FROM JAMAICAN SLAVERY TO HAITIAN FREEDOM: THE CASE OF THE BLACK CREW OF THE PILOT BOAT, DEEP NINE Print

The Hatian slave revolt from 1791 to 1804 remains the only successful slave revolt in history. It represents to all oppressed peoples a break with forced labor in the production of agricultural staples which undergirded the colonial system of the Euro­ pean powers. Haitian blacks, having received inspiration and active support from French antislavery leaders, were not deterred by Napoleon's later attempt to reverse the revolutionary policies and reimpose slavery and colonial dependency. Under the leadership of Toussaint L'Ouverture, himself a former slave who was later seized, Haitian blacks repulsed the invading armies of Great Britain and Spain. After his seizure by the French, Toussaint was sent to Europe to die in prison. His generals led the black armies to victory over General LeClerc, Napoleon's brother -in -law.

Tous­ saint and his generals were aided in their struggle against Napoleon by shipments of American arms and provisions and by the devastating effects of malaria and yellow fever among European troops, but it was the magnificent fighting blacks and their skilled generals who turned the tide. Prior to the loss of Saint Domingue (later renamed Haiti), Napoleon had conceived a scheme of conquest which involved the recovery of colonies lost to Britain in former wars. He pressured Spain into secretly ceding Loui­ siana to France, with a view toward developing that territory as a source of foodstuffs and building materials for his new American tropical empire. Failure to regain Saint Domingue, however, shattered Napoleon's dream. Regarding Louisiana of little value without the Caribbean colony, he offered to sell the great territory to the United States. 1 The success of Haitian blacks inspired blacks in other slave territories to fight for freedom, spread fear of servile revolt among the white inhabitants of plantation Amer­ ica, and played a part in the movement for independence in the Spanish colonies of South America. Simon Bolivar, the Spanish -American liberator, came twice to Haiti for sanctuary, encouragement, and financial and military assistance.2 French refugees from Haiti, many accompanied by their slaves, settled in the neighboring islands of Jamaica and Cuba or migrated to the United States.
3 Thomas Jefferson wrote the governor of South Carolina on December 23, 1793, that he had been informed by a French gentleman from Saint Dominque, that two men of color were setting out from the island to Charleston "with a design to excite an insurrection among the negroes." 4 Widespread fear that the slaves of refugees from SaintDomingue would "in fect" American slaves led several state governments to enact laws excluding West Indian blacks during the years from 1792 to 1801. 5

*Richard B. Sheridan is Professor of Economics at the University of Kansas , Lawrence , Kansas. This content downloaded from 13 1.94.16.10 on W ed,9 Oct 2013 23:53:38 P M A ll use su bject to J STOR Term s and Conditi ons FROM JAMAICAN SLAVERY TO HAITIAN FREEDOM 329
As Britain's leading Caribbean colony situated some 170 miles to the west and south of Haiti, Jamaica was involved directly and indirectly in the great slave revolt. In September, 1791, aid was sought by two Saint Dominguan commissioners who arrived in Jamaica. While the island's Council rejected a bill to grant Saint Domingue a loan of £180,000, the merchants of Kingston, seizing upon the prospect of a lucrative trade, granted credits in a very considerable amount. Fearing that the British military estab­ lishment was too weak to defend the island, the British government was requested to augment the forces which entailed greater military expenses for the colony. The arrival of refugees spread fear of the introduction of dangerous political opinions from Saint Domingue and resulted in the arrest of several suspicious characters. The greater portion of the refugees, however, were found to be peaceable. The Assembly and private citizens supplied the considerable sums for their temporary support. 6
The decision of the British government to invade Saint Domingue was motivated by several considerations. Foremost among these considerations was to ensure Jamaica's security . Troops for the invasion, which commenced September 20, 1793, came from England, the eastern Caribbean, and Jamaica. The port of Jeferfiie, near the tip of the peninsula in the southwestern part of the colony, was seized without a struggle. A few days later British forces captured Mole Saint Nicholas, "th e Gibraltar of the Antilles, " in the northwest part of the island . Following other victories, Port -au -Prince, the capital, surrendered on June I, 1794. Meanwhile, Martinique and Guadeloupe had fallen to the British, only to be recaptured by French forces under Victor Hugues. Compounding Jamaica's troubles was the second Maroon war of 1795 which Governor Lord Balcarres insisted was largely instigated by professional revolutionaries from Haiti, France, and the United States.7
Toussaint's superior mobility and relentless pressure against the British forces turned the advantage to the side of the blacks. Re -enforcements, including black troops from Jamaica, were poured into the colony with little apparent effect. As one British com­ mander followed another and occasional victories were far outnumbered by defeats on the field of battle and losses from yellow fever and malaria, the British government decided to curtail its involvement in Saint Domingue. Casualties in the West Indies as a whole amounted to perhaps 100,000, and over £10,000,000 had been spent on the campaign. British troops were withdrawn from Saint Domingue by early October, 1798. ''Militarily,'' writes Thomas 0 . Ott, ''England had suffered an embarrassing and costly defeat. Yet, British diplomacy had turned defeat to advantage: English trade with Toussaint would be maintained, the grip of France on the colony was weakened, and Jamaica was safe." 8
Despite British accomplishments with regard to the Haitian problem, white leaders in Jamaica were skeptical that their slaves could be insulated from revolutionaries in the neighboring island and that relations between the two islands could be confined to peaceful trade. In July, 1798, Governor Lord Balcarres wrote to the Duke of Portland that the success of the ''brigands'' in Haiti ''holds forth such an example to our Negroes here, as to place Jamaica in a new point of view, and to render her safety much more precarious and problematical than at any former period." He believed that because of the militant attitude of the slaves, the military constitution of Jamaica had been greatly changed, especially by the demands it placed on the militia "to watch over the conduct of the Negroes on the several estates and plantations." This content downloaded from 13 1.94.16.10 on W ed,9 Oct 2013 23:53:38 P M A ll use su bject to J STOR Term s and Conditi ons

