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date: 06 August 2020

Boukman Dutty locked

(?–1791),
  • Jeremy D. Popkin

Extract

the first leader of the slave uprising in Saint-Domingue’s North Province in August 1791 that marked the beginning of the Haitian Revolution.

Little is known for certain about the life of Boukman Dutty. The place and date of his birth are unknown. According to tradition, he had been sold to Saint-Domingue from Jamaica. It has been suggested that his name, “Boukman,” came from the English “Book-man” and indicated that he could read and even that he was a Muslim devoted to the religion’s holy book (the Qur’an). The manager of the Clément plantation, near Cap-Français, on which the insurrection began on the night of 22–23 August 1791 recalled him as the most intelligent of the slaves there and witnessed him taking decisive action to force others to join the movement striking waverers with the butt of a musket and shouting March negro dogs march or I ll shoot you ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography.

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