Outline of Revolution:


1790: Vincent Oge’s Rebellion

May 15 1791: National Assembly decree giving the mulattos full legal and political rights.

Summer 1791: Bois Caiman and First Slave Uprising

September 1791: May 15 Decree rescinded when news of the atrocities reaches Paris. Civil War breaks out between mulattos and whites, centered in Port au Prince.

November 29, 1791: The first Civil Commission (Roume, Mirbeck) arrives from liberal France to re-establish peace and assert the authority of the National Assembly.

Fall, 1792:  Rebel Slaves, running out of food in mountain camps, sue for peace with limited objectives. Toussaint functions as go-between, but peace offers are rejected by the grands blancs.

March 1792:  Members of the First Commission flee the island.

April 4, 1792: National Assembly emancipates mulattos (again). War is declared against Austria and Spain.

July 1792: Rebel leaders pen letter to Colonial Assembly declaring their intention to achieve liberty or die.

August 1792 The National Assembly falls in Paris and is replaced by the National Convention- elected by universal manhood suffrage.

September 18, 1792: Three new Jacobin Commissioners arrive in Le Cap to enforce the April 4 decree.

December 1792: Commissioner Sonthonax fails in his attempts to integrate the Saint Dominigue armed forces and civilian forces. French National officers remain loyal to the King. The Colonial officers are primarily mulatto.

January 21
, 1793: Louis XVI is guillotined in Paris.

February 1, 1793:  France declares war against England, Netherlands and Spain. France is at war now with all of Europe.

Winter 1793: Toussaint, Biassou and Jean-Francais formally join the Spanish forces.

June 2, 1793: A mob of sans-cullotes demand the expulsion of the Girondist members of the National Convention. The Montagnards seize power, and the Committee on Public Safety asserts dictatorial powers.

June 20-22, 1793:  L’affaire Galbaud and the Burning of Le Cap.

July 13, 1793: Charlotte Corday assassinates Marat in Paris.

August 23, 1793:  The levee en masse conscripts ALL French males into the army.

August 29, 1793 Sonthonax proclaims the emancipation of all the slaves of the north. This same day Toussaint issues a proclamation of his own from Camp Turel, assuming for the first time the name L’Ouverture.


September 19, 1793: The British invasion begins. Immediately, Port au Prince is threatened by English warships, troops land and take Saint Marc, and Mole Saint Nicholas on the Western Coast. Mulatto General Rigaud defends the city. Colonel Laveaux and the majority of French troops are trapped at Port de Paix between British troops to the West and Spanish troops to the East. Villate, a mulatto leader establishes control in Le Cap. Meanwhile, Toussaint, under Spanish command, begins to assert control at key towns in the interior.

November, 1793: The National Convention outlaws the worship of God. The Cathedral of Notre Dame is renamed the Temple to Reason. 

December 6–7, 1793: Mass executions of counter revolutionaries take place in Lyon and Nantes.

February 3, 1794: A delegation sent by Sonthonax, led by the black Bellay, is seated in the French Convention in Paris. The next day, the French Convention abolishes slavery, following an address from Bellay, in a vote without discussion.

March, 1794: Intrigue by Biassou and Jean-Francois weakens Toussaint’s credit with his Spanish superiors. Toussaint removes his wife and children from the Spanish to the French side of the island. Biassou lays an ambush for Toussaint enroute to Camp Barade in the parish of Limbe. Toussaint escapes but his brother Jean-Pierre is killed.

March 24, 1794: Jacques Hébert and the other enragees who sought real economic reform and a true social revolution in France are sent to the guillotine by Robespierre.

May 6, 1794: Toussaint joins the French with his four thousand soldiers, first massacring the Spanish troops under his command. He conducts a lightning campaign through the mountains from Dondon to Gonaives, gaining control of the numerous posts he earlier established on behalf of the Spanish. The Cordon de l’Ouest, a military line exploiting the mountain range which divides the northern and western departments of Saint Dominigue, is under his command.

May 7, 1794: Robespierre proclaims the Cult of the Supreme Being.

May 30, 1794 Port au Prince falls to the British. Sonthonax escapes to Rigaud’s positions south of the city. After their victory, the English ranks are decimated by an outbreak of yellow fever, which kills seven hundred men during the next two months and leaves many more incapacitated.

