TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE AND THE REVOLUTION IN HAYTI
 THE people of Europe have not stood alone in settling and ruling America, for the blacks of Africa, brought to the
New World as slaves, have made themselves masters of one of the largest and most fertile islands of the West
Indies, that attractive gem of the tropics which, under the name of Hispaniola, was the pioneer among Spanish
dominions on American soil.
Hispaniola has had a strange and cruel history. The Spaniards enslaved its original inhabitants and treated
them so ruthlessly that they were soon annihilated. Then the island was filled with negro slaves. About 1630
the buccaneers, or hunters of wild bulls, made it their haunt, and as these were mostly French, the western
part of the island was ceded to France in 1697. During the century that followed Africans were brought over in
multitudes, until there were nearly half a million blacks in Hayti,—the Indian name of the
island,—while there were less than forty thousand whites and thirty thousand mulattoes, the latter being
neither citizens nor slaves. These facts are given as a necessary introduction to the story we are about to
It was the white revolution in France that brought
 about the black revolution in Hayti. In 1789 the States-General met in France and overturned the ancient
system of oppression in that land. Liberty for all was the tocsin of its members, and it was proclaimed that
not only the whites of France and her colonies, but the blacks also, were entitled to freedom and a voice in
the government. The news of this decree created a ferment of passion in Hayti. The white planters of the
island, who had long controlled everything, burst into fury, forswore all allegiance to France, and trampled
the national flag under foot in their rage.
But they had others than the French Assembly to deal with. The mulattoes, or free people of color, rose in
arms for the rights of which they had been deprived. They were soon put down, but in the following year (1791)
a much more terrible outbreak took place, that of the slaves. There followed a reign of terror as sanguinary
in type as that of France. The revolt began on the night of August 21, on the plantation of Noé, near Cape
Haytien. The long-oppressed and savage blacks mercilessly killed all the whites who fell into their hands.
Down from the mountains they poured on every side, their routes marked by blood and devastation. Hills and
plains were swept with fire and sword, atrocities of the most horrible kinds were committed, and nearly all
the residents on the plantations, more than two thousand in number, were brutally slaughtered, while a
thousand sugar and coffee estates were swept by fire.
 In the first revolution the mulattoes aided the whites of the cities to repel the blacks, but later, believing
themselves betrayed by the whites, they joined the blacks, and the revolt became a war of extermination. It
did not end until the negroes became masters of all the country districts, and gained a control of the
mountainous interior of the island which, except for a brief interval, they have ever since retained.
This success was in great part due to the famous leader of the blacks, the renowned Toussaint L' Ouverture, a
man who proved himself one of the greatest and noblest of his race. Born in Hayti, of negro parents, he was
descended from an African prince, and, slave though he was in condition, had himself the soul of a prince. He
taught himself to read and write, and also something of mathematics and of Latin, and was taken from the
fields to become coachman for the overseer of the estate of his master, the Count de Breda.
When the negro revolt began, and the furious blacks were seeking victims on all sides, Toussaint concealed the
overseer and his family in the forest, took them food at the risk of his own life, and finally led them to the
coast, where they took ship for the United States.
While he was thus engaged, the negroes, led by a gigantic black named Bouckman, and subsequently by three
others, were continuing their course of butchery and devastation. Toussaint joined them after the escape of
the overseer, and quickly gained
 an influence over them, largely from his knowledge of medicinal plants and a degree of skill in surgery. This
influence enabled him to put himself at their head and to mitigate the ferocity of their actions. His
ascendency was due not only to his knowledge, but also to his valor, and from his courage in opening a breach
in the ranks of the enemy he became known as L' Ouverture, or the opener.
Under their new leader the revolted slaves held their own against their enemies, declaring in favor of the
king, Louis XVI., and against the revolutionists. On the other hand, the English came to the aid of the
whites, and the island was thrown into a state of horrible confusion, increased by the interference of the
Spaniards, who held the eastern section of the island.
In 1794, after the Convention in Paris had issued a decree demanding the liberation of the slaves, Toussaint
and his followers joined the revolutionary cause, and aided the French general Laveaux to expel the British
and Spanish invaders. In this campaign he won a number of victories, and showed such military skill and
ability as to prove him a leader of the highest qualities. Beard says of him, "His energy and his prowess made
him the idol of his troops. . . . In his deeds and war-like achievements he equalled the great captains of
ancient and modern times."
SOUTH AMERICAN NATIVE HUT.
One example of the risks which he ran in battle occurred in his efforts to put down an insurrection of the
mulattoes. In this contest he fell into an
 ambush in the mountains near Port de Paix, a shower of bullets sweeping his ranks. His private physician fell
dead by his side and a plume of feathers in his hat was shot away, but he remained unharmed. The same was the
case soon after when, in a narrow pass, his coachman was shot down. The negro leader seemed, like Napoleon, to
bear a charmed life.
Declaring himself lieutenant-general of the colony, he wrote to the Directory in Paris, guaranteeing to be
responsible for the orderly behavior of the blacks and their good will to France. He sent at the same time his
two elder sons to Paris to be educated, making them practically hostages for his honor and good faith.
In 1798 the war, which had lasted for years, came to an end, the British being expelled from the island and
the rebellious mulattoes put down. Peace prevailed, and the negro conqueror now devoted himself to the
complete pacification of the people. Agriculture was encouraged, the churches were reopened, schools were
established, and law and justice were made equal for all. At the same time the army was kept in excellent
training and a rigid discipline exacted.
As is usual in such cases, there were abundant applications among the negroes for official positions, and
Toussaint was sorely put to it to dispose of these ignorant aspirers after high places without giving offence.
He seems, however, to have been well versed in political management, and is said
 to have disposed of one unlearned applicant for a judicial position with the words, "Ah, yes; you would make
an excellent magistrate. Of course you understand Latin.—No?—Why, that is very unfortunate, for
you know that Latin is absolutely necessary."
There is another evidence of his wisdom in dealing with his people that is worth repeating. As has been said,
when the revolution began Hayti had about half a million of blacks to seventy thousand whites and mulattoes.
Toussaint adopted an original method of making the force of this fact evident to his followers. He would fill
a glass with black grains of corn and throw upon them a few grains of white. "You are the black grains," he
would say; "your enemies are the white." Then he would shake the glass. "Where are the white grains now? You
see they have disappeared."
The authorities in France could not but recognize the ability and the moderation of the black leader, and in
1796 he was appointed commander-in-chief in the island, a commission which was confirmed by Bonaparte about
December, 1799. All classes and colors regarded him as a general benefactor and a wise and judicious ruler.
Order and prosperity were restored, and his government was conducted with moderation and humanity. It looked
as though peace and good will might continue in Hayti as long as this able governor lived, but unluckily he
had to deal with a man in whom ambition and pride of place overruled all conceptions
 of justice. This was Napoleon Bonaparte, who had now risen to the supreme power in France.
Bonaparte seems to have been angered by two letters which Toussaint sent him, after having completely pacified
the island. These were addressed, "The First of the Blacks to the First of the Whites." The assumed equality
seems to have touched the pride of the conqueror, for he disdained to answer the letters of the Haytian ruler.
Early in 1800 a republican constitution was drafted under the auspices of Toussaint, which made Hayti
virtually independent, though under the guardianship of France. An election was held and the liberator chosen
president for life.
When the news of this action reached France in July, 1800, Napoleon was furious. He had just been made First
Consul and would brook no equal. "He is a revolted slave, whom we must punish," he exclaimed; "the honor of
France is outraged." Resolved to reduce the negroes again to slavery, he sent to Hayti a fleet of sixty ships
and an army of about thirty-five thousand men, under General Leclerc, the husband of Pauline Bonaparte.
Pauline accompanied him, and also several officers who had been former opponents of Toussaint.
Meanwhile, the Haytian president had not been idle. Having subdued the French portion of the island, he led
his army into the Spanish portion, which was also reduced, San Domingo, its capital, being taken on January 2,
1801. When the keys of this city were handed to him by its
gov-  ernor, the negro conqueror said, solemnly, "I accept them in the name of the French Republic." Yet his
conquests in the name of France did not soften the heart of the First Consul, who was bent on treating him as
a daring rebel. The Peace of Amiens left the hands of Napoleon free in Europe, and the expedition under
Leclerc reached the island about the end of 1801.
To oppose the strong army of Napoleon's veterans, men who had been trained to victory under his own eye,
Toussaint had a force of blacks little more than half as strong. As he looked at the soldiers disembarking
from the ships in the Bay of Samana he exclaimed in dismay, "We are lost! All France is coming to invade our
The French made landings at several of the ports of Hayti, driving back their defenders. The city of San
Domingo, held by Toussaint's brother, Paul, was taken. Cristophe, a daring negro who was to figure high in
the subsequent history of the island, commanded at Cape Haytien, and when Leclerc summoned him to surrender,
replied, "Go tell your general that the French shall march here only over ashes, and that the ground shall
burn beneath their feet." This was not bombast, for when he found further defence impossible, he set fire to
the city and retreated to the mountains, taking with him two thousand white prisoners. Grief and despair
filled the soul of Toussaint when, marching to the relief of Cristophe, he saw the roads filled with fugitives
and the city in ashes.
