Abstract

Two Paris‐based factions offered the reading public competing histories of the French and Haitian Revolutions as they vied to settle old scores and secure influence over future imperial policy in Thermidorian France. One, a colonial faction, sought to restore as much as possible of Saint‐Domingue's pre–slave rebellion structure and identity; the other was more mixed but consisted of individuals who were reconciled to working with the emancipated Black majority in the colony to secure the French republic's strategic and economic interests. The two groups disseminated printed pamphlets offering starkly different visions of the upheaval in France's prized Caribbean colony, as well as opposing interpretations of how revolutionary events in Saint‐Domingue and the metropole had been enmeshed since 1789. What both factions shared was a belief in the political significance of controlling this narrative and an emphasis on the shared nature of Saint‐Domingue and France's recent history: a dual revolution spanning the Atlantic.

Des histoires concurrentes des Révolutions française et haïtienne ont été proposées par deux factions basées à Paris rivalisant pour régler de vieux comptes et s'assurer une influence sur la future politique impériale dans la France thermidorienne : une faction coloniale déterminée à restaurer autant que possible la structure et identité existant à Saint‐Domingue avant la révolte des esclaves ; et une coalition d'opposants prêts à travailler avec la majorité noire émancipée afin de sécuriser les intérêts stratégiques et économiques de la République française. Des brochures imprimées diffusées par chaque faction offraient des visions radicalement différentes du bouleversement dans la précieuse colonie française des Caraïbes, ainsi que des interprétations opposées de la façon dont les événements révolutionnaires à Saint‐Domingue et dans la métropole avaient été imbriqués depuis 1789. Ce que les deux factions partageaient était une croyance en l'importance politique de la maîtrise de ce récit et l'accent mis sur le caractère commun de l'histoire récente de Saint‐Domingue et de la France : une double révolution transatlantique.

By the late summer of 1794, most Parisians were breathing a collective sigh of relief that tumbrels filled with condemned prisoners no longer clattered down the streets to the guillotine with the chaotic frequency of the Terror's final months. Now in its sixth year of revolutionary upheaval, the capital was awash with print instead of blood as public interest grew in reading and hearing sobering details (and plenty of salacious gossip) about recent events.1 In one such printed item, which appeared in early September 1794, readers learned of a confrontation at the house of Pierre‐Joseph Cambon, a well‐known deputy in the National Convention.2 Another prominent figure, Léger‐Félicité Sonthonax, whose actions in the prized but increasingly precarious French Caribbean colony of Saint‐Domingue had been instrumental in pushing the Convention to abolish slavery throughout its colonial empire earlier that year, had been accosted by an anonymous individual who accused him of calumny, forgery, and mass slaughter overseas. Sonthonax was so shaken by this experience that he sought the comfort and advice of his colleague Etienne Polverel, who had worked closely with him in Saint‐Domingue between September 1792 and June 1794. They had originally been sent there by France's National Legislative Assembly as part of a “civil commission” charged both with putting down the incipient slave rebellion in the colony and enacting reforms in line with the National Assembly's recent decision to grant full political rights to free people of color there.3 However, their attempts to uphold French Republican authority in the colony were resisted by white interest groups, who bitterly opposed this program and undermined the civil commissioners' efforts to protect France's colonial assets against British and Spanish invasion. In response, Sonthonax and Polverel had incrementally and unilaterally granted emancipation to the enslaved population between August and October 1793 in a bid to secure military manpower and win a decisive level of support among the island's Black majority. They had then secured the election of a group of deputies to represent Saint‐Domingue in France's National Convention, who pressured France's revolutionary elite into endorsing the commissioners' decisions. As a result, the Convention declared the abolition of slavery throughout the French colonies on 16 Pluviôse an II (February 4, 1794).4

In the pamphlet, the pair admit to these and other acts presented as brazen abuses of power, including laying waste to Saint‐Domingue's cultural capital Cap‐Français in June 1793.5 As their discussion continues, Sonthonax is increasingly nervous about a potential act of vengeance by their (white) colonial victims. The individual who had accosted him did so on behalf of this latter group and had threatened to reveal Sonthonax's and Polverel's colonial crimes in print. Polverel can assuage his associate's fears only by promising a deluge of misinformation to drown out such damaging revelations: “‘Fine, we'll get printing too, we'll get distributing and posting up our material so much, more and more, that by the end no one will be able to make any sense of what we did.’”6

Of course, this conversation never actually took place. The title of the pamphlet (A Conversation between the Two Butchers of Saint‐Domingue, Sonthonax and Polverel) reveals this as an example of a fictional dialogue, part of an ancient and wide‐ranging literary genre that had undergone considerable expansion within the print culture of Enlightenment Europe.7 For historians, however, bias and even outright fiction can be useful allies. This imagined meeting of two shameless, scheming, frightened politicians shows how one particular faction within France's divided polity wished to present their rivals to the reading (and listening) public, within a carefully curated history of recent revolutionary events stretching from the streets of Paris to the sugar plantations of the French Caribbean. Given our concerns in the twenty‐first century about the seductive power of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” it would be a mistake to assume that an eighteenth‐century audience was immune to the messaging within even such an obvious falsehood.8 Furthermore, the characterization of Sonthonax and Polverel as “the two butchers of Saint‐Domingue” was actually an early literary salvo from a pamphlet war extending across the Thermidorian Reaction, which formed an important phase in the development of the French colonial imagination.9 With his analysis of Thermidorian imperial policy, Jeremy D. Popkin made a convincing case for the rehabilitation of a period overshadowed by the earlier abolition decree and Napoleon's subsequent, regressive stance.10 However, within Thermidorian scholarship, this pamphlet war has yet to attain any prominence, with individual print items appearing only sporadically as supplementary material in studies on Convention politics.11 A collective analysis is undertaken here for the first time.

In these pamphlet wars, two bitterly opposed groups were at work: on one side, a colonial faction (often referred to in French as les colons, by both sympathizers and critics), whose interest lay in restoring as much as possible of Saint‐Domingue's pre–slave rebellion structure and identity; and on the other, a coalition of opponents from the island as well as the metropole who, even if they had initially opposed the slave uprising, were now reconciled to working with the emancipated Black majority there to secure the French republic's strategic and economic interests.12 For convenience, in this article I refer to these as the colon and anti‐colon factions, although the latter grouping never had this (or any other) label at the time. On both sides, key members actually spent the first weeks or months of the Thermidorian period petitioning for their release from Parisian jails, having been arrested at various stages of the Terror. Sonthonax and Polverel were detained when their ship arrived back in Rochefort on 9 Thermidor an II (July 27, 1794), though the order for their arrest dated back to July 1793. This order had confirmed the ascendancy of their colon enemies, but only for a while: many of the colons were themselves imprisoned early in 1794 after the passing of the abolition decree left them politically exposed. This all underscores that these factions (and their weaponization of the printed word) long predate the fall of Maximilien Robespierre. Of course, debates over abolition, the treatment of France's Black and mixed‐race colonial subjects, and the empowerment of white colonial elites at the expense of metropolitan authority all reached back long before even 1789, but the advent of revolution in the metropole caused the battle lines in these debates to be drawn deeper and shift faster.13 These arguments would continue through the Directory and into the Napoleonic era, when slavery was reinstated in some parts of the empire and a final, brutal, and unsuccessful attempt was made to reassert French imperial dominance over Saint‐Domingue before the independent nation of Haiti was declared on January 1, 1804.

Nevertheless, when analyzing the struggle between the colon and anti‐colon factions, the Thermidorian period merits special attention because of the richness of the writing they produced during that time and how closely this material interacted with broader political and cultural developments. Their output connected distant locations and overlaid colonial and metropolitan revolutionary dynamics at a critical juncture. Metropolitan authority in Saint‐Domingue had almost been extinguished in 1793, but the recruitment of rebel slaves as Republican soldiers in return for their freedom had allowed Sonthonax and Polverel to retain some measure of control over sections of the island. In 1794 they were joined by Toussaint Louverture, the most effective Black general to emerge in three years of fighting, and France's position gradually improved. However, Saint‐Domingue's future hung in the balance while France remained at war with Britain and Spain and with only hazy visions of how a postplantation economy might be organized (and, inevitably, no real understanding of how a postemancipation society might react to any such attempt at reorganization).14

Meanwhile, a dramatic shake‐up of metropolitan power structures in the wake of Robespierre's arrest and execution on 9–10 Thermidor an II (July 27–28, 1794) sparked an intense, long‐running debate about the future trajectory, both domestically and abroad, of France's revolutionary project.15 Key elements of the Terror had begun to be dismantled with the creation of new national executive committees, the arrest of the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal's public prosecutor, and a review of the state policy of mass imprisonment of counterrevolutionary “suspects.” However, France remained a fractured, dangerous political environment with a volatile relationship to the revolutionary past. France's elected representatives had approved the abolition of slavery only seven months previously, and the principle of Black emancipation was still contested, as well as being bound up with metropolitan confusion and concern over France's imperial future. The raw violence and economic shock of Saint‐Domingue's unraveling since the outbreak of slave rebellion there in August 1791 resonated with the troubling narratives emerging across Thermidorian France about the violence and state‐sanctioned repression of the Terror of 1793–94. Politicians and wider French society attempted to chronicle, castigate, explain, and understand events and individual or collective revolutionary behavior since 1789, but especially in relation to the Terror. This process of looking back, of engagement with the recent past, was a crucial component of the Reaction's unique political and cultural atmosphere: a transitional, reflective, and creative phase of the revolutionary decade certainly, but no less bitter and acrimonious for that. Justice and retribution loomed large, with profound implications for all those linked to rebellion and revolution in Saint‐Domingue.16

