Sonthonax, Léger-Félicité, abolitionist Governor of Saint-Domingue (1763-1813). Autograph letter signed.

Au Cap (Haiti), "le 24 Nivoise, l'an 5" [i.e., 14 Jan. 1796].

4to (225 x 190 mm). A bifolium on printed letterhead of the Revolutionary government in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), signed "salut et fraternité". Address and remains of red seal on verso of second leaf.

 950,00

In 1792 Sonthonax had been dispatched to Saint-Domingue to quell the slave rebellion, but due to his abolitionist ideas he became deeply unpopular with the white plantation owners. The 'grands blancs' of the island turned against him and invited the British to invade, hoping for the restoration of slavery. The present letter was written while Sonthonax was directing the defence of Le Cap Français, the northern port home to a large population of free black citizens: "Au directeur de l'Artillerie au Cap. Je vous renvoye, Citoyen, une demande qu'a addressee à la Commission le Commandant de Bombarde. Je vous invite à pèser l'utilité de l'objet de cette demande et à donner ensuite tels ordres que vous paraitront convenables. Vous voudrez bien m'accuser reception de cette Lettre et de la pièce qui y est Jointe. Salut et fraternité, Sonthonax".

Sonthonax was a prominent French abolitionist and became the first French legislator to outlaw slavery, promulgating a decree on 29 August 1793 to free slaves in the northern province of Saint-Domingue (modern-day Haiti). The Revolutionary Convention in Paris would subsequently pass a broader abolition of slavery in all French colonies on 4 February 1794.

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