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Toussaint

island, french, louverture and struggle

TOUSSAINT, Frangois Domin ique, called L'OUVERTURE, loo-ver-tiir, Haitian soldier and liberator: b. 1743; d. Fort de Joux, near Besancon, France, 27 April 1803. He was a full-blooded'negro and was born a slave. When the insurrection of the blacks broke out in 1791 Toussaint took service in their army, but not till he had assisted his master to escape. He rose quickly in the army, being made in 1795 a general of brigade. In this position he displayed much military as well as political ability and rendered valuable serv ices to the French republic against the British troops which had been landed on the island. In 1797 the French government made him gen eral of division and subsequently general-in chief of the troops in Santo Domingo, and as such he signed the convention with General Maitland for the evacuation of the island by the British. He now assumed sovereign au thority, but it was only after a severe struggle against insurrectionary movements that he was able firmly to establish his position. In 1801, on the submission of the Spanish forts, he was completely master of the island. He now framed a constitution by which he was ap pointed president for life of the republic of Haiti, with the right to name his successor.

He was simple and abstemious in his own habits, but affected great magnificence in his surroundings and exacted a rigorous court etiquette. His character has been highly lauded by Wordsworth in a poem and by Wendell Phillips, who made him the subject of one of his lectures. He ruled with wisdom and jus tice. Recognizing the failings of most of his own race he chose as his council white men with one exception. By his vigorous govern ment the commerce as well as the agriculture of the island began to revive. After the Peace of Amiens Napoleon sent a powerful expedi tion under his brother-in-law, Leclerc, to sub due Toussaint, who after a struggle was forced to surrender and on his oath of fidelity was permitted to retire to his estate. He was after ward detected conspiring against the French and being seized by a somewhat unworthy stratagem, was sent to France, where he died in prison. At the time a suspicion of poisoning was general, but there is no evidence to sup port it. Consult his (Memoires' (1853) ; the lives by Saint-Remy (1850), Gragnon-Lacoste (1877) and Schcelcher (1889); Mossell, (Tous saint L'Ouverture, the Hero of Santo Do mingo' (Lockport 1896).