Toussaint L'Ouverture

Topics: Haiti, Haitian Revolution, Jean-Jacques Dessalines Pages: 12 (4687 words) Published: April 19, 2013
François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture also Toussaint Bréda, Toussaint-Louverture (c. 1743 – April 7, 1803) was the leader of the Haitian Revolution. His military genius and political acumen led to the establishment of the independent black state of Haiti, transforming an entire society of slaves into a free, self-governing people.[1] The success of the Haitian Revolution shook the institution of slavery throughout the New World.[2] Toussaint Louverture began his military career as a leader of the 1791 slave rebellion in the French colony of Saint Domingue. Initially allied with the Spaniards of neighboring Santo Domingo, Toussaint switched allegiance to the French when they abolished slavery. He gradually established control over the whole island, expelled British invaders and used political and military tactics to gain dominance over his rivals. Throughout his years in power, he worked to improve the economy and security of Saint Domingue. He restored the plantation system using free labour, negotiated trade treaties with Britain and the United States and maintained a large and well-disciplined army.[3] In 1801 he promulgated an autonomist constitution for the colony, with himself as governor for life. In 1802 he was forced to resign by forces sent by Napoleon Bonaparte to restore French authority in the colony. He was deported to France, where he died in 1803. The Haitian Revolution continued under his lieutenant, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who declared independence in 1804.[3] * Early life

The earliest records of Toussaint Louverture's life come from a small number of his recorded remarks and the reminiscences of his son Isaac Louverture.[4] Most histories identify Toussaint's father as Gaou Guinou, a younger son of the king of Arrada in modern-day Benin, who had been captured in war and sold into slavery. His mother Pauline, was Gaou Guinou's second wife. The couple had several children and Toussaint was the eldest son.[5] Other historians believe that his father was Pierre Baptiste, who is usually considered to have been his godfather.[6] Toussaint is thought to have been born on the plantation of Bréda at Haut de Cap in Saint-Domingue, which was owned by the Comte de Noé and later managed by Bayon de Libertat.[7] His date of birth is uncertain, but his name suggests he was born on All Saints Day and was probably about 50 at the start of the revolution in 1791.[8] In childhood, he earned the nickname Fatras Baton, suggesting he was small and weak, though he was to become known for his stamina and riding prowess.[9] An alternative explanation of Toussaint's origins is that he arrived at Bréda with Bayon de Libertat when the new overseer took up his duties in 1772.[10] * Education

Toussaint is believed to have been well educated by his godfather, Pierre Baptiste. Historians have speculated as to Toussaint's intellectual background. His extant letters demonstrate a command of French in addition to Creole patois; he was familiar with Epictetus, the Stoic philosopher who had also lived as a slave; and his public speeches as well as his life's work, according to his biographers, evidence a familiarity with Machiavelli.[11] Some cite Abbé Raynal, who wrote against slavery, as a possible influence:[12] He may also have attained some education from Jesuit missionaries. His medical knowledge is attributed to familiarity with African herbal-medical techniques as well those techniques commonly found in Jesuit-administered hospitals.[13] A few legal documents signed on Toussaint's behalf between 1778 and 1781 raise the possibility that he could not write at that time.[14] Throughout his military and political career, he made use of secretaries for most of his correspondence, but a few surviving documents in his own hand confirm that he could write, though his spelling in the French language was "strictly phonetic".[15] * Marriage and children

In 1782, Toussaint married Suzanne Simone Baptiste Louverture, who is thought...
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