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A biography of francois dominique toussaint loverture the leader of the haitian revolution

In the late 1790s Toussaint Louverture, a military leader and former slave, gained control of several areas and earned the initial support of French agents. He gave nominal allegiance to France while pursuing his own political and military designs, which included negotiating with the British, and in May 1801… Rise to power Toussaint was the son of an educated slave; he acquired through Jesuit contacts some knowledge of French, though he wrote and spoke it poorly, usually employing Haitian Creole and African tribal language.

Winning the favour of the plantation manager, he became a livestock handler, healer, coachman, and finally steward. Legally freed in 1776, he married and had two sons.

A biography of francois dominique toussaint loverture the leader of the haitian revolution

Toussaint was homely, short, and small framed. He was a fervent Roman Catholic, opposed to Vodou Voodoo. He dressed simply and was abstemious and a vegetarian. Although he slept little, his energy and capacity for work were astonishing. As a leader he inspired awe and adulation. When a sudden slave revolt began in the northern province August 1791 and soon spread to encompass thousands of slaves across the colony, Toussaint was at first uncommitted. After hesitating a few weeks, he helped his former master escape and then joined the black forces who were burning plantations and killing many Europeans and mulattoes people of mixed African and European ancestry.

  • Leclerc, his brother-in-law, to subdue Toussaint, deport him and his principal collaborators to France, and return the colony to slavery;
  • Rigaud, had cooperated with the blacks against the British, many of the mulattoes really wished to reimpose slavery.

He soon discerned the ineptitude of the rebel leaders and scorned their willingness to compromise with European radicals. Collecting an army of his own, Toussaint trained his followers in the tactics of guerrilla warfare. When France and Spain went to war in 1793, the black commanders joined the Spaniards of Santo Domingothe eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola now the Dominican Republic. Yet, in May 1794, Toussaint went over to the French, giving as his reasons that the French National Convention had recently freed all slaves, while Spain and Britain refused, and that he had become a republican.

He has been criticized for the duplicity of his dealings with his onetime allies and for a slaughter of Spaniards at a mass. His switch was decisive: By 1795 Toussaint Louverture was widely renowned.

He was adored by blacks and appreciated by most Europeans and mulattoes, for he did much to restore the economy. Convinced that people were naturally corrupt, he felt that compulsion was needed to prevent idleness. Yet the labourers were no longer whipped: Racial tensions were eased because Toussaint preached reconciliation and believed that blacks, a majority of whom were African born, had to learn from Europeans and Europeanized mulattoes.

Elimination of rivals Though he worked well with Laveaux, Toussaint eased him out in 1796. After some devious maneuvers, Toussaint forced Sonthonax out in 1797. Next to go were the British, whose losses caused them to negotiate secretly with Toussaint, notwithstanding the war with France.

  • The Black Republic 1954; rev;
  • Toussaint then arranged for his nominal French superiors to be sent to Paris as colonial representatives to the French Assembly;
  • Toussaint also turned his energies to rebuilding the plantation economy, shattered as it was by a decade of strife;
  • Convinced that people were naturally corrupt, he felt that compulsion was needed to prevent idleness;
  • He has been criticized for the duplicity of his dealings with his onetime allies and for a slaughter of Spaniards at a mass.

Treaties in 1798 and 1799 secured their complete withdrawal. Lucrative trade was begun with Britain and with the United States.

In return for arms and goods, Toussaint sold sugar and promised not to invade Jamaica or the American South. The British offered to recognize him as king of an independent Haiti, but, scornful of pompous titles and distrustful of the British because they maintained slaveryhe refused. Then a bloody campaign in 1799 eliminated another potential rival to Toussaint by driving Rigaud out and destroying his mulatto state.

A purge that was carried out by Jean-Jacques Dessalines in the south was so brutal that reconciliation with the mulattoes was impossible. Ignoring commands to the contrary by Roume and by Napoleon Bonapartewho had become first consul of France, Toussaint overran it in January 1801, freed the slaves, and amazed the Europeans and mulattoes with his magnanimity.

François Dominique Toussaint L

In command of the entire island, Toussaint dictated a constitution that made him governor-general for life with near absolute powers. Catholicism was the state religion, and many revolutionary principles received ostensible sanction. There was no provision for a French official, however, because Toussaint professed himself a Frenchman and strove to convince Bonaparte of his loyalty.

He also described his success in restoring order and prosperity in epistles that, like all his writings, were ungrammatical yet testify to the grasp, incisiveness, and depth of a formidable intellect. Toussaint knew Bonaparte despised blacks and planned to reinstitute slavery.

Toussaint Louverture

He was also aware that Bonaparte would seek to intimidate the island upon making peace with England; therefore, he drilled a huge army and stored supplies. Yet Toussaint behaved ambiguously: He desired above all to prevent a restoration of slavery while preserving the society he had built.

A French invasion under Gen. Charles Leclerc began in January 1802 in far greater force than expected.

  • Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration "Exploring the ambiguous and contested place of Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution in American political and cultural life, [Matthew Clavin] contends that Haiti's influence extended well into the nineteenth century and was a significant factor in shaping American understandings of their Civil War;
  • As a leader he inspired awe and adulation;
  • Early in 1801 his army captured Santo Domingo, capital of the Spanish part of Hispaniola.

Most Europeans and mulattoes defected to him; after a few weeks of furious fighting, the chief black leaders, even Christophe and Dessalines, sided with Leclerc as well. Toussaint retired in honour to a plantation. A few weeks later, in June, he was invited to a parley by a French general, Jean-Baptiste Brunet, under false pretenses.