1802 - French expedition to St.-Domingo, Buonaparte and Toussaint-Louverture


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1802 France and Saint-Domingo 170

Tripolitans. Considering this a good opportunity to negotiate an exchange with the bey for some Americans whom his cruisers had taken, the commodore proceeded straight to Tripoli; and, arriving off the port on the 3d of September, sent on shore a message to that effect. The bey said he would not give one American for all the soldiers ; that only eight of the merchants were his subjects; and that he cared very little about any of them. He at length, however, agreed to give three Americans for the 21 soldiers, and three more for the eight merchants. With this the American commodore was obliged to be satisfied. Soon afterwards, finding his crew getting very sickly and his provisions very short, Commodore Dale raised the blockade or Tripoli, and steered for Gibraltar. During the winter months the American squadron visited Tripoli only occasionally. In March, 1802, having had all their arrears of presents paid up, the regencies of Algiers and Tunis became satisfied with the United States. Nothing, however, during the whole of this year, appears to have been done against Tripoli, although the cruisers of that regency were capturing American vessels where-ever they could find them.

French Expedition to St.-Domingo.

We have already noticed the bustle of preparation going on in the continental ports, just when a treaty of peace had apparently set fleets and armies to at least a temporary rest. An expedition to the island of Saint-Domingo was the plan in agitation. Previously to any account of occurrences on the shores of that ill-fated island, we will bestow a glance upon the changes which the preceding two or three years had effected in a colony that, when France owned it, was the most profitable of any in the West Indies.

Buonaparte, as soon as he had got himself placed at the head of the French government, sent out to Saint-Domingo an arrêté, containing the programme of a constitution for the government of the island; and, by way of gilding the pill, be appointed the celebrated black General Toussaint-Louverture, commander-in chief of the colonial army ; of which, owing to the unhealthy state of the island and the impossibility of sending out reinforcements, a very small portion were natives of France. Before the close of the year 1799 Toussaint possessed himself of the Spanish part of the island, including the city of Santo-Domingo. Shortly afterwards this gifted negro drew up, and finally got adopted, the plan of a colonial constitution, in which he named himself governor of the island and president for life, with the right of appointing his successor. Toussaint probably would not have ventured to take so bold a step, had he been aware that the war was so near its close : he knew that, while it continued, he

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