The Citizens of April 4

Hello, and welcome to Revolutions.

So last time Saint Domingue erupted into a massive threeway revolt that was capped off with the unfathomable slave uprising. And it did not take long for the rest of the world to learn of the shocking events in the French colony. It should come as no surprise that the rest of European civilization blew right past the white threats of independence and colored demands for equality and focused exclusively on the slaves. It also probably comes as no surprise that the atrocities committed by the slaves dominated the reports, like the rumor that the slaves were using the head of a dead white child as their military standard, which, oddly enough, is almost exactly the same imagery that filtered back to England when news of the Irish rebellion hit London in 1642 – we talked about that in episode 1.4. 

News spread quickly throughout the Caribbean, in particular because Governor Blanchelande was sending out distress calls in all directions, most especially to the British in Jamaica and the Spanish over on the other side of the island in Santo Domingo. But the response from his European brothers was either noncommittal or openly hostile. The British sympathized and promised aid, and in time, a small embassy did arrive to sympathize in person, but nothing resembling actual aid. You know, guns and men who know how to use them. Meanwhile, over in Santo Domingo, the Spanish appeared perfectly happy to watch the French colony burn to the ground. Not unlike the great powers of Europe, who were happily watching France be consumed by the Revolution. And more than just watch, the Spanish in Santo Domingo were soon actively trading with the slave armies, exchanging weapons and supplies for items looted from the ransacked and burned plantations. Jean-François and Biassou, the two principal slave generals, both played up their cause as a defense of good King Louis against the loathsome patriot revolutionaries. They even called themselves Royal Armies, saying that they were only fighting to implement the will of the King. Both generals started decking themselves out in fancy uniforms covered in fleur-de-lis, and the Spanish took a liking to all of this. And as we’ll see, when the mother countries go to war in early 1793, this burgeoning relationship between the slaves and the Spanish will become more formalized. 

Then up in the newly established United States, the reaction was a mixture of fear, dread and, in plucky American fashion, a sense of economic opportunity. The southern states were mortified by the thought of slaves rising up, and they paid special attention to their own plantations. But they were also not facing a ten to one slave to free population ratio. So vigilance, yes, but they never did need more than that. The northern states, meanwhile, fretted about the loss of Saint Domingue products, especially the molasses they used to make rum. But at the same time, if things were really as bad as it sounded, the French colonists were going to need all the supplies they could get and would probably pay a pretty penny for it. So many northern merchants brave the revolt to engage in a little revolt profiteering. 

Now, practically the last major power to find out about the revolt was France itself. Word of the slave uprising did not hit Paris until November. Now, the magnitude of the revolt sent the Friends of the Blacks into a political tailspin. Now, they had never advocated for anything but gradual emancipation and compensation to the owners, and advocated those measures in part to forestall exactly this sort of uprising. But for the moment, nobody wanted to hear it from the Friends of the Blacks. Abolition was no longer on the agenda, and soon enough, the Friends of the Blacks stopped holding regular meetings and focused on other aspects of their revolutionary careers. 

But though abolition of slavery was, for the moment, taboo, the quality for the free coloreds was suddenly back on the table, and this was because the founder of the Friends of the Blacks was Jacques Pierre Brissot. And we’re currently around episode 3.21 in the French Revolution, when Brissot and his Girondin allies started dominating the newly convened Legislative Assembly. Brissot had a good working relationship with Julien Raimond, and Raimond hammered home his central point: you must give equality to the coloreds. It is no longer a matter of preventing a slave revolt, it’s about successfully overcoming one. And because Brissot was now so central in the Legislative Assembly, this argument got a fair hearing. The big white interests in the Club Massiac, on the other hand, had just watched all their carefully cultivated allies in the National Assembly voluntarily resigned from power. And so when they begged the Legislative Assembly to send an army to Saint Domingue, the Legislative Assembly agreed to send 6000 more troops. But then Brissot said “You won’t get any more until you agree to colored equality.” And though he was obviously withholding the troops as leverage, we know that Brissot was likely withholding the troops for a different reason. He was busy plotting war with Austria and needed every man he could get. 

