Pierre-Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture - Encyclopedia

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TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE (or LOUVERTURE), PIERRE-DOMINIQUE (c. 1746-1803), one of the liberators of Haiti, claimed to be descended from an African chief, his father, a slave in Haiti, being the chief's second son. He was at first surnamed Breda, but this was afterwards changed to L'Ouverture in token of the results of his valour in causing a gap in the ranks of the enemy. From childhood he manifested unusual abilities and succeeded, by making the utmost use of every opportunity, in obtaining a remarkably good education. He obtained the special confidence of his master, and was made superintendent of the other negroes on the plantation. After the insurrection of 1791 he joined the insurgents, and, having acquired some knowledge of surgery and medicine, acted as physician to the forces. His rapid rise in influence aroused, however, the jealousy of Jean Francois, who caused his arrest on the ground of his partiality to the whites. He was liberated by the rival insurgent chief Baisson, and a partisan war ensued, but after the death of Baisson he placed himself under the orders of Jean Francois. Subsequently he joined the Spaniards, but, when the French government ratified the act declaring the freedom of the slaves, he came to the aid of the French. In 1796 he was named commander-in-chief of the armies of St Domingo, but, having raised and disciplined a powerful army of blacks, he made himself master of the whole country, renounced the authority of France, and announced himself "the Buonaparte of St Domingo." He was taken prisoner by treachery on the part of France, and died in the prison of Joux, near Besancon, on the 27th of April 1803.

See Toussaint L'Ouverture's own Memoires, with a life by Saint Remy; (Paris, 1850); Gragnon-Laconte, Toussaint Louverture (Paris, 1887); Scholcher, Vie de Toussaint Louverture (Paris,1889); and J. R. Beard, Life of Toussaint Louverture (1853).

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