Important People in The Black Jacobins

James, C.L.R.
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Toussaint L'Ouverture

Born a slave under the name François Dominique Toussaint in 1743, Toussaint L’Ouverture rose to become a famed military leader and is the principal historical figure in C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins. As mentioned in The Black Jacobins, Toussaint was born to an educated slave outside San Domingo. He was appointed to the post of livestock steward, not traditionally a job given to slaves. This opportunity, as James notes, gave Toussaint early experience in administration and authority. Toussaint became the leader of the Haitian independence movement, and died on April 7, 1803 in prison in Fort-de-Joux, France.

Throughout The Black Jacobins, James provides a number of compelling descriptions of Toussaint’s physical appearance. Toussaint is described as “small, ugly and ill-shaped” (92) with “eyes like steel” (92). Although his appearance led some to underestimate Toussaint, James describes Toussaint’s extraordinary fortitude: “He slept but two hours...

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This section contains 921 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Black Jacobins Study Guide
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