Posted by: Dr. Y. | January 26, 2010

Haiti and Toussaint Louverture

Map of Haiti

Map of Haiti

I have been so stricken by the recent tragedy in Haiti, that I thought it would only be fit to talk about Haiti, and celebrate the first Black independent nation in the western hemisphere, and in the world. What better way than to salute Toussaint Louverture, the great black general who defeated Napoleon’s army, and French, British, and Spaniards? What better way than to salute the genius of Toussaint! Think about this: Napoleon, one of the greatest generals that ever lived, being beaten by a… self-educated slave with no military training… being driven off the shores of Haiti by Toussaint who then led his country to independence.

Toussaint Louverture

Toussaint Louverture

Well, Toussaint Louverture was a military genius like none other. He was actually born a slave and worked on a plantation, and then earned his freedom. By the time the slave rebellion started, he did not want to join in at first; but later on joined the slave rebellion only to realize that their leaders were inept and would compromise with the white farmers. Toussaint rose through the ranks and became the undisputed leader of the rebellion. He also had two great generals under him: Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe, who would both later become presidents of Haiti.

Toussaint and Haitian revolutionToussaint’s struggle was a struggle for freedom, equal rights, and justice for all. Having earned his freedom before, he knew what it meant to be free, and drafted a constitution. After sending out the French in Saint-Domingue (present day Haiti) in 1799, he turned to spanish Santo Domingo where slavery was still in effect, and took control of the entire island defeating the spaniards, and freeing the slaves. He then started to draft a constitution in 1801 for the entire island of Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and Dominican Republic). The French, the Spanish, and even the Americans hated Toussaint, because of his effect on people. Imagine this: a Black leader freeing slaves, a nation where slaves had taken control of their destiny did not sit well with Americans who still owned slaves and could not bear such a news. By 1803, Napoleon ready to surrender Haiti, decided to meet with Toussaint on a peace deal; but the French tricked Toussaint, and when Toussaint came to the rendez-vous, he was arrested and taken to France by ship where he was put in the coldest prison of France. Toussaint, a tropic guy, died of cold and starvation in this prison.

Toussaint Louverture

Statue of Toussaint

The most important and beautiful about the story of Toussaint and Haiti, is that this was the first time a people rose up, an enslaved people rebelled and succeeded in getting their freedom, and in founding a country…. they were able to defeat the establishment. This is why Haiti is a treasure to the world. Haiti represents a people fighting for their rights, for their freedom, and for their voice to be heard. In the wake of this devastating earthquake, I know the Haitian people will rise from ashes just like the phoenix!

Please watch this documentary about “Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian revolution” from ITVS. To learn more, you can read about Toussaint on Wikipedia, A biography of Toussaint by J.R. Beard, Toussaint Louverture Historical Society, and check out the website Filmsdocumentaires.com which has a snippet of a documentary on Toussaint.


Responses

  1. Of historical interest — You can see a clip of Toussaint’s last moments in prison from the award-winning new short film “The Last Days of Toussaint L’Ouverture” at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2468184/

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  2. Just wanted to say thanks for taking time in presenting this great sentiment. We need more people voicing the whole truth of history… Great job…

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  3. Pero la revisión de estos puntos son una buena manera de comenzar a posicionar tu net.

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  4. This design is incredible! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Excellent job.

    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

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  5. Excellent write-up. I definitely love this site. Stick with it!

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  6. Good post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Bless you!

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  7. The Dominican Independence War gave the Dominican Republic autonomy from Haiti on February 27, 1844. Before the war, the island of Hispaniola had been united under the Haitian government for a period of 22 years when the newly independent nation, then known as the Republic of Spanish Haiti, was invaded by Haiti in 1822. Previously known as the Captaincy General of Santo Domingo, the criollo class within the country overthrew the Spanish crown in 1821 before unifying with Haiti a year later.

    At the time Haiti had been more economically and militarily powerful and had a population 8 to 10 times larger than the former Spanish colony, having been the richest colony in the western hemisphere before the Haitian Revolution. Dominican military officers agreed to merge the newly independent nation with Haiti, as they sought for political stability under the Haitian president Jean-Pierre Boyer, and were attracted to Haiti’s perceived wealth and power at the time. However, due to the Haitian government’s mismanagement, heavy military disputes, and an economic crisis the Haitian government became increasingly unpopular, thus the Dominican people decided to forcefully overthrow the Haitian government with no compromises.

    After winning the war and ousting the Haitian occupying force from the country, Dominican nationalists fought against a series of attempted Haitian invasions that served to consolidate their independence from 1844 to 1856. Under the command of the “emperor” Faustin Soulouque Haitian soldiers would make incessant attacks to try to gain back control of the territory, but these efforts were to no avail as the Dominicans would go on to decisively win every battle henceforth. Since then, Dominican-Haitian relations have been unstable.

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