
tion under his supervision and approval, and which he trans-
mitted, with a commendatory letter to Napoleon Bonaparte,
then First Consul of France, in order to obtain the sanction
of the imperial government.
But that great bad man did not even acknowledge its
receipt to Toussaint; but in his mad ambition he silently
meditated when he should safely dislodge the negro chief
from his responsible position, as the necessary prelude to the
re-enslavement of his sable brethren, whose freedom was
secure against his nefarious designs, so long as Toussaint
stood at the helm of affairs in the colony.
But decidedly the crowning act of Toussaint L'Ouverture's
statesmanship, was the enactment of the Rural Code, by the
operation of which, he was successful in restoring industrial
prosperity to the island, which had been sadly ruined by the
late events of sanguinary warfare. He effectually solved the
problem of immediate emancipation and unimpaired indus-
try, by having the emancipated slaves produce thereafter, as
much of the usual staple productions of the country, as was
produced under the horrible regime of slavery; nevertheless,
the lash was entirely abolished, and a system of wages adopt-
ed, instead of the uncompensated toil of the lacerated and
In fact, the island reached the highest degree of prosper-
ity that it ever attained, under the negro governorship of
The rural code, by which so much was accomplished, in-
stead of being the horrible nightmare of despotism-worse
than slavery, that some of the pro-slavery calumniators of
negro freedom and rule would have us believe; was, in fact,
nothing more than a prudent government regulation of labor-
a regulation which made labor the first necessity of a people
in a state of freedom,-a regulation which struck a death
blow at idleness, the parent of poverty and all the vices-a
regulation, in fine, which might be adopted with advantage
in every civilized country in the world, and thereby extin-
guish two-thirds of the pauperism, vagrancy, and crime, that
curse these nations of the earth; and thus lessen the need
for poor-houses, police officers, and prisons, that are now sus-
tained at such an enormous expense, for the relief of the poor
and the correction of felons.
This Haytian Code compelled every vagabond or loafer
about the towns and cities, who had no visible means of an
honest livelihood, to find an employer and work to do in the
rural districts. And if no private employer could be found,
then the government employed such on its rural estates, until
they had found a private employer. The hours and days of
labor were prescribed by this code, and the terms of agree-
ment and compensation between employer and employed
were also determined by its provisions. Thus, there could be
no private imposition on the laborers; and, as a further secu-
rity against such a spirit, the government maintained rural
magistrates and a rural police, whose duty it was to see to
the faithful execution of the law on both sides.
By the arrangement of this excellent and celebrated code,
every body in the commonwealth was sure of work and com-
pensation for the same, either from private employers or from
the government. No body need fear being starved for want
of work to support themselves, as is often the case among the
laborers of Europe, and is fast coming to pass in the densely
populated communities of this country, where labor is left to
take care of itself under the private exploitation of mercenary
capitalists. Under this code nobody need fear being exploit-
ed on by such unprincipled and usurious men, who willingly
take advantage of the poor to pay them starvation prices for
their labor; because, against such, the law of Toussaint
secured to each laborer a living compensation.
By the operation of this code, towns and cities were cleared
of all those idle persons who calculate to live by their wits,
and who commit nine-tenths of all the crimes that affect
civilized society. All such were compelled to be engaged at
active industrial labors, and thus rendered a help to them-
selves and a blessing to the community at large.
By this industrial regulation, every thing flourished in the
island in an unprecedented degree; and the negro genius of
Toussaint, by a bold and straight-forward provision for the
regulation and protection of his emancipated brethren, affect-
ed that high degree of prosperity in Hayti, which all the
wisdom of the British nation has not been able to accomplish
in her emancipated West India colonies, in consequence of
her miserable shuffling in establishing Coolie and Chinese
apprenticeship-that semi-system of slavery-in order to
gratify the prejudices of her pro-slavery colonial planters; and
because of the baneful influence of absentee landlordism,
which seems to be an inseparable incident of the British sys-
tem of property.