Now, as I said at the end of last week’s show, amongst the very, very last people to find out about the great slave revolt were the three commissioners who had been sent by the National Assembly to act as their representatives in the colony. And when these three guys stepped off the boat on November 29, 1791, it must have been one of the biggest what the *bleep* moments in history. Le Cap is a city under siege. Practically the entire Northern Plains are occupied by a slave army and the whole place has been burned to the ground. And down south, the whites and coloreds have started a civil war. So let’s see, what do our instructions say about slave revolt and civil war? All right, we don’t have anything about that, so eh yeah…

The three commissioners were in an even more impossible situation than the beleaguered Governor Blanchelande. They came carrying official news that the May 15 decree had been repealed and that on matters of race and slavery the citizens of Saint Domingue are sovereign and have full authority. So on the two most important matters facing the colony, the three commissioners had literally zero jurisdiction. They were basically glorified ambassadors. 

But as we also discussed at the end of last week, by the time the commissioners arrived things had settled into a stalemate. The slave armies controlled most of the Northern Plains as well as the mountains to the east and south at bordered Santo Domingo. Meanwhile, the city of Le Cap was under siege but not in significant danger of being overrun. And Governor Blancheland had just established a cordon of the west which successfully contained the uprising in the north. The loss of momentum was worrying to the slave leaders because the slave soldiers were starting to get restless. Having failed to just sweep the hated masters off the island completely, their concerns now turn to more mundane issues like food and medicine and why we don’t have enough of either, and of course the overbearing orders of their officers. Discipline suffered and the generals wondered how much longer they would be able to keep the rebellion going. So perhaps the time had come to negotiate. 

As soon as the three commissioners were briefed on the situation. They immediately said to the colonists “Negotiate”. They also said, “We have a way for you to do it”. When King Louis signed the Constitution of 1791, he had issued a general political amnesty, so that’s the perfect means to bring this revolt to an end. But the Colonial Assembly refused to even consider it. They believed that reinforcements would inevitably arrive from France, that the slave army would naturally fall apart and in no time be crushed. The King’s amnesty was for citizens, not murderous brigands. But though the colonists dug in their heels, Jean-François and Biassou took a shot at negotiating anyway. In early December, they issued four principal demands and I quote now from a military dispatch “First, a full and complete pardon for the officer corps and the legal registration of their freedom. Second, a general amnesty for all the slaves. Third, freedom for the leaders to withdraw to wherever they wish in a foreign country if they choose to leave. And fourth, the full enjoyment of the effects in their possession.” 

In exchange for meeting these demands the generals agreed to order their followers back to the plantations where sugar cultivation, coffee cultivation and slavery would all resume their natural course. So, yes, in December 1791 the leaders of the slave revolt attempted to sell all of their followers back into chains in exchange for their own personal freedom. Now, this is both morally deplorable and ruthlessly pragmatic. Jean-François, for example, does not appear to have believed that mass emancipation was possible or even desirable. He likely had the same general outlook as the Friends of the Blacks back in Paris. Gradual emancipation over a long period: good. Sudden mass emancipation: bad. 

Now, one of the leaders advising limited emancipation for the leaders only was a recent arrival in the slave camps whose role in the early rebellion remained shrouded in a bit of mystery. He was not even a slave himself but rather an ex-slave who had been serving as the manager of a plantation in the Northern Plains in the summer of 1791: Toussaint Louverture. Right now he is known as Toussaint de Bréda, but history knows him as Toussaint Louverture. So we’ll just cut right to the chase on that one and besides, mostly I’ll just be calling him Toussaint anyway. 

