M. B. (Mark Baker) Bird.

The black man or, Haytian independence. Deduced from historical notes, and dedicated to the government and people of Hayti online

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Online LibraryM. B. (Mark Baker) BirdThe black man or, Haytian independence. Deduced from historical notes, and dedicated to the government and people of Hayti → online text (page 1 of 32)
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to tk 4Mwtnmit airtr people jof $iagti.

M. &.

Nearly Thirty Years a Resident Missionary in the
Haytian Republic.




117, 119, and 121 Nassau Street.


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1SG9,

By M. B. BIKD,

In the Clerk s Office of the District Court, for the Southern District of
New York.

JOHN J. REED, Printer, 43Centie St., N. Y.


ffitial gUprt nf % temtssiim,



November Uth, 1867. )

SIR, The Commission having gone through the examina
tion of the work on Ilayti, by the Rev. M. B. BIRD, now
forward you their report on that Manuscript.

1st. Although it does not profess to be a full and entire
history of Hay ti, it begins with the discovery of the Island ;
gives a sketch of the French Colonial system, shows the dif
ficulties and struggles connected with the establishment of
the Independence of our Republic, and continues a line of
Haytian history down to the fall of General Geffrard.

2nd. The entire history, as it is given, is in the spirit of a
friend, and at the same time, with perfect frankness : the de
tails of domestic manners are evidently given in the sense of
one greatly attached to our country.

3rd. The Republican institutions of Ilayti, and their po
litical influence upon the masses, are given as facts, without
entering into the supposed motives by which they may have
been dictated.

4th. The Commission recommends and encourages the
publication of this work, as useful to Hayti itself, as well as
to its foreign friends. We wish its author to receive every
support, and we do not hesitate to say that its publication
would be to the interest of our branch of the human family,



first iu the English language, which is so widely spoken
both in the West Indies and on the American continent.

5th. Hayti has great need of Immigration, hence it is de
sirable that the seven or eight millions of African descend
ants in the new world, which speak the English language,
should understand the merits and resources of Hayti.
6th. The Commission, under the influence of these views
and convictions, sincerely desire the publication of this work,
and they earnestly hope that Mr. BIRD may be assisted in
every way in his good intentions.

The Commission, Mr. Secretary of State, beg to assure
you of their highest consideration.


W. G. SMITH, M. D., Chairman of Commission ;



JUDGE Boco ;

J. B. DEHOUX, M. D.;



J. J. RIVIERE, Ex-Mayor of Port au Prince ,

GENERAL A. TATE, Secretary of State ;

P. ETHEART, Under Secretary of State ;

J. B. HEPBURN, Esq.;



0. RIVIERE, Esq.;

JUDGE LACRUZ, absent by sickness ;

G. LOPEZ, Editor, etc.;

G. LAFONTANT, Esq., called away.


VARIOUS views having been entertained, even by the
friends of Hayti, as to the real merits of its Independence,
it is only due to the Haytian Republic, that a fair statement
should appear before the world on this subject ; hence, one
of the leading purposes of the present work is, to show what
that Independence has been ; nor has it been thought that
this could be fairly done, without bringing out both the
merits and demerits of this interesting question ; the national
faults, therefore, are brought out in the sense of true and
sincere friendship, and pointed to as rocks to be shuuned in
the nation s future course.

Hayti herself makes no pretensions to superiority ; her
enlightened sons are conscious of national defects ; it must,
however, be acknowledged that injustice has been done her,
especially when the great and extraordinary difficulties of her
career are fairly considered from the beginning ; difficulties
which must have rendered Independence, in her case, impos
sible, had there not been real stamina somewhere.

From the title-page of this work it will be seen that it de
signs to show what Haytian Independence has been, rather than
what it might or ought to have been ; its real merits, after a
candid examination of what is here advanced, must be left to
the fair and honest judgment of mankind.

It is of the highest importance to remember in Haytian
history, that although the Haytians fought for the main
tenance of their freedom, they did not themselves choose or
seek Independence ; this was rather forced upon them by cir
cumstances which they never sought, and which were utterly


beyond their control. The wish of Hayti, evidently was, to
remain faithful to France, but the history of the case will
show that this ultimately became impossible ; in fact, the
case is clear, that Toussaint L Ouverture would have remained
faithful to France, but lie was convinced at last that her
purpose was to re-enslave his people.

The purpose of the present production is neither eulogism
nor censure, but rather to make a fair statement of facts and
circumstances as they have occurred, and thus to bring out a
picture which has been the production of extraordinary Prov
idences, ruling in the storms of human passions ; a picture
made striking by the great Master of events ; in fact, the
whole case of Hayti seems to indicate something altogether
unusual, a special purpose on the part of Providence in render
ing her independence inevitable, seems to be singularly man
ifest ; it will, therefore, be easily understood that the hope
of rendering service to Hayti herself, constitutes one of the
leading motives of the work now before us, and may ulti
mately lead to its translation into the French language.
But the fact of seven or eight millions of the descendants of
Africa in the new world, speaking the English language,
seems to render it desirable that it should first appear as an
English work, the more so, as one of the leading objects is,
the general interests of the " Black Man."

Reasonings and opinions of different shades and bearings
have indeed been expressed and pursued in the course of this
work, as the result of long experience and continuous obser
vation, and with an earnest desire for the welfare of the
descendants of Africa in the new world ; but they must,
together with the general subject in which they have all
originated, be left before the tribunal of a Christian public.

The present volume might be considered as a plea for in
dependence, whenever the indications of Providence seem
plainly to point to it, for whatever reasons, hence the present
work is preceded by an introduction, having for its object the


general development of this important question, and espe
cially as it is here meant.

It will, therefore, be seen that independence, as it regards
both Hayti and Liberia, is here considered as a vital point,
not indeed in any exclusive or isolated sense, yet still, in the
strictest sense of national identity, which might, and should
be, compatible with the same liberality towards foreigners,
as is practiced by France, America, and England, and as un
questionably will ultimately be imposed, by the power of
universal light and interest, upon the human race at large,
as the natural and inevitable result of that close contact, into
which all the nations of the earth must ultimately be brought,
by means of electricity and steam.

It has been thought that the present moment is peculiarly
adapted to the appearance of these " Historical Notes," etc.,
for it is undeniable, that the course of events with regard to
the descendants of Africa, has brought out, by extraordinary
means and circumstances, the clearest and strongest proofs
of a Divine rule in human affairs, that were ever made visible
to mortals ; hence we have recently seen, both in America
and Europe, some of the greatest struggles which have ever
been known among men, followed by such an extraordinary
remodeling of nations, as was never before recorded on the
page of human history, the well pronounced supreme will
having been, that some should entirely disappear, while
others should stand fast, with even great acquisitions !
Many are the indications which might be regarded as ex
pressions of the Divine will, that Hayti should remain an
Independent Nation ; this, however, will not hinder the
coming on of a power of circumstances, which will compel her
to develop and practice those true principles of Liberty,
which alone can secure her destiny, independence and per
manent prosperity.

It will be seen, both in the introduction and also in the
body of this work, that the formation of national independ-


encies, by the Black and Colored people of the American
continent, is freely entered into, as a question which can now
involve no injury to any interest or community. Political
Justice having finally placed all shades of complexion on the
same level, this question is made both an open and a fair one,
and like every other, is to be either received or rejected, as
opinions may prevail.

The subject of Independence, in the sense here advocated,
is not of recent adoption by the author, as may be seen by
the " Liberia Herald/ 7 under the title of " A Yoice to Li
beria," for 1858 ; nor are the convictions which constitute
the subject of that piece, in the slightest degree lessened by
passing events.

