The Mulatto Solitude

Born around 1780, the mulatto Solitude was a historical figure of the 1802 uprisings against the reinstatement of Lacrosse, who had been appointed Captain-General of Guadeloupe by Napoleon Bonaparte and expelled in October 1801 following a coup by the army’s officers of colour.

In 1802, eight years after slavery was proclaimed abolished in Guadeloupe for the first time by Victor Hugues on 7 June 1794, Napoleon Bonaparte sent General Antoine Richepance to Guadeloupe. In charge of 3,500 men, he was instructed to reinstate Lacrosse as Captain-General,  disarm all soldiers of colour, deport rebel officers and restore discipline among the former slaves.

In response, Battalion Chief (Commander) Joseph Ignace and Captains Palerme and Mas-soteau organized an uprising. On 10 May 1802, their fellow rebel Louis Delgrès launched a proclamation entitled ‘To the whole universe, the last cry of innocence and despair’. The mulatto Solitude, a few months pregnant, joined this fight against Richepance’s troops.

After eighteen days of unequal combat (between more than 4,000 soldiers on Richepance’s side and around 1,000 regular soldiers on the side of the rebels), the rebels were defeated. Solitude was taken prisoner around 23 May 1802, when Palerme’s camp in Dolé was taken. She was sentenced to death and tortured on 29 November that year, a day after giving birth.

A female figure of insurgents in Guadeloupe in 1802, the mulatto Solitude symbolizes the  Caribbean women and mothers who fought to protect the ideals of equality and freedom in the context of slavery.

The little we know about the mulatto Solitude is taken from a few lines in Histoire de la Guadeloupe (History of Guade-loupe), a book written by Auguste Lacour in the mid-nineteenth century. This comic strip is an interpretation of her story. The illustrations are based on historical and iconographic research into Guadeloupe and slavery. They do not claim to be an accurate representation of the events, people, architecture,  hairstyles or clothing of the period.

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Spotlight on women!

The UNESCO Women in African History Series aims to highlight a selection of key women figures in African history. Through the use of ICT, the project showcases 20 African women or women of African descent, who represent only a small part of the contribution of African women, known and unknown, to the history of their countries, Africa and all mankind. Through this project, UNESCO seeks to highlight their legacy and calls for continued research on the role of women in African history.

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