Toussaint Louverture was an exceptional leader for the slaves of Haiti, and should be widely known for this accomplishment. Toussaint took part in the slave revolt in 1791 by serving as a doctor, and commanding a small group of slaves (Doc A). It then took a few years for him to build up his reputation and spread his influence all around Saint Domingue. He strongly advocated for the freedom of all slaves from the French. When the revolutionary government in France under Robespierre abolished slavery in France in all its colonies, Toussaint and his troops stopped their revolt and supported the French, in 1794. (Doc A) When the French Directory replaced the revolutionary government in 1797, Louverture feared for the reinstatement of slavery. In order to respond to this possible act Louverture wrote a letter addressed to the French Directory. In it he evidently doesn’t support the Directory’s decision and tries to dissuade their opinion. He closes his letter with a threat to the Directory, driving his point home: “We have known how to confront danger to our liberty, and we will know how to confront death to preserve it.” (Doc B) Louverture seems devoted and dedicated throughout his letter to the Directory, showing his commitment to freeing the enslaved. Louverture’s successful work as a liberator of slaves led him to assemble and head the commission that created Saint Domingue’s Constitution of 1801. The document proudly declares that “All men are born, live and die free and French.” (Doc C) This statement leads to the conclusion that all men, including the enslaved, are equal and should be given identical rights; the constitution claimed all citizens of Saint Domingue were free. Louverture’s strong ambition for emancipation in Saint Domingue is the reason why he should be remembered as a liberator of slaves.
Along with the role of an abolitionist, Louverture was a notable ruler of Saint Domingue and should be commemorated for his duty. After Louverture defeated the British, he was appointed ruler of Saint Domingue in 1798. In Saint Domingue’s Constitution of 1801, Louverture takes his role as the ruler and authors a constitution that states several rights of the citizens, including rules for the plantation owners, cultivators, and agricultural laws. The constitution promises the abolishment of servitude forever and freedom for everyone. It encourages agricultural work, since the economy of Saint Domingue strongly depends on it. (Doc C) Louverture took the initiative and created articles that satisfy the people and the French government. The citizens of Saint Domingue trusted Louverture, as well- “The Constitution nominate citizen Toussaint-Louverture...the direction thereof for the remainder of his glorious life.” (Doc C) His efforts as a liberator of slaves paid off, and people thought he was credible enough to be their leader. Four months after his nomination, Toussaint authored the Proclamation in November 25, 1801. In this document, he sets harsh punishments for anyone who breaks rules- “Vagabond cultivators arrested...shall be taken to the commander of the quarter, who will have them sent to the gendarmerie [local police]...” (Doc D) This excerpt shows that even the honorable Toussaint can be strict and controlling when it comes to looking after his people. His rule was slightly stern but he remembered to keep his people happy, which is why Toussaint should be remembered as the ruler of Saint Domingue.
However, Louverture’s rule started getting more and more harsh, and he turned into a military commander. Toussaint didn’t rule without resistance from the citizens of Saint Domingue, and he carried his rule to a large extent. Many people, including Louverture’s own nephew, believed that it Toussaint was wrong to support plantation farming. His nephew challenged Toussaint’s policies in agriculture and organized a rebellion. Plantation farming was similar to slavery and the citizens of Saint Domingue didn’t prefer that. His people started to distrust him as well- “...with Toussaint’s draconian [cruel] labor policy and gathering suspicion of his friendliness with the white planter class.” (Doc E) Toussaint’s nephew led a rebellion and Toussaint reacted harshly by having him arrested and executed. By 1802, Louverture was fighting against the French to earn Saint Domingue’s freedom. ‘...Toussaint, by his superior knowledge of the character of his race, his humanity, generosity, and courage, had gained the confidence of all whom he had under his command.” (Doc F) By this point, Louverture was successful as a military commander. He had the true characteristics of a army general and led strong troops to fight the French in Samana. Louverture’s ambitions and hard work resulted to his achievements as a military commander.
Although Toussaint Louverture should be remembered as liberator of slaves, military commander, and ruler of Saint Domingue, he was most successful as a liberator of slaves because he led one of the most efficacious slave revolts in history. It was because of his efforts as an abolitionist, the citizens of Saint Domingue trusted him as their leader. However, his new power corrupted him and his rule turned to a military dictatorship. Louverture was the most successful leading the former slaves to revolt against the French. Even though he didn't live to see Saint Domingue earn it’s freedom, it was because of Toussaint Louverture’s influence on the former slaves that they fought for their rights and privileges.