Saturday, February 8, 2014

Black History Month: Général Thomas-Alexandre Dumas

March 25, 1762 - February 26, 1806

“It realigns the story of race and racism in the West. It makes you realize it's not what we think it is. Great things were done before by black people, and it's not all just happening now. Those great things can be suppressed and written out of history.”

- Tom Reiss author of The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Born in Jérémie, Haiti, Dumas was the son of a French nobleman and Haitian slave. He was later brought back to France in his childhood where slavery was outlawed. It was in France that he would join the French army and be a key figure in France's Revolutionary wars with several European monarchies. He was so skilled and talented that he rose to the ranks of a Four-Star general. This rank in military command, in a predominately white army, has not been surpassed by any officer of color in human history. However, this status is now shared by Colin Powell. Dumas was referred to as “the black devil” by many in the Austrian empire for he would fight ferociously against opponents in battle. His victories were key in France's liberation and vital to their independence as a nation.

It is Dumas in fact, who the book “The Count of Monte Christo” has a main character (Edmond Dantès) fashioned after. General Dumas’ son, Alexandre Dumas, went on to write The Count of Monte Christo, The Three Musketeers, and became one of France’s greatest writers in its history. Interestingly, France wrote much of General Dumas’ greatness right out of their history books. This would make sense however, seeing that a person from their former slave colony, Haiti, was one of the country’s greatest generals in French history. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas had one statue in his honor but was torn down in Paris during the Nazi invasion. In any event his legendary story has gone largely unrecognized to this day.

Written by: E. Rey


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