Apr 07

Rest in Power, Brother Touissant

212 years ago to the day we lost a brother and military leader, Francois Dominique Toussaint L’ouverture, born into slavery on the Plantation Bréda near Cap-Français (now Cap-Haitien). At a young age his massa recognised his superior intelligence so he taught him French and gave him duties which allowed him to educate himself through extensive reading. His favourite subjects were the military campaigns of Julius Caesar, Machiavelli and Alexander the Great.

Toussaint started his military career as a leader of the 1791 slave rebellion in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, he was already by then a free black man. He was allied with the Spaniards of neighbouring Santo Domingo but he switched allegiance to the French once they abolished slavery. He gained control over the whole island using his political and military tactics, and whilst in power he improved the economy and security of Saint-Domingue. He reopened the plantations – not using slaves but using paid workers. He negotiated trade treaties with the British and United Snakes of America and maintained a large and well-disciplined army.

In 1802 Napoleon was getting tired of the Saint-Domingue colony (now known as the Republic of Haiti) and wanted rid of it, so he and Toussaint agreed to terms of peace. Napoleon agreed to give the Haitians their independence and Toussaint agreed to retire from public life. A few months after the agreement, the French invited Toussaint to a negotiating meeting with guarantees of full safe conduct. But when he arrived he was betrayed by the French and placed under arrest. They put him on a ship and sent him to France where he was placed in jail in Fort-de-Joux in the Doubs. Toussaint was left to starve and ended up dying. Back in the Republic of Haiti however, Jean-Jacques Dessalines finished off what Toussaint started and finally won independence for Haiti. Years after Toussaint’s death when Napoleon was in exile at St. Helena he was asked about the dishonorable treatment of Toussaint, to which his only reply was “What could the death of one wretched Negro mean to me?” Well Napoleon, he out smarted you on every battlefield to the point you had to use trickery – the only tool the Whiteman has against the black man.

“I was born a slave, but nature gave me a soul of a free man….”

20 May 1743 – 7 April 1803




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