The pamphlet war conducted between the colon and anti‐colon factions located, developed, and manipulated the links between these metropolitan and colonial contexts. It provides a unique case study of how contemporaries came to understand the history of the revolutionary era they were living through and how individuals collected and controlled the information required to construct the narratives that guided this process. A complex, tense historiography of revolution emerged, even as the revolutionary upheaval continued on both sides of the Atlantic. Its authors carved out a distinct arena within the contemporary metropolitan public sphere as they sought to influence public opinion and France's imperial policy, and the bitter rivalry between the two factions was the spark for a host of creative reimaginings of the revolutionary era up to that point. In particular, it encouraged a worldview that events since 1789 formed a dual revolution unfolding in Saint‐Domingue and in France simultaneously, in striking contrast to the absence of the former from nineteenth‐ and twentieth‐century historiographies of the French Revolution.17 This worldview was both a partial reflection of reality (because of the many tangible links between France and Saint‐Domingue) and a political weapon to sharpen each faction's arguments and attacks on the other. The pamphlet war reveals a significant colonial angle to Joseph Zizek's long‐standing argument about the “forensic power of history” within this post‐Terror period. The many battles fought over evidence (its collection, dissemination, and manipulation), the politicization of chronologies, and each faction's historical analysis of the immediate past all complement Zizek's exploration of new practices and theories of history writing in development from 1789 onward.18

These dynamics tallied with the broader thrust of a Thermidorian Reaction that saw individuals from across French society produce countless manuscript and print accounts of the recent past. At a national level, the Convention paid increasing attention to such history making as it was hit by a wave of allegations against its members for their complicity in the Terror, and in recognition of the public interest surrounding the trials of two deputies for their prominent role in provincial repression: Jean‐Baptiste Carrier and Joseph Le Bon.19 Evidential trails crisscrossed the country as people collected and publicized material to bolster these initiatives, most prominently in the pièces justificatifs appended to many personal histories to convince readers of the injustice of what had been suffered (or to argue the opposite, where somebody found themselves accused of being an agent of repression).20 The seminal work of Bronisław Baczko, and more recent analysis by Howard G. Brown and Ronen Steinberg among others, confirms how embedded such practices were in the Reaction's political and cultural fabric through to the autumn of 1795.21 Yet, because the long shadow of the Terror has inspired such historiographical focus on when, how, and why domestic events were either obscured or revealed, the implications of this obsession with history for our understanding of the French Revolution within an international setting continue to be overlooked. Studying the activities of the colon and anti‐colon factions during the Reaction can help change this.

This pamphlet war also connects—albeit often implicitly—to the broader fight over the principles of abolition and Black emancipation and their relationship to the French revolutionary project. As Popkin has shown, the new constitution of October 1795 signaled a hard‐fought victory for the argument that reneging on abolition would be a potentially fatal attack on revolutionary ideals.22 That when Polverel died in April 1795 the Convention was three months into a seven‐month investigation of his and Sonthonax's conduct in Saint‐Domingue shows the scale and intensity of the Reaction's reckoning with France's colonial legacy. The former commissioners were formally exonerated only in August 1795, and the two factions continued to circle each other across the final months of the Convention and the promulgation of the new constitution, which finally confirmed abolition as part of the post‐Terror revolutionary consensus.23

While it is possible to follow some of the activity of the colon and anti‐colon factions through Convention records and contemporary newspapers, their principal battleground was in the wider print culture of the Reaction, and the printed pamphlet their weapon of choice. This was to be expected given the ubiquity of the printed word in the revolutionary lives of politically active French men and women since 1789; indeed, many of the most significant colon and anti‐colon names had been appearing regularly in print since well before 9 Thermidor.24 It was a complex print ecosystem, with writers building and refining their own faction's offering over many months while simultaneously interjecting in and disputing with their rivals' attempts to do likewise. Reconstructing such an ecosystem from within the revolutionary world of print is a formidable challenge. The volume and diversity of printed material, combined with the difficulties libraries and archives have had in cataloging it (including deceptive or generic titles, hidden authorship, and confusion over publication dates), necessitated that research for this article center on extensive sampling from within a broader print collection. This work was undertaken on the British Library's French Revolutionary Tracts (BLFRT), covering 472 print items classified as relating to French colonial matters during the revolutionary era. Thirty‐seven items of interest were identified as a result: eighteen are from the colon side during the Reaction, sixteen push the anti‐colon cause, and another three are by anonymous authors offering a more neutral perspective.25 These items were produced across the Reaction, from the end of Thermidor an II (July 1794) to early Fructidor an III (August 1795). The early weeks were the most prolific, but both sides continued to publish several times a month thereafter.26 Indeed, the depth of both factions' commitment to these printed exchanges is further evidenced by the substantial number of other such publications that lie outside this article's BLFRT core but clearly echo the themes explored below.27

The Colon and Anti‐Colon Factions

The material produced during this pamphlet war can first be used to interrogate the identities fashioned by these rival factions—both for themselves and for each other. Two individuals stand out as leaders of the colon grouping: Pierre‐François Page and Augustin Brulley, who had been sent to Paris back in the summer of 1792 as commissioners for Saint‐Domingue's second Colonial Assembly, a bastion of white planter interests.28 Along with two others, Louis‐Jean Clausson and Thomas Millet, they had subsequently been tasked with representing (mainly white) colonists who had fled Saint‐Domingue for America since the first outbreak of slave rebellion in August 1791. This group, whose members described themselves as “refugees,” had grown exponentially since the destruction of Cap‐Français in the early summer of 1793.29 Although Page, Brulley, Clausson, and Millet were the most prolific authors, the full list of signatures from the colon pamphlets studied for this article points to a larger group of active supporters. Other public figures, including Convention deputy Benoît Gouly (another white representative, of Isle‐de‐France, now Mauritius), were also involved.30

Colon pamphlets constructed a shared history of earlier revolutionary activity for this core group, in particular for the crucial period around the Convention's decision to abolish slavery.31 These colons also prided themselves on what they believed was their superior knowledge of France's imperial possessions and emphasized their personal connections with those living beyond the metropole. As one pamphlet put it, “Not every Frenchman is a colon”;32 another eulogized “that precious class of Frenchman” who had been responsible for Saint‐Domingue's economic boom and, undeterred by the current violence, stood ready to return to rebuild the colony.33 This imperial outlook also meant that the colon factional identity incorporated a much larger community, both real and imagined. A number of individuals held genuine claims to representative powers as “commissioners” appointed by various exiled groups across the Atlantic.34Colon pamphleteers in Paris therefore frequently presented themselves as spokesmen (and they are all men, in both camps) for a maltreated, frequently impoverished, yet defiant group of France's international citizenry. This diaspora allegedly encompassed thousands of victims of a Terror spanning the Atlantic, from those forced to live as refugees in America to colon prisoners within the Hexagon.35 It also extended beyond the living: for example, pamphlets expressed horror at the massacre of the inhabitants of Cap‐Français, or highlighted the claim that hundreds of fellow French colons had been executed in Brest after their deportation from British territory elsewhere in the Caribbean.36

In the early weeks of the Reaction, the Parisian core of this faction complained vociferously that many of them remained in jail long after their adversaries were released. While individuals from both factions were jailed during the Terror, the colon faction had indeed been targeted much more comprehensively, including via targeted legislation in March 1794.37 Furthermore, the affected colons were released only in November of that year, whereas anti‐colon prisoners were freed much earlier in the Reaction.38 This pattern of experience led the colons to claim that they were reliant on print to level the political playing field.39 In the invented dialogue between the “butchers of Saint‐Domingue,” the colon author Therou therefore has Sonthonax ascribe an awesome power to the pen of his unnamed colon adversary. “‘He immediately made a note of my accusation,’” Therou had Sonthonax say, “‘ordered me to show some evidence, and then demanded to know my name with an air and in a tone, and all the while with his pen poised, that made me quite afraid he was going to finish me off!’”40

Anti‐colons disputed this image of courageous suffering. Readers were warned not to trust a “colonial aristocracy” trying ever more desperate tactics to avoid punishment for a litany of crimes.41 One writer warned the Paris Jacobin Club that “you never had more determined enemies even among all the tyrants of Europe” and identified the colon faction's roots in the “colonial tyranny” of the prerevolutionary Caribbean.42 In Saint‐Domingue its members were linked with the politically conservative (majority white) colonial assemblies of the early 1790s; in France “these white colonials” were portrayed as skillful political chameleons who saw the Thermidorian Reaction as just another opportunity to shift public identities while strengthening their private counterrevolutionary position.43 Thus, while the colons tried to present themselves as part of the Reaction's vanguard by focusing on how they had supplied evidence of Robespierre's covert links to the deputies who campaigned for abolition at the height of the Terror, their opponents countered with their own depiction of the group as having enjoyed the fruits of Robespierre's patronage right up until this criminal resource was taken from them by the latter's arrest and execution.44 Etienne Polverel's son, François, wrote angrily in the spring of 1795 about the insidious effect the latter tactic was having on the French republic's difficult transition out of the Terror. The colons “insert themselves into the ranks of honest citizens,” he argued. “They class themselves among the victims of tyranny; they challenge revolutionary veterans, virtuous and energetic patriots, for the honor of having suffered in the cause of liberty.”45

Specific references to a group identity among those with anti‐colon sympathies are rarer. Colon writings tended to focus more on particular adversaries, and this seems to have encouraged individual lines of defense and counterattack from the anti‐colon side, too. Colon literature was unequivocal about the level of organization being confronted, though, with “Sonthonax, Polverel, and the faction serving them” a typical formula presented for denunciation.46 In the late autumn of 1794 a colon pamphlet warned the Convention that England had in fact been directing this same faction for the previous five years.47 And Therou's invented dialogue ends with a powerful image of Sonthonax and Polverel returning to their clandestine world of shadowy, anonymous operatives:

Sonthonax: You are right: you have restored my courage, goodbye. I am going to see C. . . . and B. . . .

