Diary of Jean-Jacques Dessalines


October 3rd, 1791

The Rebellion has been growing stronger and stronger over the previous months. Today 13 slaves escaped from my plantation to join the revolution, I’ve now decided to join them. As we left the plantation grounds and headed to the slave fortifications, I was joined by a few other men named Jean François Papillon and Georges Biassou. This Papillon man, who seems to be a major player in this uprising, is humane and sensible, as opposed to Biassou. This uprising is supposed to be the first of many; we will lead our people to freedom.

July 14th, 1799

Today we stormed a small village fortification. After hours of attempting to gain access to the village, we decided to take a cleaner course for action. I gave the order to burn the village to the ground, there were no survivors. Some said that this was too harsh, but we need to be harsh to get our message across to the whites. I am now instating a take no prisoner’s policy for my men. So far we seem to be winning the struggle; we have captured many fortifications and can hold off the oppressors for a while with what we have now.

March 11th, 1802

Today was a day to remember and rejoice. My men and I were able to secure a small fort for a few days when a large group of 18,000 men attacked. My group consisted of about 1,300 men. I knew that the only way to win would be to give my men the motivation that they needed. I gathered my men and placed a powder keg in front of them and waved a lit torch in front of it. I told them that if they failed to hold the fort from the attackers I would blow the fort up as soon as the French should break through. After a twenty day struggle to hold the fort, my men proved their worth. We were not able to hold the fort but we were able to hold off the French army for 20 days and put a large dent in their forces. We escaped into the mountains with much of our army still intact. January 1st, 1804

Today is the day we have all been waiting for. We have won our freedom. Under the new constitution, I am declaring myself Emperor of Saint-Domingue. My first order will be to rename this island to Haiti, an indigenous Arawak name. I am to be crowned on October 6th and then formally recognized by the people, this will also allow me to name my successor. I have a few things I need to tend too soon after. I need to keep the heart and soul of Haiti running though; the sugar crop business needs to still be able to run without slavery, without this Haiti will not be able to survive. After 30 years of forced labor I no longer will put my trust in the white French people. So, as of this day, Haiti is now an all-black nation and I forbid whites from owning property or land here.

Diary of Toussaint L'Ouverture

"May 20, 1743"

From the Diary of Toussaints' father:

Dear Toussaint today you were born into my family as your father my first gift to you is this diary. Let me tell you about yourself, your are born to slave parents on the Breda sugar estate outside of Cap Français, one of the leading cities of the island colony Saint-Domingue. Before I was braught to this country I was a chief of the West African Arada tribe. I do not plan to have my son grow up a slave, no matter where I am I would like you to ive as a free black man.

August 30, 1760 As a fifteen year old I am growing up in Saint-Domingue, (present day Haiti) on of france's most prospherous colonies. I live in an economy based on plantations and slaves. Here there are many coffe, sugar, and cotton plantations and my people are slaves to Frances economy, infact we are unable to create our own. There is much resentment between my people and the Royal Government. As a free black man I feel that one day when I'm older it will be my job to take care and free my people.

July, 1, 1789

The French Revolution begun and quickly spread to the colonies. On Saint-Domingue, the whites we are divided between those supporting and those opposing the revolution. Free blacks and mulattos also took sides, and fighting began between the different factions. In Saint-Domingue, the fighting centered around the idea of racial equality, which has weakened the control of slave owners. I am exited because it is my chance to help liberate my people.

"August 22, 1791"

Today some slaves have revolted in Cap Français. The slave revolution in Saint-Domingue has begunand I have decided to join as a doctor. Already I am faced with dieing soildiors and severe injuries. Although part of me is nervous, I am also very exited it is time to pay back my father for his sacrafice.

"December 12, 1793"

Today I have been named chief lieutenant to slave general Biassou. Together we have allied our forces with the Spanish in Santo Domingo on the eastern side of the island. As war is breaking between France, England and Spain there are new countries trying to take us over. No one really effects us though.

"April 30, 1801"

Today is a bad day. My goal of saving my people has been overlooked due to my own mistakes and my people frustration, I am going to be exiled to France. Because Napolean decided to have a quick but costly campaign against my people. We are no match to his trained troops and advanced war tactics and weponry, after all we are just slaves. What a shame.