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Some four months later Balcarres wrote Portland concerning the treaty Toussaint had entered into with the British military commander in Haiti. Balcarres believed it was in the best interest of trade and security to have friendly relations with the Haitian leader, "for it is well known to Toussaint that in forty-eight hours they can fell the . . . large cotton tree, build boats of it, each to contain thirty men and within sixty hours of the cutting down of the tree, land in Jamaica some five hundred men." In December, 1799, Balcarres suspected that Toussaint's aim was independence, and that his next object would be to take Jamaica from the crown of Great Britain. Toussaint, however, could never regard his power as absolutely established while the British navy availed itself of the harbors of Jamaica.

9 Jamaicans not only feared what action Toussaint might take but also what effect the numerous French refugees would have on the slaves. The Assembly of Jamaica, in a "humble address" to Governor Balcarres, expressed its considered opinion "that the introduction of more of the French, particularly people of colour, negroes [sic], and slaves, from St. Domingo, will endanger the security of this island, and cannot fail of increasing the alarm and dissatisfaction thereby already created." 10 As a precautionary measure, a committee was appointed to prepare and bring in a bill to prevent any intercourse and communication between the slaves ofJamaica and foreign slaves.11 In a message to the Assembly, Balcarres told of the strong measures-including the declaration of martial la w -h e had taken when British forces evacuated their military posts in Haiti.
Included in the evacuation from Haiti were 976 "able-bodied French male negro [sic] slaves" who had "bravely and honourably signalized themselves in his majesty's military service" but had later been reduced to "unmerited and unspeakable distress." Balcarres reported that these black troops had been sent to Cuba, Trinidad, and the Bay of Honduras. He further reported that upwards of 400 Frenchmen, their families and slaves had been permitted to settle in Jamaica. Included were tradesmen and professionals who settled in Kingston, and planters and overseers who occupied inte­ rior parts of Jamaica. 12
At a time when Haiti was torn by civil and revolutionary wars which destroyed her plantation economy, Jamaica forged ahead by continually expanding her slave imports from Africa down to the abolition of that trade in 1808. The island continued to expand, albeit at a slower pace, to the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. Before the 1790s Jamaica's sugar exports amounted to less than sixty percent of Saint Domingue's. But by 1805-1806 Jamaica's sugar exports to Europe were greater than Saint Domingue's had been at the beginning of the French Revolution. Jamaica had also become a leading producer and exporter of coffee and other tropical products. According to an estimate of 1812, Jamaica had 30,000 white people, 10,000 free persons of color, and 315,000 black slaves who cultivated 809,000 acres ofland, and exportable produce of which amounted to £6,885,000 sterling. 13
Having driven the invading armies of Britain and Spain out of Haiti, Toussaint next confronted Napoleon's expeditionary force of 43,000 men under General LeClerc. He was forced to surrender in the face of French superiority in manpower and munitions, and was later seized by a ruse and sent to France, where he died in prison in 1803. But Toussaint's generals and troops renewed their struggle against Le Clerc and his suc ­ cessor, Rochambeau. Bullets and yellow fever reduced the French army to some 8,000 This content downloaded from 13 1.94.16.10 on W ed,9 Oct 2013 23:53:38 P M A ll use su bject to J STOR Term s and Conditi ons

