Thomas-Alexandre Dumas

Thomas-Alexandre Dumas

Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie was born March 25 1762 in Jérémie, Saint-Domingue and died February 26 1806 in Villers-Cotterêts, France. He was a General of the French Revolution) and the father of the author Alexandre Dumas, père and the grandfather of the author Alexandre Dumas, fils [ [ Alexandre Dumas > Sa vie > Ses Proches > Le Général Dumas ] ] [ [ «Le métissage rentre au Panthéon» ] ] .

He was the son the Marquis Alexandre-Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie (Bielleville-en-Caux, 20 June 1714 – Bielleville-en-Caux, 15 June 1786), who served the government of France as "Général commissaire" in the Artillery in the colony of Saint-Domingue, and a black 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.

In 1786, Thomas-Alexandre enlisted into the French army, but to protect the aristocratic family's reputation, he enlisted using his mother's maiden name, calling himself Thomas-Alexandre Dumas. In his first regiment, he became acquainted with the future Generals of the French Revolution, Jean-Louis Espagne, Louis-Chrétien Carrière, and Joseph Piston. 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).

In 1799, Thomas-Alexandre said openly in Egypt what the rest of the general staff were too afraid to say - that the campaign was foolish and its direction incompetent. Furious when informed, Napoleon accused Thomas-Alexandre of sedition. ‘Your five feet ten inches could not save you from being shot by a firing squad now if I ordered it!’ Thomas-Alexandre resigned, never again to serve in the French army. 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 February 26, 1806, his son, the future author Alexandre Dumas, père was 3 years and 7 months old.


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.

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


* cite book
last = Schopp
first = Claude
title = Alexandre Dumas, Genius of Life
others = trans. by A. J. Koch
year = 1988
publisher = Franklin Watts
location = New York, Toronto
id = ISBN 0531150933

* cite book
title=Napoleon Bonaparte
publisher=Harper Collins
location=New York
isbn= 0060929588

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