This page is dedicated to Toussaint LOUVERTURE
“I have taken my flight in the region of eagles; when I alight, it must be on the rock. And that rock must be a constitutional government of which I shall be the lead as long as I shall be among men”
Who Was Toussaint
Toussaint Louverture, Louverture also spelled L’Ouverture, original name (until c. 1793)
Showing Great Aptitude And Intelligence
Born François Dominique Toussaint, in 1743, Bréda, Saint-Domingue , he added later the name Louverture (getting rid of his first names). He was the leader, commander-in-chief and of the Haitian revolution that ended in the creation of the first African republic between 1787 and 99. He emancipated the slaves and negotiated for the French colony on Hispaniola Saint-Domingue, to be governed, briefly, by black former slaves as a French protectorate.
Toussaint was the son of an educated slave. He acquired some knowledge of French, but spoke mostly Creole,a fusion of French and African languages.
Living A life Of Health
Winning the favour of the plantation manager, he became a key worker in his master’s plantation, handling many responsibilities including healer, coachman, and finally steward. Legally freed in 1776, he married and had two sons. He dressed simply and refrained from eating swine meat and other animals. Although he slept little, his energy and capacity for work were astonishing. As a leader he inspired respect, admiration and awe.
Leading From The Front
In 1791, slaves started a revolt in the northern province and soon spread to 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. 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. Despite coming into battle with the French, Spanish and British, Toussaint used his higher tactical and strategies to push them back and chase them out of St Domingue.
The First Republic
Toussaint was widely renowned by 1795. By then he had established the first Republic of Haiti ran entirely by slaves. He was adored by blacks and appreciated by most Europeans and mulattoes, for he did much to restore the economy. Defying French Revolutionary laws, he allowed many émigré planters to return, and he used military organisational skills to force the former slaves to work. Convinced that people were naturally corrupt, he felt that compulsion was needed to prevent idleness. Yet the labourers were no longer whipped: they were legally free and equal, and they shared the profits of the restored plantations. 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. This was a strategy to get former slaves an “education”.
A Tragic End
Sadly in 1702, Toussaint Louverture fall into false pretences by a General, Jean Baptist Brunet, sent to trick him into a peace treaty with Napoleon. He died in confinement in April 1803.
Although many labelled Toussaint Louverture naive for allowing France to capture him, history will retain that his judgment was justified in that he liberated as many slaves as he could whilst having a soft heart for perhaps people he saw as white anti slavers.