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men, who surrendered to the blacks and evacuated the island by the end of the year 1803.14
Blacks in Haiti celebrated their proud independence on New Year's Day, 1804. General Jean Jacques Dessalines, who fought under Toussaint, was the first ruler of the new nation. A constitution was drafted abolishing slavery forever and forbidding white men to own Haitian soil. Disruption followed the assassination of Dessalines in 1808, when the northern and southern parts of the country came under separate governments. Henri Christophe, last of the revolutionary generals, ruled the north from 1808 to 1820. He is remembered, among other things, for his elaborate royal palace at San Souci and the mountain-top citadel of La Ferriere. 15 In the south Alexander Petion, another general who served under Toussaint, was president of the Republic of Haiti from 1808 to 1818. Petion, who figures largely in the case of the pilot boat Deep Nine, was a mulatto who had been educated in France. He was described by a contemporary Englishman who lived in Jamaica and knew Haiti well as "undoubtedly a good man." He was "greatly beloved by his people." They "valued him for his mild and inoffensive manners, and for the courtly and unassuming conduct which he always manifested to everyone who approached him." 16
The considerable trade between Jamaica and Haiti during Petion's administration was viewed with mixed emotions by the Assembly of Jamaica. In a report of December 10, 1816, a secret committee of the Assembly learned that some of the Kingston merchants were in frequent communication with one Haitian leader closely attached to the cause of the "independents" in South America. Acts of piracy had been com ­ mitted by several vessels which had been fitted out by persons who had gone from Kingston to Haiti. Several Kingston merchants supplied the "Haitian chiefs" with arms and ammunition. Vessels frequently arrived in Kingston with great numbers of Haitians "of dangerous character and disposition" who intermingled with the resident population and were seldom apprehended and deported. On the basis of these facts, the committee urged the governor "to adopt such measures as he may think proper and effectual for removing the Haitian people from Kingston , and that his grace will be pleased to urge the mayor and common council of that city to exercise the authority vested in them for enforcing the due execution of the laws." 17
The black crew of the pilot schooner Deep Nine were the property of James M'Kewan, who, as owner and master, worked out of Port Royal, Jamaica. In early January, 1817, the Deep Nine departed from Port Royal with M'Kewan and fifteen or sixteen pilot slaves on board for the purpose of cruising off the east end of Jamaica to supply pilots to vessels sailing to ports on the south side of the island. After several pilot slaves had been put on board different vessels, the schooner sailed to Rocky-Point in the parish of St. Thomas in the East and arrived there on the thirteenth of January. The remaining crew of seven slaves then proceeded to take on supplies of wood and water while M ' Kewan was otherwise engaged on shore. When he later signaled the crew to send a rowboat to fetch him on board, his order was ignored and the blacks ran off with the Deep Nine, leaving M'Kewan stranded on shore. Two days later Robert M'Kewan happened to put his pilot boat into Rocky Point and found his brother, James. 18
Suspecting that the slaves had absconded to Haiti, the M'Kewan brothers set sail for that island. After a fruitless search between Tiburon Bay and Aux Cayes on the south side of the peninsula, they doubled back and searched the north side. They went This content downloaded from 13 1.94.16.10 on W ed,9 Oct 2013 23:53:38 P M A ll use su bject to J STOR Term s and Conditi ons

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into a small place called Petit-Riviere and learned from the commandant that seven black men and a brown man had put into a place called Trou-bon-bon. It was reported that when these men had gone ashore to buy muskets and ammunition from the soldiers, they awakened the suspicions of the commandant of that place, who immediately took possession of the vessel and ordered the blacks to Jeremie. The M'Kewan brothers then went to Jeremie. Their application to the commanding officer for possession of the vessel and the absconding blacks was refused until orders for that purpose were issued by President Petion. 19
Together with his brother and another Jamaican, James M'Kewan went to Port-au ­ Prince and made a personal demand to Petion for the restitution of his property . "H e refused to give me up the negroes [sic]," M'Kewan later testified, "in consequence, as he said, of the 44th article of the constitution, which recognized all people of their description to be citizens of Hayti the moment they landed on the territory of the republic." Furthermore, Petion told M'Kewan that if he had any just cause of complaint he should lay his case before the proper tribunal of Haiti, which would see that justice was done.20 Before leaving Port-au-Prince, the M'Kewans wrote two letters to Petion, of which only one was answered. These and other letters and documents are printed in the Journals of the Assembly of Jamaica. A copy of the M'Kewan brothers' letter and a translation of Petion's reply, together with James M'Kewan's reply to Petion , are as follows:21

His Excellency Alexander Petion, President of Hayti
Sir,
Port-au-Prince,
28th January , 1817
We have already had the honour, by a personal communication, of making known to your excellency the circumstances that have brought us here to claim, from the justice of your government , the restitution of property that has been piratically taken from us, and to which you have in part had the goodness to accede, though you decline to deliver up the individuals (also our property), who assisted in the commission of the act, upon the ground, that, by the 44th clause of the constitution of Hayti, persons of their description having once obtained a footing within the republic, they are entitled to its protection. We cannot presume to call in question the policy of such an enactment, though we trust we may be permitted to observe, that from the peculiar nature of your exterior relations, more particularly with the government of which we are subjects, the sanction of such acts, or even the protection afforded the perpetrators thereof, must necessarily involve political questions of very great moment, the agitation of which, upon reflection, your excellency may see the expedience of avoiding.
We do not, however, by any means, wish to rest our claim upon such grounds; we seek only the justice that every civilized state affords in similar cases. Piracy and barratry are crimes so heinous, as well as destructive in their consequences to commercial states, that it is the interest of all not only to discourage, but to punish the commission of them with the utmost severity . We, therefore, pray that the individuals in question be delivered up to us, that we may have them tried by the laws of their country .
Any persons bringing a vessel into a British port, under similar circumstances, would be immediately thrown into prison and tried for the offence.
To confirm the piratical intention of these people, we beg leave to observe, that at the first small harbour they put into, called Trou-bon-bon, they sought to purchase arms and ammunition, for what purpose, we consider is sufficiently evident; this circumstance awakened the suspicion Thi s content downl oaded from 1 31 .94.1 6.1 0 on Wed, 9 Oct 201 3 23:53:38 PM A ll use s ubject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

