His grandfather, the Marquis Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie (or Marquis de la Pailleterie), sold his father Thomas-Alexandre with a resale agreement in Haiti, then went back to France. It wasn’t until 1780 that the Marquis went back to buy his firstborn, so he had him meet him in Paris where he finally recognized him as his son!Dumas' father, Thomas-Alexandre, rose to the rank of general at the age of 31, the highest rank of any Black man in a European army. Read this article from NPR to learn about the life of his incredible father. The horrors that he endured are atrocious. (There's a great feature by History Dose on Youtube Napoleon and the Legendary Black General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas if you want to learn more.) Thanks for nothing, racism.
🙏 We hope you're proud of us, Saint Alexandre Dumas, and what we've created at Mad Priest.
Alexandre Dumas is a celebrated French author best known for his historical adventure novels, including 'The Three Musketeers' and 'The Count of Monte Cristo' where our name, Mad Priest, comes from! He died on December 5th, 1870. So, in keeping with the tradition that the day of death is the feast day of a saint, we are naming December 5th as The Feast Day of St. Alexandre Dumas.
Dumas in 1855 (public domain image)
FACT 1: Alexandre Dumas is Black. Yep. True story. A lot of the images that you'll find online make him look more "white" but nope. He experienced a lot of crap as a person of color in France in the 1800s (see Fact 4 for more). Thanks to Django Unchained for this super memorable scene!
FACT 2: The Dumas family name was adopted from Alexandre's grandmother, an enslaved Haitian woman named Marie-Césette Dumas.
FACT 3: His father was inspiration for many of his stories. Author Tom Reiss describes: "The novelist [Dumas] in fact takes a really beautiful sort of revenge" on Napoleon. He uses his father's life to create some of the most wonderful characters in literature." Reiss' book The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, uncovers the real life that inspired so many fictional heroes.
FACT 4: In 2002, French President Jacques Chirac had Dumas' remains exhumed and brought to Paris, guarded by Republican Guards dressed as Musketeers. In a televised ceremony, they were interred in the mausoleum at the Panthéon. Chirac gave a speech acknowledging France’s racist past and Dumas’s place in the great French literary canon: the top.
Pictured above are scenes from his book, 'The Count of Monte Cristo' on the left, and scenes from Mad Priest (aka our t-shirts) on the right.
We are so proud to know a little of the inspiring story of Dumas. And we celebrate him today.
HAPPY ALEXANDRE DUMAS DAY.
Rest in peace.