Not much was written about Toussaint in France before he became deputy-governor in , and he was scarcely mentioned in the British press until Magasin de Librairie, ; Vita privata politica e militare di Toussaint-Louverture, scritta da un uomo del suo colore, prima traduzione italiana adorna del suo ritratto Milan: Otridge, , Maisonneuve et Larose, , is a garbled version of an incident concerning Jean-Jacques Dessalines, not Toussaint.
University of Virginia Press, , Macmillan, , Toussaint was freed from slavery at around the age of 33 and colonial records show that he became a land and slave owner himself.
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The French Revolution of had a powerful impact on Saint Domingue. A complex civil war broke out in when free men of color claimed that they too were French citizens and should be allowed to enjoy the rights proclaimed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The following year, on 22 August , Toussaint was one of the main organizers of a slave revolt that would eventually be known as the Haitian Revolution, the first and only victorious slave revolt in history.
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In representatives of the French revolutionary government in Paris offered freedom to slaves who joined them in the fight against counter-revolutionaries and foreign invaders. The following year these orders were ratified by the revolutionary legislature in Paris, which abolished slavery throughout all French territories. Under his increasingly influential leadership the French defeated the British and Spanish forces.
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Having made himself ruler of the island, Toussaint did not wish to surrender power to Paris and ruled Saint Domingue as an autonomous entity. In he issued a Constitution for the island, which provided for autonomy and established Toussaint as governor for life. It abolished slavery and aspired to put in place a multiracial society composed of blacks, whites and mulattos.