FROM JAMAICAN SLAVERY TO HAITIAN FREEDOM 333

of the commandant there, who very properly arrested the people and seized the vessel. We are well aware that it is your desire to prevent, by every means in your power, any piratical system obtaining ground along your coast; but if the present attempt be not made a pointed example of, the negroes [sic], in every drogger or small plantain-boat belonging to Jamaica, will be availing themselves of your numerous bays and creeks to take refuge in, and become a nest of daring marauders; and this would render necessary that your coasts should be continually watched by his majesty's cruisers, which would cause very serious interruption to your trade.

We further beg leave to urge in favour of our claim, that as master pilots we are more especially entitled to protection, as the lives and property of so many would be exposed to considerable risk if negroes we have instructed with much labour and care are encouraged to desert from us, and leave us without the means of bringing in the numerous vessels continually flocking to the ports of Jamaica.

Permit us to state to your excellency, that, during the late war between Great-Britain and the United States, in more instances than one, our boats, with our negroes [sic) on board, were captured by the enemy's cruisers and carried into America, from whence they were sent back to us, when the nature of the property was known. We therefore again most humbly submit to your excellency's consideration the propriety of delivering up not only the vessel, but the negroes [sic) that came in her, four of whom are boys, who have been forced away against their will.

We likewise beg to call to your excellency 's attention the hardship of our case; the value of the property at stake is to us of considerable magnitude; our occupation is laborious in the extreme; and to be thus deprived of our hard earning in what we are confident is far from your excellency's wish. If, however, from reasons of state policy, you still conceive it necessary to refuse our claim, we entreat that you will be pleased to signify your reasons in writing; and, with the highest consideration and respect, We have the honour to be your excellency's most obedient and very humble servants,
James M'Kewan
Robert M'Kewan


Mr. James M'Kewan
Port-au-Prince
Sir,
(Translation)

Port-au-Prince,
30th January, 1817
14th year of independence
I have received your letter of the 28th inst. claiming the English schooner Deep Nine, together with the individuals who brought her from Jamaica to Trou-bon-bon, as your property. I have just given directions for restoring to you the vessel, and every thing appertaining to her, but as to the men, they are recognized to be Haytians by the 44th article of the constitution of the republic, from the moment they set foot in its territory, and it is out of my power to restore them to you agreeably to your demand. Each country has its laws, as you must know, sir, and, fortunately for the cause of humanity, Hayti is not the only one where slavery is abolished. The allusion you make in your letter cannot be attended with any serious consequences, because no body here has been guilty of suborning subjects belonging to other powers; but such persons as arrive in this territory must be protected, since the laws require it. If there be, among the men you claim, any who have committed crimes against the rights of men, they will, on your furnishing me with proofs of their crimes, be delivered over to the proper tribunals established for the This content downloaded from 13 1.94.16.10 on W ed,9 Oct 2013 23:53:38 P M A ll use su bject to J STOR Term s and Conditi ons
334 JOURNAL OF NEGRO HISTORY

purpose oftaking cognizance of them by the local laws of the country, of which they are now citizens. I have the honour of saluting you, sir, with consideration. A. Petion [sic) His Excellency Alexander Petion [sic), President of Hayti
Sir,;
Port-au-Prince
30th January, 1817
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this date, communicating to me the impossibility of your complying with my just claim. The reasons you therein assign for such determination must now be laid before the governor and admiral of Jamaica, that such measures may be taken as will prevent a recurrence of similar acts. As to bringing the culprits to trial before a tribunal of this country, I am too well aware what the result would be, to expend either time or money for that purpose; not, sir, that I, for an instant, doubt the integrity of your courts, but the same law o fthe constitution, that recognizes them as citizens, would acquit them of all piracy .
You ask, sir, for a proof of their crime. Did they not run away with my vessel, and whatever of valuables there was on board of her? This I should presume sufficient to condemn them. As the restitution of the people cannot be complied with, I still hope that such of them as are willing, of their own free will, to return, will be allowed to do so, and I, therefore, solicit an explicit order to the commandant of Jeremie to have them brought before me, on my calling in there, that I may know from themselves if any of them are disposed to return with me. Out of the seven individuals belonging to me, who were on board the schooner, four of them are very young people, who, I am confident are not capable of appreciating the value of becoming citizens of Hayti.
I beg further, sir, to request your attention to the following articles that were on board, when the schooner called at Trou-bon-bon, namely:-
Dollars A gold time-keeper, value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300
A cabouse. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 80
A cable. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
A square sail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
A canoe.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
A chest and portmanteau, containing clothes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In all, amounting to upwards of six hundred dollars. The square sail, I am informed, was taken possession of by the commandant of Trou-bon-bon: The gold watch was seen in the hands of one of the people who conducted the schooner's crew to Jeremie.
Restitution of the above articles I claim from your justice, and, at the same time, I take the opportunity of thanking you for having given up the vessel, and I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient humble servant.
James M'Kewan
The M'Kewans waited in vain for a reply to the above letter before sailing from Port ­ au-Prince to Jeremie. James M'Kewan later testified that, upon going ashore, he handed a sealed letter from Petion to the commandant in the expectation that he would be allowed to talk with his slaves. Mter reading a few lines, however, the commandant This content downloaded from 13 1.94.16.10 on W ed,9 Oct 2013 23:53:38 P M A ll use su bject to J STOR Term s and Conditi ons

