Toussaint made a fatal error in not confiding his plans in his generals. His weaknesses seem to include love of white culture and breeding, disdain for uneducated blacks, and isolation. Had he taken Moyse and Dessalines, for instance, into his confidence, had he educated them about the reasons behind his policies, they might have been loyal allies instead of undermining his policies.
It seems that Toussaint fell victim to the same sort of inertia that ensnares the greatest of men: the belief that what got you here will get you there. Toussaint’s habits of plotting and scheming in virtual isolation stood him in good stead while he worked to gather his forces. However, there came a time when he needed to draw on the resources of others in the country. He needed to address the fact that attachment to the old system still existed. He needed to address the economic incentives that Moyse and Dessalines found in the plantation system. He needed generals that understood the long term vision, the greater good. Not reaching out, not letting go of control, believing that he could do everything alone – this was Toussaint’s fatal flaw.
Korngold p. 232 – “[Napoleon] was to say: ‘I have to reproach myself the attack upon this colony. I should have contented myself with ruling the island through the intermediary of Toussaint.’”
“ The invasions of St. Domingo, Spain and Russia were Napoleon’s three capital blunders. From the historical perspective the invasion of St. Domingo surpasses the two others in importance. The setback to the Grand Army in Spain, its virtual destruction on the steppes of Russia, had important repercussions on the history of that time and hastened Napoleon’s downfall. But had Spain and Russia not been invaded, Europoe would still have emerged from the Napoleonic adventure the Europe of the Congress of Vienna. The invasion of St. Domingo, however, was responsible for the loss by France of its richest colony, and, as a result of that loss, for the sale of the Louisiana Territory to the United States. The sale of the Territory affected the future of the American Continent and of the world to an extent that cannot be overestimated.
“ The Grand Army’s losses in St. Domingo were almost as serious as those it suffered in Spain – 70,000 were lost in Spain, 63,000 in St. Domingo. “
Compare the second paragraph here with what Professor Corbett says. Corbett makes the claim that Napoleon never had designs on the Louisiana territory, or rather that he only had such designs as would restore Haiti to its former economic importance (i.e., using New Orleans as a supply depot for St. Domingue). Either way, it seems that Haiti’s fate at the least hastened America’s acquisition of the Western territory
Would Napoleon eventually have sold or released the land to the US at some point if things in Haiti had gone otherwise? It’s hard to see why he would have, though given the disastrous campaigns in Russian and Spain, I’m not sure what use Napoleon could have made of the land. If, though, he had managed to secure Haiti and restore its economic importance, he may not have needed to sell the Louisiana Territories when he did. The land might have eventually been settled by the French, or ceded to the US or back to Spain.
[In this chapter, Korngold also lays out his theory of Napoleon’s thirst for world domination.]
Also – p. 233 – “Before the French Revolution two thirds of the French import and export trade had been with St. Domingo.” Two thirds! The loss of that trade is significant for both sides. No wonder Napoleon wanted it back. And no wonder Toussaint turned to Spain, Britain and especially the United States to make up the gap. He was covering his butt, economically speaking.