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