(originally broadcast October 3, 1948)
|[That Richard Durham looked beyond national boundaries to embrace the worldwide struggle for freedom is evident in his drama about Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture (1743-1803), one of the liberators of Haiti. There was much for Durham to admire in the Haitian revolutionary legacy: Slaves had risen successfully against their masters, native strategy and fervor had militarily overcome the colonial armies of Napoleonic France, and the first black-led modern state in history was founded with the declaration of Haitian independence in 1804. But this drama reflects the ambiguity in Durham's understanding of how oppressed humanity would reach its destination in freedom, for here he praised those resorting to armed rebellion, while in other programs he lauded those employing nonviolent methods.]|
ANNOUNCER: Destination Freedom!
(MUSIC: Theme up and under)
ANNOUNCER: The Chicago Defender and station WMAQ bring you Destination Freedom, a new radio series dramatizing the great democratic traditions of the Negro people, interwoven in the pageant of history and a part of America's own Destination Freedom!
(MUSIC: Up and under)
ANNOUNCER: The year was 1801. Napoleon Bonaparte had come home from his conquering campaign. The Little General had come home to check his colonies, to rest his troops, to prepare to conquer the West. And when they brought him a strange constitution signed by an unknown man, Toussaint L'Ouverture, the General called in his ministers and officers.
(SOUND: Group gathering)
NARRATOR: The ministers trembled. The General spoke
NAPOLEON: (Low between the teeth) Who is this Toussaint L'Ouverture? Speak up! (Ad-lib anger.)
NARRATOR: (Quiet) The minister, the governor, the deputies sat quiet and waited for the rage to roll over. Napoleon spoke—
NAPOLEON: Who is Toussaint?
GOVERNOR: (Ventures) Eh, sire, as I said, he—he is the governor of Santo Domingo.
NAPOLEON: (Cut in) Weren't you appointed governor?
GOVERNOR: (At loss) Yes, but that was before we lost—lost control of the colony. I've explained it, sire.
NAPOLEON: Explained it! While I cover France with glory, expand the empire in Europe and Africa, you fools lose control of the richest colony in the world, the key to the West! You're Minister of Marine, Anton. How did you allow this to happen?
ANTON: Sire, we sent troops to the colony to stop this man, but—
NAPOLEON: (Cut in) This "man"?
ANTON: (Corrects self) This slave, sire. But this Toussaint is no ordinary "slave." (Flattering) But now that you're home—
NAPOLEON: You sent "ordinary" troops! Against him?
ANTON: We sent the best France could spare.
NAPOLEON: Wasn't that enough to keep order in a colony like Santo Domingo? That was your job. You failed. (Thoughtful) I never liked failures.
ANTON: I did my best, but this Santo Domingo is a very strange land.
NAPOLEON: What's strange about it?
ANTON: There's this man and and his people. This Toussaint.
GROUP: (Ad-lib agreement on Toussaint)
NAPOLEON: Toussaint! Toussaint! Is that all you can say? Whoever among you is responsible for allowing him, the last among Frenchmen, to send me a "constitution" from the colony Santo Domingo and tell me, not ask me, to sign it, will pay for it! You, LeRoy, you were governor of the island? The minister said he sent you troops. What did you do with them?
GOVERNOR: (Uneasy) I wanted to explain, your excellency. It is not my fault. No one's fault. No one fought harder than I to keep up slavery. We succeeded, until this Toussaint took things into his hands.
NAPOLEON: (To self) Toussaint! Toussaint! You were never a good governor.
GOVERNOR: Excellency, we ruled very well, but the slaves began to riot.
NAPOLEON: (Cut in) Wherever there are slaves, there're riots. I expect it. I do not expect to be insulted by (rustles paper) this "constitution" coming after my conquests. When France is ready to invade the West and expand the territory in Louisiana, you come sniveling back from the colony with an equal rights constitution from a "Citizen Toussaint."