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threw down the letter and in an icy rage told M'Kewan he had nothing further to say to himY Having exhausted all avenues of restitution in Haiti, the M' Kewans returned to Jamaica. On February 8, 1817, Robert M' Kewan submitted a memorial on behalf of his brother James to John Erskine Douglas, rear-admiral of the blue and commander-in ­ chief of His Majesty's naval forces in Jamaica. The memorial recounted the manner in which the black crew had absconded with the pilot boat and the unsuccessful efforts to reclaim his slave property during the trip to Haiti. The memorial added a piece of information hitherto undisclosed, namely, that the M'Kewans had been informed that " a brown man , a native of Guadeloupe, but whose name is unknown, got on board the Deep Nine at Rocky-Point, and seduced the said slaves to run away with the vessel, and carry her to Ha yti.'' After calling attention to the general losses that Jamaica would suffer if slaves were encouraged to run off with the shipping in which they were employed, the memorialist entreated Admiral Douglas "to put a stop to so great an evil, and, if possible, to obtain the restitution of the slaves before mentioned, that they may be brought to justice." 23
More than a month's time elapsed before Admiral Douglas acted on the memorial submitted by Robert M'Kewan. In his order of March 17, Douglas informed George G. Lennock , captain of His Majesty 's ship Esk, of the particulars of the case of the Deep Nine, and directed him to sail to Port-au-Prince and hand deliver Douglas's letter to President Petion. Captain Lennock was instructed to use his best endeavors, con ­ sistent with the pacific relations that existed between the governments of Haiti and Great Britain, "to procure the restitution of the slaves and the articles taken out of the Deep Nine (or the value ofth e latter), the property of Mr. James M'Kewan." 24
v In his letter of March 12, which was delivered by Captain Lennock, Admiral Douglas wrote that President Petion 's reasons for refusing to deliver the slaves were not founded upon principles of either public or private justice. Douglas deemed it his "imperious duty" to protest against the detention of the slaves. He asserted that the forty-fourth article of the Constitution of Haiti aimed a "deadly blow" at the colonial interests of Great Britain and all the powers of Europe: " It is fraught with most mischievous consequences to the owners of vessels employed in the coasting trade of this island, and indeed is big with evil both to the colonies and the mother country. ' ' Moreoever, Douglas told Petion that he had already transmitted to the British government all of the documents he had received pertaining to the case of the Deep Nine. He trusted that upon a reconsideration of the case, Pefion would deliver M'Kewan's slaves and other property to Captain Lennock.25
Petion's answer to Douglas's letter was as follows:26 (Translation)

Rear-Admiral J. E. Douglas,
Commander-in-chief of his Britannic
Majesty's Naval Forces at Jamaica
Sir,
Republic of Haiti ,
Port-au-Prince,
the 29th March, 1817,
14th year of the independence
I have received the letter you did me the honour of writing, under the date the 12th inst. which This content downloaded from 13 1.94.16.10 on W ed,9 Oct 2013 23:53:38 P M A ll use su bject to J STOR Term s and Conditi ons

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was delivered to me by captain Lennock , of his majesty's ship of war the Esk. I answered Messrs. James and Robert M'Kewan from a sense of my duties as chief of the nation, which I represent, and by which I am entrusted to execute the laws. They are positive , and result from the unanimous wish expressed in the constitutional act of the republic: As chief of the executive power , I can neither extend them nor diminish them: They belong to the nation herself.
There is no doubt, sir, but the departure of a subject of one government to another places him under the jurisdiction of the one which he has adopted, and, once under that protection, he is no longer amenable to the government he has abandoned. England herself offers an example in the right of asylum, which she has so generously exercised during the revolutionary disturbance which agitated the w o rld -that, if the persons claimed by Messrs. James and Robert M'Kewan had been able to set their feet in the territory of England, there, where no slavery exists, certainly
the claim would not have been admittedY The dangers, which appear to result from your observation, belong to the colonial system rather than to that of your government. The respect for it, which has always animated us; the justice and protection, which we have never ceased to grant to his Britannic majesty's subjects and to the commerce of Great Britain; our political situation, in a word, which has maintained us in the partiicular exercise of our rights, without provoking any thing that could disturb our neighbours, is an evident proof in favour of our institutions.
You will, I think, sir, do me the justice to believe that my conduct is entirely founded upon what I owe to myself, and what I owe to my countrymen: That there has existed no encourage ­ ment on our part in the particular case of escape of the people you claim, and that it is not in my power to interfere, and if any unpleasant consequences should be the result, which is far from my thoughts, I shall not have to reproach myself of having provoked it. Respecting what you do me the honour to inform me of your having, already transmitted a representation of the affair to your government, I persuade myself it will judge differently to what you appear to anticipate.
I have given orders to the commandant of the department of the Grand Ance to send Messrs. M'Kewan the articles which had been seized in the pilot-vessel Deep Nine (which vessel had previously been restored). If these articles are not found, I will cause them to be paid for. I have the honour, sir , to salute you with the highest consideration.

