Heinrich von Kleist, the author of "The Engagement in St. Domingo," 3 was born in Frankfurt an der Oder in 1777 and died in Berlin-Wannsee in 1811. A fervent Prussian nationalist and Francophobe, as seen in his Katechismus der Deutschen 4 (Catechism of the Germans), Kleist began his novella in 1801 and published it in 1811. Within this period of time, many events took place that served to shape Kleist's life or influence directly or indirectly the backdrop of the plot, that is, the Haitian Revolution. In March 1801 Kleist experienced the first of his so-called crises, the Kant-Krise, or Kant Crisis, when after reading Immanuel Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Critique of Pure Reason) and Kritik der Urteilskraft (Critique of Judgment), Kleist realized that he can never know absolute truth; 5 in 1803, 206the leader of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint L'Ouverture, died in the French prison of Fort de Joux after having been captured on the island of St. Domingue; General Jean-Jacques Dessalines, L'Ouverture's successor, forced the French to flee the island. Also in that same year, Kleist experienced his second crisis (Schaffenskrise) and planned to commit suicide by joining Napoleon's army, but in the end reconsidered; France lost its most lucrative colony, St. Domingue, and in December 1803, Napoleon, facing defeat in the war against rebelling Blacks on St. Domingue, completed his sale of the Louisiana Tenitory 6 to the United States to finance the wars in Europe. Haiti, the first black republic in the New World founded by rebelling slaves who deposed European rule, came into being in January 1804; one month later, German philosopher Immanuel Kant died in Königsberg, East Prussia. Also in that year, the Danes were the first to abolish the slave trade. October 1806 marked the military collapse of Prussia, Kleist's fatherland, and the beginning of French occupation under Napoleon. At this time Kleist experienced his third crisis and fell ill; in the following year, he was arrested in Berlin as an alleged spy and was sent to Fort de Joux, the same prison 7 and cell in which Toussaint L'Ouverture spent his last days. Kleist was released after five months; in June 1811, he published Die Verlobung in St. Domingo (The Engagement in St. Domingo) in a volume of narratives and in November of that year he committed suicide with a friend, Henriette Vogel, by shooting himself in the head.