On This Day

Toussaint Louverture

General and Revolutionary Toussaint Louverture

Full Name: François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture
Profession: General and Revolutionary

Nationality:
Haiti
Haitian

Why Famous: The leader of the Haitian independence movement, Louverture was born a slave in the French colony of Saint-Domingue in 1843. Freed in 1776, he first became the trusted employee on a plantation before joining a slave rebellion in 1791. He took command of the forces and became an acclaimed military general, training his army in guerrilla fighting and taking on the name of Louverture meaning 'opening'.

Louverture's forces originally fought against the French with the Spanish forces of Santo Domingo, from the eastern side of the island of Hispaniola. Louverture later switched sides and rejoined the French after the 1794 declaration of the abolishment of slavery by the French National Convention.

By 1801 Louverture was in control of the whole of Hispaniola and had freed the island's entire population of slaves. Drawing up a constitution he made himself Governor-General for life.

Napoleon Bonaparte, wishing to restore the former slave colony and its economic benefits for France, then sent an invading arming under Charles Leclerc in 1802. Louverture was lured to a false dinner and under Napoleon's orders captured and sent to France where he was imprisoned. He died in 1803 after apparently being denied food.

Louverture's army would later prevail against the French forces sent to overthrow them and re-enslave the population. Under the leadership of Jean-Jacques Dessalines and amid a yellow fever epidemic the French were finally defeated in 1803.

Birthplace: , French colony of Saint-Domingue

Died: April 7, 1803
Cause of Death: While in prison in France, exact cause unknown

Historical Events

  • 1794-05-06 Haiti, under Toussaint Louverture, revolts against France
  • 1801-07-07 Toussaint Louverture declares Haitian independence
  • 1802-06-15 Toussaint Louverture leaves Haiti, prisoner on French ship Héros
  • 1802-08-25 Toussaint Louverture imprisoned in Fort de Joux, Jura, France