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Sebastien Lefresne Correspondence

Overview

Abstract

Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to family; Cap-Français (Haiti)

Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti)

Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti)

Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti)

Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti)

Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti)

Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to Messieurs St. Clair; Cap-Français (Haiti)

Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; New York


Sebastien Lefresne Correspondence, 1797-1803 | Boston Public Library Archival and Manuscript Finding Aid Database

By Caitlin Culbertson

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Collection Overview

Title: Sebastien Lefresne Correspondence, 1797-1803Add to your cart.

Collection Identifier: MS 7320

Primary Creator: Lefresne, Sabastien

Extent: 8.0 Items

Arrangement: Arranged chronologically.

Subjects: Caribbean, French-speaking — History — Autonomy and Independence Movements, France — Colonies — History, Haiti — History — Revolution, 1791-1804, Haiti — History — Revolution, 1791-1804 — Personal Narratives, Slave Insurrections — Caribbean Area., Slavery — Haiti — History.

Languages: French

Abstract

The collection contains eight letters, written by French colonist Sebastien Lefresne to his family in France, that describe his experiences in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) during both the slave rebellion and the English blockade during the Napoleonic Wars.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains eight letters written by Sebastien Lefresne, a French colonist in Saint-Domingue employed in the administration of the French military in Cap-Français.  These letters date from 1797 to 1803 and document the effects of both the Haitian revolution and the Napoleonic Wars on life in Saint-Domingue, including violence from both the rebels and the English, and the results of the English blockade of the city.  Included is a first-hand account of the burning of Cap-Français by the Haitian rebels in 1802, descriptions of the severe famine caused by the blockade, the financial struggles of the colonists, and the yellow fever epidemic affecting the French troops.  Also included are Lefresne’s observations of the incompetence of the French commanders, especially Commander Rochambeau’s abandonment of Cap-Français in favor of Port-au-Prince, leaving the population subject to further attacks from the Haitian rebels.  Of particular note are the descriptions of Toussaint Louverture, commander of the rebel forces.

Collection Historical Note

French colonialism on the island of Hispaniola dates back to the mid-seventeenth century.  The colony succeeded with little conflict until the 1790’s when the ideals of the French Revolution inspired the free men of color in Saint-Domingue to rebel, inciting the slave revolt led by Toussaint Louverture that began the Haitian Revolution.  At this time, the Napoleonic Wars began in Europe and its effects were felt as far as Saint-Domingue.

Subject/Index Terms

Caribbean, French-speaking — History — Autonomy and Independence Movements
France — Colonies — History
Haiti — History — Revolution, 1791-1804
Haiti — History — Revolution, 1791-1804 — Personal Narratives
Slave Insurrections — Caribbean Area.
Slavery — Haiti — History.

Administrative Information

Repository: Boston Public Library Archival and Manuscript Finding Aid Database

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions:

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. The Boston Public Library does not hold copyright on the material in this collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.

When reproducing material from this collection, please use the credit line “Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books.”

Acquisition Method: Purchased from Michael Brown in October 2014.

Related Materials: Haitian Collection For more information please see http://archon.bpl.org/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=46.

Preferred Citation: Sebastien Lefresne Correspondence, MS 7320. Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library. Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books.

Processing Information: Finding aid written by Catilin Culbertson, December 2014.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Folder:

[Folder 1: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to family; Cap-Français (Haiti), 19 February 1797],
[Folder 2: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti), [Jan/Feb 1802]],
[Folder 3: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti), 13 September 1802],
[Folder 4: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti), 13 March 1803],
[Folder 5: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti), 14 July 1803],
[Folder 6: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti), [after 14 July] 1803],
[Folder 7: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to Messieurs St. Clair; Cap-Français (Haiti), 12 August 1803],
[Folder 8: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; New York, 9 December 1803],
[All]

Folder 1: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to family; Cap-Français (Haiti), 19 February 1797Add to your cart.
Describes the situation on St. Domingue, including skirmishes with the English, the former slaves, and the war in the interior that ravages the country.  Also includes descriptions of the famine and bread shortage and the wait for aid from France. 1s. (4p.)
Folder 2: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti), [Jan/Feb 1802]Add to your cart.
Informs that news in France of recent events in St. Domingue are skewed and provides first-hand account of the burning of Cap-Français in early 1802.  Describes his escape from the flames, the debris, and the swords of the assassins.  Mentions General Toussaint Louverture, promising to send a copy of the new Constitution of the rebels to his family. 1s. (3p.)
Folder 3: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti), 13 September 1802Add to your cart.
Describes the conditions in Haiti, including the actions of the freed slaves, news of the arrest of Louverture, promises of peace from the French Commander Leclerc, and the yellow fever that ravages the French troops.  Hopes for aid from France to put an end to the war, and news about the fate of Louverture after he was taken to France. 1s. (4p.)
Folder 4: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti), 13 March 1803Add to your cart.
Describes the continuation of the war, mentions General Rochambeau, and how Cap-Français nearly fell on two different occasions to the rebel forces.  Offers opinions about the incompetence of the commanding officers, the need to end the war, and how Rochambeau’s evacuation to Port-au-Prince will lead to more attacks from the rebels. 1s. (4p.)
Folder 5: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti), 14 July 1803Add to your cart.
Describes the predicament of the French military in Cap-Français, is torn between the British army on one side and the rebels on the other.  Also mentions how the English blockade has caused famine in the colony. 1s. (4p.)
Folder 6: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; Cap-Français (Haiti), [after 14 July] 1803Add to your cart.
Explains that financial difficulties in the colony due to administrative changes, and worries that the entire French colonial enterprise in Haiti may result in nothing if the rebels are victorious.  Details his fears of the English blockade , the threat of famine, and the guns and torches of the rebels. 1s. (4p.)
Folder 7: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to Messieurs St. Clair; Cap-Français (Haiti), 12 August 1803Add to your cart.
Describes how the English continue to blockade the port, threatening famine and preventing the aid of the Americans.  Mentions attempts by the French government at easing the famine, and speculations about the administrative changes of Rochambeau. 1s. (3p.)
Folder 8: Lefresne, Sebastien. A.L.S. to his children; New York, 9 December 1803Add to your cart.
Describes his escape from St. Domingue after Rochambeau’s evacuation, arrest of 350 military officials by the English blockade leaders, and winter in New York while he awaits passage to France in the spring. 1s. (3p.)


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