The Father of the Nation
(1743- 1803)

Toussaint LouvertureToussaint L’Ouverture’s name indicated his purpose in life, to give his people an “opening to a better life.” L’Ouverture is remembered as the Father of the Nation, charting the course first for emancipation, and later independence, leading to the uprising of slaves, which erupted in 1791. L’Ouverture was the strategist and mastermind behind the slave revolt. Although the Haitian troops ultimately defeated Napoleon’s army, Toussaint himself was treacherously seized and sent to France, where he died in a dungeon. In his memoirs, L’Ouverture is indignant at this betrayal because he understands that, “Doubtless, I owe this treatment to my color; but my color,–my color,–has it hindered me from serving my country with zeal and fidelity? Does the color of my skin impair my honor and my bravery?”

Abolitionists, activists and writers from around the world answered L’Ouverture’s question resoundingly in the years following his death. Among others John Greenleaf Whittier praised his fortitude and looked forward to the time when L’Ouverture should be

“Redeemed from color’s infamy;
And men shall learn to speak of thee,
As one of earth’s great spirits born
In servitude and nursed in scorn,
Casting aside the weary weight
And fetters of its low estate,
In that strong majesty of soul
Which knows no color, tongue, or clime,
Which still hath spurned the base control
Of tyrants through all time!”

Toussaint Louverture2

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