It will, however, be seen that isolated independence is
not here advocated, but simply that which constitutes the
glory of France, England, and America, compatible with the
strictest identity, and at the same time with the most un
bounded intercourse with the whole human family, without
which, these last named nations never would have been what
they now are.

The discovery of Haytl and its aboriginal inhabitants are
but glanced at in this work ; nor has it been possible to
enter very extensively into the Colonial system under the
French, although it should not be forgotten that the leading
minds in the Haytian Revolution had been fostered under
Colonial rule ; and it is due to Hayti to state here, that one
of her ablest and most worthy citizens,* has done justice to
his Colonial Black and Colored predecessors, in the great
work of Haytiau Independence, by transmitting to posterity
both their names and deeds.

The following extract, from the author just referred to,
will become this preface :

"Before the proclamation of Independence, or the final orga
nization of the Country, there were men among us who did not

* Beauvais Lespinasse.


hesitate to sacrifice themselves for the future happiness of the
African race, and it would be impossible not to admire the courage
shown, by some of them, in the midst of slavery and prejudice,
while the volunteered, and self-inflicted hardships and privations of
others who sheltered themselves from despotism, in inaccessible
mountains, is worthy of note.

"What anguish, what tribulation prepared men for the hour
of bloodshed in the cause of liberty and independence !

"Would Julieu Raymond, Ferrand de Baudieres, Oge,
Chauvanncs, Boury, Pinchinat, Bauvais, Lambert, Rigaud, Villate,
Boukrnan, Jean Francois Biassous, Polverel Santhonasse, Tous-
saint L ouverture, Moise, Charles Belar, Sylla, Sans Souci, Lamour
Derance, leave us at rest in our work of 1804 if we did not ac
knowledge the services they rendered us ?"

The author himself admits their excesses ; it must, how
ever, be confessed that but few of the noted leaders of man
kind have come out of the great battle for human liberties

It will doubtless be evident that it has been the design of
this work to bring out the religious and general moral bear
ing of Hayti. This, to the sincere Christian, will be deeply
painful and distressing ; it is, however, hoped that this ques
tion is made sufficiently clear, not only to show the national
character in this sense, but also to convince the Evangelical
Churches of America and Europe, that if Hayti had had
the attentions which were unquestionably due, not only to
her peculiar and extraordinary circumstances, but to the spirit
of religious liberty which she has so long manifested, her po
sition, in a moral point of view, might at this moment have
been wholly different to what it is, as may be easily and
justly inferred from the statistics of Protestantism, here
given, showing au extent of success which, in so Roman Ca
tholic a country, is certainly worthy of special notice ; the
more so, when the very limited means by which it has all
been accomplished, are fairly considered.

But we now leave this production, with all its defects, be-


fore the world, as having originated in a desire to maintain
right principle, and render it triumphant, by doing justice to
Ilayti ; for, whatever may have been or still are its defects,
they have resulted from that depravity of fallen man, which
is so fully recognized by the Christian Church, and which
she binds herself to correct, by her declarations to the world
that she possesses all that is necessary for the healing of the
nations !

A residence of nearly thirty years, among a newly
formed nation such as Hayti, as in some sense a Teacher, will
perhaps be a sufficient apology for a didactic tone, now and
then seemingly assumed, sincerely meant as a friendly warning
of those rocks ahead, on which so many nations have
ah-eady wrecked.





The realm of liberty alone, I call
My home !

THE present production on Hayti is by no means intended
as a full history of that country, although the events re
corded are generally placed in chronological order, and it is
presumed that the main out-lines of its history may be found
embodied in the work.

The main design of the present effort is to bring out one
great and important fact, which the great Ruler of all things
lias so manifestly established, by those various divisions of
the human race, which at present make up the great family
of man.