June, 1794: An offensive led by British Major Brisbane fails to break Toussaint’s Cordon de l’Ouest.

July, 1794:  The Height of the Terror in Paris.

July 28, 1794: Robespierre is guillotined in Paris. The Committee on Public Safety is disbanded, the National Convention dissolved, and a new governmental body, The Directory, assumes leadership.


Fall, 1794: Toussaint campaigns against British forces holding the town of Saint Marc.  Gen. Brisbane leads an offensive in the Artibonite Valley supported by a Spanish offensive in the east. Toussaint uses guerilla tactics against Brisbane, drives the Spanish auxiliaries from Saint Michel and Saint Raphael, and razes those two towns.

November, 1794:  Col. Laveaux tours the Cordon de l’Ouest and reports that fifteen thousand cultivators have returned to work in this region under Toussaint’s control and that many white colonists have returned to their properties in safety.

February 6, 1795: Blanc Cassenave, a mulatto officer loyal to Touissant, is arrested for a mutinous conspiracy with Le Cap commandant Villate, and dies in prison.

March 2, 1795 Brisbane dies of a throat wound he suffered during an ambush. Toussaint besieges Saint Marc once again.

March, 1795 – France makes peace with Prussia and Spain in the Treaty of Basel, but war continues with Great Britain and Austria. Spain cedes its portion of Hispaniola to France. Jean-Francois retires to Spain. Most of his troops join Toussaint’s army.

June, 1795 Joseph Flaville, a mulatto officer sponsored by Villate, rebels against Toussaint and is defeated and executed at Marmelade.

August 22, 1795: Constitution of the Year III. In Paris the new constitution establishes the Directory as the national governing body. This body specifies that the colonies are integral parts of the French Republic and are to be governed by the same laws.

October 25, 1795:  In Paris, after a lengthy trial, Sonthonax is formally cleared of all charges concerning his conduct in Saint Dominigue.

February 12, 1796: Mulatto leader Dieudonne is overthrown by his subordinate Laplume, who turns him over to Rigaud as a prisoner, but Laplume brings Dieudonne’s men to join Toussaint.

March 20, 1796: Villate attempts a coup against Laveaux who is imprisoned at Le Cap. Officers loyal to Toussaint engineer his release.

March 27, 1796: Toussaint enters Le Cap with ten thousand men. Villate nad his remaining supporters flee the town. Col. Laveaux, describing Toussaint as the ‘Black Spartacus’, installs him as Lieutenant-Governor of Saint Dominigue.

May 11, 1796: Emissaries of the French Directory arrive in Le Cap: the Third Commission, led by a politically rehabilitated Sonthonax and including the colored commissioner Raimond and whites Roume, Giraud, and Leblanc.

May 19, 1796 The Third Commission proclaims the colonists absent from Saint Dominique and residing elsewhere than France are to be considered émigrés disloyal to the French Republic, their property subject to sequestration.

August 27, 1796 Emissaries sent by Sonthonax to Rigaud and other mulatto leaders of the south create such ill will that a riot breaks out in Les Cayes, in which many whites are killed. Rigaud parades Sonthonax’s proclamations through the streets of the town tied to the tail of a donkey.

September, 1796: Sonthonax and Laveaux are elected, among others, as representatives from Saint Domingue to the French legislature.

October 14, 1796 With further encouragement from Toussaint, Laveaux departs from Saint Domingue to assume his position in the French legislature.



January 15, 1797: Battle of Rivoli: Napoleon defeats Austrian and Sardinian Armies in Northern Italy. Success in Italy made Napoleon popular at home but also gave him an independent way to support and enlarge his army.

April, 1797: Toussaint successfully recaptures Mirebalais and the surrounding area and uses the region as the base of an offensive against the British in Port au Prince. British General Simcoe defends the coast town successfully and attacks Mirebalais in force. Toussaint burns Mirebalais and makes a rapid drive toward Saint Marc, forcing Simcoe to retreat to defend the latter town. This campaign is the last British challenge to Toussaint’s control of the interior.

August 20, 1797: Toussaint writes to Sonthonax urging him to assume his elected post in the French legislature.

