06 Sep 2001

Some early history of Fort Dauphin/Fort Liberte

Madison Smartt Bell mbell@goucher.edu

Fort Liberte was known as Fort Dauphin until the French Revolution reached Haiti. During the Haitian Revolution it was the theater of a big massacre-- in 1794 the Spanish, who then occupied the town (which is near the border) had invited a lot of French planter refugees back to the colony with the idea that they would fight to regain their lands from the French Jacobins. For reasons never entirely clear, they instead turned these colonists over to a large black army under the command of Jean-Francois, who massacred all of them, about 800 people.

In 1802 Fort Liberte was the first landfall of the French expedition under command of Leclerc. A division under command of Rochambeau, later notorious for his creative cruelty, attacked the town, overcame resistance, and put the garrisons of the forts to the sword. This happened a couple of days before Christophe burned Cap Haitien to deny it to the French; Christophe had certainly been informed of events at Fort Liberte and probably Toussaint Louverture as well. I.e. it made a peaceful resolution of the situation impossible. Such a result would have been unlikely anyway, but the Fort Liberte episode supported Louverture's argument, which he maintained to his death, that Leclerc was wholly responsible for the hostilities, since he launched this attack before making any attempt to present his credentials properly.



10 Oct 2000

Re: Dauphin Plantation history and "non-traditional" crop profits (fwd)

Markus Schwartz Simido@aol.com

In a message dated 10/9/00 Bob Perdue wrote:

Bob Perdue vtandwi@erols.com

<< The Plantation survived and then thrived. By 1933 it was paying its way - and would ultimately produce a very generous profit. The Dauphin Plantation is an excellent example of what is required to establish a new or "non-traditional crop" and bring it to profitability: total dedication to an idea and a committed financial supporter who is not easily discouraged. >>

While I find the details of the history of Dunn and the plantation somewhat interesting, I cant help but notice the omission of any reference to the workers of the plantation. What were the working conditions like for the Haitians who toiled there for the foreign investors/owners? How many steps up in terms of treatment, pay, workers rights, etc was it from the plantation system under Spanish or French rule during slavery times?

Did they have a union?
Own land?
Have a company store with credit that kept them in debt?

Did the Haitian governments during those times have any restrictions. guidelines, etc for the treatment of their workers by foreign interests?

As far as providing an example of what is required to establish a new profitable crop, one element hasn't been addressed - the LABOR.

To what degree did exploitative labor practices contribute to the profit margins?

If we are to think of this place as a tourist attraction, as you suggest in your post, it is certainly important to know the history of the people who worked that land, not just the "owners" or investors.

<< She concluded her letter with "I am very pleased that you work with the World Christian Relief Fund. I praise God for what you are doing for His Kingdom on earth." >>

In my humble opinion, working for God's Kingdom would certainly include those who worked those rough sisal plants with bare hands under a hot sun.

Markus Schwartz


11 Oct 2000

Subject: #5282: Re: #5258: LONNIE DUNN (fwd)

Bébé Pierre Louis Moibibi@aol.com

Lonnie Dunn!!!

I knew Lonnie Dunn very well. To give an idea of what kind of a man he was, I recall his questions as we were approaching the decorticating machines (nine of them at the time) where his employees were performing very diligently:

- "As I started here, it was so nice to hear those people singing while they were working. Can anyone tell me why they have stopped?"

... of course, nobody answered, I could just feel my heart jumping.

He left Haiti with a considerable debt to our National Bank, a few millions dollars, some people said it was ten millions. I guess it was taking advantage of this opportunity that the Cassis brothers bought the concession. They were already known as sisal brokers who sold their product to the Dominican Republic. The location of the Dauphin plantation was quite convenient for Miguel Cassis.

Later on, Dominican entrepreneurs were interested in buying it too in order to extend their free zones but it was at the time of our "revolution" and the church had already allocated much of the land to the cultivators of the area (each family could cultivate one acre, usually it was "pistaches"). Most of the machinery, particularly the power plant had been stolen, well it had become a much too complicated situation.

Lonnie Dunn was the perfect shark, charming, intelligent! Just the kind who always land in Haiti and instead of helping us, plucks our last feathers.

For Markus Schwartz:

Did they have a union? Certainly not it was a state in the state. Though at the time of the Pettigrew and the Clark brothers, the employees were well treated and happy, they had schools for their children, hospital, the people of Paulette and Fort Liberté were given electricity and water, etc..

Own land? Yes, some of them.

Have a company store with credit that kept them in debt? No need to, Lonnie Dunn's accountant knew every conceivable way of squeezing the money out of the employees before it got into their pockets! Here is one of them: he was always late on paying but lent them money in between at "taux usuriers" and by the time they were paid... nothing was left!

Bébé Pierre Louis

P.S.: I fully agree with those who are getting bored with the same unilateral old arguments from our cyber-Cacos


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