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As an adult, he used his slave grandmother's surname of Dumas, as his father had done as an adult.
He became general-in-chief of the Army of the Pyrenees, the first man of colour to reach that rank.
In 1806, when Alexandre was four years of age, his father, Thomas-Alexandre, died of cancer.
His widowed mother, Marie-Louise, could not provide her son with much of an education, but Dumas read everything he could and taught himself Spanish.
Thomas-Alexandre had been born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), the mixed-race, natural son of the marquis Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman and général commissaire in the artillery of the colony, and Marie-Cessette Dumas, a slave of Afro-Caribbean ancestry.
At the time of Thomas-Alexandre's birth, his father was impoverished.