Haitian Revolution: Toussaint Louverture

Haitian Revolution: Toussaint Louverture

2009, History  -   49 Comments
Ratings: 7.79/10 from 96 users.

Haitian Revolution: Toussaint LouvertureThe Haitian Revolution represents the only successful slave revolution in history; it created the world's first Black republic - traumatizing Southern planters, inspiring U.S. Blacks, and invigorating anti-slavery activist world-wide.

At the forefront of the rebellion was General Toussaint Louverture, an ex-slave whose genius was admired by allies and enemies alike.

The Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) was a period of conflict in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Haitian republic.

Although hundreds of rebellions occurred in the New World during the centuries of slavery, only the St. Domingue Slave Revolt, which began in 1791, was successful in achieving permanent independence under a new nation. The Haitian Revolution is regarded as a defining moment in the history of Africans in the New World.

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49 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Adrianople

    interesting how Thomas Jefferson supported the bloodletting of the French Revolution which led to Napoleon, but refused to support people just trying to be free.

  2. Terence

    I really enjoyed this documentary except for the fact that the woman narrating kept saying idear instead of idea. It was driving me nuts!

  3. Doris Suciu

    Read Randall Robinson's 2007 book on the Haitian Revolution, "An Unbroken Agony."

  4. mee

    I am white . I am proud on it. I have no issue with blacks. They should build their own future...today they are free to do it (almost for some 100 years actually)...that is multiple generations... this is multiple the times Germans re-built their country from scratch...the blacks just do not seem to have the faculties to do it...their priorities are different... they live for now, so their future is not planned (thus they do not build their society towards future)...Haiti after earthquake is typical example (when was it ... 6 years ago already ? ..how much aid they got ? ..how come they are still living in chaos over there !?)... this is NOT a problem of any white human !

    1. Tamara

      100 years of freedom ? Why thank you masser;-) hope you have a good evening sir/maam!

    2. JustHadToSayIt

      you obviously do no understand the notion of White Privilege (ps. its the position that you are writing from, little keyboard warrior!) - pls sit down before you comment on an entire group of people that have been and continue to be oppressed in the most modern of western societies.

    3. Starchild

      There is no racial "us" and "them" – many are of mixed race, and we are all one human people. All people everywhere deserve freedom, and we should all celebrate the Haitian slave uprising and revolution.

    4. Savagemode2019

      Brah Germans got reperation blacks have not there are systemic laws in place to impede the progress of blacks wich are not in place for Germans (whites) check the jail populations but whites have been lying and killing and murdering all throughout history why should you be any different the only race.. I would be ashamed to be white you guys are a race of cowards attacking only because the law has your back on equal footing your sh*t compared to us see me face to face and I’ll show you ??

    5. Elisabeth McCall

      Stop worrying about what black peoples are doing and start taking personal responsibility for your own lack of education.

    6. Carlos

      When did the Germans rebuilt their county from scratch? Are you referring rebuilding after WWII? Then you must have forgotten about the MARSHALL PLAN.

    7. Carlos

      Germans re-built their country from scratch... Do you mean after WWII? The Marshall is what rebuilt Germany after WWII.

  5. C. Mac

    Toussaint was not half white. Unlike the U.S., in Haiti there was a very clear distinction between being black and mulatto. In fact Toussaint's army battled armies of mulatto leaders before they decided to join forces against the European powers.

  6. Rudy Nathan

    Somehow we ''whites'' have a hard time reconizing black history. It is really childish and a sign of lack of self confidence.

  7. Sarahgrace Cox


  8. asdasd

    shame we don't learn about him in school but of course that would wake to many people up

  9. Alexandro Kelly McNamee

    Thank you for this helpful information

  10. Oligario

    best slave revolution of all time!

  11. Celestine Urban

    how do you spell the french enlightenment writer's name that Madison Smartt Bell mentioned? i want to search him because of a research project im doing, but the way i was spelling it, nothing came up. thanks :) you can find the moment at 11:08 on the second part

  12. mammoor

    there is nothing compare to freedom my brothers and sisters ..nothing

  13. Liam Fionescu

    I just find it amazing that people actually think there is a god... this is clear evidence that humans are in the process of creating right and wrong

    1. kat

      well that's what you think so thx for your opinion

  14. brian stoll

    it just goes to show that there can be a successful black nation :P

    1. Marcus Aurelius

      Haiti, a successful black nation????

    2. Tom G

      Haiti is not such an example. It is a train wreck, poorly run, utterly corrupt, and incapable of survival without continuous help from other countries. Nothing in Haiti is run properly.


