“I was born a slave, but nature gave me the soul of a free man.” – The remarkable leader of the only successful slave revolt, Toussaint L’Ouverture.
- He was the oldest son of an African Prince named Gaou Guinon, who was captured by slavers.
- He inspired kindness from those in authority over him.
- Toussaint was born into slavery, but his master recognized his superior intelligence and mentored him.
- By the age of 20, he was able to speak three languages fluently: French, Creole, and Latin.
- His favorite reading was about Julius Ceasar and Alexander the Great.
- A skilled horseman, he was also knowledgeable about medicinal plants and herbs.
- L’Ouverture devised a plan for how slaves could gain economic freedom, before those rights were granted in any other country.
- He helped create Haiti’s first constitution, which was interesting for the following reasons:
- He was named Governor for Life, had the right to choose the next Governor, but future governors had a 5-year term limit.
- It was a colonial People were declared to be French citizens from birth to death.
- Blacks, Whites, and mixed-race people were all socially equal.
- The only religion that could be practiced in public was Catholicism, and no one could get a divorce.
- Nothing could be imported on the island, if it was already produced there.
- Toussaint died in prison only 6 months before Haitian Independence Day. However, he had paved the way for others to win the fight for freedom.
- Slaves in Haiti were not the first to try, but they were the first to win their independence. These victories helped make it possible for the young United States to secure the Louisiana Purchase.
Toussaint demonstrated unity in action. In what ways can you model him?
For further reading on Toussaint, please check out these links: