EWS 201 - Final Paper

EWS 201 - Final Paper - 1 Many today still look back on...

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Many today still look back on slavery as just another part of history, believing all that happened was forced labor, families torn apart, and many other “basic” principles of slavery. What these people do not know is that not all enslaved Africans took slavery sitting down. Not all of the kidnapped kept silent while oppression, discrimination, and injustice were on the horizon. No. These courageous insurrectionists, or freedom fighters, did not fear death. They would either gain their freedom or go down in combat trying. It is the likes of Toussaint L’Ouverture, Nelson Mandela, and other insurrectionists that stand out during the history of slavery, proving that battles were fought and revolutions were led in order to regain liberty taken, or on the verge of being taken, away. Toussaint L’Ouverture, though a free black man, came to be a great leader in the slave uprising in Haiti. Freed from slavery at the age of thirty-three he leased a field of about fifteen hectares with thirteen slaves to grow coffee. Though he did not know how to sign or even write at the time of this lease, he would before the revolution. In August 1793, Toussaint helped his former owners flee to the U.S. and became an aide to Georges Biassou in his insurgency after the “Night of Fire.” Rising rapidly in rank he and the black army proved to be surprisingly successful against the poorly-led European troops. Before all this, the revolution exploded two years before when a fugitive slave from Jamaica named Boukmann gathered the slaves of the Turpin, Flaville, Clement, Trémes, and Noé plantations on the Plaine du Nord. One of their first victims was a refiner’s apprentice on the Noé plantation whom they dragged to “the front of the dwelling house, and there hewed him into pieces with cutlasses: his screams brought out the overseer, whom they instantly shot.” The slaves have joined the Haitian Revolution. (Thomas O. Ott, 1938, ©1973) Forward in time, 1793, Toussaint allied with the Spanish to fight 1
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against the French and earned the nickname, which came to be his last name, “L’Ouverture” meaning “opening” because he exploited in the defenses of the opposition. Once the Revolutionary legislature in Paris ratified emancipation orders that abolished slavery throughout all territories of the French Republic, he rejoined the French army. Under Toussaint’s increasingly influential leadership, his French army of Black, Mulatto, and White soldiers defeated the British and Spanish forces. Toussaint’s army won seven battles in one week against the British forces in January 1794. The British fled Haiti in 1798, but they were not his last opposition. He battled the uprising of a mulatto leader named Pinchinout and fought supporters of the returned Sonthonax. He increased his influence in the island, proclaiming his loyalty to the French Republic. Eventually he was promoted to division general. Toussaint resumed crushing those in his way, such as a Mulatto general in Saint-Domingue’s southern peninsula, André Rigaud, his last major
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This note was uploaded on 03/11/2008 for the course EWS 201 taught by Professor Humber during the Spring '05 term at Cal Poly Pomona.

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EWS 201 - Final Paper - 1 Many today still look back on...

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