Toussaint L’Ouverture, a Haitian born slave, was the remarkable leader who organized and led the slave revolt of 1791. As a literate and educated man, he often busied himself with reading the works of French Enlightenment philosophers, who preached individual rights and equality among men. In 1789 the French Revolutionaries (who advocated liberty, fraternity and equality) exempted the slaves from the “Rights of Man”; leaving them feeling betrayed thus fueling the fire of rebellion.
Toussaint’s extraordinary military ability easily earned him the title of general. Backed by an army of frustrated slaves, he defeated the French revolutionary army (aided by the spread of Yellow Fever) after forging an alliance with the Spaniards. However, when the Jacobins abolished slavery throughout all territories of the French Republic in 1793, he allied with France to deal a crippling defeat to the invading Spanish and British. While passionately fighting for emancipation, Toussaint acquired the friendship and support of John Adams (the vice President of the United States in 1795) who contributed 30,000 guns to the black forces in aid of their battle against the British. By October 1798 the English had completely withdrawn from Saint Domingue after signing an armistice.
Toussaint then turned his attentions to the coloureds, murdering and mutilating thousands in 1799 and 1800 with the aim of making Saint Domingue the ideal home for blacks. In 1799 the French appointed him as the Governor General of Saint Domingue (powerless to do much else); and by 1800 Toussaint ceased the widespread slaughter and focused instead on bringing stability and economic recovery to the country. His solution was forced labour and as such he lost the favor of the blacks who had no intention of returning to plantation labour.
By 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte had become the consul of France. He was an autocratic ruler who would not stand to have two leaders in the French Empire and was very displeased...
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