Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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OSMOND, Desire Gaston Bene, Viscount d', French explorer, born near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1763 ; died in Moulins, France, in 1819. He was descended from early settlers in Louisiana, received his education in Paris, and served afterward in the body-guard of Louis XVI. After the riots in the palace of Versailles on 5 and 6 October, 1789, he resigned, and, returning to Louisiana, lived on his estate for several years, dividing his time between hunting, fishing, farming, and cattle-breeding, he accepted in 1'798 a mission from the French Directory to visit citizens of the country, ascertain their feelings toward a retrocession of the colony to France, and, if possible, to organize a movement to that end. Osmond reported a few months later that public sentiment was on the whole favorable to France, but that the citizens would oppose annexation unless the directory should give pledges for the maintenance of slavery. This report caused a sensation in Paris. It was well received by the authorities, who had already decided to re-establish slavery throughout the French possessions, and consequently the pledges were readily given. In the spring of 1803 Osmond, being summoned by his old friend, General Rochambeau, went to Santo Domingo and opened negotiations with the principal negro chiefs for their submission to France. Dessalines and Christophe were willing to come to an agreement on the promise of the enfranchisement of the slaves and a general amnesty, but Petion claimed absolute independence for the country, and the negotiations failed through his efforts. Osmond then returned to Louisiana, aim afterward travelled in California and Mexico in 1806-'10. After visiting Oregon, Texas, Florida, both Carolinas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, he went to France in 1814, on the restoration of Louis XVIII., and became a gentleman of the private chamber of the king. He died near Noulins, where he had gone to restore his health, which had been impaired by the hardships of his travels. He published "Memoire sur l'etat de l'opinion publique en Louisiane, et de la necessite du maintien de l'esclavage dans le cas d'un retour eventuel de la colonie g la France" (Paris, 1799);" Dix ans de voyages a travers l'Amerique du Nord" (2 vols., 1817); " Voyage a travers la Californie " (1818) ; and "Cinq mois de negociations avec les chefs noirs rebelles de Saint Domingue " (1819).
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