Polverel: Goodbye: as for myself, in an hour's time I will go and see T. . . . and B. . . . Tell Dufay to also go see C . . . and L. . . . 48

Dufay, the only character identified, was deputy Dufay from Saint‐Domingue, whose delayed arrival, along with his colleagues Jean‐Baptiste Belley and Jean‐Baptiste Mills, to take their seats in the Convention at the start of Pluviôse an II (mid‐January 1794) had been the catalyst for the abolition decree later that month. This trio had been elected from Saint‐Domingue's North Province the previous September in special elections arranged by Sonthonax.49 They have often been referred to as the “tricolor delegation” because they were chosen as representatives of Black, mixed‐race, and white racial groupings on the island, and they remained prominent in discussions of colonial affairs during the Reaction. Undermining their reputation aided colon writers' attempts to weaken the Thermidorian consensus about the wisdom of the abolition decree Dufay, Belley and Mills had sponsored. In early Fructidor Belley explained his disgust at the slanders directed at him and his fellow representatives from Saint‐Domingue by emphasizing that these should be considered not just as attacks on him and his colleagues but as an affront to all their island constituents.50 In a later coauthored publication, the trio were presented as having “cemented” the link between France and the colonies by securing the loyalty of Saint‐Domingue's inhabitants.51 Another pamphlet alleged that colons had organized a failed plot to convince Robespierre to put a swath of individuals with anti‐colon sympathies on the list for trial and execution by the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal.52

Colon attacks against the tricolor delegation also had Sonthonax and Polverel in their sights. One origin myth saw them appointed amid the ashes of Cap‐Français on the understanding that they would moonlight as legal representatives tasked with ensuring France was a safe place for the civil commissioners to return to when they had completed their criminal enterprise overseas.53 Overall, it is clear that the colon faction identified Sonthonax and Polverel as their primary target, with the former regarded as the more influential and dangerous foe. One early pamphlet linked them to Louis XVI; another pushed Sonthonax's court connections back farther, to 1787, and the final weeks of Vergennes's Foreign Ministry.54 They were depicted incessantly as morally and financially corrupt, with the blood of thousands of Saint‐Domingue's citizens on their hands (mainly from among the white section of the colony's population).55 As for the anti‐colon response, Sonthonax had already shown himself a strong personality and a skillful communicator during his mission to Saint‐Domingue, and it tended to be his own writing that challenged these colon accounts most forcefully. He had no compunction about brandishing an image of himself and Polverel as dogged Republican heroes, without whose efforts (and in spite of countless colon machinations) France would by 1794 have lost all control of its prized Antillean possession.56

Creating Revolutionary Historiographies

The fall of Robespierre immediately presented new challenges and opportunities for both factions. As the colon's poised pen in Therou's pamphlet about the “butchers of Saint‐Domingue” has already suggested, the battle over recent revolutionary histories would be pivotal as the Thermidorian Reaction gathered pace. Early confirmation of this came via the rival appearances each faction's principal representatives made to plead their respective causes at the Paris Jacobin Club. Sonthonax and Polverel went there in person to publicize their version of events in the colonies the day after their release from prison, on 19 Thermidor an II (August 6, 1794).57 In typically confident fashion, the former declared, “We [both] swear to you that while in the Americas we have been martyrs to the principles you hold dear.” Because they were still in jail, Page, Brulley, and their compatriot Legrand could address the same audience in early Fructidor only by having a letter read out there.58 Forty‐eight hours earlier, on 5 Fructidor an II (August 22, 1794), supporters had tried and failed to engineer their release after securing the right to address the Convention when it was in session. Their plea was initially successful, and a motion to release Page, Brulley, and Legrand was passed. However, it was immediately reversed in a second and decisive vote after Belley led four fellow deputies—Jean Pelet, Louis Turreau, Jacques‐Alexis Thuriot, and Cambon (the same Cambon whose house was the supposed location of the confrontation between the “butcher” Sonthonax and the anonymous colon)—in denouncing their prospective release.59 Within twenty‐four hours Page and Brulley had penned a frustrated diatribe in response, accusing Belley of brazen ineptitude, Turreau of opining on an issue he knew nothing about, and Thuriot of being a credulous cipher of “these monsters” who were conspiring to hide the truth about the authors' predicament as well as the fate of Saint‐Domingue.60 But this had no immediate effect: losing control of the narrative meant staying in jail, and Page, Brulley, and Legrand remained there until November.

In fact, one of the few things both factions agreed on was the value of history to their cause. Irrespective of an author's political agenda, there was a high level of sensitivity over how narratives were being (or could be) constructed, as well as widespread concern about the threat posed by those histories created and disseminated by rivals. Furthermore, both factions recognized that material evidence was critical to the success of their campaigns: an entirely polemical account was not considered effective in such a saturated market, or at least no polemic that had not been disguised with at least some decorative evidence. Recognition of the importance of evidence (and its effective presentation) is writ large across this print conflict. Such material was frequently handled in a sophisticated manner, reflecting a nuanced understanding of the simultaneous need to build a relationship of trust with the reading public while also manipulating and undermining readers' opinions of the opposition and its evidence. The experienced political activist Julien Raimond took care to emphasize in a preface to one lengthy piece that every single claim he made about the colon faction was drawn verbatim from the pamphlets that this group had itself published. A dense network of footnotes then reinforced this message to the reader throughout the main text.61 On the opposing side, a collective attack on Saint‐Domingue's Convention deputies in the summer of 1795 was assiduous (and accurate) in providing not just the title but the page number for what was, in the context of the late reaction, a damning passage in a coauthored piece by Belley, Dufay, and Mills published soon after their arrival on French soil back in 1794. The colons' research had unearthed an unequivocal statement in support of Robespierre and the use of the guillotine against political opponents, sentiments that had been unremarkable at the height of the Terror but were a hostage to political fortune after Thermidor.62

One anti‐colon document is especially revealing of this evidential battlefield: a transcript of two letters by Page and Brulley, who were sarcastically described as “patriots” in the pamphlet title when their own unpatriotic thoughts were there for everyone to read underneath.63 The first letter, for example, had Page writing in July 1792 to condemn the behavior of Parisian protesters who the previous month had forced their way into the Tuileries palace to confront the king. The letter also regretted a decline in the public display of the white cockade (a symbol of royalist sympathies) and criticized the republican faction gaining control over the National Assembly that summer.64 In a separate publication, Sonthonax trumpeted the value of such evidence: “We are bringing to light their [Page and Brulley's] correspondence with the other colons; it is with their own writing, fully signed, that we plan to expose them; it is with their own writing that they will be convicted.”65 However, Page and Brulley vehemently denied the authenticity of these documents. Could any reasonable person, they asked, really believe that such a conveniently damning pair of letters were genuine? They argued that the style was suspiciously similar given the supposed differences in authorship, location, and recipient: Sonthonax, Polverel, and their Convention “accomplices” were using forgeries to discredit their enemies and cover up their crimes in Saint‐Domingue.66 In his invented dialogue, Page and Brulley's ally Therou had Polverel boasting that these “‘fabricated letters’” were certain to bring down their intended targets in the court of public opinion, while a more cautious Sonthonax was already fretting about the response they could expect from their enemies: “‘However well forged they may be, you know as well as I do that it will go badly for us when we are forced to have them verified by [handwriting] experts.’”67

In the early weeks and months after Thermidor, the recurring refrain of the colon faction was that such manipulation and falsification of the historical record by their adversaries could be corrected only if the Convention granted two related requests: colon access to their own papers, and some form of hearing that would give them an opportunity to rebut their rivals' lies in person and in public. With regard to the first request, one unique feature of this pamphlet war provides a salient example of the wider Thermidorian preoccupation with material evidence: the physical distance between the process of history writing (in Paris) and much of the history making (in Saint‐Domingue). This meant that material evidence was weighted toward the personal possessions of the key participants more than was often the case for domestic events—a trend accentuated by the huge quantities of official records lost since 1791, most iconically in the 1793 destruction of Cap‐Français. In early August 1794 Sonthonax noted that he was waiting to regain access to a trunk containing his personal correspondence, which had been under seal since his arrest.68 A month later he spent four pages of another pamphlet listing some of the principal items of interest from this and other sealed collections, as well as indicating how these would advance the anti‐colon cause.69 Some of this material had apparently been sent well in advance of the civil commissioners' return; other portions would have traveled with the civil commissioners themselves, just as Belley, Dufay, and Mills tried but failed to bring documents with them at the end of 1793 when they sailed for France to take up their seats in the Convention.70

The colon faction was even more vocal about the significance of their personal papers, which they repeatedly presented as forming an official “archive” (trading on the quasi‐official status many of them had as “commissioners” appointed by various colonial interest groups) and which had been under seal since their arrest back in February 1794. As Page, Brulley, and Legrand wrote in an early Thermidorian expression of what was to become a long‐standing frustration: “These are the facts . . . these are the truths . . . an examination of our archives, and above all of the official records in our possession, will prove that not a day went by without us warning representatives, ministers and the [colonial] committee of the danger the colonies were in.”71 They addressed their claim directly to the Convention, arguing that it was imperative to unseal those archives so that their voluminous contents could be shared with deputies—and, by inference, the wider public. When Brulley did finally gain access to some of these documents in mid‐February 1795, he emphasized their importance by inserting an introductory footnote claiming he had incorporated them into a pamphlet on the very day they were finally made available to him.72

The colons were dogged in their request for some kind of public hearing that would pit the two factions against each other in a set‐piece encounter. Throughout August and September 1794 they called for a “colonial commission,” arguing that it would remove pressure from an overworked Committee of Public Safety and ensure the necessary capacity for processing the reams of evidence currently under seal—as well as for identifying and rejecting the fabricated evidence of their opponents.73 This campaign was successful: the Convention announced just such a commission on 7 Vendémiaire an III (September 28, 1794).