Thus did the negro government of St. Domingo, show more
paternal solicitude for the well being of her free citizens,
than they ever could have enjoyed under the capricious des-
potism of individual masters who might pretend to care for
them; and thus did it more truly subserve the purposes of a
government than any or all of the similar organizations of
civilization, whose only care and object seem to be the pro-
tection of the feudal rights of property in the hands of the
wealthy few; leaving the honest labor of the many unpro-
tected, and the poor laborer left to starve, or to become a
criminal, to be punished either by incarceration in the jails,
prisons and dungeons provided for common felons; or execu-
ted on the gallows as the greatest of malefactors.
The genius of Toussaint by towering so far above the com-
mon ideas of this age in relation to the true purposes of gov-
ernment; and by carrying out his bold problem with such
eminent success, has thereby emblazoned on the historic page
of the world's statesmanship a fame more enduring than Pitt,
who laid the foundation of a perpetual fund to liquidate the
national debt of England.
I say Toussaint has carved for himself a more enduring
fame, because his scheme was more useful to mankind. The
negro statesman devised a plan that comprehended in its
scope the well being of the masses of humanity. But Pitt
only laid a scheme whereby the few hereditary paupers pen-
sioned on a whole nation, with the absurd right to govern it,
might still continue to plunge their country deeper and deeper
into debt, to subserve their own extravagant purposes; and
then provide for the payment of the same out of the blood
and sweat, and bones of the delving operatives and colliers
of Great Britain. Thus, then Toussaint by the evident supe-
riority of his statesmanship, has left on the pages of the
world's statute book, an enduring and irrefutable testimony
of the capacity of the negro for self-government, and the loft-
iest achievements in national statesmanship.
And Toussaint showed that he had not mistaken his posi-
tion by proving himself equal to that trying emergency when
that demigod of the historian Abbott, Napoleon Bonaparte,
first Consul of France, conceived the infernal design of re-
enslaving the heroic blacks of St. Domingo; and who for
the execution of this nefarious purpose sent the flower of the
French Army, and a naval fleet of fifty-six vessels under
command of General Leclerc, the husband of Pauline, the
voluptuous and abandoned sister of Napoleon.
SWhen this formidable expedition arrived on the coast of
St. Domingo, the Commander found Toussaint and his heroic
compeers ready to defend their God given liberty against
even the terrors of the godless First Consul of France.
Wheresoever these minions of slavery and despotism made
their saorilegous advances, devastation and death reigned un-
der the exasperated genius of Toussaint.
He made that bold resolution and unalterable determina-
tion, which, in ancient times, would have entitled him to be
deified among the gods; that resolution was to reduce the
fair eden-like Isle of Hispaniola to a desolate waste like
Sahara; and suffer every black to be immolated in a manly
defense of his liberty, rather than the infernal and accursed
system of negro slavery should again be established on that
soil. He considered it far better, that his sable countrymen
should be DEAD FREEMEN than LIVING SLAVES.
The French veterans grew pale at the terrible manner that
the blacks set to work to execute this resolution. Leclero
found it impossible to execute his design by force; and he
was only able to win the reconciliation of the exasperated
blacks to the government of France, by abandoning his hos-
tilities and pledging himself to respect their freedom thereaf-
ter. It was then that the brave Negro Generals of Toussaint
went over in the service of Leclero; and it was then, that
the Negro Chieftain himself, resigned his post to the Governor
General appointed by Napoleon, and went into the shades of
domestic retirement, at his home in Ennery.
Thus did Toussaint, by his firm resolution to execute his
purpose, by his devotion to liberty and the cause of his race, so
consistently maintained under all circumstances, more than
deify himself; he proved himself more than a patriot; he
showed himself to be the unswerving friend and servant of
God and humanity.
Now, with the illustrious traits of character of this bril-
liant negro before us, who will dare to say that the race who
can thus produce such a a noble specimen of a hero and
statesman, is incapable of self-government. Let such a vile
slanderer, if there any longer remains such, hide his diminu.
tive head in the presence of his illustrious negro superior!
I know it may be said that, after all Toussaint was found
wanting in the necessary qualities to meet, and triumph in,
the last emergency, when he was finally beguiled, and sent
to perish in the dungeons of France, a victim of the perfid-
ious machinations of the heartless Napoleon.
On this point I will frankly own that Toussaint was defi-
cient in those qualities by which his antagonist finally suc-
ceeded in getting him in his power.
