Toussaint Louverture to James Sever, October 13, 1800
General Toussaint Louverture, who was born into slavery on the French colony of Saint-Domingue on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic), was a prominent leader of the Haitian Revolution from 1791 to 1804. The Haitian Revolution evolved in concert with the revolution on mainland France, and American ship captains battling French privateers in the Caribbean were generally supportive of Louverture’s rebellion against colonial authority and struggle for independence from France. Louverture’s letter is in response to Captain James Sever on USS Congress, who in a previous letter had announced he would be taking up station off Saint-Domingue. Louverture had a reputation among the American captains for his willingness to provide generous payments in the form of provisions in exchange for transport and other military assistance for his troops. This letter is not in Louverture’s handwriting, and was likely an English transcription provided to Sever by a translator.