It began in 1791 in the French colony of Saint Domingue Toussaint learned that he was more than a slave, that he was a human being deserving of dignity.
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.
The slave revolts were very successful early on but stalled out after organized resistance from the plantation owners and the French military. Toussaint joined the rebellion early on as a general but did not become the leader of the slave rebellion until 1798.
As conflicts between plantation owners and the free people of color were raging, the slaves took their shot at freedom
In 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.
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.