So long as manly skill and shrewdness-so long as bold and
open tactics and honorable stratagems were resorted to, the
black had proved himself, in every respect, the equal of the
white man. But the negro's heart had not yet descended to
that infamous depth of subtle depravity, that could justify
him in solemnly and publicly taking an oath, with the con-
cealed, jesuitical purpose, of thereby gaining an opportunity
to deliberately violate the same. He had no conception,
therefore, that the white man from whom he had learned all
that he knew of true-religion I repeat it-he had no concep-
tion that the white man, bad as he was, slaveholder as he
was-that even HE was really so debased, vile, and depraved,
as to be capable of such a double-dyed act of villainy, as
breaking an oath solemnly sealed by invoking the name of
the Eternal God of Ages.
Hence, when the Captain General, Leclerc, said to Tous-
saint, in presence of the French and Black Generals, uplifting
his hand and jewelled sword to heaven: I swear before the
face of the Supreme Being, to respect the liberty of the peo.
pie of St. Domingo." Toussaint believed in the sincerity of
this solemn oath of the white man. He threw down his
arms, and went to end the remainder of his days in the
bosom of his family. This was, indeed, a sad mistake for
him, to place so much confidence in the word of the white
man. As the result of this first error, he easily fell into an-
other equally treacherous. He was invited by General Bru-
net, another minion of Napoleon, in St. Domingo, to partake
of the social hospitalities of his home; but, Toussaint, in-
stead of finding the domestic civilities that he expected, was
bound in chains, sent on board the Hero, a vessel already
held in readiness for the consummation of the vile deed, in
which he was carried a prisoner to France.
That magnanimous man bitterly repented at his leisure,
his too great confidence in the word of the white man, in the
cold dark dungeons of the castle of Joux. And the depth
of this repentance was intensified by a compulsory fast order-
ed by that would-be great and magnanimous man, Napoleon
Bonaparte, who denied him food, and starved him to death.
Great God! how the blood runs chill, in contemplating the
ignoble end of the illustrious negro chieftain and statesman,
by such base and perfidious means! .
A BLOODY INTERLUDE FINALLY ESTABLISHES NEGRO
But if the godlike Toussaint had thus proved himself de-
ficient in those mean and unhallowed qualities that proved
his sad overthrow, nevertheless, the race again proved itself
equal to the emergency, by producing other leaders to fill up
the gap now left open.
The negro generals, who had gone over to the service of
France, on the solemn assurances and protestations of Leclero,
soon learned to imitate this new lesson of treachery, and
accordingly deserted his cause, and took up arms against
And, if afterwards, the heroic but sanguinary black chief,
Dessalines, who had previously massacred 500 innocent whites
(if any of these treacherous colonists can be called innocent)
at Mirebalais; 700 more at Verettes, and several hundred
others at La Riviere-I say again, if we now see him resume
his work of slaughter and death, and hang 500 French prison-
ers on gibbets erected in sight of the very camp of General
Rochambeau, we may see in this the bitter fruit of the
treachery of the whites, in this dreadful reaction of the
blacks.* These were the roots springing up, which Tons-
saint spoke of so sorrowfully on the ship's deck, as he was
borne away a prisoner to France, from the coast of St. Domin-
go. The captive hero, on this occasion, compared-himself to
a tree, saying: They have cut down in me the trunk of the
tree; but the roots are many and deep." The furious Des-
salines was, therefore, one of the foremost and firmest of these
rooj left in St. Domingo by the fallen chief, Toussaint, who
soon sprung up into a verdant and luxurious growth of san-
guinary deeds, by which the independence of his Island home
was baptized in a Sea of Blood.
Finally, if we see Dessalines with red hot shot, prepared
*General Leclerc had now fallen a victim to the ravages of yellow fever, and
Rochambean had succeeded to the supreme command of the invading forces.
to sink tha squadron of general Rochambeau, as it departed
from France, although the negro chief had solemnly stipu-
lated to allow it to sail from the harbor unmolested, we find
in this determination of the blood-thirsty man, how well he
had learned the lesson of treachery and perfidy from the ex-
ample of the white man.
Thus, if shocking depravity in perfidiousness and covenant
breaking, is needed as another evidence of the negro's equal-
ity with the'white man, in order to prove his ability to govern
himself, then the implacable black chief, Dessalines, fur-
nishes us with that proof.