August 23, 1797: Sonthonax consents to depart, in his words “to avoid bloodshed.”

September 4, 1797:  The Coup of 18 Brumaire:  In response to the election of 1797, which brings royalist parties into power, the Directory stages a coup supported by Napoleon. Royalist and colonial elements are purged from the government; the Vaublanc faction loses its influence. The Consulate comes to power.

March 27, 1798:  General Hedouville, the pacificator of the Vendee, arrives from France as agent of the French Directory to Saint Domingue.

May 2, 1798: A treaty is signed by Toussaint and British General Maitland. The British will evacuate Port au Prince and their western posts in return for which Toussaint promises amnesty to all their partisans, a condition which violates the French law forbidding the return of émigrés.

August 31, 1798:  Toussaint signs a secret agreement with Maitland stipulating among other points that the British navy will leave the ports of Saint Dominigue open to commercial shipping of all nations.

October 16, 1798: Instigated by Moyse and Toussaint, the plantation workers of the north rise against Hedouville’s supposed intention to restore slavery.

October 23, 1798: Under pressure from the rising in the north, Hedouville departs from Saint Dominigue, leaving final instructions which release Rigaud from Toussaint’s authority. Commissioner Raimond, previously elected to the French legislature, accompanies Hedouville to France.

October 31, 1798:  Toussaint invites Roume to return from Spanish Santo Domingo to assume the duties of French agent in the colony.

November 15, 1798: Toussaint announces the plantation work will henceforth be enforced by the military.

June 18, 1799: Rigaud opens rebellion against Toussaint; his troops seize Petit and Grand Goave, driving LaPlume back from the area.

July 8, 1799: Toussaint dispatches an army of forty-five thousand men to the south to combat Rigaud and his supporters.

July 25, 1799: Toussaint breaks the siege of Port de Paix where his officer Maurepas was under attack from the Rigaudins.

August 4, 1799: Fifty conspirators at Le Cap are executed after a failure to take over the town for the Rigaudins.

November, 1799: Dessalines’ offensive retakes Petit and Grand Goave from Rigaud.

November 9, 1799: In France, Napoleon Bonaparte assumes power as First Consul of the French Republic.

November 22, 1799:  Jacmel, key to the defense of the southern peninsula, is besieged by Toussaint’s troops under General Dessalines.

December 24, 1799:  Constitution of the Year VIII adopted in France making Napoleon the supreme ruler Napoleon the ruler. It was approved by plebiscite (3,011,077 to 1,567).  The new constitution states that the colonies will be governed by ‘special laws.’

April 27, 1800: Under pressure from Toussaint, Roume signs an order to take possession of the Spanish side of the island.

July 7, 1800: Rigaud is decisively defeated in by Dessalines at Aquin—last of a series of lost battles.

August 1, 1800: Toussaint enters Les Cayes, Rigaud’s hometown and the last center of mulatto resistance. Rigaud flees to France by way of Guadeloupe. Toussaint proclaims a general amnesty for the mulatto combatants, but Dessalines, left in charge of the south, conducts extremely severe reprisals against mulatto prisoners.

October 12, 1800: Toussaint proclaims forced labor on the plantations, to be enforced by two captain-generals: Dessalines in the south and west and Moyse in the north.

January, 1801: Toussaint sends two columns into Spanish Santo Domingo, one from Ouanaminthe under the command of Moyse and the other from Mirebalais under his own command.

January 28, 1801: Toussaint enters Santo Domingo City, accepts the Spanish capitulation from Don Garcia and proclaims the abolition of slavery.


July 3, 1801: Toussaint proclaims a new constitution, whose terms make him governor for life.

July 16, 1801: Toussaint dispatches a reluctant Colonel Vincent to present his constitution to Napoleon Bonaparte and the Consulate in Paris.

October 1, 1801: The Peace of Amiens ends the war between England and France. Napoleon begins to prepare an expedition, led by his brother in law General Leclerc, to restore white power in Saint Dominique.

October 16, 1801: An insurrection against Toussaint’s forced labor policy, led by Moyse, begins on the northern plain and in the coming weeks is suppressed with extreme severity by Toussaint and Dessalines.

November 24, 1801: Moyse is executed at Port de Paix.

