Galbaud Revolt & Villate Affair
Or Color Prejudice in St. Domingo
A Commentary by François Duvalier
and Lorimer Denis
During the revolt of Galbaud [Governor
of St. Domingo led the royalists and petit blancs against the
Commissioners]—20 June 1793—and pressured by circumstances,
the Civil Commissioners had to call the slaves to their
rescue—the only force capable of saving the Government; one of
the consequences of this act was to fortify the indigenous in
the awareness of their power.
rebel band was integrated to form an indivisible Whole. When
Toussaint L'Ouverture returned to the tricolor, this act of
solidarity among the rebel bands will reach its highest degree
of polarization, because the secular tendencies and aspirations
will find their greatest exponent in the personality of that
Leader. At that moment a group of men became aware of their
class [read: caste]. This new factor will modify the equation of
forces in St. Domingo. . . .
the struggle was unleashed between the new freemen and the
representatives of [France] on the one side and the former
freemen and the big planters on the other. . . .
this class antagonism will evolve towards a struggle for
preponderance. A struggle that will explode between the
prototypes of the two classes: Toussaint L'Ouverture and Villate,
Who was Villate? A knowledgeable man, says Schoelcher, a soldier
of great courage and great capacity, who won all his ranks with
the sword. being very disinterested, also because of a weak
character, he let the monopolists grow rich during his
government, but never took anything for himself.
were the monopolists? According to Schoelcher, many mulattoes
had come to live in le cap in order to be under the
administration of one of their congeners. Villate had favored
them beyond measure. they occupied almost all the municipal and
civil offices. The National Guard was composed almost entirely
of mulattoes. However, the city's prisons were filled up with
exclusivism of the affranchis had attained its peak.
Toussaint was watching. . . .
a long time he had been struggling with Villate's partisans. . .
explosions came on 22 march, when . . . Laveaux came to Le Cap
to put in order the finances being shared out by the mulattoes.
Villate allied himself with the colonial aristocracy in order to
make the coup, but he underestimated the Black factor devoted to
Toussaint L'Ouverture. . . .
arrived in Le Cap from Gonaives, liberated Laveaux . . .
incarcerated by Villate, and remained the only Master of the
situation. The Negroes, by supporting the "Representatives
of France were also supporting Toussaint L'Ouverture, who the
conspirators detested as much as the Governor." This
affair, says St. Remy, took on the proportions of a war of
caste. The attempted coup, as ill-conceived as it was criminal,
resulted in the establishment of black preponderance in the
North. . . .
this antagonism of factions in St. Domingo, it was, we would
say, providential that Toussaint L'Ouverture thought of CLASS
[read: caste], and that he succeeded after so many struggles in
realizing the domination of the Northern Province destined to
play such a great role in the wars for National Independence.
And, it is almost certain that if he had failed in this great
struggle of classes, the future of the Blacks would have
definitely been precarious, because with Villate acquiring
supremacy in the North and Rigaud already preponderant in the
South, Independence would have been conquered to the sole
benefit of the men of color in league with the colonial
aristocracy. . . .
its importance the Villate Affair must be considered as a
landmark in the development of the social process of events in
St. Domingo. Toussaint L'Ouverture, by dominating the crisis
provoked by Villate's ambition, reestablished the equilibrium to
the benefit of the Blacks. . . .
accomplishing all this, Toussaint was elevated to the rank of
General of Division. He used this promotion to organize his army
in the North and the Center. . . .
was the behavior of the Blacks and the reaction of the mulattoes
to the promotion and adulations of which Toussaint L'Ouverture
had been the object from [France]?
all these marks of favor, . . . had the effect of increasing
Toussaint L'Ouverture's prestige among the blacks, while
arousing the jealousies of the mulattoes. In particular, Rigaud,
who was only General of Brigade, had been deeply irritated by
the nomination of his rival to the rank of General of Division;
he couldn't restrain his anger over the thought that he would be
obliged to obey a former slave.
event soon brought Rigaud's exasperation to its peak; it was
when he learned that the Commissioners had conferred the title
of "General-in-Chief of the Army of St. Domingo" on
Toussaint L'Ouverture. . . . Rigaud, who was more or less living
in complete independence in the South since Sonthonax's
departure, was fearful of the preponderance of the black element
in the North and the Artibonite.
master in the South, he could not stand the Blacks. His
administration was totally military and essentially
aristocratic: the Commandants of the fortified towns were
performing the municipal functions; the District Commanders,
justices of the Peace and Agricultural Inspectors were officers.
