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Community Organization and Social Change in Rural Haiti

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In the wake of the French revolution, the grands blancs called for elections at a general assembly in 1791. The gens de couleur were excluded and the petit Blancs as well since only large owners of property that is not a minimum of 20 slaves were involved. The grands blancs went on to defy the colonial authorities in France as well as the constituent assembly. As a mark of their revolt, the grands blancs wore a red band and earned the name pompons rouges. King also asserts that the French authorities enlisted the help of the petits Blancs who in turn wore red bands and referred to as pompons Blancs.

The petits Blancs were in favor of a colony that still maintained ties with France. However, they remained in the pro-slavery camp and did not want to there with free coloreds as they viewed them as competitors in the social and economic ladder. With the help of the gens de couleur, the grands blancs revolt was crippled and the general assembly ceased to exist. In retaliation, the guards blancs looted and pillaged the homes of mulattoes who had assisted to crush their rebellion.

This revolt saw the rise of Vincent Oge and Chavannes who had returned from France to try to secure the rights of the gens de couleur. With the help of the Amis Des Noirs (Friends of the Blacks) organization, Vincent Oge influenced the passing of a law in the newly formed National assembly that allowed voting rights for all people above the age of 25 with income. However, the French government left the decision on allowing the free coloreds to vote in the hands of the colonial assembly.

Since the assembly was controlled by the guards Blancs, they decidedly refused to allow the free coloreds to vote. Demanding that the mulattoes acquire the right to vote, Vincent Oge issued a decree that he was the protector of the colored people. He joined with Jean Baptiste Chavannes and threatened to use force if the white farmers failed to recognize the stipulations in the Code Noir. Unfortunately, for him, his troop of 300 men was small in number and no match for the French militia (Bryan, p16).

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