My history hero: Toussaint Louverture (1743–1803)

Singer Heather Small chooses Toussaint Louverture as her history hero...

Statue of Toussaint Louverture, Palais National, Haiti. (Photo by Getty Images)

This article was first published in the December 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine

François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, born a slave but later freed, was the leader of the Haitian Revolution – a 13-year struggle starting in 1791 that transformed the French colony of Saint-Domingue into the independent country of Haiti. As ruler, he restored the plantation system using paid labour, and strengthened the island’s defences. In 1801 he appointed himself governor-general for life but was deported the following year when Napoleon’s forces restored French authority. He died in jail in France a year later.

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