Declaration of Haiti's Independence Found in British Archives
A Duke University graduate student, Julia Gaffield, located an original copy of Haiti's Declaration of Independence published by the Haitian government in 1804. She found the copy at the British National Archives in London, England. Such a finding had eluded other researchers who had been looking for an original printing of the document since 1954. Haiti's founding leaders printed and distributed the document to other nations in an effort to make their stance against slavery known and to justify their actions in taking the path of independence from France.
The document indicates that it was printed in Port-au-Prince. This important find also tells us that there was a printing press in Haiti following the Revolution. This original printing contains the words spoken by Haiti's first ruler General Jean-Jacques Dessalines at Gonaives on January 1st 1804.
Dessalines' Declaration of Independence contains a message to slaveowners, particularly to rogue French General Jean Louis Ferrand, who refused to evacuate the island after the decisive Battle of Vertieres.
Sitwayen, sa pa kont pou nou met sovaj yo deyò apre yo fin senyen peyi n pandan 2 syèk... Fòk nou retire espwa y ap janm poze grif sou nou ankò....
In the document, Dessalines declares:
Sonje mwen pike devan, mwen sakrifye tèt mwen pou mwen defann nou, papa nou, manman nou, pitit nou, pwopriyete nou, e pou sa jodi a, mwen rich ak libète. Kite nom m toumante tout nasyon ki gen moun kòm esklav; ke yo regrèt jou m te fèt....Annou kenbe sèman pou nou viv lib, endepandan, e nou pito lanmò pase moun ki ta renmen poze chenn sou nou.
The document is accesible at the Duke University Archives: