1802 - Imprisonment and death of Toussaint


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1802 France and Saint-Domingo 172

troops that had arrived in the first division, partly by intrigue and partly by force, had effected their landing.

It is foreign to these pages to enter upon the details of the, military operations, which, after a brave and protracted resistance on the part of the indigenes, led to their dispersion or surrender ; but even this did not take place until the remaining 6900 of the 21,200 French troops ordered upon the expedition arrived at the island. The black chief, who had exhibited so many traits of moderation and generalship, after capitulating and being allowed to return to his home, was suddenly arrested and conveyed on board the Héros 74, lying off Gonaïves. On being brought on board the French ship, this extraordinary man is said to have uttered these words: " En me renversant, on n'a abattu que le tronc de l'arbre de la liberté des noirs, il repoussera par les racines parcequ'elles sont profondes et nombreuses."

Having been thus illegally dragged on board the Héros, Toussaint was most inhumanly, and contrary to all the assurances held out to him by General Leclerc, transported to France, to end his days in a prison. He was shut up in Fort de Joux, and died six months afterwards in rather a mysterious way. On this subject the following appears in a work of considerable notoriety: " I mentioned Toussaint-Louverture, and observed that, amongst other calumnies, some of his (Buonaparte's) enemies had asserted that he had caused him to be put to death privately in prison. ' It does not deserve an answer, ' replied Napoléon ; ' what possible interest could I have in putting a negro to death after he had arrived in France ? Had he died in St.-Domingo, then indeed something might have been suspected, but, after he had safely landed in France, what object could have been in view ? ' " *

Whatever, in reality, was the mode by which Toussaint ended his days, the act of forcibly withdrawing him from Saint-Domingo, after he had honourably capitulated, proved in the end as impolitic as it was cruel. Several enterprising black chiefs still remained on the island: Clerveaux, Christophe, Paul-Louverture (nephew to Toussaint), and Dessalines ; and who, with the whole of their countrymen, were exasperated at the treachery which had deprived them of their gallant leader. Part of the French troops were sent away to aid in subduing the revolted negroes at Guadeloupe; and, among the remainder, as the summer advanced, the yellow fever made dreadful ravages.

About the middle of August accounts reached Saint-Domingo, of the success of the French at Guadeloupe, and that slavery, in all its horrors, had been re-established in the colony. This news spread like wildfire among the negroes at the first-named island, and operating upon minds already smarting under their own wrongs, determined them to revolt. The first eruption broke out

* O'Meara's Napoleon in Exile, vol. ii., p. 198.

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