Toussaint L’Ouverture (1743–1803) was a revolutionary who helped bring Haiti its independence from France. Born a slave in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (later Haiti) in 1743, Toussaint was freed around 1777. After a slave revolt broke out in the northern province of Saint-Domingue in 1791, Toussaint became the leader of a black guerrilla army. Two years later when France went to war with Spain, Toussaint and other black rebels fought alongside the Spanish of Santo Domingo. In 1794, however, after France ended slavery in its colonies, Toussaint switched allegiances to France and became lieutenant governor and then governor general of Saint-Domingue. In 1801, Toussaint invaded Spanish Santo Domingo, freed the slaves there, and became governor general of the entire island. The following year France, which hoped to restore slavery and its own authority, invaded the island. After several weeks of conflict Toussaint agreed to peace. He was granted amnesty, but a few weeks later he was arrested by French forces and imprisoned in France, where he died in 1803. Black rebels continued the fight against the French, who withdrew in 1803. On January 1, 1804, the island was declared the independent nation of Haiti.

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