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Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie

Nicknamed "Black Devil"
Born March 25, 1762(1762-03-25)
Jérémie, Saint-Domingue (Haiti)
Died February 26, 1806
Villers-Cotterêts
Occupation French General

Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, born 25 March 1762 in Jérémie, Saint-Domingue (today Haiti), died 6 February 1806 in Villers-Cotterêts, France, and better known as Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, was a General of the French Revolution and the father of author Alexandre Dumas, père (and thus the grandfather of author Alexandre Dumas, fils)[1][2]. He was nicknamed the "Schwarze Teufel" ("Black Devil", "Diable Noir" in French) by the Austrians after his personal bravery prevented their retreat across the Adige on 19 January 1797.

He was the son of a lesser French nobleman, the Marquis Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie (20 June 1714, Bielleville-en-Caux–15 June 1786, Bielleville-en-Caux), who served the government of France as Général commissaire in the Artillery in the colony of Saint-Domingue, and an Afro-Caribbean woman named Marie-Césette Dumas, who was a manager of a farm (her name "Dumas" came from "du Mas" which means "of the farm"). He had three sisters: Adelphe, Jeannette and Marie-Rose. His mother died there of dysentery when Thomas-Alexandre was twelve. At age 18, his father took him back to France and gave him the education of a young nobleman of the time. His father was the son of Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie (1674 – 1758) and wife Jeanne-Françoise Pautre de Dominion.

As Dumas grew into manhood he moved to Paris, enjoying life with the financial support of his father. But soon after the senior Davy married his second wife, he suspended the payments to his son.

Without any income, Thomas-Alexandre decided to join the French Army in 1786. At the request of his father, he enlisted under his mother's name Marie Dumas, in order to preserve the family's reputation. During the French Revolution, Dumas became a devout republican serving in an all-black unit known as "La Légion Américaine." This dedication helped him catapult from the rank of corporal to that of general of a division in less than two years.[3]

In August of 1789, his regiment was sent to Villers-Cotterêts to secure the region. While staying at an inn, he met the daughter of the innkeeper and his future wife, Marie-Louise Elisabeth Labouret. He first served under General Dumouriez in the Army of the North. When he reached the rank of colonel in 1792 he married Marie-Louise. During the French Revolution, Dumas distinguished himself as a capable and daring soldier and became a General by the age of 31. As a General, he fought in the Revolt in the Vendée (1793-1796), the Italian Campaign (1796-1797), and the Egyptian Campaign (1798-1800).

Dumas, however was very critical of Napoleon and it nearly came to mutiny. While Napoleon was preparing his Syrian campaign, Dumas told him that he was very ill because of the climate. Napoleon is stated to have said: "I can easily replace him with a brigadier", and let him go.[4]

Thomas-Alexandre Dumas

On the way home to France, storms forced his ship into Taranto where he was imprisoned by Ferdinand, King of Naples and the Two Sicilies, then at war with France. Thomas-Alexandre was kept starved and incommunicado for two years. Constant attempts were made to poison him with arsenic, and by the time of his release, he was partially paralysed, almost blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, his exceptional physique broken. During his imprisonment no attempt was made by France to ransom him, nor was he awarded the customary pension.

At his death of stomach cancer on 26 February 1806, his son, the future author Alexandre Dumas, père was 3 years and 7 months old.

Monuments

In February 1906, a statue of General Dumas was erected in Paris for the hundredth anniversary of his death. It was removed by the Germans just before Hitler's visit to occupied Paris and has never been restored.

In 2009, a sculpture by Driss Sans-Arcidet was erected in Paris, place du général Catroux. It represented broken slave handcuffs and was unveiled on April the 4th, 2009. In the Nouvelle Revue d'Histoire, No. 42 (May-June 2009) Jean-Joël Brégeron pointed out that this statue was not particularly appropriate--the General had never been a slave. On April the 15th, the writer Claude Ribbe put a petition to set up on the internet to ask Nicolas Sarkozy for giving General Dumas the Légion d'honneur.[5]

His name is inscribed on the south wall of the Arc de Triomphe.

References

  • Schopp, Claude (1988). Alexandre Dumas, Genius of Life. trans. by A. J. Koch. New York, Toronto: Franklin Watts. ISBN 0531150933. 
  • Schom, Alan (1997). Napoleon Bonaparte. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0060929588. 
  • Herald, Christopher J.. Bonaparte in Egypt. London. 

Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie
File:Alexandre Dumas (1762-1806).JPG
Nicknamed "Black Devil"
Born March 25, 1762(1762-03-25)
Jérémie, Saint-Domingue (Haiti)
Died February 26, 1806
Villers-Cotterêts
Occupation French General

Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, born 25 March 1762 in Jérémie, Saint-Domingue (today Haiti), died 6 February 1806 in Villers-Cotterêts, France. He is better known as Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, General of the French Revolution and the father of author Alexandre Dumas, père, and grandfather of author Alexandre Dumas, fils.[1][2] He was nicknamed the "Schwarze Teufel" ("Black Devil", "Diable Noir" in French) by the Austrians after his personal bravery prevented their retreat across the Adige on 19 January 1797.

Contents

Background

Family

Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie was the son of a French nobleman, the Marquis Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie (20 June 1714, Belleville-en-Caux–15 June 1786, Belleville-en-Caux), and Marie-Césette Dumas, who was of Afro-Caribbean descent. His father served the government of France as Général commissaire in the Artillery in the colony of Saint-Domingue, and his mother Marie-Césette managed a farm (her name "Dumas", derives from "du Mas" which means "of the farm"); she died there of dysentery when her son was twelve. Thomas-Alexandre had three sisters: Adelphe, Jeannette and Marie-Rose. At age 18, his father took him back to France and gave him the education of a young nobleman of the time. His father was the son of Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie (1674–1758) and his wife, Jeanne-Françoise Pautre de Dominion.

Career

As Dumas grew into manhood he moved to Paris, enjoying life with the financial support of his father. But soon after the senior Davy married his second wife, he suspended the payments to his son. Without any income, Thomas-Alexandre decided to join the French Army in 1786. At the request of his father, he enlisted under his mother's name Marie Dumas, in order to preserve the family's reputation. During the French Revolution, Dumas became a devout republican serving in an all-black unit known as "La Légion Américaine." This dedication helped him catapult from the rank of corporal to that of general of a division in less than two years.[3]

In August of 1789, his regiment was sent to Villers-Cotterêts to secure the region. While staying at an inn, he met the daughter of the innkeeper and his future wife, Marie-Louise Elisabeth Labouret. He first served under General Dumouriez in the Army of the North. When he reached the rank of colonel in 1792 he married Marie-Louise. During the French Revolution, Dumas distinguished himself as a capable and daring soldier and became a General by the age of 31. As a General, he fought in the Revolt in the Vendée (1793–1796), the Italian Campaign (1796–1797), and the Egyptian Campaign (1798–1800).

Dumas, however was very critical of Napoleon and it nearly came to mutiny. While Napoleon was preparing his Syrian campaign, Dumas told him that he was very ill because of the climate. Napoleon is stated to have said: "I can easily replace him with a brigadier", and let him go.[4]


Returning to France, storms forced his ship into Taranto, where he was imprisoned by Ferdinand, King of Naples and the Two Sicilies, then at war with France. Thomas-Alexandre was kept starved and incommunicado for two years. Constant attempts were made to poison him with arsenic, and by the time of his release, he was partially paralysed, almost blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, his exceptional physique broken. During his imprisonment no attempt was made by France to ransom him, nor was he awarded the customary pension. At his death of stomach cancer on 26 February 1806, his son, the future author Alexandre Dumas, père, was 3 years and 7 months old.

Monuments

In February 1906, a statue of General Dumas was erected in Paris for the hundredth anniversary of his death. It was removed by the Germans just before Hitler's visit to occupied Paris and has never been restored. In 2009, a sculpture by Driss Sans-Arcidet was erected in Paris, place du général Catroux. It represented broken slave handcuffs and was unveiled on April the 4th, 2009. In the Nouvelle Revue d'Histoire, No. 42 (May-June 2009) Jean-Joël Brégeron pointed out that this statue was not particularly appropriate--the General had never been a slave. On April the 15th, the writer Claude Ribbe put a petition to set up on the internet to ask Nicolas Sarkozy for giving General Dumas the Légion d'honneur.[5] His name is also inscribed on the south wall of the Arc de Triomphe.

References

  • Schopp, Claude (1988). Alexandre Dumas, Genius of Life. trans. by A. J. Koch. New York, Toronto: Franklin Watts. ISBN 0531150933. 
  • Schom, Alan (1997). Napoleon Bonaparte. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0060929588. 
  • Herald, Christopher J.. Bonaparte in Egypt. London. 







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