Francois Dominique Toussaint (1743-1803) was smart enough to figure out that his rag-tag
army of nearly 60 thousand rebellious slaves wouldn't submit to a commander that used the same harsh methods as their slavers. To lighten the mood he was said to encourage jokes and singing during marches. He was also the master of Chevy Chase
-like falls from his horse that would usually be met with thunderous laughter from his troops. Toussaint believed that establishing a bond
of this nature with his army was essential if they were to defeat
the better equiped European troops.
The slave revolt on Hispaniola began in late summer 1791. In a brief two month period over 1,000 plantations were destroyed. Toussaint fought side by side with his men and was injured numerous times, once taking a cannonball to the face. His victories against the French, Spanish, and Brits were impressive and he adopted the nickname L'Ouverture--French for "The Opening."
By 1801, he had overtaken the entire island, and he created a constitution that made him the lifetime leader of Hispaniola . Unfortunately Napoleon Bonaparte, didn't fancy allowing slaves to run a French colony. In 1802, he ordered an invasion , forced Toussaint to surrender, and incarcerated him in France until his death a year later.
His dream did not die with him however as the French part of Hispanola, won independence 1804, becoming the Haiti.