I think, however, we may thank God, that the last act of
destruction contemplated by Dessalines was not consumma-
ted, in consequence of an English fleet taking Rochambeau
and his squadron as prisoners of war in the harbor of Port-
au-Prince; and thus, by this providential interposition, saved
the race from a stigma on the pages of history, as foul as that
which darkens the moral character of their antagonists.
Having now arrived at the epoch when the banners of
negro independence waved triumphantly over the Queen of
the Antilles; if we look back at the trials and tribulations
through which they came up to this point of National regen-
eration, we have presented to us, in the hardy endurance and
perseverance manifested by them, in the steady pursuit of
Liberty and Independence, the overwhelming evidence of
their ability to govern themselves. For fourteen long and soul-
trying years-twice the period of the revolutionary struggle
of this country-they battled manfully for freedom. It was
on the 8th of March, 1790, as we have seen, that the immor-
tal man of color, Vincent Oje, obtained a decree from the
National Assembly guaranteeing equal political privileges to
the free men of color in the island. And, after a continued
sanguinary struggle dating from that time, the never-to-be-
forgotten self-emancipated black slave, Jean Jacque Dessa-
lines, on the 1st of January, 1804, proclaimed negro free-
dom and independence throughout the island of St. Domingo.
That freedom and independence are written in the world's
history in the ineffaceable characters of blood; and its crim-
soned letters will ever testify of the determination and of the
ability of the negro to be free, throughout the everlasting
succession of ages.
EVIDENCES OF SELF-GOVERNMENT SINCE 1804.
I will now proceed to give a hasty synopsis of the eviden-
ces that the Haytians have continued to manifest since their
independence in demonstration of the Negroes' ability to gov-
Dessalines the Liberator of his country was chosen as a
matter of course the first Ruler of Hayti. During his ad-
ministration, the efficient organization of an army of 60,000
men to defend the country against invaders--the erection of
immense fortifications, and the effort to unite and consolidate
the Spanish part of the Island in one government with the
French portion over which he presided, showed that he un-
derstood the precautionary measures necessary to preserve
the freedom and independence of his country; and so far
he kept up the character of the race for capacity in self.gov-
In the succeeding administrations of the rival chiefs, Chris-
tophe and Petion, we have indeed the sorrowful evidence of
division, between the blacks and the men of color or- mulat-
toes, the seeds of which was planted in the days of slavery.
Nevertheless in that mutual g'od understanding that existed
between them by which it was agreed to unite together when-
ever a foreign foe invaded the island; and in the contemp-
tuous manner that both chiefs rejected the perfidious over-
tures of Bonaparte, we have still the evidence of that con-
servative good sense which fully exhibits the negroes ability
to take care of himself.
In the next administration of Boyer where we find these
divisions in the French part of the island happily healed ; and
the Spanish colony also united in one government with the
French, as Dessalines ardently desired in his time; we have
the most astonishing evidence of the perfection the Black
race could make in the art of self-government, during the
short period of twenty years independence.
After Boyer's administration there were some slight mani-
festations of disorder, arising from the smouldering feud be-
tween the blacks and men of color that the ancient regime of
slavery had created among them ; the baneful influence of
which the work of freedom and independence has not yet had
time to entirely efface. In this disorder we find the Spanish
part of the island secede and set up a separate nationality.-
But we find every thing in the French part soon settling down
into order again, under the vigorous sceptre of the present
ruler, Faustin I.
And in his known sentiments to harmonize all classes of
his people, and to unite the whole island under one strong
government, to secure which end he has exerted every influ-
ence within his power, we have the continued evidence of
those large and extended views of national policy among the
rulers of Hayti, that proves their ability to govern themselves
in a manner that will compare favorably with the statesman-
ship of any existing government of modern civilization.
Here we shall rest the evidence in proof of the competency
of the negro race for self-government which we have drawn
out to rather a protracted length for the space assigned to a
single Lecture; and turn our attention now to some of the
evidences of civilized progress evinced by that people. We
shall be brief in the elucidation of this point, because as
their ample competency to govern themselves, has now been
firmly established from the highest point of view, this fact of
itself demonstrates that the soundest elements of civilized
progress are inherent among such a people. Nevertheless it
will be well to particularize some of the proofs on this point
EVIDENCES OF CIVILIZED PROGRESS.
