Item ASM0570 - Extrait des Registres du Conseil Superieur du Port-au-Prince: Reglement Concernant Les Gens de Couleur Libres

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Extrait des Registres du Conseil Superieur du Port-au-Prince: Reglement Concernant Les Gens de Couleur Libres


  • 1733 (Creation)


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This 1773 Réglement Concernant les Gens de Couleur Libres was one of many discriminatory laws that magistrates in the French colony of Saint-Domingue issued against free people of color from the mid-1760s on. Such laws were intended to racially mark free people of African ancestry and prevent the possibility that they could “pass” for white in the colony. Specifically, this law prohibited “mulâtres and other people of color who were born free” from taking the surname of their white fathers, and it likewise proscribed those who were manumitted from using “the surname of the Masters who gave them freedom.” Instead, the law required free people of African descent to baptize their children with an African surname, or one associated with their occupation or color, and compelled slaveholders to ensure that those they freed followed suit. Such laws spurred the ongoing struggle of free people of color for legal equality in Saint-Domingue during the years leading to the Haitian Revolution between 1791-1804. - Kate Ramsey, Associate Professor, University of Miami Department of History, November 25, 2019. - Project funded thanks to the Andrew W. Mellon CREATE Grant.

"Port-au-Prince: chez Guillot, 1773. Quarto. 4pp. Single folded sheet... Rules for Freed Slaves and Free 'Men of Color.' A rare Haitian imprint that enumerates the rules on how mulattos and other 'gens de couleur libres' [free people of color] who were born free can take the last names of their fathers and how freed slaves can take the names of the masters who gave them their freedom. In the complex slave society of colonial St. Domingue, the illegitimate offspring of white masters and their slave mistresses were generally free, sometimes quite wealthy, but with circumscribed civil rights. Likewise, freed slaves (for example, Touissant L'Overture) often had substantial property and slaves. Rare, with only one copy located at the the John Carter Brown Library. The origins of printing in St. Dominigue, now Haiti, are obscure. The best contemporary source, Isaiah Thomas in his History of Printing in America, says that a press was established at Port-au-Prince as early as 1750, but this is uncertain since the earliest imprints do not survive. In American libraries we can locate a 1767 Port-au-Prince imprint at the Library Company of Philadelphia, while the earliest held by the John Carter Brown Library (which has by far the most extensive collection of very early Saint Domingue imprints, with about three dozen prior to 1785) is 1769. Thomas says there was a press at Cap Francois 'as early as 1765, and probably several years preceding,' but we locate a single imprint at the Library Company dated 1752. In the period 1769-1773 a printer named Guillot evidently operated presses in both Port-au-Prince and Cap Francais with the royal patent. Guillot either died or retired the year this was printed and was succeeded by a printer named Donnet. A rare and highly important imprint describing the complex rules that governed free African-Americans in the slave culture of Saint Domingue." -Donald A. Heald Rare Books.

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  • French

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