Toussaint L'Ouverture was the leader of the Haitian Revolution, a slave uprising that ultimately freed Haiti from French rule and created a new nation. After fighting off French, Spanish and British forces, he formed an uneasy peace with Napoleon Bonaparte, only to be betrayed by the French emperor.
The French Revolution inspired slaves in the New World with the idea of equality and freedom for all. Unfortunately, as was too often the case, freedom and equality did not extend to those of African descent. After the free blacks of Haiti began agitating for more rights, the slaves joined the revolt, and L'Ouverture aligned himself with Spain. When France abolished slavery in 1794, however, he made peace with the French. However, Napoleon Bonaparte reinstated the practice upon taking power, and Haiti once more rebelled against the Empire.
In 1803, Napoleon made peace with Haiti and invited L'Ouverture to a negotiation over terms. While he was promised safe conduct, the French violated the agreement and arrested him. L'Ouverture died in prison in 1804, but the people of Haiti continued their fight for freedom. After yellow fever decimated the French troops sent to quell the rebellion, Napoleon ultimately decided the colony was more trouble than it was worth, and granted Haiti its independence.