Rigaud, one will recall, had an Army of eight thousand men; all
of his superior officers were mulattoes.
Blacks couldn't go beyond the rank of captain; all public
offices were the monopoly of the men of color; and under the
pretense of suppressing vagrancy, Rigaud had sent all the Blacks
to the plantations and had subjected them to a kind of servitude
that resembled slavery in certain ways.
how was Toussaint L'Ouverture shaping his politics in the North?
Aiming at hegemony, at national Independence, he rid himself,
one after the other, of Laveaux and Sonthonax by sending them to
represent St. Domingo in [France}. . . .
Genius of our Race, the Great Toussaint L'Ouverture, was
obsessed by the idea of the Union of the two classes,
indispensable factor to the realization of National
independence. Visionary that he was, he will forget his pride
and try to make Rigaud, who was sick of France, understand that
the salvation of the two classes rested upon their unification.
blinded by the colonial ideology and his hereditary tendencies,
Rigaud was unable to raise himself to the level of these
magnanimous conceptions of Toussaint, to combine in the same
ideal of common rehabilitation the destiny of two human groups
which nevertheless belong to only one race: the black race. . .
did Rigaud do about these counsels imprinted with wisdom and
grandeur? . . .
is how General Rigaud enflamed the minds of the people of St.
Brothers of the South, know it well,
there exists in the country two classes of men, the
disgusting and incapable class, and the sympathetic and
intelligent class. Let us be of the latter, and let us
chase the former to the mountains where its home is
destined to be, far from our life, among inferior beings
incapable of society. . . .
with this attitude that was profitable to neither class, one
understands Toussaint's indignation in his speech in the Church
of Port Republican, where he pointed out the real causes of the
antagonism between the two classes:
People of color, who since the
beginning of the revolution have betrayed the blacks,
what do you want today? No one is ignorant of it; you
want to command the colony as masters; you want the
extermination of the whites and the enslavement of the
blacks! . . . But consider it, you perverse men forever
dishonored by the deportation and then the slaughter of
the black troops known under the denomination of
Have you hesitated to sacrifice to
the hatred of the petits blanc those unfortunates
who had shed their blood for your cause? Why have you
sacrificed them? It is because they were black. Why does
General Rigaud refuse to obey me? It is because I am
black. It is because he has sworn me an implacable
hatred because of my color.
Why else would he refuse to obey a
French General like himself, who has contributed more
than anyone else to the expulsion of the English. Men of
color, because of your foolish pride, because of your
perfidy, you have already lost your share of political
As for General Rigaud, he is lost. I
see him at the bottom of an abyss; rebel and traitor to
the Country, he will be devoured by the troops of
liberty. Mulattoes, will he continue? I see in the depth
of your souls that you were ready to rise against me;
but although all the troops are incessantly leaving the
Western Province, I leave there my eye and my arms: my
eye to watch you, and my arms that will know how to
strike you. . . .
* * * *
selection is contained in the book Problème des classes à
travers l'histoire d'Haiti (1948) by François Duvalier
(1907-1970) and Lorimer Denis (1904-1957).
Source: George F. Tyson, Jr., ed. Toussaint L'Ouverture.
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1973
* * *
* * *
Hopes and Prospects
By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky
surveys the dangers and prospects of our
early twenty-first century. Exploring
challenges such as the growing gap
between North and South, American
exceptionalism (including under
President Barack Obama), the fiascos of
Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli
assault on Gaza, and the recent
financial bailouts, he also sees hope
for the future and a way to move
forward—in the democratic wave in Latin
America and in the global solidarity
movements that suggest "real progress
toward freedom and justice." Hopes and
Prospects is essential reading for
anyone who is concerned about the
primary challenges still facing the
human race. "This is a classic Chomsky
work: a bonfire of myths and lies,
sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky
is an enduring inspiration all over the
world—to millions, I suspect—for the
simple reason that he is a truth-teller
on an epic scale. I salute him." —John
In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of
American empire and class domination, at
home and abroad, Chomsky continues a
longstanding and crucial work of
elucidation and activism . . .the
writing remains unswervingly rational
and principled throughout, and lends
bracing impetus to the real alternatives
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 12 January 2012