Alexandre Petion Joins The Nationalist Force
Political conflicts in Guadeloupe and in Saint-Domingue grew with the restoration of slavery on May 20, 1802, and the defection of leading French officers, like Toussaint L'Ouverture, the black general Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the mulatto officer Alexandre Pétion in October 1802, within the context of an ongoing guerrilla war. The French had successfully captured, and deported to France Toussaint L'Ouverture in June 1802, but the revolutionary war and the yellow fever were destroying most of the Leclerc's army of European soldiers. Leclerc himself died of yellow fever in November 1802, and Rochambeau, his successor, failed, despite being sent a further 20,000 troops from Europe, and the use of genocidal tactics, to avoid complete defeat by the forces led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines.
Pétion was born in Port-au-Prince to a Haitian mother and a wealthy French white father. Like other gens de couleur libre with wealthy fathers, Pétion was sent to France in 1788 to be educated and study at the Military Academy in Paris. In Saint-Domingue, many gens de couleur, often freed by their fathers, constituted a third caste between the whites and enslaved Africans. While restricted in political rights, many became educated and wealthy landowners, resented by the petits blancs, who were minor tradesmen. Before the slave uprising of 1791, they led a rebellion to gain voting and political rights they believed due them as French citizens after the French Revolution. At that time most did not support freedom or political rights for enslaved Africans and blacks.