This Colonial Commission pursued a lengthy and forensic investigation of events in Saint‐Domingue since the beginning of the slave rebellion, focusing on the conduct of Sonthonax and Polverel, which provided ample opportunity for the colons to testify in public against their greatest enemies. Within days, however, the colons began to complain about how the commission was going about its work. Concern centered on the alleged failure to use material evidence correctly. One pamphlet even called for proceedings to be moved to the Revolutionary Tribunal in the hope of a more sympathetic bureaucracy.74 The investigation did not proceed as the colons had hoped: hearings dragged on from January 30 to August 19, 1795, and the commission's eventual conclusions vindicated Sonthonax and Polverel and damned their colon accusers.75

French Revolutionary Histories of Saint‐Domingue

The Colonial Commission's work did not weaken either faction's commitment to the pamphlet war already under way. Indeed, the commission's very existence confirmed both the importance of the history of contemporary Saint‐Domingue to revolutionary France's future—as well as the importance of controlling that history—and the difficulties involved in unpacking recent developments there. Belley was clear about the problem undermining France's relationship with its most important colony: “an impenetrable veil of intrigue,” spread by the colon faction during five long years of disinformation, calumny, and conspiracy.76 Such language was ubiquitous in the early days of the Reaction: in their discussions of recent revolutionary events and alleged excesses, the deputies of the Thermidorian Convention frequently professed wonder at veils being lifted from their own eyes, or eagerness to cast off the veils covering their colleagues' eyes. In relation to Saint‐Domingue, and the fate of France's colonies more generally, a conspiracy of confusion had been documented at the highest level of government barely a week after the execution of Robespierre. On 19 Thermidor an II (August 5, 1794), deputy Barère read out a Committee of Public Safety report to his Convention colleagues that emphasized the difficulty in understanding events in Saint‐Domingue when so many intriguers, émigrés, and aristocrats from the colony had passed on unverifiable accounts.77

These efforts were themselves in part reflections of previous attempts by metropolitan actors during the Terror to understand events in revolutionary Saint‐Domingue—or at least to collect enough information to control the public narrative of these events for factional purposes. Notable examples included the high‐profile trials of two former governors of the colony, Philibert‐François Rouxel de Blanchelande and Jean‐Jacques‐Pierre Desparbès, in the spring of 1793 and a previous colonial commission that had barely started before the purge of the Girondins on June 2 the same year redirected political priorities elsewhere.78 Echoes can also be heard in prerevolutionary accounts from both metropolitan and colonial interest groups frustrated by perceived knowledge gaps and policy dissonances in France and Saint‐Domingue's increasingly tense transatlantic relationship.79

The production and dissemination of colon and anti‐colon pamphlets therefore had the potential to feed into the long‐standing metropolitan struggle to manage effectively what had once been its most profitable colony. Even though that profitability had been destroyed by the ongoing slave rebellion, there was a widespread belief (born of convenience more than realism) that the colony's economic glory could return if the recent past was understood and the immediate future carefully managed. Furthermore, Saint‐Domingue remained strategically important in the ongoing war effort, given British and Spanish interests in the wider Caribbean.80 An indication of the Thermidorian trajectory of this disputed history is provided by one early contribution by Belley, from early Fructidor an II (mid‐August 1794). Belley argued that years of obfuscation meant that the Convention was unable to understand recent events in Saint‐Domingue, and so his first step in lifting the veil was to describe the competing interests at work there. His Manichaean picture was populated first by the enemy, depicted as a combination of survivors from the island's reactionary colonial assemblies and indebted colonial businessmen, all in treacherous alliance with the English. Page and Brulley were shown as the ringleaders and chief spokesmen in Paris. Belley took readers back to the formation of the Colonial Assembly at Cap‐Français in the autumn of 1791 and argued that this and the earlier assembly at Saint‐Marc (whose membership was dominated by white planter interests) formed a “system” for pushing France to abandon the colony, ceding control of the island and its resources to this discriminatory cabal. Their “Machiavellian” tactics included denying the rights of free people of color, rejecting the authority of metropolitan legislation, undermining efforts to control the slave rebellion, forming an alliance with the English, and publicly criticizing the work of successive French National Assemblies and other French revolutionary institutions (including the Jacobin Club). All this was done while pocketing the financial aid sent by the metropole to protect its colony.81 Pitted against this menacing group, Belley's canvas had space for only two heroes: Sonthonax and Polverel. However, even though his stated motive for this pamphlet was to defend their reputations from ongoing attack, Belley explained that he would leave it to them to describe their work in Saint‐Domingue.82 This particular history therefore remained centered on the activities of the colon faction across two locations and timeframes: on the island of Saint‐Domingue in a revolutionary past, and on the streets of Paris in the revolutionary present. Page and Brulley were portrayed as heavily implicated in the counterrevolutionary machinations besetting both spheres.

This history continued to develop as more pamphlets rapidly appeared on the market. Sonthonax himself provided details of British and Spanish military maneuvers against the colony during 1793 and 1794, from the capture of the valuable military outpost at Mole‐Saint‐Nicolas by the English to the Spanish blockade of Cap‐Français and its subsequent relief by a French republican army of former slaves—that is, by Black soldiers recruited through Sonthonax's unilateral act of mass emancipation.83 Léonard Leblois took his readers farther back, offering the anti‐colon perspective on the prerevolutionary structure and daily life of France's colonies. Places like Saint‐Domingue, Leblois explained, had tended to have an oppressive government favorable to the richest plantation owners, who then dominated both the slaves and the majority of free people. The latter were “divided nonsensically between white citizens and individuals of color who were denied citizenship.”84 The rich, white plantation owners' cruel exploitation of this system meant that it was inevitable that they would resist the advance of a French Revolution threatening “their sordid pleasures, their prejudices and their slaves.”85 By contrast, free people of color shared a range of interests with less privileged white colonists, including a desire for equality. Leblois's longue durée approach promised to enlighten his Thermidorian audience by highlighting the likely revolutionary sympathies of different parts of the colonial social structure: even if a veil currently obscured the detail of events in the 1790s, earlier patterns of behavior offered a useful workaround.

Simultaneously, the colon faction was putting out its own version of colonial events, stretching back at least to 1790 and the convocation of Saint‐Domingue's first “Colonial Assembly.”86 In general, colon narratives tended to focus on the period of Sonthonax and Polverel's mission to Saint‐Domingue from 1792 to 1794. Two days after Belley's pamphlet, while still confined to the Luxembourg prison, Page and Brulley sent their own detailed account to the printing press. They claimed that the commissioners had dissolved Saint‐Domingue's popular societies precisely when patriots most needed this support network in the face of the violence sweeping the island. They held them responsible for the destruction of Cap‐Français in June 1793, as well as for the unjustified bombardment of the capital, Port‐au‐Prince, and maintained that the commissioners had colluded with the English in their meddling in the region.87 This all built on a piece written a week earlier and addressed directly to the Convention, which portrayed Sonthonax and Polverel as juggling two competing careers, both in direct contravention of their mandate from the French National Assembly: cooperation with England's plans to take over Saint‐Domingue, and a desire to achieve personal mastery over the island.88 Later the same month, Therou's fictional dialogue also created the impression of providing historical details, as when Sonthonax was made to remind Polverel about a speech the president of the colon‐aligned Colonial Assembly had made on their arrival in Saint‐Domingue late in 1792, stating that body's unequivocal support for the abolition of slavery—if such a decision came directly from the National Assembly.89 There was a grain of truth here: the assembly had declared to the commissioners' predecessors on the island that they would support earlier legislation that expanded rights for free people of color if it was confirmed as the will of the National Assembly. However, this had been cultivated into a falsehood to open another line of attack on Sonthonax and Polverel over their decision to abolish slavery unilaterally.90 The manipulated account contributed to the colon faction's principal angle of attack on the Convention's abolition decree itself: regardless of the principle involved (to which it was not politically expedient to object directly), the Convention had passed this momentous decree only after the manipulation and subterfuge of Sonthonax and the three coconspirators he had sent to the Convention as Saint‐Domingue's new deputies.

