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.
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.
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.
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.
This motion, presented by Jean François Reynaud de Villeverd, Count of Reynaud, on August 31, 1789 before the French National Assembly in Versailles, argues in favor of importing more flour into Saint-Domingue due to the lack of food in the colony. In describing how the colony had previously been granted permission by the General Governor to import flour from abroad, it makes the case that a new ordinance be passed due to similar circumstances.
In this royal decree, which modifies a similar decree issued in August 1784, the French government sought to introduce more slaves to the windward colonies of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia, and Tobago; encourage the importation of raw Saint Lucian sugar; and provide an influx of slaves to the Southern ports of Les Cayes-Saint-Louis to make up for a lack of sufficient labor. Showing the interconnectedness and interdependence of the colonies in the French Caribbean, this pamphlet also reveals how certain regions and islands received less attention than the more economically viable regions of Saint-Domingue like Le Cap and Port-au-Prince.
This pamphlet, dating from 1784, outlines the trade laws established in the French Caribbean islands. The nineteen articles ordered by King Louis XVI offer details regarding what may be exchanged during trade, tax laws and the differences in regulation between foreign and domestic ships.