Petion [sic]
Admiral Douglas was not satisfied with Petion's reply. "In that reply," he wrote on May 14, "you have merely dealt in general assertion, without adding any one argument to shew upon what principle of justice they were founded." Douglas thought that instead of acting unilaterally, Petion should have consulted his executive body and urged it to reconsider and possibly amend the article of the constitution which operated against "th e interests of the great powers of Europe, by aiming a deadly blow at the prosperity of their colonies." Petion's assertion that no allurements had been held out by the Haitian government to M'Kewan's slaves to induce them to make their escape was challenged by Douglas. He wrote that he was well assured that the slaves had been "entirely influenced" to abscond by the persuasions of a native and subject of Haiti. This Haitian subject was the slaves' ringleader, and accompanied them to the Haitian territory. " It is with no less surprise than indignation," Douglas wrote, that this person was "actually at large at Aux-Cayes, and that no notice whatever has been taken of the heinous crime of which he has been guilty.'' 28
Because of a dispute over the several articles taken out of the Deep Nine, Douglas ordered Lennock to intercede a second time with Petion. James M'Kewan accompanied This content downloaded from 13 1.94.16.10 on W ed,9 Oct 2013 23:53:38 P M A ll use su bject to J STOR Term s and Conditi ons


FROM JAMAICAN SLAVERY TO HAITIAN FREEDOM 337

Captain Lennock on the second voyage of the Esk . Besides receiving compensation for the lost articles, M'Kewan testified that he recovered one of his blacks named Jem who escaped from a Haitian man-of-war, on board of which he had been pressed . Jem was examined on board the Esk and asked to give reasons why he and the other slaves had absconded. He told M 'Kewan that he had often spoken of going to Haiti, "having understood from the crews of different vessels from that place, which they had piloted in at different times, that they would there be made officers, and each get a coffee ­ plantation or sugar-work, with negroes [sic] to work for them, and that there was no danger of their being brought back, as they would not be given up when once they got there." M'Kewan himself testified that while he was in Haiti he saw "a great number, say from thirty to forty negroes [sic], who avowed themselves to be runaways from this island , and many of them were personally known to my own negroes [sic], who accompanied me up there." Escaping from Jamaica was greatly facilitated, he believed by the vessels resorting to Kingston and the several outports of Jamaica from Haiti.29 In his last letter of June 21, 1817, Petion informed Douglas that the schooner Deep Nine had been restored to M'Kewan , and that he had also been compensated for the lost articles. While he promised to cooperate with Douglas in suppressing piracy, Petion continued to insist that freedom would be granted to all slaves who sought refuge in Haiti.30
Meanwhile, on February 15, 1817, Douglas transmitted copies of the several docu ­ ments concerned with the case of the Deep Nine to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty in London. Their lordships deliberated and decided that the case did not concern the naval department. They instructed their secretary to forward the docu ­ ments to Earl Bathurst, colonial secretary. In a letter written at Downing Street on AprillO, 1817, Henry Goulburn, Lord Bathurst's under-secretary, wrote to the admi ­ ralty "that it appears to his lordships, from the papers which admiral Douglas's letter enclosed, that the laws of Hayti much resemble those of Great-Britain, so far as not to permit persons, who have once landed in that island, to be considered or treated as slaves." 31 To the Assembly of Jamaica this was "an admission fatal to the interest of this island , and operating as an encouragement to the ruling powers in St. Domingo [Haiti] to seduce from their allegiance and duty our slave population , with a view perhaps, at some future time, to employ them as agents to excite amongst us discontent and disturbance." 32
Having exhausted his appeals to President Petion , Admiral Douglas, and indirectly Lord Bathurst, James M' Kewan turned finally to the Assembly of Jamaica. In his petition of November 20, 1817, M'Kewan recited the circumstances leading to the escape of his slaves and the abortive measures taken to recover them . He affirmed that the six slaves were " excellent pilot negroes [sic], and each of them complete masters of petitioner's business, all of them having had in charge not only merchant ships of great value, but his majesty's ships of war from a frigate to a line-of-battle ship." 33 M'Kewan annexed to his petition the following valuation which he claimed was made on the oath of persons well acquainted with pilot slaves.34
Jamaica
Currency
James aged about 25 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £230