Pamphlets thus contributed to the creation of a contemporary, disputed history of Saint‐Domingue. Both factions identified certain events as critical to the production of a narrative capable of winning this battle over public opinion and political influence in the shifting sands of the Reaction. The question of how to present the impact of the Law of April 4, 1792, through which the Legislative Assembly had given civil and political rights to free people of color throughout the French colonies, was a prominent battleground. The requirement that any section of the nonwhite population of a racially segregated society like Saint‐Domingue's “must enjoy” the same rights as whites had been highly controversial and was critical in developing the impetus for whites to work against metropolitan authority in subsequent months and years.91 Both factions immediately focused on this issue with the legislation featuring in eight of the twelve pamphlets from my sample issued during the final month of an II. Colon pamphlets did not dare reject the egalitarian intent of the law directly. Instead, they focused their criticism on how it had been implemented by Sonthonax and Polverel. Thus Clausson and Millet described the law as “holy and charitable” but accused Sonthonax of abusing its purpose to sow division between whites and nonwhites and thereby destroy the colony.92 Deputy Belley, in contrast, placed the same law in the context of the Colonial Assembly in Cap‐Français, which had been meeting since the first outbreak of slave rebellion in August 1791 and had unilaterally rejected earlier directives from the metropole to include some free people of color in its proceedings. Belley described the law of April 4, 1792, as destroying this assembly and the racial discrimination on which it was constructed. Furthermore, he invoked a transatlantic connection by stressing that the law of April 4 confirmed the illegitimacy of the Colonial Assembly's powers because they were incompatible with one of the few undisputed revolutionary totems inherited by the Thermidorians: the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen from 1789.93

Writers on both sides regularly combined historical details from Saint‐Domingue with references to events, values, or key personalities from the metropolitan revolution. In some respects, this was for the simple reason that, as with legislation from the Legislative Assembly or the arrival of civil commissioners, metropolitan dynamics would often have an effect on a colony like Saint‐Domingue—just as had always been the case within France's eighteenth‐century empire. However, these links could also signal more creative responses to the revolutionary political and culture context within which these pamphlet histories were being constructed. Thus, when Sonthonax attacked French military figures who had opposed him in Saint‐Domingue, he highlighted their colonial offenses with the stain of metropolitan counterrevolution via association with two infamous defectors: General Dumouriez and the marquis de Lafayette.94 Sonthonax proved himself adroit at employing this tactic of overlaying France's revolutionary experience onto Saint‐Domingue—aided no doubt by the fact that it mirrored his position serving as the republic's representative to the colony. His methodical approach can be found in a lengthy footnote explaining why the group widely known as “colonial refugees” should be renamed émigrés—which would then connect them to one of the core elements of France's ongoing struggle against domestic and European counterrevolution.95 In another piece he strongly defended the reputation of the colony's population of ex‐slaves by informing his metropolitan audience that “the Blacks are the true sans‐culottes of the colonies, they are the people.”96 To export these terms, which dominated the lexicon of French revolutionary activism by 1794, to the colonial sphere was a deliberate attempt to counter the colon narrative that slave rebellion or emancipation had led (and could only ever lead) to violence and chaos at the hands of “the African destroyers.”97

Those on the colon side made frequent comparisons between the impact of the domestic Terror and the violence meted out on the white population of Saint‐Domingue. As the political repression of the Terror became increasingly well known during the Reaction via public trials and the press, the colon faction attempted to forge connections to events overseas.98 In the process, Saint‐Domingue's Revolution was painted as a work of even greater violence and murkier conspiracy than what so many had just experienced within France itself. A lengthy attack against Dufay was sustained by the charge that he and others in the anti‐colon faction had used their criminal record in the colony to gain a controlling influence over the governing committees back in Paris during the Terror, and that to do so they had had to prove themselves “even more ferocious” than their metropolitan allies.99 Elsewhere frequent comparisons were made between the bloody campaign waged by deputy Carrier in Nantes during the Vendée rebellion and the violence in Saint‐Domingue allegedly perpetrated or defended by members of the anti‐colon faction.100

Saint‐Domingue and the History of the Terror

This pamphlet war created its own historiography of what is now recognized as the Haitian Revolution, developed by authors who understood the role of evidence and how it might be manipulated. But what about the metropolitan, Parisian setting for these printed battles? After all, the imprisonment of the principal characters from both factions during the Terror, and their staggered release from Paris's jails during the early months of the Reaction, remained important strands of the identities projected by both factions throughout the period. Authors also could not have failed to be aware that their pamphlets were being consumed as part of a Thermidorian diet rich with other works documenting and reflecting on the revolutionary violence and repression experienced across metropolitan France in the months and years before the fall of Robespierre. Indeed, the two publishers used almost exclusively by these factions, Pain for the anti‐colons and Laurens the Elder for the colons, were in great demand by other customers.101 These pamphlets need to be sited within this burgeoning history of the metropolitan revolution, where they added a fresh colonial dimension to the domestic narrative tropes coalescing rapidly within contemporary print culture.

Even 9 Thermidor, that iconic date in the Thermidorian narrative of domestic revolution, could be repackaged successfully with a reference to Saint‐Domingue. The colon deputy Defrance praised his Convention colleagues several months into the Reaction for being prepared on that day to right the Convention's previous wrongs (which he conveniently blamed on “the agents employed to direct government operations” rather than himself and his fellow deputies collectively). He emphasized that this painful record extended from domestic hot spots of repression like Nantes and Lyon right out to the Caribbean.102 Likewise, the fictional dialogue between Sonthonax and Polverel introduced at the beginning of this article has strong echoes of Thermidorian rhetoric, which would have been picked up easily by contemporary audiences. Perhaps this facilitated an engagement with colonial revolutionary narratives among readers who might be less familiar with events across the Atlantic. The dialogue had Sonthonax's cocksure attitude deflating rapidly after the fall of Robespierre, an event that “produced such a change in people's opinion . . . that we ourselves, right now, fear for our heads.”103 Another pamphlet highlighted this change by chronicling the personal experience of its author, Sonthonax's former secretary Pierre‐Joseph Leborgne, within the Thermidorian‐era judicial system. Although temporarily imprisoned early in the Reaction, Leborgne shrugged off a colon denunciation to the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal and triumphantly informed his enemies that “that time is over when you could drag your victims to the feet of Robespierre, who would then order their execution.”104

This tactic of recalibrating domestic events as part of the campaign to influence a readership's understanding of colonial issues was deployed consistently by those in the anti‐colon faction. Thus, for example, Belley gave Page and Brulley their own starring role at the heart of the domestic Terror, claiming that they were saved from the guillotine only because the public prosecutor at the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal, Antoine Fouquier‐Tinville, was their “intimate friend” and found a “specious reason” for delaying their judgment.105 He also implied that this reprieve came at the expense of other, more innocent victims held in a neighboring cell. Belley also claimed that Page and Brulley had ensured their own political survival for so long (before they were eventually jailed) by masterminding a campaign throughout the country to “oppress and incarcerate” individuals who had returned from the colonies and might have been able to testify against them and their faction.106 Writing many months later, François Polverel furiously attacked those who, having hounded his father and so many others, now had the temerity to “call themselves the victims.”107 Such arguments tapped into the contemporary obsession with how Terrorist activity had allegedly rippled out across the country at the behest of Robespierre and his henchmen in the capital.

The narratives constructed within these attacks could draw on multiple layers of evidence and manipulated argument as the combatants marched farther into the Reaction. On 8 Fructidor an III (August 25, 1795), Belley's colleague from Saint‐Domingue, deputy Laforest, attacked deputy Gouly over the latter's attempt to prevent him from taking up his seat in the Convention. Laforest, who had been elected in the same process as the tricolor delegation back in 1793 (as one of three substitutes), had finally been admitted on 5 Fructidor an III (August 22, 1795), as a replacement for citizen Réchin, who had never managed to leave Saint‐Domingue due to the English blockade of Port‐de‐Paix.108 Laforest condemned his new colleague, who had become a regular exponent of colon arguments in the Convention during 1795, by showcasing that Gouly was endorsing long‐discredited attacks made by Page and Brulley against the Saint‐Domingue delegation back at the height of the Terror. Thermidorian readers were thus presented with yet another national representative who was compromised by the Revolution's repressive history, as well as a reprisal of many of the anti‐colon attack lines of the past year—such as the claim that Page and Brulley petitioned the Committee of Public Safety “to subvert, slaughter and destroy” the Black rebels in Saint‐Domingue who had since become the metropole's principal military asset there.109 Within a week Gouly's reply in turn drew on the standard colon repertoire of the past year before also plunging readers back into the Revolution's controversial recent past, drawing explicit parallels between Laforest's attack and denunciations made against Gouly by the anti‐colon faction back at the height of the Terror. “Yet another pamphlet directed against me,” he began. “And where does it really come from? Always from the same source, from that alliance of men who have persisted in persecuting me since Pluviôse of an II because I always fought against the criminal plans they had for both France and the colonies.”110 Furthermore, the focus for both pamphlets was actually Gouly's record as a representative on mission in the Ain at the height of the Terror, with Laforest selectively quoting documents from this mission to draw parallels with the opinions and tactics of counterrevolutionary forces in Saint‐Domingue. Laforest had access to this material only because Gouly, like many of his colleagues, had been forced to publish several accounts of his mission earlier in 1795 to defend himself against allegations of Terrorist excess.111

The colon faction worked hard to rebut the allegation of complicity in the Terror and any unwanted speculation that they might have formed part of what became known as “Robespierre's tail” of coconspirators. One straightforward way to attempt this was to invite readers' sympathy with details of personal and familial suffering, such as when General Galbaud listed the release of his wife and children as his first priority, rather than the unsealing of the papers he needed to save his own reputation.112 Elsewhere the colons painted their rivals as the true Terrorist culprits. Therou's fictional dialogue contained an extended admission by Polverel about how his and Sonthonax's affiliation with Dufay rendered them all complicit with the machinery of the Terror. Dufay was portrayed as exploiting extensive connections in the policing network (itself “bought” by Robespierre) to order local surveillance committees nationwide “to widen the effect of the decree of 19 Ventôse,” with disastrous results for their opponents.113

The law of 19 Ventôse an II (March 9, 1794), which confirmed the turn of the political tide against the colons in the aftermath of the abolition decree, did indeed cast a very wide net. It ordered the imprisonment of former members of the Massiac Club (an early revolutionary lobbying group for the planter class) as well as Saint‐Domingue's colonial assemblies. The arrest of all “agents” of those assemblies was mandated, along with the sealing of the possessions of “all colonials residing in Paris.” Its implementation produced a flood of complaints that its reach extended far beyond any reasonable definition of these targets, and this criticism continued into the Reaction.114 Therou cited the case of eleven individuals originally from Tobago who had been freed from jail in England only to be imprisoned again by the revolutionary authorities on their arrival in France on a trumped‐up charge that they were assembly members from Saint‐Domingue.115 Clausson and Millet also referenced the negative impact of this legislation in one of their appeals to the Convention, while Page and Brulley had already publicized a similar claim about policing; in their version, all three of Saint‐Domingue's Convention deputies had been in constant communication with surveillance committees and the police to “highlight the colonial victims they wanted to be jailed.”116 Over time it was Page and Brulley who painted the most detailed picture of their adversaries as terrorists. As they put it succinctly in one pamphlet, “Dufay, Mils [sic] and Bellay [sic] could never have directed this police conspiracy if they had not also been the friends and agents of Robespierre.”117 Such claims were simultaneously an attempt to recast the colons as archetypical victims of the Terror, a prized community identity in the Thermidorian political context.