ANTON: (Soft) Your excellency has never fought in Santo Domingo, as some of us have.
NAPOLEON: And what is there about Santo Domingo that's worse than Poland, Egypt, Austria?
ANTON: (Cut in apologetic) Toussaint, your excellency. (Hastily) But he stands only because Napoleon has not had time to look into the colonies. Now that the war with England is over, you'll conquer him as you've conquered others. Can we expect that soon, sire?
NAPOLEON: (Calmer, broods) In due time, minister, in due time. First, I'll ferret out who's responsible for his rise to power; then I'll proceed. I've not become the first consul of France by galloping ahead and leaving the facts behind. If we expect to conquer him, we must have the facts. Who is this Toussaint? Where did he come from? How did he get his power? Governor?
GOVERNOR: (In distress) Your Excellency, I tell you I did all I could. But the landlords and the planters and the poor whites were always bickering over the right to rule. They caused this.
ANTON: It was not the fault of planters! I've been a planter myself. We've always done well for France.
GOVERNOR: (You see) That's what I'm talking about, sire. This bickering over the spoils caused it—
ANTON: (Cut in) Who's bickering?
GROUP: (Ad-lib taking sides)
NAPOLEON: (Cut through) Will you be quiet!
NAPOLEON: You'll tell me what you know of this colony. I will put it together and proceed to get back what France has lost, as I've always done. You say this Toussaint has two sons here in France?
ANTON: Yes, sire. They've been here for ten years. They're studying at my academy.
NAPOLEON: (Nods) Ummmm. And governor, you say you know how the revolt started?
GOVERNOR: It started before the Bastille fell in France. Someone smuggled the slogan, Liberty, equality, fraternity, into the island. That was the first piece they put into the constitution. That decided this Toussaint, they say, to send his sons to France. Then the trouble came.
(MUSIC: Sneak in under with)
NARRATOR: The first consul began to lit the pieces together, the odd pieces that added up to the constitution that lay on the table. The constitution that first began to grow one night in Santo Domingo when the priestess Dambralla drove a cart full (sound in) of gourds and two tall boys to the seashore and stopped.
(SOUND: Fade in under above sound of horse and cart on gravel halt)
DAMBRALLA: (Prophetic, solemn) Paul! Leon! Wake up. This is where you get off.
DAMBRALLA: (Relief) Toussaint told me to bring you here. I've done it. A ship'll pick you up. Are you ready?
PAUL: If father wants us to go, we'll go.
DAMBRALLA: You'll meet your mother soon. Have you enough money?
PAUL: Father gave us all the money in the house. But Dambralla, why do we have to leave the island?
LEON: Yes. Every night father goes out in the mountains to meet the slaves. Now he wants us to leave. Well, I'm glad.
DAMBRALLA: Your father has business that's handled best where no one can hold his sons as hostages.
LEON: What is he going to do?
DAMBRALLA: You ask too many questions. I've done what I promised. Go to Paris. You'll be free. Do what you want, but don't forget Toussaint, your father.
PAUL: How can we forget father?
DAMBRALLA: (Softer) Don't forget what he's fighting for, no matter what they tell you in France. Now go. I'm late delivering my gourds.
PAUL: (Soft, curious) Dambralla?
PAUL: What's in the gourds?
DAMBRALLA: (Offhand) Only rattles to make music.
PAUL: Won't you leave me one? Father told me what they say.
(MUSIC: Rattle of gourd)
DAMBRALLA: (Pause) Bless you, my boy, take it. Do you want one, Leon
LEON: I'm too big to play with rattles. Besides, in Paris they've got better things to make music out of.
DAMBRALLA: Now go on. You leave as one of the last and least of the people in Santo Domingo. When you come back, you'll be among the first. That's what the gourds say. Go on! Must peddle my gourds (clucks to horse).
