Said to be born a slave on the Breda Plantation on May 20th, 1743, he died a
prisoner in a damp cell of Fort-de-Joux in the Jura, Lower Alps, France on
April 7th, 1803.
In reality, he has never been a slave. On his marriage certificate done in a
place named "au Borgne", dated September 3, 1777, one may read clearly that
Toussaint Breda was a free black individual (nègre libre). This is clearly
noted in the margin of that Certificate that was signed by the curé de la
Paroisse of that time.
Eldest son of Gaou Guinou:
Francois Dominique Toussaint was born on May 20th 1746 au Haut du Cap on the
Habitation of the Comte de Noé from Gaou Guinou, his father and Pauline, his
mother. His Vodou name or "nom syen-syen" as it was said in the Fongbe
language of Dahomen was "Fatara Batò", a strong Vodou name that means "He who
leads well the ceremonies".
As it will be seen in the following discussion, he was the son of some one
who was pretending to the throne of Allada, Gaou Guinou, and not the
Grand-son as it is commonly taught in schools. He received a princely
education and not the one of a slave.
In 1724, as reported by Vodou history which is the History "written" through
sacred songs, sacredly guarded and reported orally by the Haitian people
through their "oral tradition", the King of Allada died leaving two sons.
Upon his death, the eldest one named Hussar, in creole Issa, went seeking
refuge at one of his cousins, Agadja King Of Danhonmen, whose capital was
named Abomey. Agadja was at the same time the enemy of the King of Allada,
though being his cousin. King Agadja is well recognized by the Haitian people
in their religious Tradition as Kadja Bosou, Kadja Minsou, Kadja Dosou or
The second brother, Gaou Guinou, father of Toussaint Louverture, was then the
"pretendant" and legitimate heir to the throne of Allada since his brother
Hussar had disappeared. The name Gaou meant "Minister of war" and Guinou meant
"he who is always on the battlefield i.e., he who doesn't only sit behind a
The King-Conqueror Agadja found in the story of Hussar a good pretext to
invade the Kingdom of Allada. History reported that in three days he
slaughtered thousands of warriors and made more than 8.000 prisoners that he
sold as slaves to go to the New World. On that year of 1724, St. Domingue
received 10 to 12.000 slaves largely coming from Allada. (Cornevin R.-
Histoire du Dahomey, 1962 p.105)
The Minister of War and younger brother of the King of Allada, rather than
succeeding to his father and ascending naturally to the throne, chose then to
accompany his vanquished soldiers in exile. He was given a hammock on board
of a slave ship. He was accompanied by his wife, baptized in St. Domingue as
Catherine, Catherine Affiba, daughter of Affiba, King of the Aguias, and two
children, Genevieve and Augustin. Arriving in the New World, Gaou Guinou was
himself baptized "Hyppolite".
Hyppolite (Gaou Guinou) and Catherine Affiba were quickly separated by the
authorities of St. Domingue. Gaou/Hyppolite was sent to the Comte de Noé in
the North, and Catherine was granted to a Mr. De La Fontaine, near aux Cayes
along with her two children, Genevieve and Augustin.
Hyppolite then married another woman named Pauline and together they had 5
Francois Dominique Toussaint, was the eldest born on March 20th, 1743. The
others were named Jean Baptiste who later on was nominated General by
Toussaint. He died in 1794. Two younger sisters followed Jean Baptiste,
Marie-Noel (or Marie Noelle) and the other one is known as Mrs Claude Martin
whose husband was a colonel. The youngest child of Hyppolite and Pauline was
named Gaou because, it was said, he resembled his grandfather. Toussaint
may be found in his early age as an animal care taker (garcon d'ecurie), then
as a coach driver (coacher) of Bayon de Libertad. Later on he became secretary
of Jean Francois and Biassou.
On July 9th, l793 he was officially nominated Medecin des Armees or surgeon.
On April 6th, 1794, he was fighting in the Spanish army at the head of 5.000
In 1795, the "Directoire" recognized Toussaint and made him "General de
Brigade" of the French Army.
On May 4th, 1796 he became "Chef de Brigade" and "Commandant des Gonaives et de
ses dependances". As such, he fought the Spanish army and later on, the
English army that invaded the Island.
On July 23rd, 1796 he was again made General de Brigade
On May of 1797, he became Lieutenant Governor of St. Domingue.
