BY: Natasha Gregg
THE SLAVE REBELLION OF TROIS-RIVIÈRES –
On August 26, 1789, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was adopted by the French National Assembly. It stated explicitly that, “men are born free and equal in rights.” However, this proclamation was not applied to the French colonies slave population, yet, the French Revolution presented an opportunity to slaves and free people of color to fight for their freedom. In early 1793, Guadeloupe (and Martinique) was now called new republic regimes, not colonies. In April 1793, the deadliest slave revolt in the history of Guadeloupe took place in the town of Trois-Rivières. Led by Jean-Baptiste, it saw approximately 200 slaves participated in the bloody revolt killing many of the town’s white settlers and advancing toward the capital of Basse-Terre. The insurgents spared only one plantation and its owner in their rebellion. When the slaves were met by French troops on their way to the capital, they identified themselves as “citizens” and declared that they had rebelled to protect the republic against their royalist masters. Their explanation was accepted and the whites attacked by the slaves were pursued by the authorities. As a result of the slaves’ actions, they were seen as heroes, when many of the republic’s whites who were attacked and defeated by the royalists, openly declared that the slaves had saved their republic. As a result of this insurrection and many others across the island, on February 4, 1794, the democratically elected National Convention voted to abolish slavery in the French colonies.