- Eric Martone
- and Tom Reiss
a French Revolutionary War general and the highest-ranking general of African descent in Continental European history, was born on 25 March 1762 in Jérémie in the French slave colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). His father was Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a renegade French aristocrat, and his mother was Marie-Césette Dumas, a black slave. Under colonial regulations, Dumas’s social status was determined by his mother’s. At the time of his birth, Saint-Domingue was the center of the world sugar trade, and his uncle Charles was a rich plantation owner who dealt sugar and slaves out of an area called Monte Cristo on the north coast of the island. His father, who had lived with Charles, quarreled with him in 1748 and disappeared for thirty years, founding a small cacao plantation near the town of Jérémie, with Marie-Cessette as his concubine. After Charles died in 1773 Antoine sailed to France ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography.