Dumas’s Black Dad Inspired ’Monte Cristo’: Lewis Lapham
In writing action-packed novels like “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers,” Alexandre Dumas was inspired by the exploits of his father.
(To listen to the podcast, click here.)
Born in 1762 in Saint-Domingue, now Haiti, to Antoine, a renegade French nobleman, and Marie-Cessette, his black slave mistress, Thomas-Alexandre spent a carefree childhood riding wild horses and playing with his three mixed-race siblings on pristine beaches.
When Antoine decided to go back to France and claim his titles and property, he sold Marie-Cessette and three of his children to a man from Nantes.
To pay for his passage, Antoine also sold Thomas-Alexandre to a Captain Langlois in Port au Prince, but with the provision that he could be bought back.
Redeemed, Thomas-Alexandre arrived at Le Havre on Aug. 30, 1776. His father dressed him in silk and brocade, and making sure he was instructed in swordsmanship, history, classics, science, music and dance, turned him into a fashionable young aristocrat.
I spoke with Tom Reiss, author of “The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo,” on the following topics:
1. Son of Renegade Noble
2. Sold Into Slavery
3. Revolutionary Hero
4. Clashes with Napoleon
5. Search for Justice
To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bloomberg moderates all comments. Comments that are abusive or off-topic will not be posted to the site. Excessively long comments may be moderated as well. Bloomberg cannot facilitate requests to remove comments or explain individual moderation decisions.