Issue 2.0: Introduction

This six document installment seeks to build on the first by providing a variety of perspectives on the “Grain Famine” of 1789. However, while the first issue focused mainly on the rapport between the Deputies of Saint-Domingue with French officials in France or Saint-Domingue, our second issue attempts to provide a larger, transnational context for the issues surrounding 1789 Saint-Domingue.

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Issue 1.0: Introduction

The effect of the 1789 grain disputes in the colony of Saint-Domingue and its colonial Metropole serves as the primary focus of the first installment of our reader. This crucial, and yet little-known episode, in the history of not only Colonial Saint-Domingue, brings up issues of commerce during the Ancien Régime, and is one of the first major issues that was brought forth to the newly formed National Assembly in 1789.

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Copy of a Letter from a Captain presently in Cap Français, sent via the ship named the Cap-Français, which arrived in Nantes after 31 days on November 15, 1791, addressed to Paris, to M. W

Written by an unnamed ship captain preparing to return to Cap Français, this letter recounts the violence that has consumed Saint-Domingue during various revolts, and the beginning of the Haitian Revolution. The author intimates the numerous ways the Whites and Creole planters retaliated against the enslaved and other people of color through various acts of torture and extermination tactics.

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Speech given October 23, 1791 by M. the Mayor of Port-au-Prince, following the Peace Treaty between the White Citizens and the Citizens of Color from the Western Province of the French Section of Saint-Domingue

This is a speech by the Mayor of Port-au-Prince delivered before an audience of white colonists, free people of color, and military men on October 23, 1791, which hereby eliminated all distinction between race and social status, naming every man simply “citizen.”

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Reflections on the Code Noir, and Denunciation of an Atrocious Crime Committed in Saint-Domingue: Addressed to the National Assembly by the Society of the Friends of Blacks Paris, August 1790

These Reflections on the Code Noir challenge the National Assembly’s stance on slavery and, the code in general The Society of the Friends of Blacks implores the Assembly to abolish the slave trade in its entirety, but not slavery itself, which they see as a given.

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Charges of Fraud: The Obstinate Rebuttal of a Banished Intendant: Concerning the Grain Shortage and Criminal Negligence

The following document is a twenty-page excerpt from a lengthy report by François Barbé de Marbois refuting claims that, as the Intendant of Saint-Domingue, he personally profited from restricting trade between Saint-Domingue and the United States of America. With the principal goal of exonerating himself before his peers in the National Assembly, Marbois methodically discredits charges that he had been negligent towards a colony suffering from the horrors of a famine.

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REQUEST AND PETITION From the Citizens of Color of the French Isles and Colonies, December 2, 1789

Delivered by the likes of Julien Raimond, Vincent Ogé, and others, this Request and Petition narrated a long history of legal discrimination of Free People of Color in Colonial Saint-Domingue.This petition calls for political enfranchisement and representation of Free People of Color in the Colonial Assembly as a way of countering a long history of racial discrimination.

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Supplement to the Counter Argument from the Deputies of French Manufacturers and Commerce to the Deputies of Saint-Domingue, Concerning the Supply of Provisions to the Colony

This supplement to the Réplique, or “counter argument”, made by the Deputies representing the French merchants and manufacturers, argues that the rhetoric of the Deputies of Saint-Domingue is not only petulant, but that it also serves as an attempt to deceive the Metropole.

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M. de Cocherel’s Reflections, Deputy of Saint-Domingue, On the Report from the Comité des Six

In his “reflections,” M. de Cocherel outlined a plan to import much-needed flour to Saint-Domingue while simultaneously refuting merchants’ claims that French trade would suffer if the colonies were allowed to bypass the laws handed down by the French Metropolitan government. Arguing that the three main ports of Saint-Domingue, le Cap, Port-au-Prince, and les Cayes, were insufficient to supply the colony with enough grain, Cocherel urged the “Comité des Six” to open all of Saint-Domingue’s ports to foreign trade of grain and flour.

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Judgment of the Northern Provincial Assembly of Saint-Domingue Session in Le Cap Against Barbé de Marbois, his Council, Accomplices and followers September 21, 1789

This succinct document presents the charges brought against Barbé de Marbois by the Colonial Deputies of Saint-Domingue that ultimately caused Marbois to leave his appointment and escape back to Metropolitan France. The document provides a brief view into the elaborate web of social institutions – including courts, clergy, local government, and shifting trade regulations for human and material cargo – which shaped daily life in Colonial Saint-Domingue after the French Revolution and prior to the start of the Haitian Revolution.

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Response from the Deputies of Manufacturers and Commerce of France: To the Motions of MM. de Cocherel & de Reynaud, Deputies from the Isle of Saint-Domingue to the National Assembly, September 13, 1789

This response from the Deputies of Manufactures and Commerce of France to MM. de Cocherel and de Reynaud offers a detailed rebuttal to the Colonial Deputies’ claims that the French government and National Commerce perpetuated famine in Saint-Domingue. This later section provides evidence as to how MM. de Cocherel and de Reynaud misled the French government with regard to the merchants’ commercial activity on the island.

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Response from the Deputies of Production and Commerce of France: To the Motions of MM. de Cocherel & de Reynaud, Deputies from the Isle of Saint-Domingue to the National Assembly

This response from the Deputies of Production and Commerce of France provides a comprehensive review of the legislation surrounding the grain dispute of 1789 in order for the Commercial Deputies to defend themselves from the Colonial Deputies’ accusations that they have perpetuated famines.

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