The Memoir of General Toussaint Louverture (Paperback)
In June 1802, the Haitian revolutionary hero Toussaint Louverture was captured by special order of Napol (c)on Bonaparte and deported to mainland France, where he spent the remainder of his life in captivity in the prison of Fort de Joux. But Louverture, who had managed to rise from humble slave to governor of the richest of France's colonies, went down fighting. To defend his name and secure his release, he wrote a vivid account of his career. Historian Philippe Girard presents an annotated, scholarly, multilingual edition of the memoir, based on an original copy in Louverture's hand. Girard's introductory essay, based on archival research in France and the Caribbean, retraces Louverture's career in Haiti and provides a detailed narrative of the last year of Louverture's life. Girard analyzes the significance of the memoirs from a historical, literary, and linguistic perspective. Louverture's writing provides a vivid alternative perspective to anonymous plantation records, quantitative analyses of slave trading ventures, and slave narratives mediated by white authors. Though Louverture kept a stoic fa ade and rarely expressed his innermost thoughts and fears in writing, his memoirs are unusually emotional. He questioned whether he was targeted because of the color of his skin, bringing racism, an issue that Louverture rarely addressed head on with his white interlocutors, to the fore. The full transcript of these memoirs in both Louverture's idiosyncratic French and English helps paint a powerful yet nuanced portrait of the Haitian Revolution's most famous son as a gifted leader, a passionate advocate of slave emancipation, a loving family man, a compromising politician, a tragic hero, and an evocative author and user of Krey l, Haiti's national language.
Philippe R. Girard is Professor of Caribbean history, McNeese State University.