(SOUND: Cart and horse start and hold under)
NARRATOR: And Dambralla turned back and drove her cart and gourds through the streets and the plantations and stopped at the hut of (sound: cart stops, hammering under) the leader of the dock slaves, Dessalines. Dessalines was patching his fence.
(SOUND: Hammering goes on under this until indicated out)
DESSALINES: (Looks up, fade on) Conjure woman! What do you want?
DAMBRALLA: Toussaint sent me with a message.
DESSALINES: (Hedge) Toussaint never sends anyone out empty handed.
DAMBRALLA: I've got gourds.
(MUSIC: Rattle gourds)
DESSALINES: (Looks at her long and hard) I can make rattle gourds myself.
DAMBRALLA: Mine talk.
DESSALINES: What do they say?
(MUSIC: Rhythmic twitching of the gourds)
DAMBRALLA: (Over sound) They say, to those who understand, come together tonight in the glade of old Gap Mountain—
DESSALINES: (Grips her wrists) Give the passwords woman! What does the gourd say?
(MUSIC: Shaking of gourds)
DAMBRALLA: The first shall be last and the last shall be first.
DESSALINES: (Breathes relief) Then the time has come! I'm supposed to serve drinks for guests of the governor tonight. Let them serve their own drinks. I'll be in the glade.
DAMBRALLA: You'll not be alone. Toussaint wants you to strike the first blow. Take the gourds. Tell Christophe and Henri. Pass the word on.
NARRATOR: And the gourds rattled, and the word went around—
(MUSIC: Keep rattle of gourds rhythmically under following)
DESSALINES: (Sotto) Christophe, the first shall be last, the last shall be first. Gather in the glade at midnight tonight. Pass the word on.
(MUSIC: Kettle drum punctuates)
(MUSIC: Gourds shaking)
CHRISTOPHE: (Hushed) The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Pass the word on.
VOICE II: (Whisper) The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
(MUSIC: Punctuate with drums; gourds continue)
VOICE III: The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
VOICES: (Mingle together) The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
NARRATOR: (Over voices) And on the sultry night, the leaders assembled in the glade and sat in a half circle and mapped out the new state until Dambralla asked for the hour that the change would come about
DAMBRALLA: (Cut through voices) When! Dessalines, when!
DESSALINES: You ask me; I'm only elected to lead, not to set the hour. Where's Toussaint? Why didn't he come?
GROUP: (Ad-lib on the question)
DAMBRALLA: Toussaint's attending the sick on the waterfront. He's with us in spirit.
DESSALINES: (Uneasy) For the work that's got to be done, we need a man's body as well as his spirit. You're a conjure woman, did he send a message by you?
DAMBRALLA: He sent a message for all of us. (Aside) Let the drums and the gourds speak. Toussaint will talk.
(MUSIC: Slip up in the background and keep under Haitian-type drums and gourd ensemble).
NARRATOR: In the darkness, in the glade, Dambralla called for Toussaint, and some thought they caught his voice in the air.
TOUSSAINT: (Filter, soft, mature, warm) Brothers and friends, I have undertaken to help you avenge your wrongs, to open a new world. A world where liberty and equality will rule. Unite with me for this common cause; pick an hour, and I'll be with you. I am Toussaint L'Ouverture, your General of the Public Welfare.
DAMBRALLA: Did you hear him? Did you?
NARRATOR: (Quiet) The faithful said nothing but heard in their own hearts the echo of their own ideas, and they wondered if they dared carry them out.
DAMBRALLA: (Triumphant) Now, Dessalines, you'll set the hour and the day.
DESSALINES: Very well. Toussaint has said, there'll be a time when the men who live by the profit of other men's work will fall out among themselves. Toussaint thinks they'll fight to see who'll reap the lion's share of what we sow. When that time comes, it'll be time to see if the black slaves in Santo Domingo can do what white slaves did in France.
CHRISTOPHE: Set the hour! Set the hour!
DESSALINES: Those who work in the mountain plantations shall strike first.
