With support from the University of Richmond

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"Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture" by Sudhir Hazareesingh wins Wolfson Prize

The Haitian Revolution began in the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue with a slave revolt in August 1791, and culminated a dozen years later in the proclamation of the world’s first independent black state. Toussaint Louverture, himself a former slave, became the leader of the colony, the commander of its republican army and eventually its governor. During the course of his extraordinary life he confronted some of the dominant forces of his age – slavery, settler colonialism, imperialism and racial hierarchy. Treacherously seized by Napoleon’s invading army in 1802, he died in a fortress in France.

Black Spartacus traces Louverture’s singular journey, from his triumphs against French, Spanish and British troops to his skillful regional diplomacy, his Machiavellian dealings with successive French colonial administrators and his bold promulgation of an autonomous Constitution. Hazareesingh shows that Louverture developed his unique vision and leadership not solely in response to imported Enlightenment ideals and revolutionary events in Europe and the Americas, but through a hybrid heritage of fraternal slave organisations, Caribbean mysticism and African political traditions. Above all, Hazareesingh retrieves Louverture’s rousing voice and force of personality, making this the most engaging, as well as the most complete, biography to date.

About the author

Sudhir Hazareesingh is a Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Balliol College, University of Oxford.

Read entire article at Wolfson History Prize