Narratives of Dual Revolution in Saint‐Domingue and France

Twelve months after Sonthonax and Polverel's fictional confrontation with an unnamed colon adversary, the battle still raged for control over the interconnected narratives of Revolution in Saint‐Domingue and France. That it was taking place in the contested shadows of both abolition and the Terror ensured that the stakes remained high throughout the Thermidorian Reaction. The literature developed competing identities for both colon and anti‐colon factions, as each side located self and other within a Manichaean vision of the revolutionary era. Their history writing offers a unique case study of Thermidorian political culture and its tense but creative relationship with the revolutionary past, as well as the value contemporaries ascribed to material evidence when seeking to confront or exploit both.

The pamphlet war between the colon and anti‐colon factions repeatedly brought transatlantic revolutionary experiences into dialogue with each other. Participants not only contributed to nascent historiographies of events in distant Saint‐Domingue and on the Parisian reader's doorstep but also presented key events and themes on either side of the Atlantic as interwoven and interdependent. Both sides adapted skillfully to Robespierre's fall, rapidly producing pamphlets that used this technique of transatlantic alchemy to attack their respective opponents and defend their own cause and personal reputation. As early as 6 Fructidor an II (August 23, 1794), Sonthonax described the colons as a group who had traveled from Saint‐Domingue “at the behest of Robespierre” and then embedded themselves in the machinery of metropolitan repression as “regular witnesses at the old revolutionary tribunal, friends and protectors of Dumas [one of the Tribunal presidents] and Fouquier‐Tinville, picking out victims for them.”118 This tactic was honed by both sides through the following summer, for example, in colon allegations that it was Robespierre himself who personally admitted Sonthonax's tricolor delegation into the Convention ahead of the abolition decree. The colon picture of a colony at the mercy of “the African destroyers” was sketched out and then embellished over many months.119 The narratives developed by each faction shared clear parallels to Thermidorian stories elsewhere in the public sphere about the excesses of France's domestic Terror.

This transatlantic pattern had deep roots that were only strengthened by the revolutionary debates and tensions over the colonies from 1789 onward. But the political culture of the Thermidorian Reaction offered unique scope to review the past, raised the stakes in the pursuit of control over the colonial narrative, and so reinforced the dividing lines between colon and anti‐colon factions. A close examination of this pamphlet war has revealed the extent to which the experience and record of revolution in Saint‐Domingue and France were shared and fused together. The work of these competing factions combined to establish and then embellish not two separate accounts of distant revolutions but one multifaceted history of a dual revolution that spanned the Atlantic.

Acknowledgments

The author thanks Isaac Avery, Nick Collins, Ella Kennedy, Lizzie Lawrence, Eleanor Lionel, Jessica Lloyd, and Arlen Veysey. These Exeter history students shadowed part of the writing process for this article and helped develop learning resources to use alongside it, available at www.colonialfactions.wordpress.com. Colin Jones, Ronen Steinberg, the anonymous reviewers of French Historical Studies, and its editors, Christine Haynes and Jennifer Ngaire Heuer, offered valuable advice and encouragement.

Notes

1.

The term Thermidorian Reaction, as used in this article, applies to the period from Maximilien Robespierre's fall at the end of July 1794 to the promulgation of a new constitution in September 1795 and the dissolution of the National Convention the following month. For a contemporary view of the ubiquity and dangers of the printed word throughout the French Revolution, especially in 1794, see Mercier, Le nouveau Paris, 5. Recent scholarship on Thermidorians looking back into the Terror includes Steinberg, Afterlives of the Terror; and Fairfax‐Cholmeley, “Reliving the Terror.”

2.

British Library French Revolutionary Tracts (hereafter BLFRT) F.678/2 Dialogue entre les deux égorgeurs de Saint‐Domingue, Sonthonax et Polverel (Paris: Laurens jeune, 1794 [18 Fructidor an II?]), 15. The date in brackets with each BLFRT sample item indicates the day or month when publication occurred, based on content from the item in question. It is usually impossible to provide a definitive date, but there are significant interpretative benefits to locating these pamphlets as precisely as possible within a given year.

3.

Stein, Léger Félicité Sonthonax; Blancpain, Etienne de Polverel; Piquet, L’émancipation des noirs.

4.

See Benot, La Révolution française et la fin des colonies, chap. 7; Dorigny, Abolitions of Slavery, pt. 3; Gauthier, Périssent les colonies; and Popkin, You Are All Free, chap. 10. For the text of the abolition decree on 16 Pluviôse an II/Feb. 4, 1794, see Duvergier, Collection complète, 7:30.

5.

Cap‐Français was burned to the ground in June 1793, three days after Sonthonax and Polverel had begun recruiting slaves to their army in exchange for emancipation during a power struggle with the newly appointed French governor, General Galbaud. See Popkin, You Are All Free, chap. 7.

6.

F.678/2 Dialogue, 15. All translations are my own.

7.

Alongside the array of classical examples using this form, a famous contemporary creation was Diderot's Jacques le fataliste et son maître, a novel set out almost entirely as a bare script. See also Puyol, Le dialogue d'idées au dix‐huitième siècle; Hughes, “‘Commerce of Light’”; and Purpus, “‘Plain, Easy, and Familiar Way.’”

8.

Bode et al., Words That Matter.

9.

For comparison, see Frith, French Colonial Imagination; Lau, “Imperial Marvels”; Prasad, Colonialism; and Wilder, French Imperial Nation‐State.

10.

Popkin, “Thermidor.” Other scholarship that examines colonial issues between the Terror and Napoleon has so far tended to focus on the period of the Directory, as in Sepinwall, Abbé Grégoire, 149–55.

11.

For example, Gauthier, Triomphe et mort, pt. 4; Popkin, “Thermidor,” 67–68; Wanquet, La France, 179–91; and White, Encountering Revolution, 98.

12.

For eighteenth‐century Saint‐Domingue, see Burnard and Garrigus, Plantation Machine; Cheney, Cul de Sac; and Garrigus, Before Haiti. For a strong overview of the revolutionary period, see Dubois, Avengers of the New World. For France's relationship with her colonies, including Saint‐Domingue, during the revolutionary period, see Benot, La Révolution française; and Wanquet, La France.

13.

See, e.g., Garrigus, Before Haiti, chap. 5; Ghachem, Old Regime, chap. 2; and Popkin, “Saint‐Domingue.”

14.

French authorities sought to correct this with a fresh mission launched to Saint‐Domingue (again featuring Sonthonax) by the Directory in early 1796, but it had mixed results. See Fick, Making of Haiti, 191–203; and Stein, Léger Félicité Sonthonax, chaps. 8–9.

15.

See, among many others, Jainchill, Reimagining Politics after the Terror, chap. 4; Jones, “9 Thermidor”; and Martin, Les échos de la Terreur.

16.

Biard, Missionnaires de la République, chap. 7; Fairfax‐Cholmeley, “Reliving the Terror”; Steinberg, Afterlives of the Terror. Recent scholarship continues to interrogate the role of Thermidorian politicians in fashioning the recent past into “the Terror” (overseen by Robespierre), as the reality had been more complex and remained more entwined with the Thermidorian present than Robespierre's denouncers cared to admit; see, e.g., Biard and Linton, Terror; Jourdan, “Les discours de la terreur”; and Martin, Les échos de la Terreur.

17.

Michel‐Rolph Trouillot's blistering critique of the erasure of the history of the Haitian Revolution remains timely: Trouillot, Silencing the Past, esp. 96–107. See also Benot, La Révolution française et la fin des colonies, chap. 10. Attempts to better integrate developments in France and Saint‐Domingue include Popkin, “French Revolution's Other Island.” Beyond the revolutionary decade, see Girard, “Napoléon Bonaparte and the Emancipation Issue”; and Kwon, “When Parisian Liberals Spoke for Haiti.”

18.

Zizek, “‘Plume de Fer,’” 631–32; Zizek, “‘New History.’” For further discussion of how history writing and historical interpretation were important ingredients in Thermidorian political culture as politicians moved away from the Terror and toward the conservative constitution of an III, see Colman, “Foundation of the French Liberal Republic,” chap. 2.

19.

Gomez‐Le‐Chevanton, “Le procès Carrier”; Steinberg, “Terror on Trial,” 428–30.

20.

See the work done by individuals and local communities in Fairfax‐Cholmeley, “Reliving the Terror,” 627.

21.

Baczko, Comment sortir de la Terreur; Brown, “Robespierre's Tail”; Brown, “Thermidorians’ Terror”; Steinberg, Afterlives of the Terror; Steinberg, “Terror on Trial.” See also Mason, “Thermidor and the Myth of Rupture.”

