Textbook: None. Selected writings found online will constitute the textbook.
Read the following information on Toussaint L'Ouverture. In addition, read Mba's Note on Toussaint. Relate the information to the following questions to the best of your ability.
(1) When Toussaint said, "Here is your liberty!" what did he mean?
(2) Toussaint authorized the African slave trade. Was that good or bad?
(3) Was it realistic for Toussaint to think he could free Africa? Think carefully before you answer because you will have to justify your answer.
(4) Where did Toussaint get his understanding of Pan-Africanism?
(5) Toussaint was wounded 17 times in battle, but he succeeded in freeing the Blacks of San Domingo. What makes some individuals think they can get freedom without fighting battles?
Recognizing that political power is only a means to an end, Toussaint began to institute measures that would bring about the ends he desired-- permanent freedom for his people and the development of Black People as a race. He armed the laborers and would snatch a gun up and wave it in the air while shouting, "Here is your liberty!" Though he knew that the owners of property were without principles, he refused to persecute them because they had the knowledge and expertise needed by the colony to return to prosperity (the constant wars had practically ruined the island). And, he wrote a constitution that abolished slavery, kept the church subordinate to the state, barred French officials and authorized the slave trade. The slave trade was authorized because the colony needed laborers to cultivate it. As soon as the Africans landed in San Domingo they automatically became free people.
Toussaint was not only concerned about the Blacks of San Domingo. He cherished a project of sailing to Africa with arms, ammunition and soldiers, conquering vast areas of the Continent, putting an end to the salve trade and ensuring that the Blacks there would always be free. It was not just a dream. He had gradually prepared for the day when he would be capable of carrying out this project. What could make a man who was already 55 years old with a thorough grasp of reality hope for such an unlikely set of circumstances? It was the deepness of his love for liberty, equality and brotherhood, feelings that were so real that they overflowed his narrow environment and embraced the whole world.
Because of the foundation Toussaint laid, the people of San Domingo were able to get their freedom and maintain it. Even though Toussaint was not around when independence was declared, he was the key to its success. It was Toussaint who voiced the words the people needed to hear after the early stages of the rebellion had bogged down. It was Toussaint who provided a course of action which instinctively drew the participation of the masses. It was Toussaint who planned for the development of his country with socialistic objectives long before socialism was a popular term. It was Toussaint who longed for the freedom of Africa long before Pan-Africanism was even envisioned. And it was Toussaint, who was wounded 17 times in battle, who stressed to his soldiers and people that
that the key to their liberty was their ability to resist a powerful force with a powerful counter force of their own.
We can speak of the whites who have deceived, lied and schemed to make their race dominant in the world today; the Napoleons, the Jeffersons, the Churchills, etc. We can also speak of the Blacks who have led Us in Our struggle for nationhood, recognition and achievement; the Nkrumahs, the Lumumbas, the Malcolm Xs, etc. But when We speak of men among men, when We speak of thinkers who are also doers, when We speak of strategists who are also fighters, We must speak first of the revolutionary Black general, Toussaint L'Ouverture.
Many educators and historians think Toussaint lost contact with the San Domingo Revolution and was outsmarted by Napoleon. Neither is the case. True, Toussaint failed to formally declare independence for San Domingo and he ended up a prisoner of Napoleon. Both of those consequences came about because he was faced with "Toussaint's Dilemma."
Tousssaint wanted more than freedom and independence for San Domingo. Tousssaint wanted a promising future as well, and he knew that would be impossible if the white powers isolated San Domingo and economically strangulated the country. If independence were gained in a diplomatic way, it was possible that the white powers would not strangle San Domingo. If independence were gained otherwise, Toussaint knew the whites would make it impossible for the country to carry on as countries normally carry on.
Because of the groundwork he had laid, Toussaint knew that the Blacks could get their independence any time they pleased, with or without Toussaint's further participation. But in order for San Domingo to have a normal future, he had to deal with white people and hope for the best. That is why he failed to declare independence, that is why he constantly tried to establish diplomatic relations with the United States, spain and Great Britain and that is why he walked into Napoleon's trap. In fact, Napoleon did not capture Toussaint, Toussaiant sacrificed himself in hopes of acquiring a decent future for his country.
As usual, Toussaiant was right. As soon as he was captured, Jean Jacques Dessalines declared independence and renamed the country Haiti, and the white powers conspired to strangulate Haiti and make it what it is today. Haiti has not been allowed to be a normal nation. Haiti has become what Toussaint knew white people would make it, and that is what Toussaint wanted so desperately to avoid.