Born a slave probably in the early 1740s on a sugar plantation in the north, Toussaint was a black Creole. No European blood at all, born in the Americas. But he did manage to hit what amounted to the slave jackpot: a relatively kind and generous master. Young Toussaint was scrawny and weak, but his mind was bright and active. His master, seeing the boy’s promise, made sure he received a rudimentary education. Soon Toussaint could read and speak French. He understood basic mathematics, politics and economics. Clearly, he was being groomed for a leadership role on the plantation. Historical tradition also has Toussaint reading the Abbe Raynal’s famous “History of the Two Indies” with its searching call for a black Spartacus. But those copies of the book were on the island, so far as I can tell, there’s no direct evidence that Toussaint actually sat down and read the book prior to the slave revolt. 

So the educated Toussaint then rose up the slave hierarchy. He was a coachman, then he moved into caring for the horses where he became an expert rider, and then he took on overall management of the plantation’s livestock. A job that brought him into contact with whites, and coloreds, and slaves, necessitated frequent trips to Le Cap and constant daily management of tons of details, both big and small. Soon enough, Toussaint was a worldly and wellknown fixture of life in the Northern Plains, respected by masters and slaves alike. And he was affectionately known as Papa Toussaint. 

In 1776, when Toussaint was in his early 30s, his master allowed him to purchase his freedom, whereupon he stayed on the plantation as a free black manager. He then married his wife, the still enslaved Suzanne Simon-Baptiste, in the early 1780s and then tried his luck as a small hold farmer, running property of his own with perhaps a dozen slaves. But Toussaint does not appear to have succeeded as an independent planter because when the revolution broke out, he was back at his home plantation as its manager. It is entirely possible that it was just better to live with his family, which now included a few small children. As one of the prominent black leaders in the north in the summer of 1791, it is impossible to imagine Toussaint not knowing what was being planned. But his actual role in the early stages of the rebellion is pretty unknown. Was he at the August 14 meeting? Was he at Bois-Caïman? We don’t know. What we do know is that he was not amongst those leading the initial charge. He instead remained on his plantation and kept the slaves there from joining the fight. There are a few different theories to explain this. One is that Toussaint was in on the plan, but that his role was to stay put and act as a spy and inform it among the whites. Another is that Toussaint was smart and pragmatic. A slave uprising is a dicey proposition and he stayed out of it until it became clear that the thing was not just going to fall apart after a few days. There is also a theory that Toussaint’s principal role was acting as the liaison with the royal administrators who were looking to spark the uprising to put down the big whites. And that Toussaint had then used this opportunity to trick the whites into thinking he was working for them, when really he was using them to create space for the slave revolt. Toussaint’s early history has clearly been rewritten more than once. And if you ask me, given the arc of his career, I would guess that wait-and-see Toussaint probably gets the closest to the truth. 

Whatever his role, by the fall of 1791 Toussaint elected to join the rebellion in full. He ensured that the widow of his old master made it safely to Le Cap, told his wife and children to make for Santo Domingo and then left to join the slave armies. Older and far better educated than the top generals, I mean, he was in his mid 40s, while Jean-François was maybe 25 and illiterate, Toussaint glided easily into the upper rungs of the rebellion. From that position, he played a key role in the negotiations of November and December 1791 between the slaves and the white leaders in Le Cap. The first time his personal signature appears in the historical record is affixed to a letter drafted on behalf of Jean-François and Biassou outlining their principal demands. Toussaint was clearly an advocate of limiting the aims of the rebellion and probably advised everyone to ratchet down their expectations. But at the same time, he urged the whites in Le Cap to make the deal for God’s sake. By now, the slave generals were claiming they had about 100,000 men under arms and if this was an exaggeration, it likely wasn’t much of one. The whites could have ended this for basically nothing. But the whites resisted. They countered and said, lay down your arms and return to the plantations and we might consider amnesty. 