DAMBRALLA: What about us from the lowlands?
DESSALINES: You'll strike the second and final blow. You'll strike the night you hear the cocks crowing.
CHRISTOPHE: Cocks don't crow at night!
DESSALINES: Cocks crow when there's light.
DAMBRALLA: There's no light at night!
DESSALINES: We'll make the night light up like a sunrise. Touch the torches to everything that burns (pause). When the governor gathers his gang together to settle the matter of who'll rule us, we'll strike (pause). Dambralla, kill the pig and make your wine. Seal everyone's lips until the cock's crow. Make the wine.
(MUSIC: Bring up Haitian drums and rattles, and hold in background)
NARRATOR: A pig squealed, and his blood drained into a gourd with gunpowder and rum. The gourd went around the circle that night and the next night. And the slaves in the lowlands listened for the cock's crowing. And Dambralla's wine was passed around.
(MUSIC: Fade in dinner noises)
NARRATOR: And in the governor's mansion, the governor passed out a paler wine to his guests the planters, the poor whites, and the aristocrats who met to decide who would have the loudest voice in the colony. Planter Pierre spoke loudest.
PIERRE: Now governor, I don't mind a night like tonight mixing with the common elements. But are we planters to be put on the same footing with commoners—peasants, laborers? Is that why you asked us in?
HIS GROUP: (Ad-lib agreement)
GOVERNOR: (Hesitant) Well, er, Monsieur Pierre, it's this way. The king's disturbed about the quarreling—
DUPREE: He's disturbed! Governor, I represent the landless, everyday French workers on this island. As Frenchmen, we're entitled to as many rights as Monsieur Pierre and his planters.
PLANTERS: (Ad-lib rejoinder)
WORKERS: (Ad-lib on Dupree's side)
DUKE: (Edge in) Governor, you called me in to speak for the monarchy. The trouble with this colony is the fact that there are too few leaders with true royal ancestry directing it. Now governor, before we take our case to the king—
GOVERNOR: Please, my dear duke, I meant no insult by calling everyone here under the same roof, but we've got to have harmony in the colony.
DUPREE: Until you enforce the rights of the citizens without property, there'll be no harmony. I can tell you that.
HIS GROUP: (Ad-lib agreement)
PIERRE: You see, governor. When you let every rabble and rowdy into the colony, you get this!
DUKE: You're right, Pierre. We've proposed to the governor that he ban the immigration of anyone without er—good blood. Except, of course, the slaves.
DUPREE: (Cut in) Try and ban our people from the colony, and you'll regret the day you did it.
HIS GROUP: (Ad-lib support)
GOVERNOR: Messieurs, that's not why we're here tonight. Calm yourselves. (Rather suave) There's enough colony here for us all, isn't there? Now isn't there?
PIERRE: There would be if it weren't for the shoving and grabbing rabble!
HIS GROUP: (Ad-lib agreement with him)
GOVERNOR: (Soft laugh) Come now, monsieur. Here we rule the richest colony in the world. Look at it, an island the size of Ireland. We've got a strong nation behind us. We've got at our command nearly 200,000 slaves. There're 500 plantation owners and 30,000 other Frenchmen.
DUPREE: (Cut in) And we 30,000 equal the planters in every way except—PIERRE: (Gracious) Except, monsieur, you don't own anything. Remember that. You don't own a single solitary slave.
DUPREE: (Cut in) Aren't we Frenchmen all the same blood and race?
PIERRE: (Airy) Blood? Race? Oh, I imagine so. I'll grant it. You're white, but where's your property, monsieur?
DUPREE: You've got it all.
GOVERNOR: (Cut in) Now, now, messieurs, I respect your positions, but France expects more out of us than bickering. Only yesterday I had to warn you not to quarrel in front of the slaves. It's bad for their morale. We've done well here, and I think as long as we have slaves, we'll do better.
GROUP: (Agree with him)
GOVERNOR: Then can't we agree that—it is—really—officials like er—me and perhaps the duke, who are the first men of Santo Domingo? Then of course, planters, and then the er—
PIERRE: If it's the right of the first men in Santo Domingo to make the last, it is we planters who are first.
HIS GROUP: (Agree with him vehemently)
GOVERNOR: We'll not argue the matter. Temporarily, we'll put the problem aside. I say again, too much squabbling may entice the slaves to riot.
DUKE: (Disgust) They know better. What can unarmed men do in the face of our guns and soldiers? What can they do? We've beaten down their riots before.
GOVERNOR: Of course, but it's not only the slaves we've got to watch. On one side of us are the Spaniards, waiting to take over as soon as we weaken.
GROUP: (Ad-lib agreement)
GOVERNOR: And on the other side there're the English, with a strong force on San Domingo. Messieurs, we first men of the colony have too much to lose by not joining together.
DUKE: (Cut in) Then stop this talk of "liberty, equality, fraternity" among the French sailors and rabble.
PIERRE: (Cut in) And this talk of voting rights for those who don't own property. Why if that sort of thing keeps up, even the slaves'll be asking for a day off from work.
GOVERNOR: (Glad to end it) Then we'll stop this talk and get on with running the colony
PIERRE: Yes, governor, I would like to settle the matter of this Toussaint.
PIERRE: Yes. Toussaint is a slave of the Breda plantation. He's got an uncanny influence over those he works with. He knows something of' medicine and helps to heal the sick.
GOVERNOR: Toussaint! All I hear are reports of Toussaint. What is he like?
PIERRE: A mild sort of slave, yet
GOVERNOR: Is lie dangerous?
PIERRE: I believe so.
GOVERNOR: (Settled) Then it's settled. We'll have him hanged. I may not know how to determine who's first and second in the colony, but I know how to handle those who are last. Now, messieurs, shall we continue to administer the colony and not squabble over the wealth? We'll drink on it. A toast, gentlemen?
GROUP: (Rising for toast, ad-libs)
GOVERNOR: You frown, Monsieur Pierre. Does the wine taste sour?
PIERRE: (Puzzled) No, I was frowning at the hour. I didn't know it was so late. GOVERNOR: Late?
PIERRE: Yes. Look outside, the sun's coming up.
GOVERNOR: (Peers) There's a strange glow in the sky, but the sun would hardly come up from the west.
GROUP: (Ad-lib curiosity. Keep under).
(SOUND: Not too far off sound of rooster crowing. Keep under)
GOVERNOR: But the cock's crowing. The sun must be rising.
PIERRE: (Slow dawn) No, governor. Look out there. The plantations are on fire!
DUKE: (Sees) He's right! It's not the sun rising, it's the slaves!
GOVERNOR: Call out the militia! Get the troops! They're aiming to take the city! It's another riot!
PIERRE: (Slow) It's not a riot this time, governor (pause). It's a revolution.
(SOUND: Rooster crows slightly off)
(MUSIC: Drums. Emphasize conquest with ponderous march from kettle drums, and slow down into background and keep under)
NARRATOR: And the midnight sun rose over the island, and the last came to be first and the first came to be last. The governor, the planters, the duke sent out the troops and the cannon. The slaves killed the troops and kept the cannon. The fire rained for forty days and nights over Santo Domingo until every post on the French part of the island fell. Toussaint was in command. He marched to the governor's mansion in front of an army in rags and with tools for weapons. The governor and planter Pierre watched them come.
(SOUND: Crowd noise off, fading on)
GOVERNOR: (Exhausted and tired from his ordeal) Pierre, which one is Toussaint?
PIERRE: He'll be the one in front of the troops.
GOVERNOR: (Doesn't believe) That man leading them up to the gates. Is that the terrible, Toussaint?
PIERRE: It's he.
GOVERNOR: But he's an old man. He's not a young hot-blood, the kind of man I'd expect to see doing this, but he's an old man.
PIERRE: If a little child can lead them, as Le Bon Dieu says, why can't an old man?
GOVERNOR: How can an old man who's been a slave all his life lead a revolution and expect to hold out against the strongest state in Europe? How can he?
(SOUND: Knocking on door off mike)
PIERRE: (Slight sarcasm) Monsieur Governor, Toussaint is at the door. Suppose you put the question to him, not me.
(SOUND: Door opened off mike)
TOUSSAINT: (Fade in) Governor? I am Toussaint L'Ouverture.
GOVERNOR: (Turns to) I am the governor. I know my troops have surrendered to you, but the king of France shall take revenge on every one of you for this. The penalty for rioting is death on the rack.
TOUSSAINT: I know it, monsieur. I've watched hundreds die for rioting for freedom. It's why we decided against rioting and for revolution. I've come to liberate you.
GOVERNOR: Liberate me? From what?
TOUSSAINT: I've come to liberate you from the king, the planters from their privileges, and my people from poverty and oppression. You are used to lawmaking. I want you to help draw up new laws for the colony.
GOVERNOR: Before any new laws are written, there'll be troops from France here to put your slaves back where they belong. Look at your position. In a week, the British will see that the colony's weak and come in to take it. If they can get it before the Spanish come in. You and your ragamuffin army'll wish you were still slaves for the French.
TOUSSAINT: The people'll be slaves for no one, governor. You're looking backwards, not forward. That's why I offer you a chance to help in the new state.
GOVERNOR: What help do you expect from me except to help hang you when it's time?
TOUSSAINT: (Unperturbed) You know something of lawmaking. Your job as governor's gone. You'll lead my research staff.
GOVERNOR: Me? Research?
TOUSSAINT: Yes. A new country, the United States, has just framed a constitution and a bill of rights. You'll put your learned planters and aristocrats to help draft one like it for Santo Domingo. It'll be good practice for you.
GOVERNOR: (Low, raged) The British and Spanish armies'll hang every man in your band before you rule a year.
TOUSSAINT: (Nods) Exactly, governor. That's why I intend to rid the island of "foreign invaders" before the year's out. Then we'll call for the constitution.
(MUSIC: Drum march in under and keep till cued out)
NARRATOR: And old Toussaint took his men against the Spanish army that struck against the new freemen. The same freedmen who had broken the hold of the French, cut the colony from the Spanish empire. The commander negotiated a peace with Toussaint.
EL COMMANDO: My king's asked me to end the war with you, Senor Toussaint. The whole eastern half of San Domingo is under your orders. The keys to the cities we own are on the table here. You may take them. What are your orders?
TOUSSAINT: I have no orders. I've not come as a conqueror, but to free you and your slaves and to let them become citizens in a new state. As for the keys, to take them would make me appear a conqueror. Will you hand them to me please?
(MUSIC: Drums march again)
ADMIRAL: (Sigh) I'll be glad to pull out of this cursed island.
TOUSSAINT: (Nods) You will. But admiral, you've lately brought in 16,000 slaves—I'd like for you to leave them behind.
ADMIRAL: (Smile) But general, we've already promised them freedom in our own colonies.
TOUSSAINT: In this colony, freedom is a fact, not a promise. You'll leave them behind.
ADMIRAL: (Pause) Very well. I suppose you're acting under orders of your new general in France, Napoleon Bonaparte.
TOUSSAINT: No, admiral, I act under orders from the old general in Santo Domingo, Toussaint. I'll write Napoleon about our understanding.
(MUSIC: In under, drums)
NARRATOR: The first general of Santo Domingo wrote to the first general of Europe, and there was no answer until Toussaint called in the governor to send him on a mission.
DESSALINES: (Low) Be careful, General Toussaint. Since Napoleon has been in France, the planters and old officials have begun to rise, and they expect to get their old positions back.
