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Toussaint L’ouverture And The Revolution In Hayti
by [?]

The people of Europe have not stood alone in settling and ruling America, for the blacks of Africa, brought to the New World as slaves, have made themselves masters of one of the largest and most fertile islands of the West Indies, that attractive gem of the tropics which, under the name of Hispaniola, was the pioneer among Spanish dominions on American soil.

Hispaniola has had a strange and cruel history. The Spaniards enslaved its original inhabitants and treated them so ruthlessly that they were soon annihilated. Then the island was filled with negro slaves. About 1630 the buccaneers, or hunters of wild bulls, made it their haunt, and as these were mostly French, the western part of the island was ceded to France in 1697. During the century that followed Africans were brought over in multitudes, until there were nearly half a million blacks in Hayti,–the Indian name of the island,–while there were less than forty thousand whites and thirty thousand mulattoes, the latter being neither citizens nor slaves. These facts are given as a necessary introduction to the story we are about to tell.

It was the white revolution in France that brought about the black revolution in Hayti. In 1789 the States-General met in France and overturned the ancient system of oppression in that land. Liberty for all was the tocsin of its members, and it was proclaimed that not only the whites of France and her colonies, but the blacks also, were entitled to freedom and a voice in the government. The news of this decree created a ferment of passion in Hayti. The white planters of the island, who had long controlled everything, burst into fury, for-swore all allegiance to France, and trampled the national flag under foot in their rage.

But they had others than the French Assembly to deal with. The mulattoes, or free people of color, rose in arms for the rights of which they had been deprived. They were soon put down, but in the following year (1791) a much more terrible outbreak took place, that of the slaves. There followed a reign of terror as sanguinary in type as that of France. The revolt began on the night of August 21, on the plantation of Noe, near Cape Haytien. The long-oppressed and savage blacks mercilessly killed all the whites who fell into their hands. Down from the mountains they poured on every side, their routes marked by blood and devastation. Hills and plains were swept with fire and sword, atrocities of the most horrible kinds were committed, and nearly all the residents on the plantations, more than two thousand in number, were brutally slaughtered, while a thousand sugar and coffee estates were swept by fire.

In the first revolution the mulattoes aided the whites of the cities to repel the blacks, but later, believing themselves betrayed by the whites, they joined the blacks, and the revolt became a war of extermination. It did not end until the negroes became masters of all the country districts, and gained a control of the mountainous interior of the island which, except for a brief interval, they have ever since retained.

This success was in great part due to the famous leader of the blacks, the renowned Toussaint L’Ouverture, a man who proved himself one of the greatest and noblest of his race. Born in Hayti, of negro parents, he was descended from an African prince, and, slave though he was in condition, had himself the soul of a prince. He taught himself to read and write, and also something of mathematics and of Latin, and was taken from the fields to become coachman for the overseer of the estate of his master, the Count de Breda.

When the negro revolt began, and the furious blacks were seeking victims on all sides, Toussaint concealed the overseer and his family in the forest, took them food at the risk of his own life, and finally led them to the coast, where they took ship for the United States.