A Brief Biography of François Toussaint Louverture


Melanie Dromboski

François Toussaint Louverture was born on May 20th, 1743 in Haiti. When he was young his family was sold into slavery, and they were then sent to the Caribbean. Fortunately for Toussaint his master taught Toussaint to read and write. He learned to read the classics and other Enlightenment political philosophers. Toussaint had also developed a deep devotion to Catholicism. By the time Toussaint was twenty-three years old he could already speak three languages: French, Creole, and Latin. He also gained knowledge on medicinal plants and herbs. Toussaint was eventually released, but he continued to work for his owner as a paid position. In 1782 he married Suzanne Simone Baptiste, and together they had three children, Placide, Issac, and Saint-Jean.

Toussaint is most known for leading a successful slave revolt along with his dedicated fight to end slavery and gain Haiti’s independence. Toussaint safely secured his wife and family before he joined the war. He met and joined forced with his former slave master and joined the black forces. At this point Toussaint had gained a popular reputation and was put in command of 600 former slaves. Because of his good tactical skills, the number rose to around 4,000. Toussaint trained with these men using guerilla warfare. By 1795 Toussaint was widely known and highly respected as a leader. Toussaint worked and succeeded at rebuilding the economy for Hispaniola and preached reconciliation. Toussaint used military discipline to force former slaves to work. Though, they were still legally free and shared the profits of a restored plantation. Toussaint would eventually become the leader of the entire Island of Hispaniola.

During his life Toussaint was imprisoned in Joux. According to the Autobiography of François Toussaint Louverture, it was during this time he wrote, “Doubtless, I owe this treatment to my color; but my color,–my color,–has it hindered me from serving my country with zeal and fidelity? Does the color of my skin impair my honor and my bravery?” Toussaint’s writings also described some of the events in his life that took place during his time. Toussaint describes his arrest and how it affected him along with his family. He believed that authorities had wrongfully persecuted him and charged him with a crime that he said he never committed. Toussaint also acknowledged that even though he was a former slave, he was treated much better than others. He defends his leadership on the Island of Saint Domingo and, according to his Autobiography,  that he “neglected nothing at Saint Domingo for the welfare of the island.

Overall, Toussaint is a man known for his many accomplishments that set off a revolution hundreds of years later.

Melanie wrote this paper for Mr. Christopher Waples’ World History Honors class.