TOUSSAINT: Never mind. I have something to end old powers forever, and they'll help. (Up) Guard, bring in the governor.
GOVERNOR: (Fade on) Yes, General Toussaint? You sent for me?
TOUSSAINT: Yes. It's taken ten years to free the island. Now we're ready to go with the new state.
GOVERNOR: You called me in to remind us of that?
TOUSSAINT: I called you to remind you that once I asked you to prepare the draft of a constitution for the island, a constitution that would guarantee the liberty we've just won. Do you remember that, governor?
GOVERNOR: I remember it. We drew up a constitution, you rejected it.
TOUSSAINT: (Acknowledges) You rejected too many people as citizens. We've had the electors draw up the constitution.
GOVERNOR: What do you want me for?
TOUSSAINT: You've been selected, governor, to take our constitution to France.
GOVERNOR: Me? To France?
TOUSSAINT: We'd like to get Napoleon's approval. Will you take it?
GOVERNOR: (Satisfaction) I'll take it. You'll get more than the general's approval, Monsieur Toussaint. You'll get the butt of his revenge for your impudence in the colony. All Europe is afraid of Napoleon. When he has time, he'll take care of the upstarts in the colonies.
TOUSSAINT: Tell Napoleon we ask him to confirm the constitution of the new state.
GOVERNOR: And if he doesn't? TOUSSAINT: Then we'll confirm it ourselves.
GOVERNOR: (Softer) Toussaint, I've watched you grow since that first day your army took the colony. I admit I misjudged you earlier. But believe me, if you want to be in power, do not upset Napoleon Bonaparte. Nothing will do it quicker than an equal rights constitution. The new regime could never allow that. It'll be your death warrant. The wrath of Napoleon is not to be laughed at, but feared.
TOUSSAINT: I fear God, governor, but I fear no man. Take the constitution to Napoleon. We still have legal ties to France. We'll observe them. (Softer) While you're in France, governor, tell my sons it won't be long before they can come home to a new free nation. Go on, governor.
(MUSIC: Sneak under)
NARRATOR: The governor took the constitution to the conqueror Napoleon. It lay on the general's desk while ministers sat quiet and his anger raged. Then the Little General spoke, and the ministers relaxed.
NAPOLEON: There's no time to punish the officials guilty of allowing a slave like Toussaint to grow bigger than the colony. There is only time to recover what we have lost.
GROUP: (Murmurs of assent)
ANTON: General Bonaparte, you're right as usual. If we lose Santo Domingo, we lose Louisiana. If we lose that
NAPOLEON: (Cut in) The colony will not be lost. I'll see to that. Before we expand from Louisiana, the island of Santo Domingo must be secure.
ANTON: (Eagerly) Now it won't take much to crack this Toussaint, sire. With his ragamuffin army it'll be easy. Attack with a few of your best ships. He'd collapse in a week.
GROUP: (Ad-lib agreement)
NARRATOR: The general listened. The general considered; then he decided.
NAPOLEON: We'll prepare for war.
ANTON: Yes sire.
NAPOLEON: I'll answer this Toussaint. Prepare a letter telling him Napoleon is still considering his constitution. Praise the work he's done in making the island prosperous.
ANTON: (Disappointed) Yes, sire.
NAPOLEON: Then we'll prepare for war the Bonaparte way. Bring in Leclerc, my brother-in-law.
NARRATOR: Bonaparte's brother-in-law came and stood at attention before the general.
LECLERC: (Modest) Yes, sire?
NAPOLEON: (Expansive) Since the day you married my sister, Pauline, you've been too busy to give her a honeymoon, LeClerc—
LECLERC: (Modest) I've been fighting in your campaigns, sire.
NAPOLEON: Yes, and for that I'm going to reward you with rule of the richest colony in the world, Santo Domingo. We're preparing now to recover it from this—this—
NAPOLEON: You've heard of him too?