November 25, 1801: Toussaint proclaims a military dictatorship.



February, 1802: Leclerc’s invasion begins with approximately seventeen thousand troops. Toussaint, with approximately twenty thousand men under his command, orders the black generals to raze the coast towns and retreat into the interior. Le Cap burns again, but Port au Prince does not. The French forces pursuing Toussaint fight a number of drawn battles in the interior of the island, with heavy casualties on both sides. In the climactic battle, Toussaint sought to lure the various French columns into a trap in the interior near Petite Riviere and capture Gen. Leclerc. The plan failed only because Maurepas troops retreating from Port de Paix were cut off.

April, 1802: The black General Christophe goes over to the French with twelve hundred troops, on a promise of retaining his rank in French service.

May 1, 1802: Toussaint and Dessalines surrender on similar terms as Christophe. Leclerc’s position is still too weak for him to obey Napoleon’s order to arrest and deport the black leaders immediately.

June, 1802: By the first week of this month, Leclerc has lost a thousand men to a yellow fever epidemic. Both Le Cap and Port au Prince are plague zones, with corpses laid out in the barrack yards to be carried to lime pits outside the town.

June 6, 1802: Leclerc notifies Napoleon that he has ordered Toussaint’s arrest. Lured away from Gonaives to a meeting with Gen. Brunet, Toussaint is made prisoner.

June 15, 1802: Toussaint with his family is deported for France aboard the ship Les Heros.

August 24, 1802: Toussaint is imprisoned in Fort de Joux in France near the Swiss border.

September 13, 1802: The expected abatement of yellow fever at the approach of the autumn equinox fails to occur. The reinforcements arriving die as fast as they are put into the country. As of this date, a total of twenty-eight thousand men have been sent from France, and Leclerc estimates that ten thousand are still alive, but only forty-five hundred are fit for duty. Five thousand sailors have also died, bringing the total loss to twenty-nine thousand.

October 10, 1802: Mulatto General Clervaux revolts, with all his troops, upon the news of Napoleon’s restoration of the mulatto discriminations of the ancien regime. Le Cap has been garrisoned by mulattos.

October 13, 1802: Christophe and the other black generals in the north join Clervaux’s rebellion. On the news Dessalines raises the revolt in the west.

November 2, 1802: Leclerc dies of yellow fever. Command is assumed by Rochambeau. By the end of the month the fever finally beings to abate, and acclimated survivors, now immune, begin to return to service. In France, Napoleon has outfitted ten thousand reinforcements.

March, 1803: At the beginning of the month, Rochambeau has eleven thousand troops and only four thousand in hospital, indicating that the worst of the epidemic has passed. He is ready to conduct a war of extermination against the blacks and brings man-eating dogs from Cuba to replace his lost soldiery. He makes slow headway against Dessalines in March and April while Napoleon makes plans to send thirty thousand reinforcements in two installments in the coming year.

April 7, 1803: Toussaint L’Ouverture dies a prisoner in Fort de Joux.

May 12, 1803: New declaration of war between England and France.

June, 1803: By month’s end, Saint Dominigue is completely blockaded by the English. With English aid, Dessalines smashes into coastal towns.

October, 1803: Early in the month Les Cayes falls to the blacks. At month’s end, so does Port au Prince.

November 10, 1803: Rochambeau flees Le Cap and surrenders to the English fleet.

November 28, 1803 The French are forced to evacuate their last garrison at Le Mole. Dessalines promises protection to all whites who choose to remain, following Toussaint’s earlier policy. During the first year of his rule, he will continue encouraging white planters to return and manage their property, and many who trusted Toussaint do so.

December 31, 1803: Haiti declares its independence.


January 1, 1804: Dessalines, having overcome all rivals, crowns himself emperor. A term of his constitution defines all citizens of Haiti as neg (black) and all noncitizens of Haiti as blanc (white) regardless of skin color in both cases.

December 2, 1804: Napoleon crowns himself emperor.


January, 1805: Dessalines begins the massacre of all the whites (according to the redefinition in the Constitution of 1804) remaining in Haiti.

October 17, 1806: Dessalines is assassinated north of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, at Pont Larnage, on his way to fight the rebels.