22.

Popkin, “Thermidor,” 78.

23.

Benot, “Le procès Sonthonax”; Stein, Léger Félicité Sonthonax, chap. 7.

24.

For example, Courte réponse que font les commissaires de Saint‐Domingue, Page et Brulley, au précis de la justification de Paul‐Augustin Cambefort, et autres déportés de Saint‐Domingue (1793), which appeared in February of that year.

25.

The sample for this article was constructed from analysis of the following volumes of printed pamphlets: BLFRT F.678–700; F.72*–76*; F.R.398; F.R.402; F.R.406; F.R.408; R.326; R.593; R.638 (a total of 472 printed items, 1788–1822). These volumes were selected from the only available printed catalog summary of the BLFRT's rich but eccentrically organized contents: Fortescue, French Revolution Collections in the British Library. Pamphlets without a BLFRT reference at their first citation are not part of this sample but have been chosen for inclusion where relevant.

26.

This article's BLFRT sample includes printed material from every month of the Reaction apart from Nivôse, Ventôse, Floréal, and Thermidor an III.

27.

For example, in response to the writings of Therou (the author of the dialogue featured at the beginning of this article): Léonard Leblois, au calomniateur Therou, et à ses complices, tous colons blancs, ennemis nés de la liberté et de l’égalité (Paris: Pain, 1794). Authors, titles, and key themes from the BLFRT sample were all cross‐referenced against three other major print collections for supplementary material: the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Newberry Library, and the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.

28.

BLFRT F.R.406/1 A la Convention nationale: Notes sur les lettres attribuées à Page et Brulley, commissaires de St.‐Domingue députés près la Convention Nationale (Paris: Laurens aîné, 1794 [Fructidor an II?]), 1–2. For an excellent overview of this assembly's reactionary track record across 1791–92, see Popkin, “French Revolution's Royal Governor,” 211–23.

29.

White, Encountering Revolution, esp. chap. 3.

30.

For example, see the signatures to BLFRT F.R.406/7 Les calomniateurs Leborgne, Polverel, Sontonax [sic] et complices, appellés au Tribunal révolutionnaire par les commissaires des patriotes de S. Domingue, députés près la Convention nationale (Paris: Laurens aîné, 1794 [10 Brumaire an III?]); BLFRT F.R.406/12 Les terroristes de Saint‐Domingue dénoncés à la Convention nationale (Paris: Laurens aîné, 1795 [Prairial an III?]); and BLFRT R.326/10 Au comité de salut public. Observations sur une note remise par Dufay, Garnot, Mils, Belley et Boisson (Paris: Laurens aîné, 1795 [2 Messidor an III?]). The full list of colon signatories is Pierre‐François Page, Augustin Brulley, Louis‐Jean Clausson, Thomas Millet, Legrand, Therou, Louis Verneuil, Jean‐Gabriel Larchevesque‐Thibaud, Cesar Duny, René Ambroise Deaubonneau, Senac, Fondeviolle, General François‐Thomas Galbaud, and Convention deputies Pascal Creuzé‐Dufresne and Jean‐Claude Defrance.

31.

For example, BLFRT F.R.406/11 Réponse à Dufay, sur la rétractation tardive et mensongère, relative aux députés de la Gironde (Paris: Laurens aîné, 1795 [7 Messidor an III?]), 10; and R.326/10 Observations sur une note, 4.

32.

F.R.406/7 Les calomniateurs, 2.

33.

R.326/10 Observations sur une note, 7.

34.

For example, BLFRT F.686/15 A la Convention nationale (Paris? 1794 [20 Thermidor an II]), 8; BLFRT F.694/3 Calomniateurs dénoncés à la Convention nationale (Paris: Laurens aîné, 1794 [Fructidor an II?]), 2; BLFRT F.R.406/1 Notes sur les lettres, 1–2; BLRFT F.682/2 Défi aux factieux. Adresse à la Convention nationale (Paris: Laurens aîné, 1794 [10 Vendémiaire an III?]), 1; F.R.406/7 Les calomniateurs, 1.

35.

F.678/2 Dialogue, 8–9 (refugees). For claims of mass incarceration within France, see BLFRT F.678/5 A la Convention nationale. Réponse de Page et Brulley, commissaires de St.‐Domingue, députés près la Convention nationale, aux calomnies qu'on a fait signer au citoyen Belley (Paris: Laurens aîné, 1794 [11 Fructidor an II?]), 11; and F.R.406/11 Réponse à Dufay, 10.

36.

F.R.406/12 Les terroristes, 3–4.

37.

See n. 114 below for details on this legislation, the Law of 19 Ventôse an II.

38.

Gauthier, “Role of the Saint‐Domingue Delegation,” 171–73.

39.

F.686/15 A la Convention nationale, 4.

40.

F.678/2 Dialogue, 13.

41.

BLFRT F.75*/5 Sonthonax, ci‐devant commissaire civil, délégué à Saint‐Domingue, à la Convention nationale (Paris: Pain, 1794 [6 Fructidor an II?]), 1. Contemporary readers might well have made a link from such language to the lobbying done earlier in the Revolution by the Massiac Club, founded to defend white planter interests against the work of the Society for the Friends of Blacks. The latter called for equal rights for free people of color and moved tentatively toward a future abolition of slavery. See Debien, Les colons de Saint‐Domingue et la Révolution; and Resnick, “Société des Amis des Noirs.”

42.

BLFRT F.75*/9 Réflexions d'un observateur sur les malheurs que Saint‐Domingue a éprouvés depuis la Révolution, adressées aux Jacobins (Paris: Pain, 1794 [20 Fructidor an II?]), 6.

43.

F.75*/9 Réflexions d'un observateur, 7.

44.

F.694/3 Calomniateurs dénoncés, 8 (vanguard); F.75*/9 Réflexions d'un observateur, 7 (Robespierre's patronage).

45.

BLFRT F.75*/6 Le masque en lambeaux, ou Preuves de la connivence et de la complicité des colons Léopardins avec les Decemvirs et les assassins subalternes du Tribunal révolutionnaire, avant et depuis le 31 mai 1793 jusqu'au 9 thermidor (Paris: Pain, 1795 [Germinal an III?]), 2. This was written after Etienne Polverel's death. Another of his son's printed defenses described the attacks against Polverel's reputation in similar terms: BLFRT F.696/10 Pétition à la Convention nationale (Paris: Pain, 1795 [30 Germinal an III?]), 2–3.

46.

F.682/2 Défi aux factieux, 12.

47.

BLFRT F.R.406/2 Adresse à la Convention nationale. Faction anglaise, ses projets (Paris: Laurens, 1794 [Brumaire an III?], 1.

48.

F.678/2 Dialogue, 16.

49.

Three other deputies (Etienne Laforest, Joseph Boisson, and Pierre Garnot) did not arrive in Paris until July 1794, the two groups having decided to travel separately for security reasons. See Stein, Léger Félicité Sonthonax, 95, 110; and Gauthier, “Role of the Saint‐Domingue Delegation,” 171–73.

50.

BLFRT F.75*/2 Belley, de Saint‐Domingue représentant du people, à ses collègues (Paris: Pain, 1794 [6 Fructidor an II?]), 1–2.

51.

BLFRT F.R.406/9 Copie d'une note remise au comité de salut‐public par la députation de Saint‐Domingue (Paris? 1795 [29 Prairial an III?]), 3.

52.

BLFRT F.696/12 P. J. Leborgne, ci‐devant commissaire de la Marine aux Isles du Vent de l'Amérique, à Janvier Littée, homme de couleur, député de la Martinique; sur le systême de diffamation employé par la faction Anglaise contre les patriotes (Paris: Pain, 1794 [6 Vendémiaire an III?]), 10.

53.

F.R.406/1 Notes sur les lettres, 4. Other individuals who appear as anti‐colon authors or signatories in the pamphlets I have studied are Léonard Leblois, Pierre‐Joseph Leborgne, François Polverel fils, Etienne Polverel, Julien Raimond, and deputies Joseph Boisson, Pierre Garnot, and Etienne Laforest. The colons Clausson and Millet also claim the deputies Jean Pelet, Jacques‐Alexis Thuriot, and Louis Turreau (cousin of the infamous general Louis‐Marie Turreau), and Cambon provided public support to their opponents. See BLFRT F.686/14 A la Convention nationale (Paris? 1794 [6 Fructidor an II?]), 2–3. This suggests that there was a much wider circle involved in this faction.

54.

F.686/14 A la Convention nationale, 1 (Louis XVI); BLFRT F.686/2 Impostures de Santhonax [sic] et Polverel dévoilées à la Convention nationale (Paris? 1794 [10 Fructidor an II?]), 4 (Vergennes).

55.

See, e.g., F.686/2 Impostures, 7.

56.

F.75*/5 Sonthonax, 4. Many examples of these aspects of the commissioner's character are found in Stein, Léger Félicité Sonthonax.

57.

Aulard, La société des Jacobins, 327–29; Courier de l’égalité no. 721 (23 Thermidor an II), 415.

58.

Aulard, La société des Jacobins, 370–72 (session of 7 Fructidor an II [Aug. 24, 1794]). This incident is also referred to in F.678/2 Dialogue, 10.

59.

Réimpression de l'ancien Moniteur, 566–67.

60.

F.686/14 A la Convention nationale, 2–3.

61.

BLFRT F.692/3 Preuves complètes et matérielles du projet des colons pour mener les colonies à l'indépendance, tirés de leurs propres écrits (Paris: Imprimerie de l'Union, 1795 [an III]), iv; Garrigus, “Opportunist or Patriot?”

62.

