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Frederik von Scholtens erindringer om oprøret i 1848 (1888)

Frederik von Scholten (1796-1853) var Peter von Scholtens bror og toldforvalter på St. Croix på samme tid, som Peter von Scholten var generalguvernør på øerne. Den første del af teksten er hans egne erindringer. I den sidste del fortæller han dels om sine egne oplevelser med kammerjunker Rothe på »the north side estates«, og dels om begivenheder på »the south side« – som han må have fået fortalt, eftersom han ikke var med brandmajor Gyllich og general Buddhoe på »the south side«. Kilden giver os Frederik von Scholtens indtryk af opstanden og hans opbakning til broderen, Peter von Scholtens, frigivelse af de slavegjorte. Kildeteksten fortæller os desuden om general Buddhoe. Kilden indgår i Charles Edwin Taylors værk Leaflets from the Danish West Indies (1888).

Uddrag fra Charles Edwin Taylor: Leaflets from the Danish West Indies, Descriptive of the Social, Political, and Commercial Condition of these Islands, 1888. Gentrykt af Kessinger Legacy Reprints, side 126-132.

 

At seven o’clock in the morning, the negroes streamed into the town in large numbers. Shortly afterwards it was reported to me that the police office was being plundered and demolished. The second Brand officer, who was with me, after expressing the opinion that it was in no way advisable to call out the corps, undertook with some of the best disposed of his men to assist in the keeping of order. And it is but fair to say, that it was owing to the activity and representations of the free coloured men that more violence was not committed. Only three houses being plundered and wrecked. At about this time a negro came crying to me and begged me to write a letter to the Governor-General asking that he would come down to Frederiksted as soon as possible, so that by his presence he might save the town from further molestation. With this I joyfully complied, beseeching my brother not to delay, as only he would be able to quiet the negroes […]

A crowd of negroes now came shouting and yelling up the street, and stood in front of my residence, demanding that I should proclaim their immediate freedom. Representing to them how wrongly they had acted by destroying and plundering, I advised them to keep quiet until the Governor-General arrived, as he alone could satisfy their demands. Seeing that they were now more peaceable, I went to the Fort, where several of the inhabitants of the town had assembled. These were most restless, not to say unreasonable. Some thought that to save the town from further disturbance, I should, in the Governor-General’s name, have declared the negroes free, but, as, in my opinion, I had no such power, I could not, nor would not, take it upon myself to do so. Nevertheless, it was the opinion of every one that only the promt emancipation of the slaves would save the island from further destruction. And now a considerable number of negroes had assembled together in the Fort yard. They cried and shouted, demanded their freedom, and called on the soldiers to fire upon them. This the commander of the Fort had some difficulty in preventing. Many who were present begged him also not to do so, as the town would surely be burnt to ashes. Of this there could not be any doubt, as near by, behind a corner house, which could not be commanded by the guns of the Fort there were several negro women gathered together with ‘trash’, or dry cane leaves, which, at the first shot from the Fort, it was arranged that they should light and thrown into the doors and windows. The fire would thus have spread quickly through the town, as the houses were mostly deserted, and there was no one to check it. With a view of quieting the threatening multitude, I went among them, accompanied by the Catholic priest1 and a few of the bravest of the inhabitants. The priest, whose influence was very great, spoke to them, admonishing and exhorting them to be quiet. On the other hand, on my addressing myself to one who appeared to be a leader of them, I received the following reply: »Massa, we poor negroes cannot fight with the soldiers, as we have no guns, but we can burn and destroy if we do not get our freedom, and that is what we intend to do«.

[…]

Most of the whites were now either on board the vessels2 or in hiding. About this time a negro appeared upon the scene, who seemed to be in command of the immense concourse of people which filled the street. This was Buddhoe, or, as he was called later on, General Bourdeaux.

About three o’clock p.m., the Governor-General arrived, accompanied by Kammerjunker Upper Court Assessor Rothe. The General stepped out near the Fort, went in among the crowd and declared the negroes to be free. He then requested Kammerjunker Rothe, and, as far as I can remember, Major Gyllich, the Brand major, to see that the negroes left the town, which these gentlemen soon accomplished.

[…]

On Tuesday, the 4th of July, a number of negroes were seen on the road leading to the North side, and it was feared that, should they enter the town, it would doubtless result in bloodshed or incendiarism. In order to prevent this, Major Gyllich rode out among them, and, by repeated assurances that they were now free and would not be brought back to slavery again, succeeded in including them to return to their homes. At the same time he persuaded the negro Buddhoe to accompany him to town, a wise move, for it was through this negro’s influence over them that order and quiet were restored to this part of the island. In the meantime, Kammerjunker Rothe arrived from Christiansted, whence he had started in the morning with a number of printed copies of the proclamation of freedom. Shortly after his arrival, three expeditions were organised to make their contents known among the negroes. Kammerjunker Rothe, the Vice-Brand major and myself proceeding to the North side estates, the Catholic priest O’Ryan, and a prominent planter, to Annaly and Spring Garden, while Major Gyllich, Buddhoe, or General Bourdeaux and two of the most respectable free coloured burghers went to the South side.

The company in which I found myself arrived first at estate ‘La Grange’. We had little difficulty in getting the negroes together, who stood around our carriage as Kammerjunker Rothe read out and explained the proclamation to them. Continuing our road, we came to estate ‘Northside’, where we met the owner and his family who had remained there during the whole tumult. They told us that during the forenoon of the same day, they had been attacked by the negroes from the neighbouring estate of ‘Ham’s Bay’, who under the pretext of wanting to take the overseer’s weapons from him, attempted to force the dwelling house. The negroes of the estate defended them and prevented the intended violence. From that place we went to ‘Ham’s Bay’, where we found it difficult to collect the negroes, who had forced the owner and his family to take flight in a fishing boat shortly before. After having restored something like order among them, we returned to Frederiksted.

The expedition in charge of Major Gyllich, after visiting twenty odd estates reached as far as ‘La Reine’. Mr. Beech read the proclamation on each of them. On the road they learned that there was a large gathering at estate ‘Slob’, which had been doing a great deal of plundering and destruction. Though Buddhoe declared that he did not know that estate ‘Slob’ was outside of West End jurisdiction, Major Gyllich decided to go there, being under the impression that he might prevent further troubles.

[…]

On Tuesday and Wednesday several planters with their families came into town, and sought refuge on board the ships in the harbour. The owner of the estate ‘Negro Bay’, with twenty or thirty other managers and overseers also came in. An error which resulted in his estate being plundered. By this time prisoners were being continuously brought in. The negroes bringing them in themselves. To this Buddhoe mainly contributed.

 

Tekst 42 | Oversigten over kildetekster | Tekst 44

 

1 Father O’Ryan.

2 Skibene i havnen.

 

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