Also, one of the other main reasons behind him joining the slaves maroon in the mountains, was their disorganization, and their non-purposeful violent fights against the french masters. Yes they were fighting, but for what cause? Everyone was fighting for their individual liberty, but Toussaint L'Ouverture had a better picture of what freedom is, he had a larger vision. Freedom for not just a handful, but all.
Just weeks after Toussaint introduction to the escaped slaves, one of the most important uprising in the Haitian Revolution happened; Bois Caiman. It was previously believed that the Vodou ceremony of Bois Caiman was organized by Bookman, but although Bookman was the one who presided over the ceremony, it was Toussaint L'Ouverture who instigated the idea among the slaves. One of the reason for Toussaint absence during the actual ceremony, was because he was known to be a devout Catholic, and did not want people to associate him with Vodou. The French General Kesserveau who was in charge for the investigation of the massacre that resulted from Bois Caiman, where nearly 2000 french masters were killed by stabbing, beheading, beating and poisoning, made the following accusation against Toussaint L'Ouverture:
"Shaped by long slavery to the merry-go-round of flattery and dissimulation, he knew how to mask his feelings and disguise his steps and for that he was only a more terrible tool in the hands of disorganizers. It was he who presided over the assembly where he had proclaimed as chiefs of the insurrection Jean Francois, Biassou, and some others whose size, strength and other physical advantages seemed to point toward command. For himself, weak and frail, known to his comrades by the name Fatras Baton, he found himself too honored by the position of secretary to Biassou. It's from this obscure post, where he had placed himself, that hidden behind the curtain he pulled all the strings of intrigue, organized the revolt and prepared the explosion."
Toussaint L'Ouverture was an exemplary mastermind; a potent but invisible presence. Not only did he nominated two other soldiers from the men he was training to higher posts then himself, he chose to be their secretary just so he could remain low key and not cause any suspicions. He pretended to be illiterate and never signed a document himself. He always had someone in charge of that task. A role as a deeply secret co-conspirator would help to explain how Toussaint was able to remain quietly and calmly unmolested at Breda, where many died after the eruptions, including Bookman, the voodoo priest who presided over the ceremony.
After helping his former master fled to the eastern part of Hispaniola, known as Santo-Domingo at the time, he returned to the mountains, where He would spent the next couple of months, teaching both himself and the slaves, the art of fighting. After months of successfully preparing the small group of slaves for battle, Toussaint L'Ouverture came up with an idea that sparked enormous controversies, and the possibilities of loosing his followers were imminent. Toussaint had asked the former slaves, to, instead of fighting the French, fight for them to expel the British and the Spanish Armies that still occupied the eastern half of the Island. Everyone got confused; there was the man who came and said that he was here to help us, now he is asking us to fight alongside the ones who has been our tormentors for decades!!! They refused.
Toussaint L'Ouverture, explained to them the reason behind his decisions and convince them to join him.
Toussaint knew that the small group of men he had, would never be able to successfully fight off the French Army, the mightiest at the time, without proper training. He promised them that they will help the French fight, just so they can gain enough experience, to turn against them at the end. But to not raise suspicions, Toussaint L'Ouverture decided to get training from the Spanish he planned on chasing off the Island for the french crown. Just like the rest of the slaves, Toussaint was thirsty for Independence, but unlike them, He wanted to do it without any rush, so He could be successful. Thus patience, was one more disciplines, Toussaint L'Ouverture had to teach his small army of former slaves. After a couple months of intense training and teachings, Toussaint L'Ouverture was not only ready to fight, but his small group of men, grew considerably. Among them, soldiers that would be critical in the years to come. Such as Jean Jacques Dessalines, and Capois Lamort.
