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Post-Revolutionary (1084-1859)

Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Henri Christophe. Bruno Blanchet. Alexandre Petion. Jean Pierre Boyer. Charles Riviere-Herard. Philippe Guerrier. Jean-Louis Pierrot. Jean-Baptiste Riche. Faustin-Elie Soulouque.

Jean-Jacques Dessalines (Haitian Creole: Janjak Desalin) (20 September 1758 – 17 October 1806) was a leader of the Haitian Revolution and the first ruler of an independent Haiti under the 1801 constitution. He was autocratic in his rule and crowned himself Emperor of Haïti in 1805. He also was a great-grandfather of Cincinnatus Leconte, who served as President of Haiti from 1911 to 1912.

Beginning as Governor-General, Dessalines later named himself Emperor Jacques I of Haiti (1804–1806). He is remembered as one of the founding fathers of Haiti.

Dessalines served as an officer in the French army when the colony was trying to withstand Spanish and British incursions. Later he rose to become a commander in the revolt against France. As Toussaint L'Ouverture's principal lieutenant, he led many successful engagements, such as the Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot.

After the betrayal and capture of Toussaint Louverture in 1802, Dessalines became the leader of the revolution. He defeated French troops sent by Napoleon at the Battle of Vertières in 1803. Declaring Haiti an independent nation in 1804, Dessalines was chosen by a council of generals (blacks and mulattos) to assume the office of Governor-General. In September 1804, he proclaimed himself Emperor and ruled in that capacity until being assassinated in 1806.

Early life

Haitian tradition holds that Dessalines was transported to Saint-Domingue as a slave. Most historians believe that he was born in Saint-Domingue to enslaved African parents. Dessalines was a slave on a plantation in the Plaine du Nord in Cormiers (now known as Cormier), near the town of Grande-Rivière-du-Nord, where he was born as Jean-Jacques Duclos, the name of his father, who adopted it from his proprietor. The identity of his parents, as well as his region of origin in Africa, are not known, but most slaves imported to Haiti came from West Africa. His only known family member was an aunt, Victoria Montou, whom he affectionately called "Toya". Victoria Montou remained close to her nephew until her death in 1805. He also had two brothers, Louis and Joseph Duclos, who also took the name Dessalines. The first was the father of Maréchal de Camp Monsieur Raymond Dessalines, created 1st Baron de Louis Dessalines on 8 April 1811, Aide-de-Camp to King Henry I, Privy Councilor, Secretary-General of the Ministry of War between 1811 and 1820 and Member of the Royal Chamber of Public Instruction between 1818 and 1820, who received the degree of Knight of the Order of St. Henry on 1 May 1811 and was killed by the revolutionaries at Cap-Henri on 10 October 1820. The second was the father of Maréchal de Camp Monsieur ... Dessalines, created 1st Baron de Joseph Dessalines in 1816, Chamberlain to Prince Jacques-Victor Henry, the Prince Royal of Haiti, and Major of the Grenadiers de la Garde, who received the degree of Knight of the Order of St. Henry on 28 October 1815.

Working in the sugar cane fields as a laborer, Dessalines rose to the rank of commandeur or foreman. He worked on the plantation of a Frenchman named Henry Duclos until he was about 30 years old. During this time, Dessalines was known as Jacques Duclos; his last name was assigned by his master, as was custom among the whites. Duclos was then bought by a free black man named Dessalines, from whom he received the surname which he kept in freedom. From then on he was called Jean-Jacques Dessalines. The master Dessalines treated Jean-Jacques well. Jean-Jacques Dessalines worked for him for about three years, until the slave uprising of 1791, which spread across the Plaine du Nord.

Dessalines was embittered towards both whites and gens de couleur. After the defeat of French royalists during the Haitian Revolution, he ordered the killing of all royalists to ensure that Saint-Domingue would be a nation. Nonetheless, after declaring himself Governor-for-Life in 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines took his old master Dessalines into his house and gave him a job.

In 1791, Jean-Jacques Dessalines joined the slave rebellion of the northern plains led by Jean François Papillon and Georges Biassou. This rebellion was the first action of what would become the Haitian Revolution. Dessalines became a lieutenant in Papillon's army and followed him to Santo Domingo, where he enlisted to serve Spain's military forces against the French colony of Saint-Domingue.

