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Général Toussaint Louverture (1743 - 1803)

Portrait of Toussaint L’Ouverture wearing a military officer’s uniform modeled after French uniforms. In his hand, he holds a paper, as if he was pausing while reading to a crowd.


Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Général Toussaint Louverture (1743 - 1803)" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 4, 2020.

This portrait of Toussaint L’Ouverture is not a primary source, because it was created in 1957, long after the president’s death. Since it was produced in Haiti, it gives us evidence about the way that L’Ouverture was remembered and celebrated in that nation. He has sometimes been called Napoleon Noir (The Black Napoleon) and compared to George Washington. He wears a military officer’s uniform, modeled after French army uniforms. Why do you think the artist depicted him with a paper in his hand? What does it seem like he is about to do?

Consider combining analysis of this source with Sources 10 and 11. Having students compare portraits of revolutionary leaders — Washington, Napoleon, L’Ouverture, and Bolívar — is a useful way to reinforce the idea that these revolutions were not happening in isolation. The leaders are often shown in similar poses and dress, displaying a type of heroic art characteristic of their era. This is evidence that drawings of leaders were circulating around the Atlantic World. Student answers will vary, but the artist may have wanted to emphasize L’Ouverture’s education and writing ability.