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Napoleon Bonaparte and Toussaint L' Ouverture

Info: 1288 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 13th Jul 2017 in History

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There have been many important leaders throughout history that have affected our society. Two important leaders in history are Napoleon Bonaparte and Toussaint L’ Ouverture. Toussaint had a major impact on Haiti in 1791 and Napoleon on France in 1799.

One situation that Napoleon Bonaparte attempted to change was an unstable society in France. When King Louis XVI became king, chaos and disorder swept throughout France. There was a bad government. King Louis XVI as well as the kings before him ruled under an absolute monarchy. He thought he received power from god, therefore no one questioned him. This allowed them to choose who to tax, how much money to spend, laws, or who to imprison. They had the power to do anything. King Louis XVI became in a huge debt from spending money on luxuries and his own needs especially on his palace of Versailles. He only taxed the third estate. They had the least amount of money. He gave the most important jobs to the noble and clergy. The social classes were not equal. King Louis XVI had ruled as a monarch for 72 years, and the people in France tolerated him for a long time. His decisions eventually caused France society to erode. One action Napoleon took to change this situation was to take control of France. In 1799 he began his task. In 1776 he was a general in the army of France. After winning many battles, he overthrows the Coup d’état of directory and builds a strong centralized government without an absolute monarchy. He gains the title of first consul in 1799. In 1804 Napoleon crowns himself emperor of France. He produces a Napoleonic Code in 1804. This is a set of laws for all members of French society. Napoleonic code states social inequality, and no more special privileges. Everyone has the right to obtain any job based on their ability. There is equal taxation so the government could rely on a steady amount of money, religious toleration, and feudal rights were ended. He also established roads, canals, buildings and schools that focused on military values.

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The impact Napoleon had on France was significant. After the Reign of Terror in France, Napoleon took over to help control France. Under his power France becomes a huge empire. He becomes dictator of France by coup d’état to overthrow the directory of France. People began to rely on him and his new laws after he wins battle after battle and soon becomes emperor in 1804. He became a hero of France and saved them from the debt and terrible laws that the king and Robespierre enforced. His empire extends through Eastern Europe as he takes over Spain. With each victory he gains, he brings nationalism to France and every nation. His empire soon reaches its greatest heights, and gains a lot of power. He has a lot of power that he can put his family members on the thrones of different countries. Even though he controls many places, he gains enemies too like Great Britain and Russia. Many people begin fearing his power. In 1812, the invasion of Russia is the beginning of the end for Napoleon. It was the first major battle Napoleon had lost. He fled to Moscow, where he is attacked by the Russians and much of his army is destroyed. He is exiled to Elba in 1814, but decided to go back to France and try to win his country back. He loses the Battle of Waterloo in 1813 and is forced to surrender. Everyone has lost faith in their hero and he is exiled again and dies. In 1815 the Congress of Vienna took over to decide what to do with France. They were all foreign leaders and decided to strengthen France by having an absolute monarch again. Louis XVIII becomes king till 1824, than his brother Charles took the thrown till 1830. In 1830, the second French Revolution occurs.

One situation that Toussaint L’Ouverture attempted to change was to free the slaves from the whites in Haiti. Toussaint attempted to change the society the people in Haiti lived in. It was not equal. Before the island was called Haiti, it was called Saint- Dominique and was a rich European colony. It was the most important colony because it was the center of sugar production and 1/3 of all trade came from this island. On this island, there lived five hundred thousand black slaves. These slaves were controlled by white residents. The slaves outnumbered the white people, but the whites were at the top of the society and had more power over the slaves. They forced slaves to work on sugar plantations for many hours in brutal conditions. Whites provided slaves with no care that many of them died from working in brutal conditions. The whites only cared about money and getting work done. Slaves could not stand up for what they believed in because they had no rights or independence. This led many of them to run away into the mountains. One action Toussaint took to change this situation was to overthrow the white settlers. The white settlers abused the slaves. The slaves did not like this at all, having no freedoms. The slaves ran away to the mountains, they formed maroon societies. Here they planned on ways to attack the white settlers for freedom which led to a revolution. The slaves got the idea of a revolution from fighting in the American war of independence. Many slaves believed it was possible to defeat the whites. Toussaint inspired them to do this, and fight for independence. He brought all the talent and ideas together and planned for an attack on the whites. He was a skilled organizer and well educated. In 1793, he built a strong army and taught many people to become stronger fighters. In 1797, he led an army of twenty thousand slaves. He was well educated and forced the Spanish and British to leave Haiti. Toussaint did everything he could to help the slaves be free. In 1802, Napoleon sent forty thousand troops to Haiti to stop the slaves. Toussaint tried to negotiate instead of fighting, but was arrested and jailed in France. He died shortly before the slaves were declared independence.

The impact Toussaint L’Ouverture had on slaves around the world was significant. He was an enlightenment and intelligent thinker. He affected the lives of many slaves that thought freedom was never possible. Haiti was the first successful slave revolt that Toussaint had led. He made his army strong and able to see that independence for slaves was possible. His army defeated Napoleons troops, who was a great emperor and had soldiers with military experience. Haiti was the 2nd independent republic in western hemisphere. In 1801, Toussaint published a constitution that gave citizens of all races throughout Haiti equality. Slaves now had equal rights in Haiti and no longer had to live under brutal conditions. There was no more social class distinction that gave the whites more power. These revolutions caused many other slaves to realize it was possible to be free. He impacted the lives of slaves, especially their children who would not have to experience the brutal conditions their parents went through. Many revolutions spread throughout the world; some were successful while others were not. Toussaint gave people who were suffering that one day they could be free. Even thought he was captured by France, the slaves never gave up and kept fighting. His great inspiration to slaves made them realize that slavery would not have to be their life forever.

Napoleon Bonaparte and Toussaint L’ Ouverture have changed the lives of many people. They are leaders that many people have followed. Toussaint was a leader of a slave revolt, and Napoleon was an emperor of France. Many people looked up to them and impacted their lives. They are a big part of history that changed society.


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