Under the administration of Dessalines aside from the
Military preparations we have noticed; he continued the
Code Rural of Toussaint as the law of the land, thereby
demonstrating that the negro in independence could carry for-
ward measures of industry for his own benefit as well as for
the whites when he governed for and in the name of France;
for such was the case during the Governor Generalship of
Toussaint. He also established schools in nearly every dis-
trict of his dominions, and the people seeing what advantage
was possessed by those who had received instruction, attach.
ed great importance to its acquisition; and as the result in a
short time there were but few who did not learn to read and
In the constitution that he promulgated, it was declared
that he who was not a good father, a good husband, and
above all a good soldier, was unworthy to be called a Haytian
citizen. It was not permitted fathers to disinherit their chil-
dren; and every person was required by law to exercise some
mechanical art or handicraft.
Thus fundamental measures were taken to make educa-
tion, well regulated families and the mechanic arts, those
three pillars of civilization, the basis of Haytian Society.-
And in this fact where such high necessities were recognized
and appreciated, we have the most undoubted evidence of
The overthrow of the government of Dessalines, by the
spontaneous uprising of the people in their majesty, when it
had become a merciless and tyrannical despotism, may also be
noted here as another evidence of progress in political freedom
of thought that made the race scorn to be tyrannized over by
an oppressive master, whether that master was a cruel white
tyrant, or a merciless negro despot.
Passing on to the two-fold government of Petion and Chris-
tophe, we not only discover the same military vigilance kept
up by the construction of the tremendous fortification called
the Citadel Henry that was erected by Christophe, under the
direction of European Engineers, mounting 300 cannons;-
but we also find both of these chiefs introducing teachers
from Europe in their respective dominions; and establishing
the Lancasterian system of schools.
We discover also during their administration, Protestant
Missionaries availing themselves of the tolerant provision in
regard to religious worship that had been maintained in the
fundamental laws of the country since the days of Dessalines.
These Missionaries commenced their work of evangelization
with the approbation of the negro and mulatto chieftains;-
and Christophe went so far as to import a cargo of Bibles
for gratuitous distribution among his people.
Thus do we find that progress continued to make its steady
steps of advancement among these people, notwithstanding
the political divisions that had now taken place among them.
The succeeding administration of General Jean Pierre
Boyer, under whom these divisions were happily healed, was
fraught with stupendous projects of advancement.
The whole of the laws of the island were codified and made
simple, under six different heads, viz: The Code Rural, the
Civil Code, the Commercial Code, the Criminal Code, and the
Code of Civil and Criminal procedure, regulating the practice
in the several courts of the island. Thus, by this codification
of her laws, did Hayti execute over thirty years ago, that
which the States of this Union are just arousing to the ne-
cessity of doing Boyer also set on foot a project of emigra-
tion, for the purpose of inducing the colored people of the
United States to remove to Hayti, in order to replenish and
accelerate the growth of the Haytian population. This project
resulted in the removal of 6,000 colored people to that island
from this country.
In addition to this important movement, various enterprises
were undertaken by men of public spirit, during this ad-
ministration, to promote industry among the people of Hayti.
A company was formed to carry on a mahogany saw mill,
which expended $20,000 in the purchase of the necessary
machinery from France. The mill was erected at St. Marc's.
Judge Lespinasse, chief justice of the Court of Cassation, was
President of the Company; and it was under the special
patronage of General Boyer, the President of the Repub-
Another company was also formed, under the presidency
of Senator Jorge, for tanning purposes, and expended $10,000
in preparations for carrying on the business. A saw mill
was also erected at Port-au-Prince, by a private individual,
at the cost of $15,000.
Thus were the most vigorous efforts of progress manifested
during the administration of Boyer.
In the subsequent administration of Guerrier, Pierrot, and
Riviere, which followed each other in quick and rather chaotic
succession, the work of industrial progress did not abate.
Two steamers were purchased by the government, a model
agricultural farm was established under a scientific director
from France; and English architects, carpenters, and stone
masons were hired to come in the country to improve the style
Finally, we also discover the same evidences of gradual
progress, when we come down to the present administration
of Faustin I. A navy of about twenty armed vessels has been
created. Thirteen steam sugar mills have been erected. The
system of education improved and extended. And a house
of industry erected at Port-au-Prince, for the purpose of in-
structing boys in the mechanic arts.
