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Toussaint L'Ouverture

(1743-1803), West Indian leader; Governor of Saint Domingue

François-Domenica Bréda (Toussaint L'Ouverture)

Sitter in 3 portraits
Born into slavery around 1743, and known as Toussaint de Bréda on the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue, Toussaint L'Ouverture's leadership of the Haitian Revolution has made him an inspiration for black nationalist struggle to this day. L'Ouverture gained his freedom in his thirties, married and had two sons before joining the revolution in 1791, initially as an adviser. His uncompromising stance over full abolition of slavery led to his emergence as Brigadier-General of the rebel army. He then took the name of L'Ouverture, meaning 'the opening'. A master of guerilla warfare, repeatedly risking his life fighting under the banner of 'Liberty or Death', he defeated the Spanish and British and by 1801 had successfully abolished slavery and French control. In 1802 the French ruler Napoléon Bonaparte sent 43,000 troops to capture L'Ouverture and reinstate French rule and slavery. L'Ouverture was deported to France, where he died in prison on 7 April 1803.

More on Toussaint L'Ouverture: Slavery Remembrance Day

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