Born to a White man of wealth and freed Black woman in 1755, Vincent Oge was a free man of color who was one of the main voices against White rule in Saint-Domingue–later Haiti. He would use his education and status to ignite the Oge Rebellion in the French colony during late 1790.
Vincent Oge’s Upbringing
Born to Jacque Oge and Jacqueline Osse, Vincent was one of eight children. The Oge family’s wealth came from a coffee plantation on the colony. The plantation was located in London where his mother would go into business supplying meat to butchers in the parish.
Young Vincent proved to be a child with promise. He received an education in Bordeaux, France before returning to the colony to work with his uncle—also named Vincent Oge. His uncle lived in the main city of Cap-Francais and worked as a merchant.
During 1789, Oge was representing his uncle’s business in Paris when the French Revolution started. Seeing how the Revolution bloodily forced a change in France, he brought the same ideas back to Saint-Domingue. While not the first to do so, Oge would speak with plantation owners to make the laws more favorable towards light-skinned Black men regardless of status. As it stood, the laws only favored light-skinned Black men if they were well educated and wealthy.
As expected, the idea was rejected and Oge headed to France with another wealthy Black named Julien Raimond and a White lawyer, Etienne Dejoly. The intent was to push for the French government to change the laws directly.
To alleviate fears that it could turn into a dismantling of slavery in the French colony—and create a precedent—the trio stated they didn’t want to do away with slavery. Instead, the goal was voting rights for wealthy free men of color. Since a number of free men of color who came from wealth held slaves—Oge and Raimond included—wealthy free men would only add to the political strength to keep slavery in place.
As Vincent Oge would find out, France preferred everything in place as it was at the moment. Soon France would find this would prove to be a problem for its colony by the end of 1890.