Monday, October 5, 2009

Toussaint L'Ouverture

Open the Door to Liberty is an excellent introduction to Haiti born Toussaint L'Ouverture, who was a slave, a slave rebellion leader, a governor-general of this island nation and lastly, a prisoner in France, compliments of Napoleon.

Unfortunately, most people are not familiar with him. They may ask:

Why is Toussaint so important? He organized the slaves on his island to fight for their liberty. Because of his success, all slaves in all French colonies were decreed free.

When did this happen? This law was passed in 1793. At that time Thomas Jefferson was the Secretary of State in America and Napoleon Bonaparte was not quite yet a general in France.

Why do you bring up Napoleon? In 1801, as first consul of the French Republic, Napoleon needed money and decided to reinstate slavery in the French colonies in the West Indies in order to produce sugar with higher profits. He sent a sizable army to first overthrow Toussaint and then to launch a conquest of the land France claimed west of New Orleans. Between Toussaint's unconquerable army and yellow fever, the French fleet never made it to New Orleans.

What effect did this have on America? In 1803, when America offered to buy New Orleans from France, Napoleon needed money so badly he offered all of the Louisiana Territory as well. This sale has been called the greatest land bargain in history. If Toussaint had not been the general in Haiti (then called St. Domingue), the chain of events might have provided a much different outcome.

Author, Anna Rockwell, does an admirable job of describing Toussaint, leader of the first triumphant slave rebellion in history. And you know me and my weakness for excellent illustrations...well R. Gregory Christie's really rock in this book! They exude an island flavor and the book layout is just gorgeous. I recommend this title!

Ages 9-12

Activity: In the name of liberty, equality and brotherhood, here's a Toussaint L'Ouverture crossword puzzle.

No comments:

Post a Comment