From email@example.com Thu Apr 10 11:00:11 2003
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2003 08:53:17 -0500 (CDT)
From: Bob Corbett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Haiti mailing list <email@example.com>
Subject: 15262: (Chamberlain) Haiti-Founding Father (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
PORT-AU-PRINCE, 7 April (AP)—He was born into slavery but rose to lead his people to freedom, laying the foundation for Haiti to become the world’s first independent black republic.
With Haitians marking the 200th anniversary of Toussaint Louverture’s death Monday, he is being recalled as a leader whose ideals shaped the nation, even though he died in a French prison before his vision could be realized.
Toussaint, the name by which he is usually called in Haiti,
demonstrated self-sacrifice that still
demands the utmost from us
all, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said in a speech last month.
Immortalized in the names of streets and schools, Toussaint has taken
center-stage in recent exhibitions, ceremonies and radio programs
leading up to the anniversary. The government declared Monday a
holiday and pronounced 2003
The Year of Toussaint.
Francois Dominique Toussaint Louverture was born in 1743 on the Breda plantation in northern Haiti, then called Santo Domingo. His father had been enslaved in the part of West Africa now known as Benin and was shipped across the Atlantic in a slave ship.
The young Toussaint, nicknamed
Broomstick for his slimness,
caught his master’s attention with his intelligence and
eventually became steward of the estate’s livestock.
By the time a slave uprising broke out in 1791, his master had granted him freedom. Toussaint joined the revolt and became its leader.
His name Louverture means
the opening, and some Haitians say it
was because he opened the way to freedom. On Feb. 4, 1794, the slaves
were emancipated, ending more than 250 years of bondage.
Toussaint became a French army general and governor of Santo Domingo. He fought successfully against English invaders and an insurrection of light-skinned counterrevolutionaries.
But in February 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a force to re-establish
slavery. Toussaint turned to guerrilla warfare inspired by the ideals
of the French Revolution and its motto of
When a truce halted the fighting, Toussaint was lured into a trap, captured and sent in chains to France on July 8, 1802.
In overthrowing me, you have cut down in Santo Domingo only the
trunk of the tree of liberty. It will spring up again by the roots,
for they are numerous and deep, he said as he left.
Toussaint died in a dungeon at Fort Joux in the French Alps on April 7, 1803.
Jean-Jacques Dessalines took over as rebel leader and, with his slogan
Cut off their heads and burn down their houses, led his army to
decisive victory on Nov. 18, 1803. Ten days later, independence was
Today what was once France’s wealthiest colony has become one of
the world’s poorest nations, hindered by political upheaval and
dictatorships. Aristide has said he aims to lead a
but many in Haiti—which shares the island of Hispaniola with the
Dominican Republic—still subsist on $1 a day or less.
Toussaint’s example used to make me feel proud. Now Haiti is
in such a mess, I could care less, said Alcide Louis, 83, who ekes
out a living selling hot cakes on a dusty street.
Others say Toussaint’s example of seeking justice and peaceful
coexistence has relevance today. He
decided to create another
world, where white and black would not tear each other apart,
first lady Mildred Trouillot Aristide said recently.
Events planned for Monday include a Mass and a ceremony at the National Palace.