Dublin, aged about 30 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230 This content downloaded from 13 1.94.16.10 on W ed,9 Oct 2013 23:53:38 P M A ll use su bject to J STOR Term s and Conditi ons 338 JOURNAL OF NEGRO HISTORY
Kingston, aged about 25 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
Qua shie, aged about 25 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
Archey, aged about 25 y e a r s ...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
Robert, aged about 15 y e a r s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £1,330
The case of the Deep Nine was finally disposed of on December 16, 1817, when the Assembly of Jamaica approved a committee recommendation "to indemnify James M'Kewan, pilot, for the loss of six pilot negroes [sic] belonging to him . . . and that a clause should be inserted in the poll-tax bill, for paying to the said James M'Kewan the sum of £1000 in consideration of the loss of the said Slaves." 35 'Jean Price-Mars, "Tou ssaint-Louverture," Revue de Ia Societe d'histoire et de geographie d'haiti (April 1945); Faine Scharon, Toussaint Louverture et Ia revolution de Saint-Domingue, 2 vols. (Port-au-Prince, 1957); Alfred Nemours, Histoire des relations internationales de Toussaint-Louverture (Port-au-Prince, 1945); Thomas Madiou , Histoire d'Haiti, 4 vols. (Port-au-Prince, 1848); J . Saintoyant, La colonisationfrancaise pendant Ia periode napoleoienne, 1799-1815 (Paris, 1931); C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (London, 1938); James G. Leyburn, The Haitian People (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1966; George F. Tyson, Jr. (ed.), Toussaint L' Ouverture: Great Lives Observed (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1973); Thomas 0 . Ott, The Haitian Revolution 1784- /804 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1973); David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution 1770-1823 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1975). 2 Leyburn, Haitian People, p. 52; Ott, Haitian Revolution, p. 193. 3Philip Wright et G. Debien, "L e s Colons de Saint-Domingue passes a Ia Jamalque (1792-1835)," Bulletin de Ia Societe d'histoire de Ia Guadeloupe, No. 26, 4 trimestre, 1975 (Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, Archives Departmentales), pp. 3-216; G. Debien, "L e s Colons de Saini-Domingue refugies a Cuba (1793-1815)," Revista de Indias, 1954, pp. 559-605 et 1955, pp. 13-36; G. Debien, "Refugies de Saint-Domingue aux Etats ­ Unis," Revue de Ia Societe de Histoire et de Geographie d' Haiti, juillet 1948 a decembre 1950. 'The writings of Thomas Jefferson , Andrew A .Lipcomb (ed.) (Washington, D.C., 1904), 4: 275-276. 5Herbert Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts (New York, International Publishers, 1943), pp. 42- 45, 96--102; Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black : American Attitudes Toward the Negro,/550-1812 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968), pp. 375-402; Davis, Problem of Slavery, pp. 152, 329. 6W.J . Gardner, A History of Jamaica from its Discovery by Christopher Columbus to the Year 1872 (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1909), pp. 222-23; Edward Brathwaite, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica 1770-1820 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), pp. 245-48. 70 tt, Haitian Revolution , pp. 76-77; Orlando Patterson, The Sociology of Slavery: An Analysis of the Origins, Development and Structure of Negro Slave Society in Jamaica (London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1967), pp. 278-79. 80tt, Haitian Revolution, pp. 86--93, 101-10. 9Public Record Office, London: C.O. 137/100, 1371103, Governor Lord Balcarres to the Duke of Portland, July 4, 1798, October 30, 1798, December 7, 1799; extracts from these letters are printed in Tyson, Toussaint L' Ouverture, pp. 89-91. '"Journals of the Assembly of Jamaica (cited hereafter asJ.A.J.), vol. X, II December 1798, p. 218; Wright et Debien, "L e s Colons de Saini-Domingue passes a Ia Jamalque," pp. 112-47. 11J.A.J., vol. X, February 20, 1799, p. 253. "J.A.J ., vol. X, February 6, 1800, pp. 453-54; Wright et Debien, "L e s Colons de Saini-Domingue passes a Ia Jamalque," pp. 148-57. llFor the condition of Saint Domingue on the eve of the slave revolt of 1791, see Moreau de Saint-Mery, Description topographique, physique et politique de Saint Domingue, 2 vols. (Philadelphia, 1797); Pierre de Vassiere, Saint-Domingue, Ia societe et Ia vie creoles sous /'ancien regime (Paris, 1909); Gabriel Debien, Plantations et esc/aves a Sant-Domingue (Dakar, 1962). For the economic history of Jamaica in the 1790s and early nineteenth century, see Seymour Drescher, Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977), pp. 78-79, 88-89; Patrick Colquhoun, A Treatise on the Wealth, Power, and Resources of the British Empire (London, 1814), pp.378-79. This content downloaded from 13 1.94.16.10 on W ed,9 Oct 2013 23:53:38 P M A ll use su bject to J STOR Term s and Conditi ons