    They were just some troublemakers... nothing more but probably alot less!!!

  16. Berty Trouser

    this stops before the end- where can i find the rest?

    1. Charley Raintree

      I think video 3 and 4 are out of order, so watch - 1,2,4, then 3

  17. Kathleen Francis

    this is so sad, he froze to death in a cell in the mountains in France, they punished him for only wanting himself and others like him to be free and live a humane life. As a black Caribbean woman i have the most respect for Toussaint Louverture and what he stood for.

    1. Tom G

      So his genocide of 5000 white men women and children was a good thing?

    2. Starchild

      So true, Kathleen. Louverture is heroic and a role model in many ways, and his personal story has a tragic end.

      However he also interfered with people's freedom to grow crops for themselves instead of for export, and instead of trying to lay strong foundations for a republic with liberty and justice for all, tried to make himself dictator for life.

      As the film points out, this may have contributed to Haiti's ongoing problems with corruption and authoritarian rule that have persisted to this day.

      In the end, no one is perfect, and it is dangerous to unquestioningly follow any leader, of any race, or to entrust them with too much power.

      Maybe healthier that we celebrate the historic uprising of the people against subjugation, than to focus on any one person.

    3. Starchild

      "So his genocide of 5000 white men women and children was a good thing?"

      No it wasn't, but it must be viewed in the context of an understandable wave of retribution after years of oppression on the basis of skin color, and the genocide of a system where according to the film the life expectancy of a field slave in St. Domingue was three years.

  18. borsuk88

    And so they all lived happily ever after...

    1. Starchild

      "And so they all lived happily ever after..."

      Not exactly. Napoleon was also brought down and died in prison.

  19. judoxca

    What an enlightening story. I am French-Canadian, born and raised in the province of Ontario, Canada. I attended French-Catholic primary schools, public English high-school and college. The Haitian revolution was never mentioned to us. Ever. I understand the reasons now, after seeing this documentary.
    As a matter of fact, it was much later, in the past 20 years I would say, that I learned that there were African slaves in the province of Quebec until at least 1760 and even after under British rule. Well kept secrets by the catholic church.
    I did of course, learn that one of the countries in the Caribean area was called Haiti during geography lessons. Not its history, however, until today.
    Lately, everyone learned about the earthquakes, thanks to the Internet. Still, no history of the country, except that it was very poor and troubled by inadequate and crooked governments and still is.
    The most troubling about this, to me, is the fact that Haiti had to make payments to France in retribution for its revolt and this lasted until the most recent earthquakes and shortly after, when this was stopped by France. Shame on France.
    Toussaint is a hero who tried, hoping that his half whiteness, could impress those in France.
    Desalline too, is a true hero to me now, except for the fact that he named himself Emperor. He had to submit to the fact that he was totally black and everyone, French, English, Spanish and American would not even give him the time of day.
    Did not Napoleon do the same as he did by naming himself Emperor of France?
    50,000 French troops died, the rest kicked out of Haiti, forever. Imagine that.....
    I wonder whether France sent medical assistance or any other aid to Haiti since the earthquakes?
    By the way, there is still slavery going on in the Dominican Republic just across their border next door, where Haitians are pressed to cut the sugarcane for owners of vast cane fields owned and run by exiled Cuban brothers living in the good ol USA. There is a documentary about this within this site. Check it out.

    1. Will Ebiefung

      were did you get the idea that Toussaint was half white?

    2. Sainth

      Yes Toussaint was born of slave mother and her father was the French Master....Toussaint Louverture knew how to read and write cause his father thaught him, because toussaint was so mart and intelligent they had him recruiting other slave then he was send on a mission to fingd other black country and that's how he end up in Haiti. Toussaint mission to haiti as a spy upon arriving he fell in love with country and the habitant...Toussaint mission was to find if the country has wealth and reported to Napoleon instead he lied and said the country was just mountain, no wealth, no habitant and nothing.....Toussaint mislead the France army while helping the Tainos and the different tribe of Africans knowing as the rebel who has escaped during transport how o read and communicate to each other since many of them had different dialect

  20. Damballa La Flambeau

    The Black Jacobins

  21. Lacresha Huffman

    I knew about him. Its Black people's jobs to teach their children.The school system never teaches about Africans and African Americans past MLK, or to down discredit their ideas like the Black Panther Party.

  22. g isaac

    Oh yeah, "Lies My Teacher Told Me" records nothing of the life of Dessalines. I was just suggesting you look it over since you seemed to be a history buff.

