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Leclerc, Charles Victor Emmanuel (1772–1802)

Leclerc, Charles Victor Emmanuel (1772–1802)

Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc (b. 17 March 1772; d. 2 November 1802), commander of the French military expedition to Saint-Domingue in 1802. In December 1802 a French funeral ship docked at Marseilles. On board were the body of Leclerc and his grieving widow, Pauline. Napoleon officially declared his court in mourning and announced a state funeral for his brother-in-law.

Leclerc, a native of Pontoise, first served under Napoleon at the siege of Toulon (1793) and attained the rank of general in 1797 for his service in Italy. Leclerc married Pauline Bonaparte in 1797 and played an important role in Napoleon's coup against the Directory in 1799.

In 1801, Napoleon selected Leclerc to lead a French expedition against Toussaint Louverture and the black rebels of Saint-Domingue. Leclerc encountered unexpected resistance from the rebels, attempted to restore slavery in the former colony, and arrested Toussaint L'Ouverture. He then contracted yellow fever and died at Cap Français. At the time of his death, Jean-Jacques Dessalines had organized the island's blacks for victory and independence from France.

See alsoDessalines, Jean Jacques; Louverture, Toussaint.


Cyril L. R. James, The Black Jacobins (1938).

Georges Lefebvre, Napoleon, 2 vols., translated by Henry F. Stockhold (1969).

James Leyburn, The Haitian People (1941).

Thomas Ott, The Haitian Revolution, 1789–1804 (1973).

Additional Bibliography

Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004.

Fick, Carolyn. The Making of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1990.

Geggus, David Patrick, ed. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World. Columbia: University of South Carolina, 2001.

Mézière, Henri. Le général Leclerc (1772–1802) et l'expédition de Saint-Domingue. Paris: Tallandier, 1990.

                                        Thomas O. Ott

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