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Jean-Jacques Dessalines
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    (September 20, 1758-October 17, 1806)
    Born in Grand Riviere du Nord, Haiti
    Birth name was Jean-Jacques Duclos
    Chief lieutenant to Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of the Haitian rebellion against France
    Became leader of the rebellion after L’Ouverture’s capture (1802)
    Won victories over the French at Crete-a-Pierrot (1802) and Vertieres (1803)
    First ruler of independent Haiti as Governor-General (1804)
    Proclaimed himself Emperor Jacques I (October 6, 1804)
    Assassinated during a coup d’etat
    As a military commander, he had a ‘take no prisoners’ policy and burned entire villages to the ground.
    He abandoned the revolt, sided with the French, then rejoined the rebellion.
    He was partly responsible for L’Ouverture’s capture, and received gifts of wine and liquor from the French commander for his help.
    As ruler, he declared Haiti an all-black nation and forbade whites from owning land or property.
    He ordered a series of massacres of the island’s French population, killing between 3,000 and 5,000 people (1804).
    He ordered all blacks to either serve as soldiers or work on the plantations, and enforced this system so strictly that many Haitians felt they had been re-enslaved.
    After his assassination, his body was left on public display, with mobs disfiguring his remains.
    He was a slave on a plantation.
    He was a leader in the most successful slave revolt in history.
    He was nicknamed ‘the Tiger’ for his fearlessness in battle.
    He changed the nation’s name from Saint-Domingue to Haiti.
    The Haitian national anthem, La Dessalinienne,’ is named for him.

Credit: C. Fishel


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