And here let me add, that during the whole period of these
successive administrations, that we have thus summarily
passed under review, a thrifty commercial trade has been
maintained between that island and the maratime nations of
Europe and America, amounting in the aggregate, to several
millions of dollars per annum.
Hence, these evidences of educational and industrial devel.
opment, expanding continually as years roll onward, we re-
gard as the most irrefragable proof of true civilized progress
on the part of the Haytian people.
STABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
But in addition to these facts, we may adduce the general
stability of the government they have maintained, as another
evidence of civilized progress. There have been but eight
rulers in Hayti since 1804, counting separately, Christophe
and Petion, who ruled cotemporaneously. This is a period
of fifty-three years down to the present time. And in the
United States, since 1809, there have been ten different
chief magistrates-a period of forty-eight years. Thus, this
country has had two more rulers than Hayti, within a period
five years less than the Haytian sovereignty.
The fact is, there is no nation in North America, but the
United States, nor any in South America, except Brazil, that
can pretend to compare with Hayti, in respect to general sta-
bility of government. The Spanish Republics of America
will have as many different rulers in eight years as Hayti has
had in a half century.
And the colonial dependencies of European nations change
governors at least three times as often as that negro nation
has done. This political stability, therefore, on the part of
the Haytians, indicates a vast remove from Barbarism. It
is far ahead of the anarchy of some so-called civilized nations.
And it therefore indicates a high degree of civilization and
Some exceptions might be taken, by the over scrupulous
partizan of popular institutions, at the tendency manifested
to vacillate between a Republican and Monarchial form of
government, that has constantly been exhibited in Hayti, since
the days of Dessalines.
The desire for Republican institutions has its rise in the
Cosmopolitan ideas and example of France, at the time of
the Haytian Revolution. The proximate example of the
United States may also influence this desire for republicanism
to some extent.
On the other hand, Monarchy is an ancient traditionary
predilection of the race derived from Africa, which ancient
continent maintains that form of government in common with
the rest of the old world. The gorgeous splendor and au-
gust prestige of aristrocratic rank and title, always attendant
on this form of government, hold an imperious sway over the
minds of this race of men who have such a keen appreciation
of the beautiful. With these monarchical instincts on the
one hand, and those powerful republican influenoies on the
other, Hayti has continually oscillated between a republican
and a monarchial form of government. But be it ever re-
membered to her credit, this oscillation has not unsettled the
permanent stability of her national administration, as the
facts previously adduced, abundantly prove.
Permit me, however, to urge with due deference to the re-
publican ideas which surround me, that it matters not in the
eternal principles of morality, what the form of government
may be, so long as the ruling powers of a nation maintain the
inviolability of personal liberty, exact justice and political
equality among all of its honest citizens and subjects. If
these things are not so maintained, a republic is as great, nay
a greater despotism that an autocracy.
If there is but one despot to oppress the people, then there
is but one neck to be severed in order to rid the earth of such
a loathesome pest. But if the petty despots are numbered
by the millions; then woe to that prescribed class that may
fall under their tyranny, for it will need more axes and more
executioners than can be supplied, in order to get this count-
less brood out of the way.
A popular despotism therefore, whose rulers are composed
of political gamblers for the spoils of office and burglarious
plunderers of the public treasury that tyranizes over any class
of its citizens and subject, is less tolerable than a monarchical
or an aristocratic despotism, even though its rulers are a he-
reditary class of blood-titled paupers pensioned from genera-
tion to generation, on the public bounty of the nation. Among
this latter class of rulers there is not to be found such a des-
perate and reckless set of lawless adventurers as will be
found among the former. And should such monsters present
themselves, they are in a more tangible shape to be got at
and disposed of in a government of the few, than in that of
the many. Hence the sacred purposes of government in se-
curing the welfare of the whole people will always be more
nearly arrived at in the one than in the other.
The Haytian people when governed by the crowned and
imperial Dessalines testified their love of liberty, by destroy-
ing the tyrant when he violated the constitution and over-
stepped the laws of his country.