 But though the French became masters of the ports, the army of the, blacks maintained itself in the mountain
fastnesses, in which Toussaint defied all the efforts of his foes. After Leclerc had lost heavily, and began
to despair of subduing his able opponent by force of arms, he had recourse to strategy. He had brought with
him Toussaint's two sons. Napoleon had interviewed these boys before their departure from France, saying to
them, "Your father is a great man, and has rendered good service to France. Tell him I say so, and bid him not
to believe I have any hostile intention against the island. The troops I send are not designed to fight the
natives, but to increase their strength, and the man I have appointed to command is my own brother-in-law."
Leclerc sent these boys to Toussaint, with the demand that he should submit or send his children back as
hostages. An affecting interview took place between the boys and their father, and when they repeated to him
Napoleon's words, he was at first inclined to yield, but fuller consideration induced him to refuse.
"I cannot accept your terms," he said. The First Consul offers me peace, but his general no sooner arrives
than he begins a fierce war. No; my country demands my first consideration. Take back my sons."
In the continuation of the war a French force of twenty thousand men under Rochambeau marched against
Toussaint, who was strongly intrenched at
 Crête à Pierrot. In the contest that followed Toussaint at first outgeneralled Rochambeau and defeated him
with severe loss. But the assistance he looked for from his subordinates failed to reach him, and at length he
was forced to retreat.
The French, however, despite their superior numbers and the military experience of their leaders, found that
they had no mean antagonist in the negro general, and Leclerc again resorted to negotiation, offering the
blacks their freedom if they would submit. Toussaint, seeing that he was unable to hold his own against his
powerful foe, and convinced that the terms offered would be advantageous to his country, now decided to accept
them, saying, "I accept everything which is favorable for the people and for the army; as for myself, I wish
to live in retirement."
The negro liberator trusted his enemies too much. The pride of Napoleon had not yet digested the affront of
Toussaint's message, "From the First of the Blacks to the First of the Whites," and he sent orders to Leclerc
to arrest and send him to France. In June, 1802, a force was sent secretly at night to Toussaint's home, where
he was dwelling in peace and quiet. The house was surrounded, two blacks that sought to defend him were killed
on the spot, and he was dragged from his bed and taken to the coast. Here he was placed on board a man-of-war,
which at once set sail for France.
Napoleon's treatment of Toussaint was one of the dark deeds in his career. Reaching France,
 the captive was separated from his wife and children and confined in the dungeon of a dreary frontier castle.
Here, one morning in April, 1803, Toussaint L' Ouverture, the negro liberator, was found dead. He had been
starved to death, if we may accept the belief of some authors.
The Haytien patriot died in poverty, though he might easily have accumulated vast wealth. In his official
position he had maintained a degree of magnificence, and Napoleon believed that he had concealed great riches
somewhere in the island. He sent spies to question him, but Toussaint's only reply was, "No, the treasures
you seek are not those I have lost." The lost ones were his wife, his children, and his liberty.
Treachery is often an error, and Napoleon was soon to find that he had made a fatal mistake in his treatment
of the leader of the blacks. Alarmed at his seizure, and having no one to control them, the negroes flew to
arms, and soon the revolt spread over the whole island. Yellow fever came to the aid of the blacks, raging in
Leclerc's army until thousands of soldiers and fifteen hundred officers found graves in the land they had
invaded. In the end Leclerc himself died, and Pauline was taken back to France. When Napoleon heard the story
of the fate of his expedition, he exclaimed in dismay,—
"Here, then, is all that remains of my fine army; the body of a brother-in-law, of a general, my right arm, a
handful of dust! All has perished,
 all will perish! Fatal conquest! Cursed land! Perfidious colonists! A wretched slave in revolt. These are the
causes of so many evils." He might more truly have said, "My own perfidy is the cause of all those evils."
A few words must conclude this tale. General Rochambeau was sent large reinforcements, and with an army of
twenty thousand men attempted the reconquest of the island. After a campaign of ferocity on both sides, he
found himself blockaded at Cape Haytien, and was saved from surrender to the revengeful blacks only by the
British, to whom he yielded the eight thousand men he had left. As he sailed from the island he saw the
mountain-tops blazing with the beacon-fires of joy kindled by the blacks. From that day to this the island of
Hayti has remained in the hands of the negro race.
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