The three commissioners, for their part, kept up the negotiations and held independent meetings with Jean-François and also urged the Colonial Assembly to please take the extraordinarily good deal on the table. By the end of the negotiations, the slave generals may have demanded freedom for as few as 60 of the principal leaders in exchange for ending the revolt. But the whites said no. This intransigence cost them everything. It also meant that Jean-François, Biassou and Toussaint never had to face what would have been a very scary proposition: telling tens of thousands of armed slaves who have just spent the last three months engaged in a bloody war for freedom, “Thanks, guys. We’re all now free. But you’re slaves again. That’s cool, right?” Instead, they ordered their men on a new offensive in January 1791. And rather than the revolt being terrible but short, it became terrible and very, very long. 

Meanwhile, down in the west, the situation was perhaps even more chaotic. As we saw last week, the battle lines in the west and south provinces were drawn between whites and coloreds rather than masters and slaves. At least, mostly. At the end of October 1791, everyone had signed the second Concordat that established a new alliance between the whites and coloreds on the basis of racial equality. But it also appears that within a week of this deal being signed the first rumor of the National Assembly’s reversal of the May 15 decree hit. But without the rumors being official and with the slave revolt still a major concern, the Concordat alliance held into late November. But the small whites in Port-au-Prince were really ticked off about it. And now, believing that the hated May 15 decree was a dead letter, they work daily to undermine support for the Concordat. 

Now in fine French revolutionary fashion, the agreement was put to a public vote, and on November 21, Port-au-Prince was divided into four electoral sections and the voting commenced. By the end of the day, three sections had announced returns and the Concordat looked like it was going to pass and so the small whites implemented Plan B: spark a race riot. A small white agitator approached a free black member of the colored militia on the street and started leveling enough insults to provoke a reaction. As soon as the black man retaliated, the municipal authorities rushed in and arrested the man. The free coloreds got wind of the trouble and rushed down to make sure their brother was treated with respect. And while all sides were arguing, the unfortunate black was seized by the small whites, taken out back and lynched. The free colored militia then mustered in force, and an open street battle broke out. But the coloreds were badly outnumbered. Unlike the small whites, most of the coloreds did not actually live in Port-au-Prince. And after the Concordat was signed, many had returned to their homes to tend to their affairs and keep the slaves in line. Forced into a fighting retreat, the coloreds in Port-au-Prince fled the city. And the small whites – they just went on a rampage. They not only killed any black or colored they could find, they also ransacked every nice house in the city, including those of the big whites as revenge for cutting a deal with the hated half breeds. By the next morning, a fire had broken out that could not be contained. 27 city blocks, roughly two thirds of the total city was consumed by fire in the next 48 hours.

The violent breakdown of the Concordat in Port-au-Prince then spread throughout the west and south. It had been an uneasy truce at best, and everyone took the opportunity to attack everyone else. In November, the main colored leadership set up a base of operations in Croix-des-Bouquets, about 10 miles northeast of Port-au-Prince. They issued a general call to arms that said, among other things, “Let us plunge our bloodstained arms, avengers of perfidy and betrayal into the breasts of these monsters from Europe.” So that’s where we’re at now. Everywhere the coloreds rose up, but so too did the whites, especially down in the south, where there was little big white influence to mediate between the small whites and the coloreds, who just despised each other. Both sides then engaged in atrocities and the slaughter of prisoners. It was all very personal and very bitter. In the town of Jérémie, which those of you who read and or listened to The Black Count will remember as the childhood home of General Alex Dumas, armed whites rounded up coloreds and imprisoned them on boats infected with smallpox and then just left them there to die. 