It was then that Dessalines met the rising military commander Toussaint Bréda (later known as Toussaint Louverture), a mature man also born into slavery, who was fighting with Spanish forces on Hispaniola. These men wanted above all to defeat slavery. In 1794, after the French declared an end to slavery, Toussaint Louverture switched allegiances to the French. He fought for the French Republic against both the Spanish and British. Dessalines followed, becoming a chief lieutenant to Toussaint Louverture and rising to the rank of brigadier general by 1799.

Dessalines commanded many successful engagements, including the captures of Jacmel, Petit Goâve, Miragoane and Anse-à-Veau. In 1801, Dessalines quickly ended an insurrection in the north led by Louverture's own nephew, General Moyse. Dessalines gained a reputation for his "take no prisoners" policy, and for burning homes and entire villages to the ground.

The rebellious slaves were able to restore most of Saint-Domingue to France, with Louverture in control and finally appointed by the French as Governor General of the colony. Louverture wanted Saint-Domingue to have more autonomy. He directed the creation of a new constitution to establish that, as well as rules for how the colony would operate under freedom. He also named himself as governor-for-life, while still swearing his loyalty to France.

The French government had been through changes and was led by Napoleon I, then calling himself First Consul. Many white and mulatto planters had been lobbying the government to reimpose slavery in Saint-Domingue. The French responded by dispatching an expeditionary force to restore French rule to the island, an army and ships led by General Charles Leclerc. Louverture and Dessalines fought against the invading French forces, with Dessalines defeating them at the battle for which he is most famous, Crête-à-Pierrot.

During the 11 March 1802 battle, Dessalines and his 1,300 men defended a small fort against 18,000 attackers. To motivate his troops at the start of the battle, he waved a lit torch near an open powder keg and declared that he would blow the fort up should the French break through. The defenders inflicted heavy casualties on the attacking army, but after a 20-day siege they were forced to abandon the fort due to a shortage of food and munitions. Nonetheless, the rebels were able to force their way through the enemy lines and into the Cahos Mountains, with their army still largely intact.

The French soldiers under Leclerc were accompanied by mulatto troops led by Créole mulattoes Alexandre Pétion and André Rigaud from Saint-Domingue. Pétion and Rigaud, both wealthy with white fathers, had opposed Louverture's leadership. They had tried to establish separate independence in the South of Saint-Domingue, an area where wealthy gens de couleur were concentrated in plantations. Toussaint Louverture's forces had defeated them three years earlier.

After the Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot, Dessalines defected from his long-time ally Louverture and briefly sided with Leclerc, Pétion, and Rigaud. When it became clear that the French intended to re-establish slavery on Saint-Domingue, as they had on Guadeloupe, Dessalines and Pétion switched sides again in October 1802, to oppose the French. Leclerc died of yellow fever, which also took many French troops.

The clever tactics of Leclerc's successor, Rochambeau, helped to unify rebel forces against the French. Dessalines, the leader of the Revolution after Toussaint's capture on 7 June 1802, commanded the rebel forces against a French army weakened by a yellow fever epidemic. His forces achieved a series of victories against the French, culminating in the last major battle of the revolution, the Battle of Vertières. On 18 November 1803, black and mulatto forces under Dessalines and Pétion attacked the fort of Vertières, held by Rochambeau, near Cap François in the north. Rochambeau and his troops surrendered the next day. On 4 December 1803, the French colonial army of Napoleon Bonaparte surrendered its last remaining territory to Dessalines' forces. This officially ended the only slave rebellion in world history which successfully resulted in establishing an independent nation.

Desalines massacred the whites on the island, promulgated the Declaration of Independence in 1804, and declared himself Emperer in 1806.



On 1 January 1804, from the city of Gonaïves, Dessalines officially declared the former colony's independence and renamed it "Haiti" after the indigenous Arawak name. He had served as Governor-General of Saint-Domingue since 30 November 1803. After the declaration of independence, Dessalines named himself Governor-General-for-life of Haiti and served in that role until 22 September 1804, when he proclaimed himself Emperor of Haiti. He was crowned Emperor Jacques I in a coronation ceremony on 6 October in the city of Le Cap. On 20 May 1805, his government released the Imperial Constitution, naming Jean-Jacques Dessaline emperor for life with the right to name his successor.

industry and plantations running and producing without slavery. Born into slavery and having worked under white masters for 30 years, as well as having seen many atrocities by all peoples, Dessalines Dessalines tried hard to keep the sugar did not trust the white French people. Dessalines declared Haiti an all-black nation and forbade whites from owning property or land there.

