Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803) was a plantation slave in the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue. After slaves on the island launched an uprising in 1791, Toussaint liberated himself, then rose to become a powerful military and political leader of freed slaves. By 1797, he was the most powerful man on the island, ending slavery while ruling as a virtual dictator.
Though Toussaint was captured by Napoleon's soldiers and died in a French dungeon in 1803, the revolutionary process he had helped to lead could not be stopped; Saint-Domingue became the independent black Republic of Haiti in 1804. Toussaint's victories helped the young United States by making the Louisiana Purchase possible.