The French Legislative Assembly Extends Full Rights Of Citizenship To Free People Of Color Or Mulattoes
Toussaint L'Ouverture was born into slavery in the Plaine du Nord of what was then Saint-Domingue.
He was born on the Bréda plantation of Bayon de Libertat, near Cap Français. Tradition says that his father was an African named Gaou-Guinou and probably a member of the Arada ethnic group. Toussaint Breda was lucky enough to be educated and to be literate. He read widely in French literature of the Enlightenment. He worked as a carriage driver and horse trainer on the plantation. His master freed him at age 33, when Toussaint married Suzanne. He was a fervent Catholic, and a member of high degree of the Masonic Lodge of Saint-Domingue. In 1791 slaves in the Plaine du Nord rose in rebellion. Different forces coalesced under different leaders. Toussaint served with other leaders and rose in responsibility. On April 4, 1792, the French Legislative Assembly extended full rights of citizenship to free people of color or mulattoes (gens de couleur libres) and free blacks. In Saint-Domingue, this policy was resisted by many white colonists, although France sent three Commissioners to enforce it. Among them Sonthonax was the most radical, creating a bureaucracy of mulattoes at Le Cap in the North.
The Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) was a successful slave revolt against French Colonial powers. It established Haiti as the first republic ruled by blacks. At the time of the revolution, Haiti was known as Saint-Domingue and was a colony of France. Through the revolution, people of African ancestry freed themselves from French colonization and from slavery. Although hundreds of rebellions occurred during the slave era, only the revolt on Saint-Domingue, beginning in 1791, was successful.
Haiti was the first republic in modern history led by people of African descent. It went directly from being a French colony to governing itself. The pattern established under colonial rule had powerful and long-lasting effects, though, having established a model of minority rule over the illiterate poor using violence and threats. Colonialism and slavery were outlived by the racial prejudice that they had contributed to; the new post-rebellion racial elite (referred to as mulattoes) had African ancestry, but many were also of European ancestry as descendants of white planters. Some had received educations, served in the military, and accumulated land and wealth. Lighter-skinned than most Haitians, who were descendants mostly of former enslaved Africans, these mulattoes dominated politics and economics.