While the civil war was breaking out, the first truly organized mass slave uprising outside the North Province broke out, and it is a very interesting little story. This revolt was led by a young man named Romaine Rivière, who was a free colored, technically categorized as a grief, which was the child of one black and one mulatto. Don’t you just love how they sat around and worked all this stuff out as if it meant anything? Anyway, Romaine was Spanish-Congolese and likely migrated over to Saint Domingue from Santo Domingo. At some point right around in this era, september 1791, Romaine set himself up in an abandoned church in the mountains of the southern peninsula between Léogâne to the north and Jacmel to the south. There, he started an insurrectionary religious cult. He claimed that he was the godchild of the Virgin Mary and that she spoke to him directly all the time. Delivering fiery sermons with an inverted cross in one hand and a saber in the other, he said that God was black and that the time had come to overthrow the whites. He also publicly began calling himself Romaine-la-Prophétesse, deliberately taking on a female persona to heighten his link to the Virgin Mary. 

The charismatic Prophétesse attracted followers by the thousands. Now, the dating of all this is difficult to pin down, but just as the second Concordat failed, Romaine’s army was well over 10,000 strong, and then it went on the offensive. They attacked Jacmel, but were repelled. But then, with the help of armed coloreds who were busy rising up against the whites, they attacked Léogâne and were totally successful. They seized the city and held it. The white citizens were forced to recognize Romaine-la-Prophétesse’s authority, and he settled in and acted as a self proclaimed dictator, issuing decrees, dispensing justice. But despite a principal coastal town being seized by armed rebel slaves, the whites and colored stayed focused on their civil war. And from the moment the Concordat snapped, both sides turned to the slaves to act as their shock troops. The coloreds of the west marched around to the various plantations, drumming up recruits, promising freedom to those who joined. But the slaves knew all about the Swiss. So many were like, yeah, thanks, but no thanks. In these situations, the coloreds were not above pressing slaves into service, burning down their homes or personal plots, or just saying, time to join or will kill you. The whites in Port-au-Prince, meanwhile, were already organizing a black company from among the urban slaves. And then down in Les Cayes, the white dominated provisional assembly issued a decree mandating that every owner free 10% of his slaves and arm them for battle. Pretty soon, the clashes between the whites and coloreds were mostly clashes between slave and slave, fighting both sides of a war that basically had nothing to do with them, but they sure were getting a lot of combat experience. 

The war in the West Province culminated in March. Of the three commissioners from France, Edmond de Saint-Léger, was dispatched to the province to try to A) defuse the civil war, and B) get everyone to recognize that the capture of a major coastal town by a slave rebel army was a bigger deal than their petty bickering. Saint-Léger managed to broker a temporary truce, and a combined force of whites and coloreds stormed Léogâne and took it back. Romaine-la-Prophétesse then disappears into history, never to return. 

But while this force was so occupied, the small whites in Port-au-Prince decided this was the perfect opportunity to launch an attack on Croix-des-Bouquets. They marched up to the town and put it to a siege. Now, I can’t quite tell if they took the city and then lost it or if they just failed to take it completely, but the upshot was they lost the battle, and they lost principally because the coloreds had just cut a deal with a new slave leader who had quietly organized 15,000 men under everyone’s nose. This was a 22 year old slave named Hyacinthe. Like Boukman and the Prophétesse, Hyacinthe was a charismatic religious leader who carried around a talisman made of horsehair that he claimed could repel bullets. Allying with the coloreds, Hyacinthe led his army against the whites at Croix-des-Bouquets, and despite cannons furiously them to bits, the slaves overcame the whites and drove them off. But Hyacinthe was also cut from the same cloth as Jean-François. He was not a proponent of mass immediate abolition. His demands included better treatment for the slaves and freedom for him and his officers. In exchange, he would make sure that they all returned to work. And when the battle was over, that’s what happened. 

In the wake of this victory, commissioner Saint-Léger gave his sanction in April to a new assembly meeting once again in Saint-Marc, called the Council of Peace and Union. It was effectively a meeting of the signatories of the original Concordats, so the big white planters and the free coloreds. The angry small whites held fast to Port-au-Prince, and they denounced Saint-Léger, and the coloreds, and the slaves, and probably God himself by now. But they were surrounded now and under siege. Saint-Léger, meanwhile, said, “I have to go back to France and report on what’s happened, so I’ll see you guys later.” And that is the last we will see of him. 