The fact in question is, simply, that the spirit of emulation,
which doubtless has designedly resulted from the divisions
and independencies which at present exist among mankind,
is most salutary and powerful, bringing out as it does and
must, not only the capacities of our being, but also the vast
resources of nature in general ; this same principle is also ac
tively and perseveringly developed between families and com
munities, and is evidently intended to keep the entire human


family in the most productive activity ; hence history has
made it manifest that this great moving principle has ever
been the most active and powerful among the most ad
vanced nations in all ages of the world ; nor is it less power
ful at present than it has ever been in any former age of
human history ; in fact, never did this principle work with
such driving power as in the present advanced state of

We find yet that the most distinctive peculiarities
attach to all the great divisions of mankind. The
Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, and Teutonic branches, as well as
others, have their various and distinctive peculiarities, while
at the same time this is to be understood, simply in the sense
of fact, not at all in the sense of excluding barriers, or in
the slightest degree interfering with mutual and cordial

That Africa, therefore, and its descendants should form a
distinct branch of mankind, would seem to be only in the
natural order of things ; nor does it follow that this should
be understood in any exclusive sense, but simply in the sense
explained by God himself, in what is so plainly to be seen in
the various ranks and orders of human beings, scattered over
the face of the earth, in the forms of families, tribes, and
nations, all of which have ever instinctively recognized a uni
versal brotherhood !

Hence Independence, as it is distributed by Divine Prov
idence over the world, shows a just and salutary principle ;
there is nothing in it exclusive, and its useful working
among the nations is evident, yea, the hope we derive from
it is great and good, serving as it does as one of the main
springs in the general welfare of the world.

We may, therefore, take it up as a great fact, that the
civilized divisions of man never would, or could, have been
what they are but for their independence, and that as a
whole, the grand spectacle of human activity and develop-


ment, commercially, scientifically, and even religously, would
never otherwise have been what they now are. The emu
lating power which has ever existed among them all, has
produced that admirable and ever working whole, which now
offers to the general gaze of universal intelligence.

With these views before us, it will be seen that the work
in question, bearing the title of the " Black Man," etc., has
for one of its objects, to show, that the divisions of the
human race are only a part of the order of things, and that,
therefore, Africa, and her widely spread children, constitute
one main division in this great whole.

That Ilayti should be at the head of an African subdi
vision cannot be any matter of surprise, nor can the design
of her independence fail of being recognized.

Hence our present direct purpose is to bring out the fact,
that the Haylian Republic possesses in itself every material,
and resource of every kind, to place it on a level with any
other nation as to general merit, and at the same time to
show what the Haytian people are, mentally, morally, or

It will also be the aim of the following pages, to demon
strate from the history of Hayti itself, that she never could
have been what she now is, but for her independence, what
ever may have been, or still are, the defects of her Govern
ment, or the management of any of the departments of the
national interests, which it need not be concealed are many.

The great imperfections of Ilayti stand out before the
world, and although the intelligent Haytians themselves are
ever ready to recognize them, yet they justly demand that
the exceptional circumstances of their origin as a nation, over
which they had no control, should be fairly considered, not
indeed in the sense of justifying error of any kind, but
rather as explanatory, especially as the Haytians, as a peo
ple, can only be considered as simply on their way to under
stand the true principles of free Government, they never


having been transmitted to them by their wiser French

The present volume is also intended to remind all who are
disposed to think fairly and dispassionately on the national
character of Hayti, that nations, as well as individuals, in
variably receive the stamp of the circumstances which gave
them birth, and which, should they have been unhappy, can
not be effaced but by long years of every kind of im

With this fact in view, it will not be difficult to understand
the peculiarities and characteristics of the people in question,
for Hayti must, after all, be judged by the depths of error
and injustice from which she, as a nation, has risen into ex
istence ; she did not, like some, spring from free institutions,
notwithstanding they were her aim she indeed rushed toward
them, but to arrive at the accomplishment of her wishes, she
had to make her way through fiercely conflicting elements
of every kind ; the instinctive longings for liberty were there,
but how to use it, when once seized, was yet to be learnt.

