Little Known Black History Fact: General Alexandre Dumas

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  • General Alexandre Dumas was a mixed-race Haitian slave and swordsman who had been nearly erased from history by his jealous rival, Napoleon Bonaparte.

    General Dumas was born in 1762 to a slave mother and a white father in Haiti. His father was a fugitive. Though he could have taken his father’s respected last name, he chose his mother’s side as namesake. Born into bondage, Dumas was taken to Paris by his father, where he joined the French Army and rose through the ranks to General.

    A leader in the French Revolution, Dumas led over 50,000 white soldiers to victory. He once captured thirteen enemy soldiers by himself. He also led four men on horseback into enemy territory and captured 16 more prisoners. It was recorded that he led a small group of men up icy cliffs at night to surprise and defeat and Austrian battery. Dumas and his army fought hard, and through victory, they ended slavery in France.

    Referred to as the leader of the “The Black Legion,” Dumas protected the French borders against Germany. This was until Napoleon Bonaparte became jealous during the battle over Egypt and had him thrown into a dungeon. Dumas was slowly poisoned while in captivity. While he was locked away, Napoleon Bonaparte returned the country to slavery and tried to erase the legacy of Dumas. By the time Dumas was released, France had been restored to segregated turmoil and dictatorship. General Dumas died in 1806.

    The only monument to honor General Dumas was constructed by his son, Alexandre Dumas II but was destroyed in 1940 by Nazis in Paris. Consequently, General Dumas’ son went on to be come the successful author of two acclaimed novels: The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Muskateers, both of which have been attributed to his father’s leadership in the French army.

    The life of General Alex Dumas is told in the new best-seller called “The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo” by Tom Reiss.

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