GUADELOUPE – may 10, 1802
Louis Delgrès, a free black man born in Guadeloupe, led a doomed rebellion against Napoleon’s General Antoine Richepanse to prevent the return of slavery in the French Caribbean. Over 300 years later, the fort where he made his last stand now bears his name. Louis Delgrès was an idealist and became a distinguished soldier in many battles for the French Republic. He was even captured and sent to England as a prisoner once or twice. When, in 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte sent General Richepanse to Guadeloupe to restore it to its “pre-1789” state (i.e., to reinstate slavery), Delgrès was having none of it. He led an armed rebellion of civilians and soldiers of color. Unfortunately, the rebels were no match for the French army. They retreated into this fort, where Delgrès issued a proclamation “to the entire Universe” explaining what he was fighting for. Then, when it became clear there was no hope of victory, Delgrès and 400 of his followers holed up in a plantation on the volcano’s slope and blew themselves up, along with as many French soldiers as they could. From him remains this sentence which concluded his proclamation of 10 May 1802, his last cry of innocence and despair: “And you posterity grant a tear to our misfortunes and we will die satisfied.”… (read more from source below).