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Perspectives on Toussaint
Man of the Millennium Article
History's Unsung Hero
Wendell Phillips on Toussaint Louverture
Biography Wendell Phillips
Life and Times of Toussaint Louverture
The World of Toussaint Louverture
The Slave Trade
The Constitution 1801
The Joux Castle
Les Plaintes de Toussaint Louverture
Haiti Timeline
Famous Quotes
Souvenirs
Highlights of the life of Francois-Dominique Toussaint Louverture

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 Kadja Troudo.

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 desk."

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 children:

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 men.

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 depose him.

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 Zizine.

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

References:
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


 


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