Okay, so it’s been a few minutes since we’ve talked about what’s going on back in France, and so let’s head back over there ourselves and make sure that yep, they’re about to completely reverse course again. We are now at about Episode 3.22. Brissot and the Girondins have forced a takeover of the Royal Ministry in preparation for declaring war on Austria. This meant that they now controlled the Colonial Ministry. And one of the ever so small parts of the deal bringing them to power was that Louis would sign off on a law that did not go back to the May 15 formulation, but a law that rocketed right past it. The government’s official position was now that the big whites in Saint Domingue were to blame for all the civil strife and the resulting slave uprising, that they were all engaged in a counterrevolutionary conspiracy to despoil the island and weaken France. So the Metropole now adopted Julien Raimond’s position fully, that the best way to reverse the damage was to abolish all racial categories, distinctions and privileges. Any free citizen who met the property requirements to be an active citizen was an active citizen. It didn’t matter who your parents were and it didn’t matter if you used to be a slave. The line between white and colored was abolished. Only the line between master and slave legally remained. The now fully recognized free coloreds would become known as the Citizens of April 4 and in time they will be contrasted with the Citizens of June 20, which we’ll be getting to soon enough. 

So then the Legislative Assembly assigned three new commissioners, henceforth to be known as the Second Commission to implement the law. But unlike the First Commission, whose powers were limited, the Second Commission would have broad power and discretion. They were basically representatives on mission to Saint Domingue. The Second Commission is going to be really super important and so we’ll talk all about them next week in Episode 4.6, which just so happens to be called ‘the Second Commission’. At the end of May, the news of the Law of April 4 arrived and once again threw the colony into disarray. Governor Blanchelande had avoided formal recognition of the Council of Peace and Union, but when the new new orders arrived, he recognized the Assembly as valid. By mid-June, Blanchelande had sailed to the burned out Port-au-Prince himself, where a colored slave army was laying siege to the capital. He worked openly with the Council and he sanctioned the arrest of small white leaders and the disillusion of the all-white Provisional Assembly. Most of the small white leaders inside Port-au-Prince proceeded to flee the colony. Governor Blanchelande also validated the terms agreed to with Hyacinthe. The vast majority of the slaves would return to their plantations. The leaders would be freed, but only on the condition that they serve as the police force who would make sure that the slaves stayed put. By July, the slave insurrectionaries were resettling and the colored forces led by, among others, André Rigaud entered Port-au-Prince. 

Blanchelande was happy to have the situation in the west now partially stabilized because he had his sights set on finally winning an actual military victory against slave insurgents. Unable to handle the armies in the north, Blanchelande was on his way to the tip of the southern peninsula. In the steep mountains above Les Cayes, a slave force had taken over a region called Platon and declared themselves to be the Kingdom of Platon. Negotiations between the slaves and masters in Les Cayes had gotten nowhere, and Blanchelande hoped to use this opportunity to lay down the law. The Governor and his expedition, including a company of free colordes led by Rigaud, reached Les Cayes on July 23. And a few days later, the Governor and Rigaud and a few others promised amnesty to the slaves in exchange for standing down. But the slave fighters of Platon had already been through this with the local leaders of Les Cayes, and they wanted freedom, not just for their leadership, but for everyone. And then they also wanted better treatment for those still enslaved. So they responded to Blanchelande’s insulting amnesty offer by raiding out of their bases and burning a few more plantations to the ground. So Blanchelande said, “Right, let’s go get them.” Except he had apparently been very public about his plans, because by now he was trying to overcome serious complaints that he, like, wanted the slaves to win the revolt. So the little Kingdom of Platon knew exactly what was coming. On August 4, the Governor’s forces set out in three columns up into the mountains. But even the experienced colored troops struggled in the steep at rugged terrain. The French soldiers were just helpless. Then they all ran into a dizzying array of booby traps, and then giant boulders started getting rolled down on their heads. The expedition was as short as it was disastrous. They never had a chance. By August 8, the defeated and demoralized French soldiers straggled back into Les Cayes. Rather than being his great triumph, the battle at Platon was Blanchelande’s most humiliating defeat. A few days later, he was sailing back to Le Cap, a broken and depressed man. 

