Free and French in the Caribbean: Toussaint Louverture, Aimé Césaire, and Narratives of Loyal Opposition

By John Patrick Walsh | Go to book overview

2 Under the Stick of Maître Toussaint

THE INHERENT AMBIGUITY in the Directory’s colonial mission kept Toussaint on his guard. His actions and writings during this period reflect vigilance of the fractious political climate in Paris, one that continuously posed a threat to general liberty on Saint-Domingue. In this chapter I continue to delve into a clutch of Toussaint’s letters and reports, in addition to the writings of several French representatives, who regularly promoted Toussaint, all the while struggling to contain his expanding power. The responses to Toussaint were inconsistent; since the Directory took the reins in mid1795, the French government vacillated between the spirit that led to the 1794 ratification of the abolition of slavery and proslavery interests that still held considerable sway. At key moments the French failed to deliver a uniform message to the citizens of SaintDomingue, and, accordingly, Toussaint restructured his relationship to the republic.


Political Theater on Saint-Domingue:
Laveaux and Sonthonax Exit Stage Right

On the same day the Directory formally provided for the education of his children, Toussaint wrote a letter to Laveaux, addressing him once again as “my father.”1 “I would like you to be named deputy [in Paris],” he wrote, “so that you may have the satisfaction of seeing your true country again …and I would be assured, and for all of my brothers, of having the most zealous defender of the cause for which we are fighting.” The election of colonial deputies was to occur but one month after Toussaint penned the letter; in fact, shifting political winds in Paris were about to give royalist

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