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(en) France, UCL AL #318 - File Haitian Revolution: The Louverturian Constitution of 1801, revolutionary and conservative (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Fri, 24 Sep 2021 08:53:58 +0300

To preserve the gains of the revolution, while restoring social order. Like Bonaparte in France, Toussaint wants to "end" the revolution. ---- In the spring of 1801, Toussaint Louverture, in a hurry to consolidate his work, had a Constitution for Saint-Domingue drawn up. It is the gesture of a builder who now sees himself as a "father of the nation», But also a challenge to the metropolis, faced with a fait accompli. The Constituent Assembly, composed of 10 members approved by Toussaint, is dominated by white and mulatto planters. She gave birth to a text which, validated by Toussaint, was to be promulgated in Cape Town, then in all the parishes of the country, with great publicity and solemn ceremonies. Daughter of ten years of revolutionary convulsions, but tailor-made for the strong man of the moment, the Constitution of 18 Messidor Year IX (July 7, 1801) is at once autonomist, revolutionary and anti-racist, bourgeois and Caesarean, militarist and clerical .

Constitution of 18 Messidor Year IX (PDF to download)
Autonomist. It is stipulated there that Saint-Domingue "is part of the French Empire" but is endowed with "particular laws" (art. 1).

Revolutionary. "There can be no slaves in this land; servitude is there forever abolished. All men are born, live and die free and French" (article 3).

Antiracist. Any citizen "whatever his color, is eligible for all jobs" (art. 4). In reality, however, social mobility is prohibited for black farmers who are attached to the land.

Bourgeoise. The Constitution guarantees private property (art. 75) to a possessing class that has become multicolored, and subjects the cultivators to it by stipulating that they form a "family" whose "owner of the land" is "the father" (art. 15). The "cultivation regulations" of October 1800 and February 1801 are engraved in Constitution (art. 16).

Cesarean section. Like the Consulate regime, established in France by Bonaparte, the Louverturian regime is akin to Caesarism: the Constitution stipulates that Toussaint will remain governor "for the rest of his glorious life" (art. 28) and that he will have power. exclusive choice of his successor (art. 30).

After that, the governor's mandate will be for a period of five years. The governor appoints "to all civil and military employment" (art. 34), including in each municipality (art. 49), has the power of "censorship" over any printed matter (art. 39), and he alone can propose laws (art. 19) to the Central Assembly, which has 10 deputies.

Militarist. After Toussaint's successor, the governor will be appointed by the "Central Assembly" and by "the meeting of active army generals and departmental commanders in chief" (art. 32).

Clerical. Breaking with the French Revolution, the Constitution of Saint-Domingue proclaims Catholicism the official religion (art. 6), prohibits divorce (art. 10) and subordinates the ecclesiastical apparatus to the authority of the governor (art. 8). Voodoo, considered uncontrollable, has been prohibited since January 1800.

Guillaume Davranche (UCL Montreuil)

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