By Marissa Johnson
General Thomas Alexandre Dumas is also known as General Alexandra Davy de la Pailleterie. He was born on March 25, 1762 in Saint-Dominigue, Haiti. He became the highest-ranking officer of color in the European army ever and still holds this honor.
The Haitian was born to a fugitive white nobleman and a black slave concubine mother, Marie Cessette Dumas. General Thomas Alexandre Dumas had two other siblings, both of whom also pursued military careers in the French army.
The three boys were educated at a military school. Each had a career in the French military as officers. His father brought Thomas Alexandre to France where he automatically became a freedman, as slavery had been outlawed in France since the 14th century.
Dumas was known for capturing sixteen men at one time all on his own. The Austrians knew Dumas as “Black Devil” or Diable Noir in French.
A formidable opponent and bitter rival of Napoleon Bonaparte, General Thomas Alexandre Dumas was an expert swordsman and had been a leader in the French Revolution. Bonaparte couldn’t wait for the chance to take him down.
Bonaparte finally got that chance in Egypt when he captured Dumas and subsequently threw him in a dungeon for about two years. While in the dungeon, he was slowly poisoned. By the time he was released, French was nearly a totalitarian state under Bonaparte. He died shortly after in 1806.
There was only one monument built to commemorate General Dumas. That monument stood in Paris until the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1940.
The Nazis, unfortunately, destroyed the monument.
That monument had been erected because of the influence of his son, Thomas Alexandre Dumas II.
Later generations of Dumas’ also accomplished great things. His great-great grandson would go on to win two gold medals and a silver medal at the Olympics in fencing. Apparently, Dumas’ swordsmen skills would be passed on. Another of his descendants became a famous film critic. His son wrote two iconic books, the Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Muskateers, both being two of the most prized pieces of literature today.