R.326/10 Observations sur une note, 5. The publication they were referring to was Relation détaillée des évènemens malheureux, and the statement in question can be read on p. 16.

63.

BLFRT F.75*/8 Lettres des patriotes Page et Brulley (Paris: Pain, 1794 [Fructidor an II?]). Revolutionary authorities during the Terror had made extensive use of private correspondence and other written evidence when investigating and prosecuting potential counterrevolutionaries, in the belief that such material could reveal an individual's “true” loyalties and hidden plots. See Hesse, “La preuve par lettre.”

64.

The actual term used was républicistes, which is highly unusual for this period. See F.75*/8 Lettres des patriotes, 2.

65.

F.75*/5 Sonthonax, 2.

66.

F.R.406/1 Notes sur les lettres, 3–6. They claimed that these letters had circulated extensively, including in newspapers, for some months prior to their publication by their enemies in Fructidor II. This had apparently precipitated their imprisonment during the Terror.

67.

F.678/2 Dialogue, 4.

68.

F.75*/5 Sonthonax, 5.

69.

BLFRT F.690/2 L. F. Sonthonax, commissaire civil, ci‐devant délégué à St.‐Domingue par l'Assemblée législative et la Convention nationale, à Bourdon (de l'Oise), représentant du people (Paris: Pain, 1794 [5th Sans‐cullotides an II?), 10–13.

70.

Sonthonax wrote of “a trunk of papers” that arrived from America on 11 Brumaire an II (Nov. 1, 1793): F.690/2 L. F. Sonthonax, commissaire civil, 9. Belley, Dufay, and Mills had many of their possessions destroyed when they came under repeated attack by white protesters in Philadelphia.

71.

F.694/3 Calomniateurs dénoncés, 4.

72.

BLFRT F.686/1 A Dufay, qui se dit calomnié, comme s'il pouvait l’être (Paris? 1795 [Pluviôse an III]), 1. Official records show that the colons were present at examinations of their “archives” by the authorities from mid‐October (while they were still held in prison), but this was very different from having personal access. See Archives Nationales, Paris (hereafter AN), F7 4664/61/dossier 2 (Page) Colonial Commission to Committee of General Security, 23 Vendémiaire III (Oct. 14, 1794).

73.

F.694/3 Calomniateurs dénoncés, 11 (Committee of Public Safety); F.R.406/1 Notes sur les lettres, 7–8 (evidence, from both sides).

74.

F.R.406/2 Adresse à la Convention nationale, 3–9 (failure); F.682/2 Défi aux factieux, 10; F.R.406/7 Les calomniateurs, 7–9 (Revolutionary Tribunal).

75.

The investigation can be followed in Benot, “Le procès Sonthonax”; and Popkin, “Thermidor.” See also White, Encountering Revolution, 115–18.

76.

F.75*/2 Belley, de Saint‐Domingue, 2.

77.

Rapport fait au nom du Comité de Salut Public, 1–2; Réimpression de l'ancien Moniteur, 418.

78.

Popkin, “Thermidor,” 68 (1793 aborted commission); Popkin, “French Revolution's Royal Governor” (Blanchelande). Both Blanchelande and Desparbès mounted spirited defense campaigns via print; see, e.g., Blanchelande, Discours justificatif; and Desparbès, Réponses du citoyen D'Esparbès.

79.

See, e.g., Ghachem, Old Regime, esp. chaps. 3–4.

80.

Geggus, Slavery, War, and Revolution; Davey, In Nelson's Wake, chap. 5.

81.

F.75*/2 Belley, de Saint‐Domingue, 2–4.

82.

F.75*/2 Belley, de Saint‐Domingue, 1, 5. It seems highly likely that this was coordinated with Sonthonax, because the latter published a self‐defense on the same day (see F.75*/5 Sonthonax).

83.

F.75*/5 Sonthonax, 3–4.

84.

F.75*/9 Réflexions d'un observateur, 5.

85.

F.75*/9 Réflexions d'un observateur, 5.

86.

F.R.406/1 Notes sur les lettres, 1; F.678/5 Réponse de Page et Brulley, 1.

87.

F.694/3 Calomniateurs dénoncés, 2. Page and Brulley claimed that Port‐au‐Prince was punished for trying to elect Convention deputies in line with the law of August 23, 1792, in contrast to the special elections adapted by Sonthonax to ensure representatives from the different racial groupings on this island.

88.

BLFRT F.686/19 Adresse à la Convention nationale (Paris: Laurens aîné, 1794 [2 Fructidor an II?]), 7. See also Page and Brulley's subsequent prison offering, written just over a week later: F.678/5 Réponse de Page et Brulley, 1–4, 14.

89.

F.678/2 Dialogue, 5. This same claim also featured in F.678/5 Réponse de Page et Brulley, 14.

90.

Popkin, “French Revolution's Royal Governor,” 221.

91.

Duvergier, Collection complète, 4:90.

92.

F.686/2 Impostures, 5–6.

93.

F.75*/2 Belley, de Saint‐Domingue, 3.

94.

BLFRT F.75*/4 L.F. Sonthonax, au Représentant du people Pelet (de la Lozère), membre du Comité de Salut Public (Paris: Pain, 1795 [20 Pluviôse an III?]), 2. The two figures Sonthonax attacked here were the generals Galbaud and Lasalle.

95.

F.690/2 L. F. Sonthonax, commissaire civil, 9. This debate over refugee/émigré labels continued into the Directory; see White, Encountering Revolution, 115, 119–23.

96.

F.75*/5 Sonthonax, 8. This was written early enough in the Reaction for the term sans‐culottes to still be politically advantageous.

97.

R.326/10 Observations sur une note, 5.

98.

The two events with the greatest significance in raising public awareness of the Terror (albeit not necessarily built on accurate information) were the trials of deputies Carrier and Le Bon; see Gomez‐Le‐Chevanton, “Le procès Carrier”; and Steinberg, “Terror on Trial.”

99.

F.R.406/11 Réponse à Dufay, 9.

100.

E.g., F.686/1 A Dufay, 10–11; and R.326/10 Observations sur une note, 3.

101.

Two among many examples of these printers' work during the Reaction are Tableau de route des vingt‐huit prisonniers de Marseille, traduits à Paris, détenus à la Maison Egalité, dite Duplessis (Paris: Laurens aîné, 1794?) and Supplément au tableau des crimes de Vadier, en réponse au résumé de sa défense (Paris: Pain, 1795?).

102.

BLFRT F.695/9 Defrance, Représentant du peuple, député par le département de Seine‐et‐Marne, au citoyen Creusè Pascal [i.e., Pascal Creuzé‐Dufresne] sur la dénonciation à la Convention nationale, d'une conspiration dans les colonies françaises, et sur‐tout à St Domingue (Paris: Becquart, 1795 [Frimaire an III?]), 1. See also BLFRT F.695/2 Quels sont les coupables dans l'affaire de Saint‐Domingue? (Paris? 1795 [Frimaire an III?]); and Wanquet, La France, 186–92.

103.

F.678/2 Dialogue, 10.

104.

BLFRT F.73*/5 Attentat contre la liberté de la presse et le droit de pétition (Paris: Pain, 1795 [Brumaire an III?]), 4. The case against Leborgne was dismissed by a Revolutionary Tribunal judge, and he was set free (mise en liberté) on 2 Brumaire III (Oct. 23, 1794): AN W/473 dossier 295.

105.

F.75*/2 Belley, de Saint‐Domingue, 4.

106.

F.75*/2 Belley, de Saint‐Domingue, 6.

107.

F.75*/6 Le masque, 7.

108.

BLFRT F.699/11 Laforest, citoyen de couleur, député de Saint‐Domingue, à son collègue Gouly, député de l'isle de France (Paris: Imprimerie de l'Union, 1795 [8 Fructidor an III?]). See Gauthier, “La Révolution française et le problème colonial,” 187. For further evidence of Gouly's increasing prominence within colon circles during 1795, see Dubois and Garrigus, Slave Revolution, 144–47.

109.

F.699/11 Laforest, citoyen de couleur, 2.

110.

B. Gouly, Représentant du peuple, aux membres de la Convention nationale (Paris: Imprimerie de Galletti, 1795), 1.

111.

These include Recueil de pièces que présente B. Gouly, . . . à l'appui des comptes qu'il a rendus à la Convention nationale, les 11 ventôse et 9 messidor, de sa mission dans les départemens de l'Ain, Saône et Loire, pour servir de réponse au mémoire distribué, au nom de Blanq‐Desisles, aux Jacobins et à la Convention nationale, le 30 fructidor (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1794) and Compte rendu à la Convention nationale et au peuple souverain, par Benoit Gouly, représentant du peuple, envoyé dans les départements de l'Ain et de Saône‐et‐Loire (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1795).

112.

BLFRT F.686/18 A la Convention nationale (Paris? 1794 [Thermidor an II?], 4.

113.

F.678/2 Dialogue, 14.

114.

Duvergier, Collection complète, 7:95; for the full text, see Collection générale des décrets rendus par la Convention nationale. Mois ventôse, an IIe (Paris, 1794), 192–93 (available as vol. 47 at https://collection-baudouin.univ-paris1.fr/). AN D/XXV/76–78 is full of petitions from individuals caught up in this legislation, which does indeed appear to have been interpreted very broadly.

115.

F.678/2 Dialogue, 14.

116.

F.686/14 A la Convention nationale, 3; F.694/3 Calomniateurs dénoncés, 8.

117.

F.694/3 Calomniateurs dénoncés, 8.

118.

F.75*/5 Sonthonax, 4.

119.

R.326/10 Observations sur une note, 1, 5.

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