My name is Agwe Lasseche, I am a slave in Haiti struggling for a free life. Today I found this book next to the trail leading back to the field. I don’t know who's it is but the old torn cover filled with empty pages shows me it doesn’t look very wanted. Maybe I was meant to find this book, so someone one day will find it and make a change to the harsh lifestyle of slaves. Freedom is all I wish for.
April 30, 1791:
My master worked us harder than ever today, He keeps whipping us and barking out orders. I still wonder how I came to live in this rough life. How did my parents cope with this? I didn’t even know them and my master tells me that they are dead. But working next to all the other slaves, and having all of us suffer the same things, is almost reassuring because they all are going through the same thing. I know that my slave brother and sisters and I all want and to find a way out of this hell hole.
May 2, 1791:
It is horrible here. I cant explain the pain inflicted on every inch of my body. My hands crack and tear and I am starting to see the indent of my shovel handle imprinted on my palm. The sun burn on my head is beginning to feel like its stretching my skin to a thin layer. I'm confused why my master shaved my head. He says its to keep me from overheating, yet the burns are increasing by the second . My mouth is dry and tasteless as I yearn for the food that my master gives me in finite portions. The children are struggling with this small amount of food so I have been sharing a bit of mine just so they can survive throughout the day. I have been forced to sleep on the floor of our dirty old shack and I'm trying my best to avoid thinking about the winter. The blistering cold will seep through the walls since there is no heat provided in our small living space. I was very lucky to even find this book. Maybe one day people will end this suffering and the children that lie next to me can grow up to a full plate of food to at least keep the color in their face. God help me, please.
May 15, 1791:
Things are no different, but our “loving” master has finally given into out pleads of having more blankets. The hard, wooden ground isn’t as comfortable as he would like to think. Maybe he will finally register that we work for him and he should pay some respect to us. But of course the color issue comes up. Just because he is white doesn’t meant that he has to own more than enough black slaves, which are slowly dying every day. I just wish that he had the caring to let us be happy, and maybe we might be able to do our work more thoroughly due to our full stomachs and happy houses. But, in reality, that won’t happen.
May 29, 1791:
Nothing has changed. Something needs to happen so that we show him that we can’t be pushed around. Across the whole plantation, there has been talk of a big movement, involving all the fields. But nothing has happened. And people have been talking about it for about 3 days or so. But the people in my housing unit have been talking and we all agree that groups should leave and make a break for the freedom and the good life out there.
June 14, 1791:
Earlier today when I was in the field I over heard some of the other workers talking about some sort of movement that was happening. I think its some type of slave protest. I wasn't able to hear much more because my master started yelling at me. One thing I did hear is that apparently Haiti is composed mostly of slaves in a ratio of 8 to 1. I knew there were a lot of us but I didn’t know that it was such a great amount. Maybe there is some hope after all, but it would only work if we all worked together. Maybe I will get to hear some more tomorrow, but other than that its time for me to go to bed. I need my sleep now that my master has started me on cotton picking.
June 20, 1791:
I did it! I climbed my tree. I snuck out when they put us into our houses. I had to wait until the nightly guards left and I went out through our door. Waling with a quick pace towards the fields where I work, I spotted my tree. My beautiful, magnificent tree. Hopping up onto the branches, I climbed my way up. And sitting on a branch for the whole night, I witnessed the most beautiful thing ever. I saw the sun coming up into the sky and breaking light across the whole camp. I got to see the whole camp and see all the different fields. With the different houses, and the guards walking back and forth. This brought me back to reality. My master is probably out; rounding up hmen and having them feed us what they call food. I turned around, and saw that my camp was empty. No guards. No people. Nothing. It was just the rustle of the trees around me. It was the most amazing feeling ever. I felt……..free.
July 3, 1791:
It's another day in hell for us. I've been trying to listen for any more information about that movement, but I haven’t heard anything so far. II hate just sitting here not doing anything, when I know we can make a difference with all of this. I think that if there is any chance of us getting together to fight, It will have to happen soon. I want to help, I’m escaping, I have to.
July 10, 1791:
As you can see, my great escape didn’t go so well. I was only able to go a day without being caught by the police. They came up to me without even asking weather I was free or not, and just dragged me off. The last thing I remember is being thrown out of the back of a police truck and on to my master’s front porch. I woke up the next morning with bruises all over my body. I’m pretty sure three of my fingers are broken but there is nothing I can do about that. Apparently my master beat me unconscious. Then I wandered back to the shed and went back to work and I was hoping I wouldn’t be punished extra for this episode but I knew I would.
August 1, 1791:
The talk about the slave movement has grown stronger. Fellow workers are no longer in hushed tone, but louder and waiting in anticipation. My master has become paranoid of a rebellion. He has begun to put locks on our sheds at night and will not let us approach him without him holding his gun. He has beat harder and with more force to try and prove that he is still in control. He has made us work through all hours of the night. I’m beginning to get very worried for all the children I don’t think can take much more of this labor. He thinks that if we are this tired we will be in no condition to fight, but he is very wrong. All he has done is make our anger fiercer and given us more reason to fight back. We haven’t heard much, but I’m pretty sure there have been other slave groups that have escaped. We are not alone!
August 10, 1791:
The was a slave rebellion in the field next to us. We could hear gun fire from ours. Before we could see anything our master locked us all up. We were let out of our shacks when it was all over. One of the slaves came over to our field to seeking refuge. We hid him from our master in our shack. When ever he would come to do a head count to see if anyone was missing he would hide around back. Our master never would have suspected that the was an extra head. Everyone had to give him a little of the food when supper came. In return he told us of how we could escape our masters clutches as well. We came up with many plans, but went with the one that let the most of us survive. We go through with it tomorrow night. Wish me luck.
August 25, 1791:
Success! We escaped! Sorry I haven't written in a while I have been very busy. I have been living with a group of escaped slaves for the past couple of weeks. I had no idea that there were this many of us. We seem to vastly outnumber the whites. I didn’t know how easy it would be to band together. Everyone is so strong; I have seen so many tough and confident people. I’m so inspired by my fellow slaves because of their bravery and courage shown throughout this battle. Many of us die every week, but for some of us, it is better than living in the world that the whites have created for us. I have been appointed the job of scouting. A few men and I are sent through out different field to help other slaves escape and join our assembly. There have been many freed slaves that have offered to help out. They offer homes for some of the newly escaped slaves.. Everything seems to be going well but our food supply has been becoming scarce. Our group is getting bigger everyday. At this rate we will be free in no time. I pray for the men who have died and the men still fighting, but I pray for my freed life. God we are almost there.
Together we fight to for our freedom everyday. We have been living with the many freed slaves that have offered to help us out. They take in a couple of rebels almost everyday and hide them from the police. They also feed us, or they atleas try to. One of our biggest problems is getting our hands on food. We are very under fed and it is slowing us down. It seems that the freed slaves are helping us, because they still don’t have it too good. White people still look down at you. You can only get some of the worst jobs out there, and still get paid next to nothing.
August 30, 1791:
This is it, I have been sent out to recruit a whole new part of Haiti I have never seen before. The journey is long and I am not bringing a heavy load. I am leaving my journal here, buried in the creek bank next to our main headquarters. Everything has been looking great. And the battle that I am taking part in can only go up from here. This is what I fought for, and I will make the best of it. I want to live in freedom and here I am. So let my life begin. In all honesty I think we can really win this thing. God will be with my fellow soldiers and I. I have a good feeling about this.
Signed, Agwe Lasseche