A few months later, Toussaint L'Ouverture, with his men, crossed the border and went to Santo-Domingo. The part of Hispaniola that the Spanish occupied, but were still having trouble keeping the English completely away. Toussaint L'Ouverture offered his help to not only fight along their sagainst the English, but he also instigated the idea of reclaiming the French part of the Island for Spain, pointing out the economic success and the impact it could have on Spain's own economy, in exchange for further training for his soldiers and supplies. The Spanish were reluctant to accept the offer. What was the true intention of this man? He honestly told them that he wanted the freedom for most of the slaves population of French Santo Domingo. He did not ask for the liberation of all slaves in Saint Domingue, he figured that Spain would reject his offer on the accounts of who would work the plantations if their get successful on reclaiming the eastern French part of Hispaniola, it was no secret that the wealth of the French occupied half of Hispaniola was the result of slaves labor.They rejected the offer anyways, without their approval, Toussaint decided to engagehis soldiers in many fights against the English, of which he had won many. Something that the Spanish were trying to do for years, was done by the former slaves under the command of Toussaint L'Ouverture in about a month . Impressed, the Spaniards not only agreed to help him trained his soldiers and provided him with supplies, they also made him a General in the Spanish Army!!!
The news spread like wild fire across the entire Island.
The very next day something enormous happened in French Saint Domingue. Félicité Léger Sonthonax, then General of the 7000 French soldier, declared the emancipation of all the slaves! The parliamentary of the French Governmet in Europe, in a declaration proclaimed the freedom of the slaves, after the passage of "La Déclaration des Droits de L'Homme et du Citoyen" (The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen) Hearing of this, Toussaint immediately abandoned his military post at the Spanish army, and pledged allegiance to the French Republic. What was the point of fighting for Spain, which only agreed to partial freedom for the slaves when France has now granted total freedom. At least that's what he thought, but the declaration did not explicitly revoked the institution of slavery, but Toussaint know that he could fight slavery just with the words from the first article of the Declaration.
"Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good"
On December 1791, Toussaint led his men into their first mission. They successfully captured over 100 powerful white businessmen in the city of Cap-Haitien. The slaves were quick to demand the killing of them all , butToussaint forbade the idea and reminded his soldiers that they were fighting under him, and therefore will not let them undermine his authority. Alone, He rode his horse to the colony's governor general, Philibert François Rouxel viscount de Blanchelande's
headquarter and made him an offer.
The release of the captures, in exchange for a ban on the use of whips on slaves, an extra non-working day besides Sunday, and freedom for a handful of leaders.
The Governor General, laughed at him, and vehemently opposed such frivolous ideas. The fact that Toussaint L'Ouverture, a former slave, had enough courage to come up with such a demand from the governor General, was outstanding. Even though the Governor, declined such an offer, he was impressed by Toussaint L'Ouverture character. The next day, with his soldiers and the 100 French prisoners, Toussaint again went to the Governor General's headquarter. Seeing the prisoners might help the Governor change his mind, he thought. But he was quick to realize that he didn't have a chance, when the guards, refused to even let him in. Affronted, Toussaint soldiers' again demanded the killings of the prisoners. Despite the growing dissatisfaction towards him, Toussaint ordered the release of all 100 captured. Now this time, the former slaves were convinced that Toussaint L'Ouverture was not really for the abolition of slavery, and expressed their desire to walk away. Toussaint L'Ouverture knew, that the killing of the prisoners, will certainly triggered a violent response from the French, and he wasn't militarily prepared for that at all.
This was the thinking of a true leader. A leader capable of making tough decisions, in spite of the discontentment of his followers. He was a visionary; one who makes decision, not on impulse, but rational thinking that will benefits not just a handful, but all. Again, he was able to convince his men, to continue fighting along his side for the common goal that he did not fail to mention during his introduction to them.
So in conclusion, Toussaint L'Ouverture, eventually became to be known as the first person to abolished slavery and forming an Independent State; of Black People, former slaves; and the fact that this man who abolished the thousands of years of this despicable system, was black and former slave himself shifted the course of humanity forever, paving the way for the abolition of slavery throughout history, and sent a shock-wave to rest of the world!"
©Hougansydney.com All rights reserved, 2013