He enforced a harsh regimen of plantation labor, described by the historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot as caporalisme agraire (agrarian militarism). As had Toussaint L'Ouverture, Dessalines demanded that all blacks work either as soldiers to protect the nation or as laborers on the plantations to generate crops and income to keep the nation going. His forces were strict in enforcing this, to the extent that some blacks felt as if they were again enslaved.

Dessalines believed in the tight regulation of foreign trade, which was essential for Haiti's sugar- and coffee-based export economy. Like Toussaint L'Ouverture, Dessalines encouraged merchants from Britain and the United States over those from France. For his administration, Dessalines needed literate and educated officials and managers. He placed in these positions well-educated Haitians, who were disproportionately from the light-skinned elite, as gens de couleur were most likely to have been educated.

Death and legacy

Disaffected members of Dessalines' administration, including Alexandre Pétion and Henri Christophe, began a conspiracy to overthrow the Emperor. Dessalines was assassinated north of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, at Pont Larnage, (now known as Pont-Rouge) on 17 October 1806 on his way to fight the rebels. Some historians claim that he was actually killed at Pétion's house at Rue l'Enterrement after a meeting to negotiate the power and the future of the young nation. A monument at the northern entrance of the Haitian capital marks the place where the Emperor was killed. Défilée, a black woman from humble background, took the mutilated body of the Emperor to bury him.

Although reviled by generations of Haitians for his autocratic ways, by the beginning of the 20th century, Dessalines began to be reassessed as an icon of Haitian nationalism. The national anthem of Haiti, La Dessalinienne, is named in his honor, as is the city of Dessalines.

Henri Christophe

hchristopheHenri Christophe (often Henry Christophe) (6 October 1767 – 8 October 1820) was a key leader in the Haitian Revolution, winning independence from France in 1804. On 17 February 1807, after the creation of a separate nation in the north, Christophe was elected President of the State of Haiti. On 26 March 1811, he was proclaimed Henri I, King of Haïti. He is also known for constructing the Citadelle Laferrière.

Early life

Born probably in Grenada, the son of Christophe, a freeman on the island of Grenada, Christophe was brought to Saint Domingue as a slave in the northern region. In 1779 he may have served with the French Forces as a drummer boy in the American Revolution in the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Dominigue, a regiment composed of gens de couleur. They fought at the Siege of Savannah.

As an adult, King Henri worked as a mason, sailor, stable hand, waiter, and billiard maker. He worked in and managed a hotel restaurant in Cap-Français, the capital of the French colony of Saint-Domingue, where he became skilled at dealing with the grand blancs, as the wealthy white French planters were called. Such political skills also served him well when he became an officer in the military and leader in the country. He was said to have obtained his freedom as a young man, before the Slave Uprising of 1791. Sometime after he had settled in Haiti he brought his sister Marie there, where she married and had issue.

Beginning with the Slave Uprising of 1791, Christophe distinguished himself in the Haïtian Revolution and quickly rose to be an officer. He fought for years with Toussaint Louverture in the north, helping defeat the French, the Spanish, British, and finally French national troops. By 1802 he was a general under Toussaint Louverture.

Independent Haiti 

After the French deported Toussaint Louverture to France, and fighting continued under Rochambeau, Jean Jacques Dessalines recognized they wanted to reenslave the blacks. He led the fight to defeat French forces. As leader, Dessalines declared Saint-Domingue's independence and the new name of Haiti in 1804.

In 1806 Christophe was aware of a plot to kill Dessalines; seeing an opportunity to seize power for himself, he did not warn the self-proclaimed Emperor. The plot was said to involve Alexandre Pétion, a competing "gens de couleur"; since he was half white, this presumably led him to use assassination because of his weak position among the majority of black leaders and population. However, this allegation has not been proven; other sources clear Pétion's name from the plot and say that he has been tied to Dessalines's assassination only because of the question of race. In any case, after Dessaline's assassination, Christophe was elected to the newly created position of president, but without real powers.

