An essential source on an important episode of the Haitian Revolution. Under the leadership of Toussaint Louverture, by early 1798, Saint-Domingue had achieved a degree of autonomy and freedom for the slaves, but remained under nominal French control. Gabriel-Marie-Théodore-Joseph, comte d'Hédouville (1755-1825) was dispatched to the colony to assert French authority and help drive back the British foothold on the island. These documents from Hedouville's personal files document many aspects of his year in Saint-Domingue. It begins with his [26 January] proclamation to the troops aboard his ships en route, exhorting them to uphold the ideals of the French Revolution, refraining from gambling and drinking, and urging that all men be addressed as "Citizen" rather than the old "Monsieur." Next is a manuscript file copy of Toussaint Louverture's undated welcome letter to Hedouville: 'Enemies of the republic, enemies of order and tranquility, some for their private interest, ambitious men try to make evil pass for good and good for evil, to make darkness pass for light and light for darkness. . . . You may rely, Citizen Agent, upon Toussaint Louverture and his word' (translated from the French). Hedouville's draft letter to Toussaint dated [3 May], shortly after the British treaty of surrender, urges him 'Do not quit your cordon without having assured the means of profiting from the spirit of division which reigns among our enemies." This is followed six days later by a letter to Toussaint's chief rival André Rigaud: 'Your project of penetrating across the mountains . . . seems to me likely to put you in possession of Jérémie . . . General Toussaint Louverture informs me the English have already withdrawn everywhere except the Mole and Jérémie. . . . He has given them a five-week armistice and orders you to remain within your cordon.' Hedouville's strategy was to undermine Toussaint's power by driving a wedge between Toussaint and Rigaud. The collection also includes a letter from Rigaud to Hedouville [1 July], possibly signed by Rigaud although we find no examples for comparison, in which he described negotiations with a British colonel over their evacuation of Jérémie: "the principal object of the colonel's mission was not a prisoner exchange, that this proposition was only a pretext to sound out the terrain . . . for my part I would carry on the war to the death. . . . I was not duped.' An enclosed copy of Rigaud's letter to the colonel bears the same signature. Hedouville's draft letter to Rigaud [3 July] urges him to take Jérémie in conjunction with Toussaint; and Hedouville's draft letter to Toussaint [27 July] endorses Toussaint's arrest of rebels at Jacmel. The collection concludes with two December letters written upon the return of Hedouville and his ships to France, lamenting the difficult crossing and the death of Hedouville's aide-de-camp. Provenance: historian Gerard Laurent; sold by the University Place Book Shop in 1993 to the consignor. A detailed inventory is available upon request.
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