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can we hate a revolution that has raised us from nothing, and restored us as men, to our natural, sacred, and imprescriptible rights? And even if we could participate in such unjust and ridiculous folly, can it be imagined we could consent to renounce the advantages we have reaped from a revolution of twenty-five years' continuance, purchased by the greatest sacrifices, protracted struggles, and effusion of blood? Certainly not.
From the beginning of the world, there have been revolutions; and there will always be, as long as men exist on earth. If some of them have proved injurious to the cause of humanity, others have been of infinite service to it. The revolution in our country, for example, has inclined us to civilisation and the light of knowledge; while that of France has led her to barbarity and the darkness of ignorance.
M. le Borgne de Boigne, who has been pleased to favor us with a kind of a theory upon revolutions, should have told us as well as M. M. Fievee, Hoffmann, and Felletz, his panegyrists, whether all revolutions are to be considered as at an end since the restoration of the Bourbons; whether the inhabitants of this world will no longer have any thing to fear from revolutions and revolutionary schemes. We, in particular, should have cause to be dissatisfied on many important accounts. As we gained much by the first, we might still perhaps acquire something by the second. But how then could we eradicate the absurd prejudices that are yet existing? How could the slave-trade, slavery, prejudices of color, be abolished? How could we recal to a sense of religion, morals, and social order, three-fourths of the population of this globe, who are still wandering in the darkness of incivilisation? In what way could man be restored to his original rights, were it not for the effect produced by a great and salutary revolution, which should overcome all obstacles, triumph over all difficulties, eradicate all the idle prejudices, which oppose the happiness and perfection of mankind? Whether it be effected by prudence and enlightened ideas of government, acting progressively and without violence, without bloodshed, as is our sincere wish; or whether it be occasioned by sudden and turbulent commotion; who can deny, that such a revolution would be a source of the greatest blessings to mankind?
We are compelled here by our opponents, contrary to our inclination, to examine the doctrine of legitimacy in governments. The discussion shall be short.
Considering it in the light it is presented by learned politicians, the doctrine is as absurd in principle, as the prejudice of color. It is a reflection upon all governments, that have sovereigns who are not of the legitimate cathegory, and, generally speaking, upon all nations. Were we to trace the origin of all dynasties, it would be easy to demonstrate the folly of the system. But this question is sufficient: If the house of Bourbon were become extinct, by what artifice would the French procure a legitimate king?Hence we conclude, that the king of Hayti is a most legitimate king. He reigns in wisdom over us, by the grace of God, and constitution of the state. This is sufficient to establish his legitimacy. The king holds the power, with which he is invested, from the people; who yielded their rights to him, on condition that he should govern constitutionally: and his majesty is enabled to transmit those rights to his heirs, according to the order of succession established by law. In this manner was Pharamond, the first king of the Franks, proclaimed king on the shore of Sala. He had no ancestors; he received from the nation his rights and authority; and no one ever disputed his claim to legitimacy. When we pretend to instruct nations, we ought at least to go back to first principles.
The throne of Hayti, therefore, is not a political fiction, an edifice built upon mere sand ; as M. le Borgne de Boigne would have it: since it is founded on the will, gratitude, and love of the people j and there is no throne which can have a more just, legitimate, solid foundation; no sovereign who can better deserve to occupy it, than our own.'
Knowledge and civilisation have been universally diffused, even amongst slaves. How can it be prevented? Statesmen will be obliged to govern on principles of reason, humanity, and justice. Is this so great a misfortune? The angular stone of the tyrants (and it was that of the ex-colonists), is to brutify men, in order to make them slaves; ours is to enlighten them, in order to make them free!These zealous asserters of legitimacy, instead of disputing our rights
. 1 At the council of state in which prince Oscar took his seat for the first time, his royal highness the prince of Sweden and Norway addressed his son in a speech, of which I shall quote several passages.
* Fatal must be the career of that prince, who persuades himself, that while he obliterates the records of his people's rights, he is augmenting the splendor and power of the throne! Remember, my son, lhat the wisest prince is he, who regards with a vigilant eye, the elements which threaten destruction to empires, and seizes them before the explosion; and knows how to prevent their recurrence, by his own respect for the laws. The state has long since been compared to a family, and its chief, (superintending wisely the common weal,) to an economising and provident father, who is solicitous for his children's happiness. It has been said of such a government, that it was paternal; and of those who exercised it, that they were the fathers of the people. The idea is as simple as the notion it expresses. Men have consecrated it as a principle for the administration of states, whatever be their form of government," &c.
Extracted from the Journal des Debats, Monday, 4th of August, 1817.
by puerile declamation and sophistry, which will not gain them more honor than proselytes in the old and new world, had much better be silent, and cease to provoke unprofitable discussions; or speak in a language more agreeable to reason, truth, and nature; to the times, and general information of the present sera.
It is not only by frivolous and idle objections, that our adversaries make war on our independence; they continue to urge reasons, whic h at the first sight have some appearance of truth, but are unable to bear the slightest examination. In fact, they are only plausibilities, not more solid than the first, since they areequally destitute of truth. It is of importance, notwithstanding, that we should assail and entirely remove them.
It is argued, that the independence of Hayti is not the fruit of deep reflection, as was that of the United States of America; that we had no Franklins or Washingtons, none of the enlightened men, who reflected honor on the ancient world, as they spread light upon the new. Hence it is inferred, that we had not maturity of thought, wisdom, or prudence, in a sufficient degree to direct us in our political career. In the want of wisdom and prudence, it is said dreadful civil commotions have their origin; our territory, too confined already, has been split asunder into two distinct governments: and (as though they had reserved the last objection as a thunderbolt to crush us), they declare they consider our political existence incompatible with the safety of the powers who have colonies in the neighborhood; and it is their interest, not to suffer the existence of a focus of turbulence and insurrection, already endured too long.