State and kingdom of Haïti 

Feeling insulted, Christophe retreated with his followers to the Plaine du Nord and created a separate government there. Christophe had suspected that he would be next to be assassinated. In 1807 Christophe declared himself président et généralissime des forces de terre et de mer de l'État d'Haïti, in English, President and Generalissimo of the armies of land and sea of the State of Haïti. Pétion became President of the "Republic of Haïti" in the south backed by General Boyer who had control of the southern armies.

In 1811 Henri made the northern state of Haïti a kingdom, and was ordained Emperor by Arch Bishop of Milot Corneil Breuil. The edict of 1 April 1811 gave his full title as Henri, par la grâce de Dieu et la Loi constitutionelle de l'État Roi d'Haïti, Souverain des Îles de la Tortue, Gonâve, et autres îles adjacentes, Destructeur de la tyrannie, Régénérateur et bienfaiteur de la nation haïtienne, Créateur de ses institutiones morales, politiques et guerrières, Premier monarque couronné du Nouveau-Monde, Défenseur de la foi, Fondateur de l'ordre royal et militaire de Saint-Henri.

Henry, by the grace of God and constitutional law of the state, King of Haiti, Sovereign of Tortuga, Gonâve, and other adjacent islands, Destroyer of tyranny, Regenerator and Benefactor of the Haïtian nation, Creator of her moral, political, and martial institutions, First crowned monarch of the New World, Defender of the faith, Founder of the Royal Military Order of Saint Henry.

He renamed Cap Français Cap-Henri. It is now called Cap-Haïtien.

Christophe named his legitimate son, Jacques-Victor Henry, heir apparent with the title Prince Royal of Haïti. Even in documents written in French, the king's name was usually given an English spelling. He had another son who was a colonel in his army.

Christophe built for his own use six châteaux, eight palaces and the massive Citadelle Laferrière, still considered one of the wonders of the era. Nine years later, at the end of his monarchy, he had increased the number of designated nobility from the original 87 to 134.

Politically, in the North, Christophe was caught between reinforcing a version of the slave plantation system in an attempt to increase agricultural production, or handing out the plantation land for peasant cultivation (the approach taken by Alexandre Petion in the South). King Henri took the route of enforcing corvee plantation work on the population in lieu of taxes alongside his massive building projects. As a result, Northern Haiti during his reign was despotic but relatively wealthy. He preferred trading with English merchants and American merchants than both French and Spanish merchants which did not recognize Haiti as independent country, he ordered that extra Africans be brought to Haiti to work on his vast projects instead of being traded to other Caribbean countries where they would be held as slaves. As a result, numerous Africans who were originally brought by the French as slaves came to Haiti. He made an agreement with Britain that Haiti would not be threat to their Caribbean colonies in return that the British Navy would warn the Kingdom of Haiti of any imminent attack from French troops, in 1807 the British Parliament passed the Slave Trade of 1807 which did not outlaw slavery, but abolishing the importation of African slaves in British territory, because of this increased bilateral trade, he had gathered an enormous sum of British pounds for his treasury. By contrast, Petion's Southern Haiti became much poorer because the land-share destroyed agricultural productivity. 

Nobility and heraldry 

One of Christophe's first acts as king was to create a Haïtian Peerage, with four princes, seven dukes, 22 counts, 40 barons and 14 chevaliers. Christophe also founded a College of Arms to provide armorial bearings to the newly ennobled.

Christophe's kingship was modelled in part on the enlightened absolutism of Frederick the Great. Thomas Clarkson, the English slave abolitionist, held a long written correspondence with Christophe which gives insights into his philosophy and style of government (Griggs and Prator). The king sought an education for his children along the lines of the princelings of Enlightenment Europe.

End of reign

Despite his efforts to promote education and establish a legal system called the Code Henri,King Henri was an unpopular autocratic monarch. In addition, his realm was constantly challenged by that of the South, which was ruled by gens de couleur. Toward the end of Christophe's reign, public sentiment was sharply against what many perceived to be his feudal policies, which he intended to develop the country. Ill and infirm at age fifty-three, King Henri shot himself with a silver bullet rather than face the possibility of a coup. He was buried within the Citadelle Laferriere.

