La vie de Toussaint-Louverture, chef des noirs insurgés de Saint-Domingue; […]. Jean-Louis Dubroca.
La vie de Toussaint-Louverture, chef des noirs insurgés de Saint-Domingue; […].
Toussaint Louverture’s First Biography with Portrait

La vie de Toussaint-Louverture, chef des noirs insurgés de Saint-Domingue; […].

A Paris: Chez Dubroca, Bonneville, An X. – 1802. First edition. In contemporary paste paper. [4], 74 p. and frontispiece portrait. Untrimmed. Foxing throughout. Wormholes at the gutter, no effect on the text. Otherwise in fine condition.

The first biography of Louverture and the first printed portrait of the “Black Napoleon” published in France. (Matthews, 2012 p. 84)

François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture (1743–1803) was an ex-slave, the best-known and the most successful black commanders of the Haitian Revolution, the only successful slave rebellion in history. The insurrection culminated in the elimination of slavery and the founding of the Republic of Haiti, the first independent black republic and the second independent nation in the Western Hemisphere in 1804.

Approaching the last phase of the Revolution, after Toussaint Louverture defeated the British expeditionary force in 1798 in Saint-Domingue, and led a successful invasion of the neighboring Santo Domingo freeing the slaves there in late 1800 and early 1801, he issued a constitution for Saint-Domingue that decreed he would be governor-for-life and called for black autonomy and a sovereign black state. In response, Napoleon Bonaparte dispatched a large expeditionary force of French soldiers and warships to the island, to restore French rule. At the same time, the ongoing campaign to vilify Louverture has been increased and Bonaparte’s regime hired Jean-Louis Dubroca (1757–1835) to lead the propaganda war against Louverture. Dubroca wrote and published the present acidulous book (which was translated into English, Dutch and Swedish in the same year, later into German and Spanish published in Mexico, in 1806), accusing him of treason and murder, and attacking for his hypocrisy and desperate ambitions (Ghachem; Danforth, 2014).

In her dissertation, Helen Matthews claims that Dubroca’s book appeared several months before Charles-Yves Cousin D’Avallon’s Histoire de Toussaint-Louverture (Paris, 1802), thus it is the first biography of Louverture published in France (Matthews, 2012). Just as Dubroca’s, Cousin d’Avallon’s book also includes a portrait of Toussaint Louverture as frontispiece, which is regarded by many sources — hence erroneously — the first published portrait of the General; in fact, the present portrait by the engraver Francois Bonneville is the first to be published.

Scarce, we could trace only 3 copies in American institutional holdings (Boston Public Library; JCB, NYPL) and 4 in Europe (BL, BnF, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin).

Sabin 21030

Geggus, D. P.: The Changing Faces of Toussaint Louverture. Literary and Pictorial Depictions. Retrieved from https://www.brown.edu/Facilities/John_Carter_Brown_Library/exhibitions/toussaint/index.html; Ghachem, M. W.; Danforth, S.: The Other Revolution: Haiti 1789–1804. Retrieved from https://www.brown.edu/Facilities/John_Carter_Brown_Library/exhibitions/haitian/index.html; Matthews, H. (2012): Sugar Turns to Cotton: French Retellings of the Haitian Revolution and the American Civil War. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. https://doi.org/10.17615/jajf-px55, p. 84.

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Price: €8,000.00