On August 29, 1789, approximately thirty free people of color residing in Paris got together for the first time here in the lawyer Joly’s offices. Discriminated against due to their skin color, they were free, but not recognized as citizens. Using the name “American colonists,” the group, either from Saint-Domingue, Martinique or Guadeloupe, drew up a list of grievances, i.e. a list of demands, in order to specifically request equal rights. However, they would not obtain these rights until 1792.
Among this list’s signatories was a man with a tragic destiny: Vincent Ogé. Born in Saint-Domingue to a rich family, this “mulatto,” like certain mixed-race people were then called, studied in France before returning as a trader. When the Revolution broke out, he demanded equal rights for free people of color. However, the colonial party was powerful, so he chose insurrection. In 1790, he organized a rebellion in the mountains of Saint-Domingue. Arrested, he was broken on the wheel and died on February 25, 1791. Nevertheless, his work was not in vain: the slave uprising did not stop until the abolition of slavery in 1794.