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Bolivar and Petion

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  • Bolivar and Petion

    Correspondence between soon-to-be-President of Gran Colombia Simón Bolívar and Haitian President, Alexandre Pétion, year 1816. Here, Bolívar asks Pétion for the permission to mention his name on official documents, concerning the eventual emancipation of slaves in territory liberated by his army, as a sign of gratitude to Pétion, who had especially requested their release. Pétion refuses (perhaps fearing reprisal from Spain to the newly- independent Haiti), but nevertheless maintains that the manumission of those still in captivity is a pressing issue.
    Bolívar to Pétion: “Mr. President: I am overwhelmed with your favors. In everything you are magnanimous and kind. We have almost completed our preparations and in a fortnight we may perhaps be ready to start; I am only awaiting your last favors. Through Mr. Inginac, your worthy Secretary, I take the liberty to make a new request. In my proclamation to the inhabitants of Venezuela and in the decrees I have to issue concerning the freedom of the slaves, I do not know if I am allowed to express the feelings of my heart toward Your Excellency and to leave to posterity an everlasting token of your philanthropy. I do not know, I say, if I must declare that you are the author of our liberty. I beg Your Excellency to let me know his will on the matter. …"

    Pétion to Bolívar: "General: Your kind letter of the 8th instant reached me yesterday. You know my regard for the cause you are defending and for yourself; you must then be convinced how great is my desire to see freedom granted to all those who are still under the yoke of slavery; but out of deference for a power which has not yet openly declared itself an enemy of the Republic, I am compelled to ask you not to mention my name in any of your documents; and for this purpose I reckon on the sentiments which characterize you…”

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