The American people under a republican form of govern-
ment manifest their want of a love of true liberty, when
they permit a vagabond set of politicians, whose character
for rowdyism disgraces the nation, to enact such an odious
law as the Fugitive Slave bill, violating the writ of Habeas
Corpus, and other sacred guarantees of the Constitution;-
and then tamely submit to this high handed outrage, because
such unprincipled scoundrels voted in their insane revelry,
that it must be the Supreme law of the land.
If there was one-half of the real love of liberty among even
the people of the professedly free northern states, as there
is among the negroes of Hayti, every one of their national
representatives who voted for that infamous bill, or who
would not vote instantaneously for its repeal, would be tried
for his life, condemned and publicly executed as accessory to
man stealing. Thus would a free people, determined to
preserve their liberties, rid themselves of a brood of petty
tyrants who seek to impose their unhallowed partisan oaprices
upon the country, as the supreme law of the land, over-riding
even the Higher Law of God. And thus in time would they
exhibit an equallyjealousjegard for their rights, asthe Hay-
tians did, when they rid themselves of the tyrant Desealines.
If such was the real love of liberty among the northern
people of this vain-glorious Republic, we should soon annihi-
late that morally spineless class of politicians, who need de-
cision of character, when they get to Washington, to legislate
for freedom. All such as were thus morally destitute of
spinal vertebrae to resist the aggressions of the slave power,
in the National Halls of legislation, would also soon be physi-
cally deficient in their cervical vertebrae, when they returned
home, to meet the extreme penalty of an outraged and indig-
But such a determined spirit of liberty does not exist here,
and honest men must submit therefore with lamb-like pa-
tience to this republican despotism of irresponsible political
partizans who violate every just principle of law, because
these unrighteous decrees are perpetrated in the name of the
Hence there is far more security for personal liberty and
the general welfare of the governed, among the monarchical
negroes of Hayti where the rulers are held individually res-
ponsible for their public acts, than exists in this bastard de-
The single necked despot is soon reached by the keen
avenging axe of liberty, for any acts of despotism among the
Haytian blacks ; but here its dull and blunted edge lays use-
less; for it might be hurled in vain and fall powerless among
a nameless crowd of millions.
But our historical investigations are at an end, and we must
hasten to bring our reflections to a conclusion. I have now
fulfilled my design in vindicating the capacity of the negro
race for self-government and civilized progress against the
unjust aspersions of our unprincipled oppressors, by boldly
examining the facts of Haytian history and deducing legiti-
mate conclusions therefrom. I have summoned the sable
heroes and statesmen of that independent isle of the Carib-
bean Sea, and tried them by the high standard of modern
civilization, fearlessly comparing them with the most illus-
trious men of the most enlightened nations of the earth;-
and in this examination and comparison the negro race has
not fell one whit behind their contemporaries. And in this
investigation I have made no allowance for the negroes just
emerging from a barbarous condition and out of the brutish
ignorance of West Indian slavery. I have been careful not
to make such an allowance, for fear that instead of proving
negro equality only, I should prove negro superiority. I shun
the point of making this allowance to the negro, as it might
reverse the case of the question entirely, that I have been
combatting and instead of disproving his alleged inferiority
only, would on the other hand, go farther, and establish his
superiority. Therefore as it is my design to banish the words
"superiority" and "inferiority" from the vocabulary of the
world, when applied to the natural capacity of races of men,
I claim no allowance for them on the score of their condition
Having now presented the preceding array of facts and
arguments to establish, before the world, the negro's equality
with the white man in carrying forward the great principles
of self-government and civilized progress; I would now have
these facts exert their legitimate influence over the minds of
my race, in this country, in producing that most desirable
object of arousing them to a full consciousness of their own
inherent dignity; and thereby increasing among them that
self-respect. which shall urge them on to the performance of
those great deeds which the age and the race now demand at
Our brethren of Hayti, who stand in the vanguard of the
race, have already made a name, and a fame for us, that is
as imperishable as the world's history. They exercise sove-
reign authority over an island, that in natural advantages, is
the Eden of America, and the garden spot of the world.
