- Category: History
- Created on Saturday, 20 November 2010 05:41
- Written by Mike Ely
"When the slave revolt broke out, Toussaint was already 45--old for a slave in Haiti. He simply took over the plantation--and waited to see what would happen. After several weeks, he decided that there was a chance of something really lasting. He sent his own family into safety across the border in the Spanish colony, and rode into the surrounding rebel camps. Step by step, he set out to build a disciplined fighting force....
'Toussaint set about forming a disciplined core and deliberately started small. He recruited a few hundred men and launched offensive actions against the advancing counterrevolutionary troops....
"Toussaint's force fought with a conquering spirit that soared among the clouds and rainbows. When they ran out of food, they fought hungry. When they ran out of ammunition they fought with stones. When the British troops spread splintered glass on the battlefield, Toussaint's fighters advanced on bloody, lacerated feet."
This historical piece is, in its own way, about fusion.
by Mike Ely
It has been over 200 years since Haiti's slave armies defeated the invading armies of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. News of this soul-stirring victory traveled from plantation to plantation in the whole surrounding region, including the slave owning states of the U.S. South -- terrifying the exploiters of slave laborers and giving the captured Africans great hope.
It was the first successful conquest of power by the oppressed and laboring classes in modern times.
Haiti was the richest colony in the world in the 1700s. Then called San Domingo, it was the pride of the French empire--coveted by rivals like Britain and Spain. Over two thousand plantations on the western part of the lush island produced sugar, indigo, cotton, cocoa and tobacco. The source of this wealth was the brutal exploitation of half a million captive African people.
But then, in August 1791, the slaves of San Domingo rose up with bare hands and farm implements. They overthrew their oppressors. In 12 years of armed struggle, under the leadership of their great general Toussaint L'Ouverture, they defeated all the armed forces their local slaveowners could rally, then a Spanish invasion, a British expedition of 60,000 men, and finally a massive French expedition sent by Napoleon Bonaparte. And having defeated all the great colonial powers of their times, they created an independent state of self-emancipated slaves. With the daring of nothing to lose, they made themselves masters of society. This is the story of how Haiti's slaves started their great revolutionary war.