That same year, he became General de Division at the same level with Laveaux.
Then he was made General en chef, recognized by Sonthonax.
On January 27th, 1801 he became General en chef and Master of St. Domingue at
the head of an army of 25.000 men. He then annexed the Eastern part of the
Island of Hispaniola, that had been given to France by the "Traite de Basle".
In 1801, he became "Gouverneur General à vie". He elaborated a Constitution
for St. Domingue.
On February 1st, 1802 he received an expedition of Napoleon led by Leclerc to
On May 5, 1802, He capitulated and submitted his resignation. He then moved
to his private home at Ennery.
On June 10th, 1802 he was arrested and deported to the Fort-de-Joux in the
Jura where he died on April 7th, 1803
Francois Dominique Toussaint married Suzanne Simon Baptiste on September 3rd,
1777. On the marriage certificate made in "Au Borgne" on that day it is
clearly hand written by the Curé, on the margin, that Toussaint was a "nègre
libre"( free Negro). Suzanne Simon Baptiste died on May 19th, 1816. Together with
Toussaint, she gave birth to three children, Placide, Isaac and St. Jean who
died on January 8th, 1804.
He was also known to have had three other children, 1) Rose who seems to have
been adopted by Toussaint, 2) Zizine, who seems to have been illegitimate and
Didine Gustave, born in Leogane.
At the Fort-de-Joux during his captivity, Toussaint revealed to General
Caffarelli who was sent to him by Napoleon, that in his life he had lost
eleven children, among them six girls, that three legitimate sons remained,
Placid, Isaac and St. Jean and two natural daughters, among them one named
Note: It seems that the aloe vera plant ( pyé Lalwa) that one generally finds
in very many courtyards of most houses in Haiti and in cemeteries would be a
symbolic representation of Toussaint Louverture and of his illustrious
sentence: "En me renversant..." Some of the roots of that plant are indeed
deep and from them always grow new plants, as if that plant was eternal.
A hero with many dimensions, he was a revolutionary, a man of Liberty at a
time of slavery. He was a fine military strategist, a man who made openings
everywhere. Though we only found his name Louverture mentioned officially in
St. Domingue in 1793, it seems that he bore that name long before that time.
For instance, in the archives of Seville it was mentioned of two gold medals.
One was offered to Biassou and the other one to Toussaint Louverture in 1792.
He was also a man with vision which allowed him to create the indigenous
army. He was a refined political strategist, a very capable leader and a
superb administrator whose influence dominated the coasts of North America,
of South America and of the many islands of the Caribbean.
He died on April 7th, 1803 after having played a major role in a particular
moment of the historical process of the world, a moment that brought out the
Independence of the United States of America, the French Revolution, the
Independence of Latin America and the Independence of Haiti.
He started late in life to put his imprints on the History of the world, at
an age when most great world leaders such as Alexander or Napoleon had ended
their lives. His name, Toussaint Louverture was projected on the historical
scene only in 1792-1793 when he said : I am Toussaint Louverture, my name
certainly might have reached you already." Old but eternal, his memory will
never stop to amaze the World to the point where Wendell Philips wrote that
the times produced two great men: George Washington and Toussaint Louverture.
But to us, proud and loyal Haitians, Toussaint Louverture was, and he will
remain, the perfect man of culture. By that, we mean the man who was
absolutely and thoroughly rooted in his society, who was constantly attuned
with the values of his community and who lived them constantly and in an
intensive manner. From his father, King of Allada he learned the sense of
order and discipline. He subsequently cultivated a high moral standard and a
greatness of feelings and manners..., all of these fine and exceptional
qualities that only may be found in the one the World must recognize today
as being the Man of the Millenium.
Max G. Beauvoir
Ardouin T 2 p. 86
J. Fouchard p. 76 and 80
Metral P. 322 at 330
Pamphile de la Croix P. 159
Placide David, p. 90
Rulx Leon. Simple propos... p. 91
Saint Mery, Livre VI P. 3
Thomas Madiou T. 2
St. Victor Jean Baptiste 2 tomes Deux Concepts d'Independance
Manigat, Leslie Francois. President - The 12 facets of Toussaint's genius.
April 7, 1988
Cornevin R.- Histoire du Dahomey, 1962 p.105