It began in 1791 in the French colony of Saint Domingue (later Haiti). Though born into slavery in Saint Domingue, Toussaint learned of Africa from his father, who had been born a free man there.
In 1789 the French Revolution rocked France. The sugar plantations of Saint Domingue, though far away, would never be the same. Spurred on by such Enlightenment thinkers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the early moderate revolutionaries considered seriously the question of slavery.
Toussaint joined the rebellion early on as a general but did not become the leader of the slave rebellion
Toussaint L'Ouverture (the one who finds an opening) and brilliantly led his rag-tag slave army. He successfully fought the French (who helped by succumbing to yellow fever in large numbers) as well as invading Spanish and British.
In 1793, the revolution in France was in the hands of the Jacobins, the most radical of the revolutionary groups.
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.