Haitian Declaration of Independence

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  • Description
    A contemporary manuscript copy of the Haitian Declaration of Independence, "Liberté, ou la mort, Armée indigène. Aujourd'hui 1er de Janvier 1804, le Gen en Chef de l'armee indigene, accompagne des Generaux de l'armee, convoques a l'effer de prendre les mesures qui doivener tender au Bonheur du pays..." The first printed copy of this Declaration was not discovered until 2009 in a British archive. This scribal copy of the Declaration was found in the papers of Jean Baptiste Pierre Aime Colheux de Longpré, a French colonizer of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) who fled the country during its revolution and settled in New Orleans. The copy was very likely made shortly after the Declaration took effect on 1 January, 1804. It is one of only a few contemporary or near-contemporary manuscript copies known to scholars, joining copies at the British Library, the French National Archives, and the National Library of Jamaica. The Declaration has three parts. In the first part, the Generals of the Haitian army sign their names to an oath swearing to renounce the French yoke or die rather than to live under French domination. In part two, General-in-Chief Jean-Jacques Dessalines addresses the Haitians in an impassioned defense of independence. Finally, Haitian generals proclaim Dessalines Governor-General for life and swear to obey laws issued under his authority.
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