Toussaint L'Ouverture the Slave who Defeated Napoleon

Toussaint L'Ouverture the Slave who Defeated Napoleon
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  • Toussaint L'Ouverture
  • I am a self-educated slave with no military training, who drove Napoleon out of Haiti and led my country to independence. I  learned of Africa from my father, who had been born a free man there. I was fortunate in having a liberal master who had me trained as a house servant and allowed me to learn to read and write.
  • Revolts
  • Plantation owners in the colonies were furious and fought the "Rights of Man".  Finally the revolutionaries gave in and retracted the measure in 1791. The news of this betrayal triggered mass slave revolts in Saint Dominique, and Toussaint became the leader of the slave rebellion.
  • Reign of Terror
  • By 1793, the revolution in France was in the hands of the Jacobins, the most radical of the revolutionary groups. This group, led by Maximilian Robespierre, was responsible for the Reign of Terror, a campaign to rid France of “enemies of the revolution.” They considered the issue of “equality” and voted to end slavery in the French colonies, including Haiti. In France the Jacobins lost power. The people sent Robespierre to the guillotine, ending the Reign of Terror.
  • Napoleon
  • Napoleon, who ruled France with dictatorial powers, responded to the pleas of the plantation owners by reinstating slavery in the French colonies, once again plunging Haiti into war. By 1803 Napoleon was ready to get Haiti off his back: he and Toussaint agreed to terms of peace. Napoleon agreed to recognize Haitian independence and Toussaint agreed to retire from public life.
  • Toussaint death, still fight
  •  The French invited Toussaint to come to a negotiating meeting will full safe conduct. When he arrived, the French (at Napoleon's orders) betrayed the safe conduct and arrested him, putting him on a ship headed for France. Napoleon ordered that Toussaint be placed in a prison dungeon in the mountains, and murdered by means of cold, starvation, and neglect. Toussaint died in prison, but others carried on the fight for freedom.
  • Haitian independence
  • Six months later, Napoleon decided to give up his possessions in the New World. He was busy in Europe and these far-away possessions were more trouble than they were worth. He abandoned Haiti to independence and sold the French territory in North America to the United States (the Louisiana Purchase).
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