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Ogé's Revolt, 1790

Stewart R. King


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The 1790 rebellion of the free people of color of the northern province of Saint-Domingue (the modern Haiti) was the first organized outbreak of violence in what became the Haitian Revolution . The rebels were led by Vincent Ogé, a prominent free person of mixed race, living in Cap Français, Saint-Domingue, before the outbreak of the war. He was a merchant and landowner. Another important rebel leader was Jean-Baptiste Chavannes, a free mixed-race planter from the nearby canton of Sainte-Suzanne. Ogé was the son of a white man, a small planter, and his mixed-race wife. Ogé was educated in France and trained as a goldsmith, but became a merchant and urban land developer. By 1790 he was the most prominent free colored merchant in the city of Cap Français and one of the foremost merchants of any color. Cap Français had a fairly large population of free people of color. Many of these people were free blacks or, if mixed-race, without many white relatives or friends. They formed a tight-knit community, tied together by shared suffering under discriminatory laws. Many of the men of this community served in the colonial militia or as rural constables, giving them contact with white officers as possible patrons but also reinforcing their separation from the wealthier mixed-race free planters, since the units were segregated by race. Ogé, though a city dweller, was closer to the wealthy ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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