In 1789, Saint-Domingue was plagued by a number of contradictions. The great white planters demanded political autonomy. The Affranchis, most of whom were landowners, clamoured for civil and political equality with the whites.
The slaves looked for freedom. Brought from Africa, they toiled on plantations and in production workshops and were at the mercy of the overseer's whip. On the night of 21–22 August 1791, following a political movement in the North Province under the leadership of a certain Boukman, slaves set fire to the plantations and attacked their masters. The insurrection spread to the West and South Provinces.
The fight waged by the slaves became more structured with the emergence of Toussaint-Louverture. As the commander of an army that he personally organized, he became a powerful figure in the colony. From 1794 to 1802, Toussaint-Louverture led the combat. In order to keep Saint-Domingue within its colonial empire, the French authorities came to terms with Toussaint-Louverture, promoting him to the rank of general in chief of the Saint-Domingue army and, later, governor.
In such a position of power, he made freedom of blacks the focus of his international policy and made the revival of production the focus of his domestic policy. Toussaint-Louverture forged an autonomous policy vis-à-vis France. In 1801, without the backing of French authorities, he entered the eastern side of the island, then under Spanish domination, and abolished slavery there. In the same year he promulgated a constitution for the entire island with immediate application. Nonetheless, he sent it to France for approval by Napoleon Bonaparte. In response, Napoleon deployed twenty-two thousand troops and eighty-six warships in order to subdue Toussaint-Louverture and restore slavery in the colony and in all the other French dependencies of America. The troops also had a mission to expand the French colonial empire in America, going from Saint-Domingue up to the former French possessions along the Mississippi.
"Their first move toward overthrowing the White slave owners was a highly effective campaign of Poisoning. It began in the mid-18th Century. So well organized was the” Poisoned Network," that barrels of Ale straight off ships from Europe were already rendered deadly. As the tide turned in favour of the rebels, the Revolution proper was launched in 1791 with a Voodoo ritual involving the sacrifice of a "black Pig."
According To Multimedia Grolier Encyclopaedia:
"Inspired By The French Revolution (1789) The Slaves In The Colony, Under The Leadership Of Francois Toussant L'ouverture, Rebelled (1791) And Gained Control Of The Colony But Did Not Declare Independence. In 1802, Napoleon I Sent A French Army Under General Charles Leclerc To Subdue The Haitians. Leclerc Captured Toussaint, But The Haitian Force Under Jean Jacques Dessalines And Henri Christopher Defeated The French. The Whole Island Was Declared Independent On Jan. l, 1804 And Given The Name Of Haiti."
Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture (1743-1803 AD)
Toussaint L'Ouverture is heralded for his shrewd abilities to mobilize and command thousands in an unseen army. He demanded discipline, loyalty, and allegiance to the cause of liberty. John Hope Franklin states in From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, "Haiti was the first of the New World countries to sweep slavery aside." Without the military genius of L'Ouverture, Haiti would never have defeated the French for her freedom.
Toussaint L'Ouverture spent most of his life as a model captive working as a carriage driver on the Breda plantation in Haiti. He was married to Suzanne and they had two sons.
L'Ouverture was a devout Roman Catholic, self-educated and literate in French. He had extensive knowledge of the usage of medicinal herbs and used this skill in 1791, when the revolution began, as a physician for the rebel troops. He quickly rose through the ranks and became responsible for training the men. He turned them into a well- disciplined military force with the ability to use maneuvers conducive for guerilla warfare or regular land-force fighting. For ten years he outmaneuvered the Spanish, the English, the French, and a small rebellious force of mulattoes. He used his influence and charisma to restore the country to peaceful growth. Bridges were built, schools were encouraged with awards for the best scholars. L'Ouverture also encouraged the minority White population to contribute their talent toward the development of Haiti. L'Ouverture was too successful and Napoleon knew that he needed the island to forward his plans for the Louisiana Territory.
Napoleon sent his brother-in-law, Le Clere, with an additional 25,000 soldiers to recapture the tiny island. Betrayed by one of his aides, L'Ouverture was captured and taken to France.
He was accused of conspiracy, imprisoned, and died the next year in a cold prison cell, far from his native island.
After his capture by the French, a major revolt occurred. The French forces were defeated by the heat, malaria, yellow fever, and tenacious cunning of the officers and captives trained by L'Ouverture.
Lerone Bennet, Jr. states in Before the Mayflower, "The French lost some 60,000 men and a rich colony and Napoleon soured on the Western Hemisphere and sold the Louisiana Territory to America for four cents an acre - the biggest real estate bargain in history," in 1803. Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture is revered and praised today as one of the courageous founders of Haiti.
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