When A Country Reaches Peak Diversity

Political Reactionary


“General Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who had long since switched back to the rebel side, became the ruler of Saint-Domingue. He decided to begin the new year (1804) with a declaration of independence. A brigadier who acted as his secretary, Louis Felix Boisrond-Tonnerre, eagerly seconded the idea. What they needed in order to make the declaration authentic, Boisrond-Tonnerre roared, was “the skin of a white for parchment, his skull for an inkwell, his blood for ink, and a bayonet for a pen!”

A delighted Dessalines, who could not read or write, ordered Boisrond-Tonnerre to compose the declaration. “Make people know how I feel about the whites!” he said. He had long since made that clear by his merciless conduct on the battlefield. To underscore the new nation’s policy, he picked up a French tricolor and cut the white strip out of it, creating a new national flag.

On January 1, 1804…

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