War of Knives

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Unofficial political leader of the nation during the revolution, Toussaint Louverture is considered the father of Haiti.
André Rigaud

The War of Knives (French: Guerre des couteaux) alludes to the conflict between the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture, a black, and his adversary André Rigaud, a mulatto, from June 1799 to March 1800. These men fought over control of Haiti after defeating foreign forces. Rigaud won a significant victory over the British invasion, and Toussaint was of a superior rank in the French Army. This left both individuals with a right to claim leadership, however priority was given to Toussaint by the majority. Rigaud refused to recognize the appointment so an armed conflict began.


The conflict took place mainly in Jacmel where the rebels, led by Rigaud, were forced to make their final stand. Jacmel fell to Toussaint in March 1800. Rigaud was exiled to France shortly after, only to return three years later.

Ethnicity and the conflict[edit]

Historians point to a divide among the people of Haiti, based on ethnic background. Rigaud, a mulatto, is seen as being favored by groups with lighter skin, while Toussaint was held in high regard by the rest. Some[who?] say that the dark-skin people of Haiti did not trust the mulattoes, and this fueled the conflict.

See also[edit]