These plausible objections, these dark and heavy clouds, collected with so much difficulty, will soon vanish at the light of truth.
In the first place, then, we do not believe that the independence of the United States of America was the result of long and deep reflection. They, like ourselves, were conducted to independence by the concurrence of events. They began by argument, and concluded by an appeal to the sword. After this they separated without any reflection at all, as is generally the case with naughty children.
If we had neither Franklins nor Washingtons, was it reasonable, amongst men stooping under the weight of ignorance and slavery, who had not even common understanding, to go in search of Franklins and Washingtons, born without a moment's delay? In the struggle between the mother and daughter, the illustrious combatants struck important blows. Whether we possessed Franklins or Washingtons, it is not our province to determine; we leave it to the vanquished. If, however, in order to form a correct judgment, and make a right estimate of men and things, it be essential that we consider, relatively, their talents and situation; we are not absolutely certain, whether a comparison between us and the United States, would not prove favorable to our character in some respects. We candidly admit, however, and publicly acknowledge, that we did not exert, at the commencement, the prudence and wisdom discovered by the Americans. More fortunate than us, they had to contend with a generous enemy; we, on the contrary, have been exposed, and are yet subject to the persecution of a cruel and determined foe, whose hatred and resentments are implacable; and who scruples not to employ any measures, if he can only ensure success.
The Americans had the rare felicity of not possessing men who, by ambition, interrupted the repose of their country and fellowcitizens. From the first foundation of their independence, they were in perpetual union; never divided. Their happy country florished under wholesome laws; their population, power, and resources, have been materially augmented; they have acquired a reputation for wisdom and prudence, to which they are justly entitled. How great a blessing to their country! We, however, it must be allowed, though misled by error and civil dissensions, have some claim to common sense, and a share of wisdom: since we succeeded in securing to ourselves a good government, institutions, and laws; and chose for our chief an enlightened monarch, who obliges his people to advance rapidly in the march of civilisation. But is it decent in Frenchmen, to inveigh with so much asperity against our civil wars, our fatal and deplorable mistakes; while they are the cause of our misfortunes; desire nothing so impatiently as the sight of the blood of the last inhabitant of Hayti, spilled by the hands of an inhabitant of Hayti? While they love to describe in their papers the sanguinary battles we fought by sea and land; is it decent in them, I repeat it, to inveigh with so much asperity against us? I am filled with indignation, when I see in an implacable enemy, so much of villany, treachery, and dissimulation! when I hear the profligate panegyrists of a Le Borgne de Boigne, of an ex-colonist, still moredegraded, if possible, than they, telling us, in a whining, hypocritical tone, "that the consequences of civil wars are so terrible, that it is impossible to desire them in aid of any color or colors whatever." And in the identical work which they praise so violently, you will find, " that the division of the country into two parts, is not an evil:—that, were it not actually effected, it ought to take place, in order to break our union and impair our strength." Perfidious men! Let them take no trouble about our internal situation. Let them not be uneasy about our civil wars: whether we are at peace or war, of this only let them be informed, it is enough that the people of Hayti have but a single prayer to prefer: Freedom and Independence! Bid them consult that brave and generous people, from Cape Tiburon to Mole St. Nicolas; from Port-Prince to Cape-Henry; from the north to the south; from the east to the west of the kingdom: they will hear but one and the self-same cry: Independence or Death .' Let the tribute of gratitude be paid to our august sovereign! May we be sensible of his wisdom and prudence! We have nothing more to apprehend from the consequences of civil war. All nations have been so unfortunate as to taste that bitter calamity; few, at least, have been excepted. Yet all have succeeded in removing it. The commencement is invariably terrible; anger, hatred, exasperation, rage, in all their fury. At length they subside, and expire by a slow and natural process. Experience and misfortune unite in bringing men back to reflection. Every one consents to the performance of his duty. The time has arrived, when the losses of the community are calculated, and energetic attempts made to repair them. Wisdom, prudence, mildness, generosity, benevolence, all the sister-virtues, united to the public good by one common tie, at length heal the wounds effectually, and efface the vestiges of civil war.
Are we not aware, that a trivial circumstance or event is sufficient to re-unite a divided people? Can men, who merely oppose each other on certain points, but, in all other respects, are connected by ties of blood and common interest, remain long divided? The same destiny, the same danger awaits them. At the call of their country, menaced by danger, they will be found united, and ready to resist, to the utmost, their common enemy.
In vain interested views and perfidious policy endeavour to represent our political existence as a portentous prodigy, to the powers who possess the adjacent colonies. Twenty years of revolution, and fifteen of liberty and independence, have not convinced us, that such an order of things ever interrupted the tranquillity of neighboring colonies.
We have never interfered, directly or indirectly, with foreign affairs. Our laws and constitution judged wisely in forbidding it: and our government has always conducted itself with the strictest impartiality towards allied or neutral powers. Fifteen years their vessels have sailed into our ports: their subjects have enjoyed the advantages of commerce, and the protection of our laws.
To afford, if it be necessary, a striking proof, that the vicinity of Hayti is not in the smallest degree dangerous to the colonies, let the possessions of Spain, which are contiguous to ours, be examined. They abound in slaves, who are daily going backward and forward in our markets, and then returning quietly to their homes, without exciting apprehension or jealousy in either party. During public rejoicings and festivals, they enter the boundaries,