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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.

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Toussaint L'Ouverture, by François Bonneville, after  Unknown artist - NPG D8212

Toussaint L'Ouverture

by François Bonneville, after Unknown artist
etching and aquatint, early 19th century
On display in Room 10 on Floor 3 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG D8212

Toussaint L'Ouverture, by John Barlow, published by  James Cundee, after  Marcus Rainsford - NPG D15719

Toussaint L'Ouverture

by John Barlow, published by James Cundee, after Marcus Rainsford
etching, published in An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti, 1805
NPG D15719

Toussaint L'Ouverture, published by François Séraphin Delpech, after  Nicolas Eustache Maurin - NPG D8211

Toussaint L'Ouverture

published by François Séraphin Delpech, after Nicolas Eustache Maurin
lithograph, 1833
NPG D8211


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