FROM JAMAICAN SLAVERY TO HAITIAN FREEDOM 339

"Ott, Haitian Revolution, pp. 139-87; Madiou, Histoire d' Haiti, vols. III, IV. "Leyburn, Haitian People pp. 32-51; Hubert Cole, Christophe, King of Haiti (New York, 1%7); W.W . Harvey, Sketches of Hayti;from the Expulsion of the French to the Death of Christophe (London, 1827). 16James Franklin, "The Present State of Hayti, (Saint Domingo), with Remarks on its Agriculture, Com­ merce, Laws, Religion, Finances , and Population (London John Murray, 1828) , pp. 227-28; Leyburn, Haitian People, pp. 51-52; Duracine Vaval, "Alexandre Petion: l 'homme et sa vie," Revue de Ia Societe d'Histoire et de Geographie d' Haiti, II, N o.3 (June 1931); Francois Dalencour, La Fondation de Ia Republique d' Haiti par Alexandre Pelion (Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1944), pp. 1-28 ff.; J. Saint-Remy, Petion et Haiti: Etude Monographique et Historique (Paris, Librarie Berger-Levrault, 1956), pp. 1-36 ff.; R. Lepelletier de Saint ­ Remy, Saint -Dominque. Etude et solution nouvelle de Ia question haitienne (Paris, 1846). 11J.A.J., vol. XIII, December 10, 1816, pp. 76-77. 18J.A.J., vol. XIII , December 9, 1817, pp. 185-86: Memorial from Robert and James M'Kewan to Rear ­ Admiral John Erskine Douglas, February 9, 1817, in Report of the Committee on the State of the Colony (cited hereafter as Committee Report), Appendix No.6; J .A .J., vol. XIII, November 20, 1817, p. 148: Petition of James M'Kewan to the Assembly . 19Idem . 20J.A .J ., vol. XIII, December 9, 1817, p. 184: The examination on oath of Mr. James M'Kewan of Port Royal, Committee Report, Appendix N o.6. 21J.A.J ., vol. XIII, November 28, 1817, pp. l64-66: "Documents relative to the vessel and slaves of James M 'Kewa n." 22J .A.J., vol. XIII, December 9, 1817, pp. 184-85:Examination of James M'Kewan, Committee Report, Appendix No. 6. 23J .A.J . , vol. XIII, December 9, 1817, pp. 185-86: Memorial from Robert and James M'Kewan to Rear ­ Admiral Douglas, February 9, 1817, Committee Report, Appendix No. 6. 24Ibid., Admiral Douglas to Captain Lennock, March 17, 1817, p. 116. Article one of the Constitution of Haiti asserts that "Slavery cannot exist in the territory of the Republic; it is abolished forever." The forty ­ fourth article is as follows: "Tout africain, indien, et ceux issus de leur sang, nes dans les colonies ou pays etrangers, qui viendraient resider dans Ia Republique, seront reconnus haltiens; mais ne jouiront des droits de citoyen qu 'apres une annee de residence." The English translation is as follows: "All Africans, Indians, and their descendants and blood relatives, born in the colonies or foreign lands, who would come to live in the Republic, will be recognized as Haitian; but will only enjoy the rights of citizenship after a year's residence." Constitution d' Hayti, Du Decembre 27, 1806 , et sa Revision, Du Juin 2, 1816, an 13 de /'lnde­ pendance (A Saint-Marc, De L'lmprimerie du Gouvernement, Novembre 1820), pp. I, 8. 2'J.A.J ., vol. XIII, December 9, 1817, p. 187: Admiral Douglas to President Petion, March 12, 1817. 26Ibid., President Pelion to Admiral Douglas, March 29, 1817, p. 187. 27The Somerset case was an early victory for the antislavery movement in England. James Somerset escaped from his master in England and was later seized as a slave to be taken to Jamaica for sale. Granville Sharp took up the cause of the blacks in England and intervened on Somerset's behalf. In 1772, Judge Mansfield handed down his famous decision, declaring that slavery was so odious that nothing could support it but positive law, and since there was no such law in England , the slave Somerset was free. In other cases involving slaves Mansfield decided in favor of the slaveowners. See James Walvin, Black and White: The N egro and English Society 1555 -1945 (London, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1973), pp. 46,49 -50,93, 117-31. 28J.A.J., vol. XIII , December 9, 1817, pp. 187-88: Admiral Douglas to President Petion, May 14, 1817, Committee Report, Appendix No. 6. 29J.A.J., vol. XIII, December 9, 1817, pp. 184-85: Examination of James M'Kewan, Committee Report, Appendix No. 6. 30J.A.J., vol. XIII , December 9, 1817, pp. 187-88: President Pelion to Admiral Douglas, June 21, 1817, Committee Report, Appendix N o.6. "Ibid., p. 188: Douglas to John Wilson Croker, February 15, 1817; John Barrow to Douglas, April I, 1817; Barrow to Douglas, April21, 1817; Henry Goulburn to J. W. Croker, ApriliO, 1817; Douglas to J. W. Croker, March 21, 1817; Barrow to Douglas, May 28, 1817. 32Ibid., p. 182: Committee Report. 33J.A.J., vol. XIII, November 20, 1817, p. 148: Petition of James M'Kewan to the Assembly. "Ibid., November 28, 1817, p. 166: " Documents relative to the vessel and slaves of James M'Kewan." 35J.A.J., vol. XIII, December 16, 1817, p. 207: Resolution No. I from the committee chaired by Mr. Stewart of St. Andrew's parish.

  • Written by: Richard B. Sheridan
  • Tuesday, 03 June 2014

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