Upon his return to the north, Blanchelande mailed his resignation back to the Metropole. And when the request was received, I imagine it was simply filed away someplace, because the Legislative Assembly had already sent a replacement. And Blanchelande himself was ordered to return to France to face accusations of counterrevolutionary incompetence. And just in case I forget to come back around to Blanchelande: upon his return to France, he was one of the first defendants to face the newly created Revolutionary Tribunal, that was Episode 3.28. On April 11, 1793, Blanchelande was found guilty of treason. And on April 15, he was guillotined. 

Now, Governor Blanchelande actually kind of reminds me a bit of King Louis. He wasn’t a bad guy, and he would have been a fine, forgettable governor under normal circumstances. And he just got sucked into something that was way over his head. For the record, I don’t believe he was the arch mastermind of anything. 

We’ll end today with what Blanchlin walked into when he got back to Le Cap, because just as the reversal of the May 15 decree had sparked a race riot in Port-au-Prince, news of the law of April 4 helped spark a race riot in Le Cap. With Blanchelande off getting trounced in Platon, it was left to the municipal authorities in Le Cap and the still whites-only Colonial Assembly to grapple with the implications of the Law of April 4, and they were resistant. When news hit in May, the Colonial Assembly said, “We will happily conform to the new law when it’s officially transmitted by the Second Commission.” And though everyone made a big show of equality when celebrating July 14, the third anniversary of the fall of the Bastille, the casual racism of daily life was a hard habit to break. On the night of August 13, mutual resentment in the city exploded. A white man went out to break up a fight between a slave man and a slave woman and in the process injured a free black man with his saber. Hearing that a white man had slashed a free black, the local free coloreds rushed to the scene, no doubt believing the very worst. The white man was arrested. But the next morning, a white woman living in the same house attempted to leave to go shopping, but she was mobbed by colored protesters. This brought out a group of whites who also no doubt believed the very worst. A street fight broke out and a free black man was killed. So the coloreds then raised the alarm and out came an armed faction of the colored militia. They marched out into Le Cap’s main street, where they were confronted by white National Guardsmen. A shooting battle erupted that left two whites dead and three wounded. Then in came the regular army soldiers from the garrison who separated the two sides. And the commandant of the garrison requested the Colonial Assembly declare martial law. But the local white authorities were like, “No, we’re not doing that.” Because they still suspected the garrison officers were secretly in league with the slave armies. But the garrison commandant did manage to keep the peace. In the wake of the incident, the white leaders offered to allow colored delegates to attend the Colonial Assembly as non-voting observers. But the coloreds were like, “No, we’re not doing that. We’re either full members or you can shut it.” But no further violence broke out as everyone waited for the Second Commission. Expected to arrive at the end of September. They would presumably be empowered to settle everything and then we can all go defeat the slave uprising. 

Next week, the Second Commission will indeed arrive and they will indeed set to work settling everything and then turn everyone’s attention back to the slave uprising. Except a funny thing is going to happen between now and the end of the slave revolt: Second Commission is going to set all the slaves free. 

Before we go this week, I’ll mention that I’ve recently done two interviews with other podcasts. The first was with Results May Vary, a podcast dedicated to design thinking where we talk mostly about history and approaches to telling history, and then the other was with Ground Rule Trouble, where I finally got to get off the leash and talk baseball and the Hall of Fame for, like, an hour and a half. It was quite a bit of fun. I’ve posted links to both at

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