It is not, however, intended by anything here advanced that
nations, as well as individuals, never create their circum
stances, or that they are not responsible for their need of
reformation, whenever progress and amelioration may have
been at their command, nor is it pretended here, for a moment,
to justify the present condition of the masses of the Republic
of Hayti ; guilt is unquestionably at her door in this matter.

The history of this Republic has yet to be written, and
whenever it is fairly brought out it will show that the inten-
sest fervor in the cause of Liberty without that wholesome
moral power which is to be found in Christianity only,
places a nation on a dangerous track.

The bare events, making up this general history, are already
well recorded and detailed by several Haytian authors of de
served celebrity, particularly by T. Madiou (Fils), and B.
Ardouin ; but to bring out all the lights and shades of that


phase of humanity, which a full and entire history of Hayti
in all its bearings must present, remains yet to be done, and
doubtless will be accomplished by some able Ilaytiau pen at
a future day, to the advantage not only of the great
African family, but to man at large a work the more to be de
sired from the fact, that the enemies of the African race are
not yet entirely silenced.

The dark shades of Slavery, which for many years have
hung over mankind, withering and concealing so much of real
worth in man, and especially as to the true character of the
African, are now rapidly dispersing, and the clear light of
simple truth is breaking forth, which shall ultimately expose
all false reasoning and demonstrate that man is man, of every
hue. Clouds, indeed, still roll over us, and long will, but the
glorious sun of truth is, nevertheless, rising to its zenith !

The forming power of Independence upon nations and in
dividuals, is too evident to need any reasoning ; those who
have well noted the influence and power of national institu
tions upon collective masses, as well as upon individual char
acter, will be prepared to understand the difference, between
the Black Man independent, and, in a national sense, in his
own house, under a Government of his own formation, and
the one under the influence of a foreign element, although
probably with vast advantages.

It is not intended that there are no advantages to be de
rived from contact with a superior element, but it is main
tained that there is an ennobling power in true and well-man
aged Independence ; and that general contact, in this sense
only, has its full effect, when the soul of Independence is
present ; hence the manly bearing of the Ilaytian, which is
unquestionably the result of his own national institutions, in
dependence, and education.

It will, of course, be understood that we are not here
speaking of the ignorant masses of the people, although even
with them an air of conscious independence is manifest. The


Haytians, however, have more than ever to learn, that their
independence must fail in true dignity, without sound moral
principle universally diffused.

We have, indeed, pointed out the Black "Man as especially
benefiting by independence ; this has been done in the sense
of a general principle, and is, therefore, as applicable to him
as to the rest of the human family ; perhaps, indeed, there
are peculiarities in his case, as relating to the present age,
which might make this great principle specially applicable to
him, and render the designs of Providence, as to his inde
pendence, yet more clear and striking.

Already the Haytian commerce, as resulting from inde
pendence, is comparatively great ; nor should it be lost sight
of, that the public revenues are created by the same orga
nized and legalized system of Patents, Customs, Licenses,
etc., as in all other civilized countries.

It is an interesting and important fact, that Hayti is at
this moment, and for a long time past, has been carrying on an
extensive and increasing commerce with the United States
of America, which, for some time past, has been said to be
worth three millions of dollars per annum ; this is to be un
derstood as relating to the French part of the Island only.
Also, with England, France, and Germany much is doing
commercially ; and it is not to be supposed that the exten
sive correspondence, and constantly calculating intercourse
with foreign nations, can be without its general and power
ful results upon the interests and civilization of this nation,
especially when it is remembered that Scriptural education
has, during the last quarter of a century, widely sown the
seeds of truth, while at the same time thousands of Haytians,
although not converted to God by a new birth unto righte

Online LibraryM. B. (Mark Baker) BirdThe black man or, Haytian independence. Deduced from historical notes, and dedicated to the government and people of Hayti → online text (page 1 of 32)