LECLERC: Sire, the English and Spanish armies speak well of him. They say he's trained an army that's stronger than any in Europe. They say—
NAPOLEON: Do they say his army's better than Napoleon's?
LECLERC: That's impossible.
NAPOLEON: That's better. You will command the expedition.
NAPOLEON: I'll take care of the directions of the army and the navy. Altogether you'll have eighty ships and 60,000 men. It'll be the largest fleet in history. Can you handle it?
LECLERC: (Nervous) Yes—yes sire, but this Toussaint... they say
NAPOLEON: (Cut in) The devil with what they say! The hope of an empire's at stake! Will you let an old ex-slave block us? I think I understand this man Toussaint. He has two sons who're studying in the academy. After I speak to them, you'll carry them to talk to their father. Meanwhile, I'll assure Toussaint that you come as a protector, not an invader. But whatever you do, get Toussaint off the island—dead or alive. After you have conquered the colony, there'll be time to restore slavery. Get your squads ready. I'll direct you.
MUSIC: In under with drums for martial effect. Hold under)
NARRATOR: And Napoleon filled his squadrons with his veterans and directed them across the ocean towards the mountains of Santo Domingo where Toussaint and his general, Dessalines, sat on horseback watching the wind blow the ships closer.
DESSALINES: Yes, Toussaint?
TOUSSAINT: Would a man who wants peace come with eighty ships? Or would a man who wants to restore slavery?
DESSALINES: What can we do, Toussaint? What can our few thousand men do against a fleet like that?
TOUSSAINT: We can drive them off. We can scatter their bones over the rocks and mountains and let liberty grow on their graves. This island's free—it'll stay free.
DESSALINES: But how can we do it against a trained army?
TOUSSAINT: Come with me; you'll see how. They think they're coming to gain glory by crushing natives with spears and shields. Come with me to the interior. I've trained every man on the island to maneuver and use a gun. Let them shoot.
(SOUND: Booming of cannon off mike)
NARRATOR: And the ships came to the harbors and fought their way inside while the bodies piled high. And Toussaint's men put the torch to everything that burned and retreated to the hills and struck out again and again until the trained troops of Bonaparte began to fall apart. And the sons of Toussaint were sent out to find their father and to plead with him. And they came upon him sitting upon a rock in a mountain glade.
LEON: Father! Father!
TOUSSAINT: My sons! Why did you come here?
LEON: Napoleon sent us, father.
TOUSSAINT: Why did he send you here at a time like this?
LEON: Father, we have a letter for you from Napoleon. They want me to tell you what people in France think of you. I've talked to Napoleon and he says you're foolish to fight against his army. Nobody wins against Napoleon, and you're an old man.
TOUSSAINT: (Admits) Yes, I am getting old.
LEON: Then come to terms with Napoleon, father. All he wants is peace. He said so. What are you fighting for here?
TOUSSAINT: I see they trained you well, Leon. I thought my sons would understand that I am fighting to remake human relations here, to change men and women a bit, to set up a new state.
LEON: New state! You're a foolish old man! Napoleon offers you a position in his army, under his command, and you stay on this island fighting for the devil knows what!
LEON: (Pause) Paul, I told General Bonaparte it would do no good to talk to him. (Fade) Are you going back to the ship, Paul? Are you going back to Napoleon?
PAUL: (Slow) No, Leon, I'll stay with father. He's my Napoleon.
(MUSIC: In and under)
NARRATOR: The Napoleon of Santo Domingo, with one son by his side and the other with his enemy, fought with the freedmen and peasants. Fought off the ships until a truce was made, until a trick took him into the enemy ship and locked him in irons. And Toussaint died in a dungeon. But the people of Santo Domingo lived free in the sunshine.
(MUSIC: In up and finish)
ANNOUNCER: You have just heard Destination Freedom's dramatization of the story of Toussaint L’Ouverture.