Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Notes by Benjamin de Chastellier on His Mistreatment and Napoleon’s Liberation, [ca. 2 May 1821]


Notes by Benjamin de Chastellier on His Mistreatment and Napoleon’s Liberation

[ca. 2 May 1821]

Charité pour faciliter la Liberation de Napoleon!

Vos bienfaits Seront reçu avec la plus Vive reconnaissance par Votre tres humble Serviteur

Benja de Chastellier
{ Militaire, Creol du Cap français. Isle de St Domingue1

Such is the Suspicious and Corrupt State of human nature that I have not received a Solitary cent, nor made any application on principles of Charity! for which I have a peculiar aversion!2

The Sword! La Vie ou La Mort

( a bas les préjugés)

Aux Coeurs Sensibles!

Aux Ames bien neés!

Après avoir éprouvé pendant plus de Sept ans, des Soufrances les plus Crueles, les plus injustes et les plus barbares que l’humanité oprimeé aie pu Supporter de la main des Chiens affamés de Sang! des Monstres inferneaux qui,3 Sous la forme humaine, Se Sont arrogés le pouvoir des Loix Sans droit et Sans titre mais par la Subtilité et L’infamie la plus atroce!

Je déclare mes intentions determinées, en dépit des préjugés produit d’un Jugement feau et infame! obtenu par le Crimé d’aller fixer ma résidence dans mon paye natal (Isle de St Domingue) pour y attendre paisiblement le dévelopement des Événements Interessantes à la Classe de l’humanité la plus oprimée par le préjugé, et par4 des Crueautées innouies!

Benja de Chastellier
Créol du Cap français Isle de St Domingue 

(To my “honest Judges)

The Eternal LAW.

The Benevolent and Glorious Creator appeared in the Body of his Son and endured your Cruelties to maintain and Support the grand maximum of the eternal LAW! the next Messiah! Shall Execute5


Judgement! according to Law.

Blood for Blood.

No Mercy!


I give a general invitation to all the Learned and profound Law Doctors, and reasoners in Theology!

à Baltimore Convict!



Napoleon shall be delivered! downfall of Tyre, destruction of Tyrants! freedome to the world!6

I have been ensnared in Baltimore Judged and Condemned by perjury! Thrown into Prisons at Several times for the Space of nearly Seven Years! I Supplicated for mercy! but in vain. The Laws and regulations for the prisons were trampled upon with impunity! My back has been Several times most Cruely Lacerated on frivolous pretences. poisons have been often administered with design to murder me, but to no effect; I have in fact endured Such Cruelties Such Sufferings as almost beyond the conceptive powers of the human intellect!

MS (ViU: JRTSN); written entirely in Chastellier’s hand on two sheets folded together and bound with ribbon; undated.

charité pour faciliterserviteur: “Charity to facilitate the liberation of Napoleon! Your blessings will be received with the deepest gratitude by your very humble servant.”

The Natchez Mississippi State Gazette of 19 May 1821 reprinted from an unspecified issue of the New Orleans Louisiana Advertiser, with the heading: “Madness,” an English version of the text above from the sword! la vie ou la mort to des crueautées innouies! (two words editorially corrected):
    “The Sword of Judgement,
  Life!   or   Death!
    To the feeling bosom,
    To the well born soul,
 After having experienced for upwards of seven years, the most unjust, the most cruel and barbarous treatment which a human being could possibly endure from the hands of sanguinary Dogs! infamous monsters, in human shape! who have by subtility and villainy arrogated unto themselves prerogatives of the execution of Laws: which they themselves daily transgress with impunity; destitute of right, justice, or equity! I hereby declare my determined intentions to fix my residence in my native country (Island of St Domingo.)—Thither peaceably to await the developement of events the most interesting to humanity, groaning under pressures the most cruel and in[i]quitous.”

The Mississippi State Gazette article continued: “There shalt soon commence a war the most terrible and sanguinary that has ever existed since the creation of the world.
Napoleon shall be delivered in spite of all the measures of those machivlian dogs of iniquity! who conduct the affairs of a government the most despicable in the universe! whose baneful and subtile influence has unhappily extended itself almost in all governments of the earth. Woe be unto them who by perjured villainy! and all who have in any manner contributed to my sufferings.
 St. Domingo shall become the rallying point. the general concentration of all geniuses and spritis [i.e., spirits] the most determined to maintain the rights of man! to the extinction of prejudices and of slavery!
 From thence shall emanate Shiloe, the law giver who shall rule the whole earth with a rod of iron!” Chastellier closed the newspaper version of his notes with a parenthetical notation beneath his signature and an indication that he was “Formerly of Baltimore”: “My ‘honest friends’ of the North are at perfect liberty to give publicity to the above.”

1Recto of first sheet ends here.

2Verso of first sheet ends here.

3Recto of second sheet ends here.

4Verso of second sheet ends here.

5Recto of third sheet ends here.

6Verso of third sheet ends here below the rule, with text on recto of fourth sheet oriented perpendicular to preceding text and verso blank.

Index Entries

  • antislavery; and Saint Domingue search
  • Bible; Old Testament search
  • Chastellier, Benjamin de; mistreatment of search
  • Chastellier, Benjamin de; Notes on His Mistreatment and Napoleon’s Liberation search
  • French language; documents in, by; Chastellier, Benjamin de search
  • God; as creator search
  • Haiti, Republic of; refugees from search
  • Haiti, Republic of; revolution in search
  • Jesus; crucifixion of search
  • Louisiana Advertiser (New Orleans newspaper) search
  • Mississippi State Gazette (Natchez newspaper) search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; defended search
  • Natchez, Miss.; Mississippi State Gazette search
  • New Orleans; Louisiana Advertiser search
  • newspapers; NatchezMississippi State Gazette search
  • newspapers; New OrleansLouisiana Advertiser search
  • Shiloh (Old Testament figure) search
  • slavery; opposition to search
  • Tyre (city) search