7 September 2010

Toussaint L’Ouverture

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 1a


Toussaint L’Ouverture

1743 - 1803

Toussaint L’Ouverture – Toussaint the Opening – was the leader, both military and civilian, of the slave revolt in the French West Indian colony of “Saint Domingue”, which is now the Republic of Haiti.

Toussaint brought his country to the brink of independence. The constitution of which he was the author (download linked below), though not the constitution of an independent republic, was enough to lead to his capture, transportation to France, and death in captivity two years after its publication.

Toussaint’s successor, Dessalines, did achieve independence, though on harsh terms that crippled the country with “reparations” to the French Republic, one of the great scandals of history.

C L R James wrote a famous work about the Haitian revolution, calling the book “The Black Jacobins”. The title was a reference to the bourgeois take-over of the Great French Revolution that had taken place a few years before, the “Terror” under Robespierre, and the eventual bourgeois dictatorship that was the consequence of the revolution.

In other words the freed slaves became subordinated to a dictatorship of “their own” black bourgeoisie, of which Toussaint was one of the first. This was hardly surprising, and practically inevitable. The first dictatorship of the proletariat (The Paris Commune) was not seen until seventy years later, in 1871.

Even if a “Jacobin”, Toussaint was still an “Opening” in history – one of the great ones.

Please download and read this text:

Further reading:

1 comment:

  1. Of historical interest -- You can see a clip of Toussaint's last moments in prison from the award-winning new short film "The Last Days of Toussaint L'Ouverture" at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2468184/ This film is the basis for a new feature (not with Danny Glover) that is in development.

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