Dictatorial Proclamation

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Toussaint Louverture 1801
“Dictatorial Proclamation”
Source: Victor Schoelcher, Vie de Toussaint Louverture. Paul Ollendorf, Paris, 1889;
 Translated: by Mitch Abidor 2004. It was Victor Schoelcher, Toussaint’s biographer, who aptly labeled this proclamation, “dictatorial.” It contains almost all the elements of Toussaint’s domestic policies for Saint Domingue. Cap Francais, 4 Frimmaire, Year X (November 25, 1801)

Since the revolution, I have done all that depended upon me to return happiness to my country and to ensure liberty for my fellow citizens. Forced to combat internal and external enemies of the French Republic, I made war with courage, honor and loyalty. I have never strayed from the rules of justice with my enemies; as much as was in my power I sought, to soften the horrors of war, to spare the blood of men ... Often after victory I received as brothers those who, the day before, were under enemy flags. Through the overlooking of errors and faults I wanted to make even its most ardent enemies love the legitimate and sacred cause of liberty. I constantly reminded my brothers in arms, general and officers, that the ranks to which they'd been raised were nothing but the reward for honor, bravery and irreproachable conduct. That the higher they were above their fellow citizens, the more irreproachable all their actions and words must be; that scandals caused by public men had consequences even more dire for society than those of simple citizens; that the ranks and functions they bore hadn’t been given to them to serve only their ambition, but had as cause and goal the general good. ... It is up to officers to give their soldiers with good lessons good examples. Every captain should have the noble goal of having his company the best disciplined, the most cleanly attired, the best trained. He should think that the lapses of his soldiers reflect on him and believe himself lowered by the faults of those he commands. ... Having always regarded religion as the basis of all virtues and the foundation of the happiness of societies, in one of my proclamations, at the time of the war in the south, I laid out the obligations of fathers and mothers, their obligation to raise their children in the love and fear of God. Nevertheless, how negligently fathers and mothers raise their children, especially in cities. They leave them in a state of idleness and in ignorance of their principal obligations. They seem to inspire in children contempt for agriculture, the first, the most honorable, and the most useful of all states. Barely are they born than we see these same children with jewels and earrings, covered in rags, their clothing filthy, wounding the eyes of decency through their nudity. Thus they arrive at the age of twelve, without moral principles, without a skill, and with a taste for luxury and laziness as their only education. And since bad impressions are difficult to correct, it is certain beyond any doubt that they will be bad citizens, vagabonds, thieves. And if they are girls, then they are prostitutes all of them ready to follow the prompting of the first conspirator who will preach murder and pillage to them. It is upon such vile mothers and fathers, on students so dangerous, that the magistrates of the people must ceaselessly keep an open eye. The same reproaches equally apply to cultivators on the habitations. Since the revolution perverse men have told them that freedom is the right to remain idle and to follow only their whims. Such a doctrine could not help but be accepted by all the evil subjects, thieves and assassins. It is time to hit out at the hardened men who persist in such ideas. As soon as a child can a child walk he should be employed on the habitations according to his strength in some useful work, instead of being sent into the cities where, under the pretext of an education that he doesn’t receive, he goes to learn vice, to add to the horde of vagabonds and women of evil lives, to trouble by his...
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