“I was born a slave, but nature gave me the soul of a free man” – Francois-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture
On May 20, 1743, Francois-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture, Haitian patriot and revolutionary leader, was born in Saint-Domingue, Hispaniola (now Haiti). Beginning in 1791, Toussaint led enslaved black people in a long struggle for independence from French colonizers, to abolish slavery, and secure native control over the colony. By 1796, Toussaint was the dominant figure in Haiti and tried to rebuild the collapsed economy and reestablish commercial contacts with the United States and Britain. However, in 1802 he was kidnapped by the French and died in a French prison on April 7, 1803. Toussaint figures importantly in the early 19th century writings of several authors as a symbol and exemplar of resistance to slavery and as an example of the potential of the black race.