Her rich resources invite the capacity of 10,000,000 human
beings to adequately use them. It becomes then an impor-
tant question for the negro race in America to well consider
the weighty responsibility that the present exigency devolves
upon them, to contribute to the continued advancement of
this negro nationality of the New World until its glory and
renown shall overspread and cover the whole earth, and re-
deem and regenerate by its influence in the future, the be-
nighted Fatherland of the race in Africa.
Here in this black nationality of the New World, erect-
ed under such glorious auspices, is the stand point that
must be occupied, and the lever that must be exerted,
to regenerate and disenthrall the oppression and igno-
rance of the race, throughout the world. We must not
overlook this practical vantage ground which Providence has
raised up for us out of the depths of the sea,. for any man-
made and utopian scheme that is prematurely forced upon
us, to send us across the ocean, to rummage the graves of our
ancestors, in fruitless,and ill-directed efforts at the wrong end
of human progress. Civilization and Christianity is passing
from the East to the West; and its pristine splendor will only
be rekindled in the ancient nations of the Old World, after it
has belted the globe in:its westward course, and revisited the
Orient again. The Serpentine trial of civilization and chris-
tianity, like the ancient philosophic symbol of eternity, must
coil backward to its fountain head. God, therefore in per-
mitting the accursed slave traffic to transplant so many mil-
lions of the race, to the New World, and educing therefrom
such a negro nationality as Hayti, indicates thereby, that we
have a work now to do here in the Western World, which in his
own good time shall shed its orient beams upon the Fatherland
of the race. Let us see to it, that we meet the exigency now
imposed upon us, as nobly on our part at this time as the Hay-
tians met theirs at the opening of the present century. And
in seeking to perform this duty, it may well be a question
with us, whether it is not our duty, to go and identify our
destiny with our heroic brethren in that independent isle of
the Carribean Sea, carrying with us such of the arts, sciences
and genius of modern civilization, as we may gain from this
hardy and enterprising Anglo-American race, in order to add to
Haytian advancement; rather than to indolently remain
here, asking for political rights, which, if granted a social pro-
scription stronger than conventional legislation will ever render
nugatory and of no avail for the manly elevation and general
well-being of the race. If one powerful and civilized negro sov-
ereignty can be developed to the summit of national grandeur
in the West Indies, where the keys to the commerce of both
hemispheres can be held; this fact will solve all questions
respecting the negro, whether they be those of slavery, preju.
dice or proscription, and wheresoever on the face of the globe
such questions shall present themselves for a satisfactory so.
A concentration and combination of the negro race, of the
Western Hemisphere in Hayti, can produce just such a na-
tional development. The duty to do so, is therefore incumbent
on them. And the responsibility of leading off in this gigan-
tic enterprise. Providence seems to have made our peculiar
task by the eligibility of our situation in this country, as a
point for gaining an easy access to that island. Then let us
boldly enlist in this high pathway of duty, while the watch.
words that shall cheer and inspire us in our noble and glori-
ous undertaking, shall be the soul-stirring anthem of GOD
AFRIC-AMERICAN PRINTING COMPANY.
Tims is an association formed for the purpose of publishing Negro Literature.
It is formed under the auspices of the National Emigration Convention, of the
colored people of the United States and Canada, and under the special patronage
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the writings of any other class of authors, when the same shall be deemed
serviceable to the great cause of humanity.
It is hoped that the efforts of this company will be so well sustained by the
public, that its objects will continually augment, until a complete set of measures
shall be introduced among the colored people of the United States and of the
American Continent, and carried out in practical operation among them, until
this oppressed race shall be completely redeemed from and elevated above all of
their political and social disabilities.
As to what such a train of measures should be, it is not material now to spec-
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already set on foot by the company ; and if this is sustained, as it is hoped it will
be, time will decide what may be done in the future.
PROGRAMME OF THE COMPANY'S PUBLICATION.
A Vindication of the Capacity of the Negro race for Self-Government and
Civilized Progress; as demonstrated by events of Haytian History: a Lecture,
by Rev. JAMES THEODORE HOLLY. Published in pamphlet form, embellished by
a fine steel engraving of Faustin I, Emperor of Hayti. Price 38 cents. This
work is already issued from the press
Hayti; Past, Present, and Future: a synoptical review of the History of
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The first number of the Afric-American Repository, a quarterly compendium
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This periodical, which was to have been issued July, 1857, has been delayed one
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AUGCST 1st, 1857.