Laws of the French Colony of Saint-Domingue


Toussaint Louverture (circa 1743−1803) was the leader of the slave revolt and independence movement in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) during the French Revolution. He won military victories over the French colonial forces and then negotiated an arrangement under which the colony became self-governing as a French protectorate. Lois de la Colonie française de Saint-Domingue (Laws of the French colony of Saint-Domingue) is a compilation of 19 laws promulgated by Louverture in July and August 1801 in accordance with the constitution of July 7, 1801, also promulgated by Louverture. The laws concern the territorial division of Saint-Domingue into departments, arrondissements, and parishes; religion and the establishment of Roman Catholicism as the state religion; the status and rights of children born outside of marriage; civil and criminal courts and the justice system; the maintenance of public health and safety; municipal administration; the colonial guard or militia; debts; financial administration; and several other topics. Louverture was forced to relinquish power in May 1802 after defeats inflicted by an invading French army led by General Charles Emmanuel Leclerc, brother-in-law of Napoleon. He was arrested and deported to France, where in died in prison on April 7, 1803. The book is from Les imprimés à Saint-Domingue (Imprints from Saint-Dominigue), a collection held by the Bibliothèque Haïtienne des Pères du Saint-Esprit that includes approximately 150 texts printed in Saint-Domingue before independence in 1804. The books were produced between 1764 and 1804 at presses in Cap-Français, Port-au-Prince, and Les Cayes and were digitized in 2006 with the support of the L’Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).

Last updated: December 29, 2015