November 29, 1803

Free at last, free at last. We are free from all french and our land has been given the name Haiti to truly break off from the French. I am also unexiled and can come back to my homelands. After the campain ended my people felt they were unfair and pardoned my mistakes. Thanks to our leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines were are successful.

"Note: In actuality Toussant died April 7, 1803 just month before our last journal entry, but I've taken some peotic justice in letting him see Haiti's freedom as the first black state"

Diaries of Jean-Jacques Dessalines

Diaries of Jean-Jacques Dessalines

August 24, 1791

Ever since September 20, 1758, I was a slave. A tool used by white men to do their own work. I have become sick of it and have decided to join the revolution. Though I am putting my life at risk, I would rather die than work as a slave. The other slaves and I are being led by Jean Francois Papillon and George Biassou in the northern plains. I pray tkl;hat I can see things through.

September 29, 1791

I have become a lieutenant in Papillon’s army and shall help the Spanish against the French colonies. I have met a man by the name of Toussaint Bréda, who is an interesting man. He too was born into slavery but he has more intelligence than any black man I have ever met.  I wish to know more about him.

March 4, 1794

The French have declared that they are abolishing slavery. Bréda has now taken the name Toussaint l’Overture, and has joined the French in order to defeat Spain and Britain. I have decided to join him in his battles.

June 12, 1799

Toussaint l’Overture has promoted me to brigadier general. I am honored to take such a position. I shall fight until the end until this war is over. I have created a “no prisoners” policy to ensure that there is no chance for any of our enemies to regroup. I have had many successful raids and attacks. I have left ashes and dust in my trail, giving no mercy for the people that did not give me any.

February  19, 1801

There has been an insurrection in the north led by l’Overture’s own nephew, General Moyse. I have successfully put down this rebellion against us. General Moyse is no longer rebellious and neither are his troops.

June 22, 1801

It appears the French have dispatched troops to re-establish slavery back into our land. We will not allow this. Their commander, General Charles Leclerc, shall know that we will not back down so easily.

March 11, 1802

I have but 1,300 troops at my command to defend Fort Crête-à-Pierrot against 18,000 attackers. My men looked dishearted and so I decided to motivate them. I stood in front of an open keg full of powder and told my men I would blow up this fort if the attackers broke through our defenses. We shall not lose.

April 1, 1802

We have fought hard, fending off the French troops as long as we could. We inflicted heavy casualties to them, showing that we would not give up. My men fought with courage and we fought as if we were an army of not 1,300 but 10,000 men. I have the feeling that this battle will be remembered in the pages of history. We eventually had to retreat due to a shortage of supplies and ammo, but not without leaving a battlefield of dead French soldiers.

May 6, 1802

I have sadly decided to defect to the side of Leclerc. He has joined his army with a group of mulattoes led by Alexandre Pétion and André Rigaud, wealthy mulattoes. I am deeply sorry to my friend Toussaint but this is not a game, but war and I have decided my place.

June 7, 1802

My old commander and good friend Toussaint l’Overture has been captured due to the trickery of Rochambeau, Leclerc’s successor. I feel strange, for Toussaint was my friend and I have fought by his side for years.

October 5, 1802

I have rejoined the revolution’s side realizing that only slavery would happen if Napolean won. Alexandre Pétion has joined my side as well. The French have been injured with yellow fever spreading throughout its armies, killing Leclerc and many French troops. We must capitalize quickly.

November 18, 1803

We are attacking Fort Vertiéres, which is being defended by Rochambeau and his forces. They will not last long under the might of my army along with Pétion’s army.

November 19,1803

We have defeated Rochambeau and have won an important battle. We have shown that we are strong enough to fend off any country that wishes to take our land and enslave us.

December 4, 1803

Napolean’s French army has surrendered the last territory they held in our land of Saint-Domingue. I think I want to name our land different. Doesn’t matter now, first we must celebrate our freedom as an independent country.

January 1, 1804

I have declared myself Governor-General-for-life and have renamed our land Haiti. We are now free from slavery and French rule. I don’t think I have felt more happy in my life.

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