  23. g isaac

    I promise I do not want to argue with you and I really plan to 'walk away' from this after I share this. I sense a little anger on your part and I'm not here to offend you. However, I will have you know a few things:

    1. My name is "Dessalines" and my father made it very clear early on that I would know who that man was. I do not like everything about Dessalines nor do I condone all of his actions. I also am not Haitian. Like my parents and my parents'-parents, I was born in America.

    2. I have read several books that illustrate his life and the history of Haiti. The most noteworthy is "From Dessalines to Duvalier" by David Nicholls (1996). I also like to read first-hand historical accounts of figures such as Dessalines.

    3. Another pretty interesting read is "The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements" by William Wells Brown.

    “The bravery and military skill which Dessalines had exhibited after the capture of Toussaint, the bold, resolute manner in which he had expelled the whites from the island, naturally pointed him out as the future ruler of St. Domingo. After serving a short time as president, Dessalines assumed the dignity of emperor, and changed the name of the island to that of Hayti.”(Brown)

    4. Have you ever read any of the letters written by Louverture or figures who knew Dessalines firsthand?

    In February of 1802, just months before he would be betrayed by the French, Toussaint Louverture, wrote this letter to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, He asks to burn down Port-au-Prince, to stop the advance of General Leclerc's troops, sent by Napoléon Bonaparte to re-establish slavery (Toussaint Louverture letter to Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1802)

    “…There is no reason for despair, Citizen-General, if you can succeed in removing from the [French] troops that have landed the resources offered to them by Port Republican [Port-au-Prince]. Endeavor, by all the means of force and address, to set that place on fire;”

    5. A few internet sources are citing,

    “Dessalines is widely regarded by Haitians as one of the outstanding heroes in the struggle against slavery and colonialism, in this spirit he is also affectionately called: 'Papa Desalin' (lit. Father Dessalines)… In contrast many non Haitian observers have focused on Dessalines treatment of French colonialists and less on his achievements in the freedom struggle.”

    I understand that you may not like these things but it does not make them false. Nor is it false just because you 'haven't heard..."

  24. tomregit

    Both T. L'Overture and his lieutenant J.J. Dessallines first fought against, and later with the French after the French abolished slavery. It was a complex revolution with at least four different parties involved in the fighting. L' Overture died France after being betrayed and forcibly exiled. Dessallines took over as leader of the revolution and later declared himself Jacques I, emperor for life. He was assassinated by his "followers" in 1806. Neither man was a democratic leader and both had declared themselves emperor.

    The book "Lies My Teacher Told Me: everything your American history textbook got wrong" says nothing about the Haitian revolution since it is outside the scope of that work. I was not educated in America and therefore have even less reason to read it. Perhaps you thought your telling me to read it was so clever you just had to immediately make a second post when you thought of it. Well, "g" now everyone knows how smart you are.

    Most of my information comes from "The Haitian Revolution" by Franklin W. Knight as well as internet sources, and the PBS documentary in question. Please enlighten me and others reading your post. Where did you receive your inside knowledge containing the real truth.

  25. g isaac

    Oh yeah, since you're in the habit of reading why don't you read the book entitled "Lies My Teacher Told Me".

  26. g isaac

    I'm not offended by your comments "Tom". And I DO encourage people to read. Just be sure you read more than the cover. Delve deeper and you will find that history is ladden with lies--a fanciful concoction of both fiction and nonfiction alike.

  27. tomregit

    @ g isaac
    I'm happy you have encouraged others to research the history of these two men. They will then see just how confused you are.

  28. g isaac

    Jean Jacques DESSALINES led Haiti to freedom. NOT Toussaint L'Overture. Toussaint worked FOR the French and was even forced to resign from his post. Haiti was not free under him. Dessalines drove them out!! Why must people tell lies and change history? Research for yourself. Read about it.

    1. Sainth

      So right Toussaint mission was to help conquer He did not free Haiti He played a role in Haitian independence but Dessaline lead Haiti to freedom, Toussaint has his herotic but the Hero that lead Haiti to his freedom was Jacque Dessaline and the fight continue with Christophe and Petion.....

  29. jorjinho bolivar

    Where is the Toussaint's blood? I thought it would be running down through our vein to date. for reasons we all know, the outside world with white-supremacy ideas didn't offer us any support to make our way up of human civilization. We had to pay France an astronomical indemnity that amounts to 21 billion dollars. 200 years ago, we invented the concept of freedom and I think we will once again invent something that will help Haiti to become developed. Ayiti pap peri. Ayi bobo

    1. bcbingram

      ..Invented the concept of freedom ?

  30. Mario Silverio

    Truth was presented to me in a way that i never knew. Thanks.