Pierre Nord Alexis, President of Haiti from 1902–1908, was Christophe's grandson.

Michèle Bennett Duvalier, First Lady of Haiti from 1980 to 1986, was Christophe's great-great-great-granddaughter.

APAlexandre Sabès Pétion (April 2, 1770 – March 29, 1818) was President of the southern Republic of Haiti from 1806 until his death. He is considered as one of Haiti's founding fathers, together with Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and his rival Henri Christophe.

Pétion was born in Port-au-Prince to a Haitian mother and a wealthy French white father. Like other gens de couleur libre with wealthy fathers, Pétion was sent to France in 1788 to be educated and study at the Military Academy in Paris. In Saint-Domingue, many gens de couleur, often freed by their fathers, constituted a third caste between the whites and enslaved Africans. While restricted in political rights, many became educated and wealthy landowners, resented by the petits blancs, who were minor tradesmen. Before the slave uprising of 1791, they led a rebellion to gain voting and political rights they believed due them as French citizens after the French Revolution. At that time most did not support freedom or political rights for enslaved Africans and blacks.

Years of Haitian Revolution 

Pétion returned to Saint-Domingue as a young man to take part in the Créole expulsion of the British from Saint-Domingue (1798–99). There had long been racial and class tensions between gens de couleur and enslaved Africans and free blacks in Saint-Domingue, where slaves outnumbered whites and gens de couleur by ten to one. During the years of warfare against planters or grand blancs, Spanish, English and French, racial tensions were exacerbated in competition for power and political alliances.

When tensions arose between blacks and mulattoes, Pétion often supported the mulatto faction. He allied with General André Rigaud and Jean Pierre Boyer against Toussaint L'Ouverture in a failed rebellion, the so-called "War of Knives", in the South of Saint-Domingue, which began in June 1799. By November the rebels were pushed back to the strategic southern port of Jacmel; the defence was commanded by Pétion. The town fell in March 1800 and the rebellion was effectively over. Pétion and other mulatto leaders went into exile in France.

In February 1802, General Charles Leclerc arrived with tens of warships and 12,000 French troops to bring Saint-Domingue under more control. Gens de couleur Petion, Boyer and Rigaud returned with him in the hope of securing power in the colony.

Following the French deportation of Toussaint Louverture and the renewed struggle, Pétion joined the nationalist force in October 1802. This followed a secret conference at Arcahaie, where Pétion supported Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the general who had captured Jacmel. The rebels took the capital of Port-au-Prince on October 17, 1803. Dessalines proclaimed independence on January 1, 1804, naming the nation Haiti. On October 6, 1804, Dessalines declared himself ruler for life and was crowned emperor.


Following the assassination of Dessalines on October 17, 1806, Pétion championed the ideals of democracy and clashed with Henri Christophe who wanted absolute reign. Christophe was elected president, but he did not believe the position had sufficient power, as Petion kept powers for himself. Christophe went to the north with his followers and established an autocracy. The loyalties of the country divided between them, and the tensions between the blacks and mulattoes were reignited once again.

After the inconclusive struggle dragged on until 1810, a peace treaty was agreed and the country was split in two. While Christophe made himself king of the northern Kingdom of Haiti, Pétion was elected President of the southern part of Haiti in 1806.

Initially a supporter of democracy, Pétion found the constraints imposed on him by the senate onerous and suspended the legislature in 1818. Fearing a lack of political power, he turned his post into President for Life in 1816, going against his former beliefs.

Pétion seized commercial plantations from the rich gentry. The land was redistributed to his supporters and the peasantry, earning him the nickname Papa Bon-Cœur ("good-hearted father"). The land seizures and changes in agriculture unfortunately dealt a serious blow to the export-economy. Most of the population proceeded to become full subsistence farmers and so exports and state-revenue declined sharply.

Believing in the importance of education, Pétion started the Lycée Pétion in Port-au-Prince. Petion's virtues and ideals of freedom and democracy for the world (and especially slaves) were strong and he often showed support for the oppressed. He gave sanctuary to independence leader Simón Bolívar in 1815 and provided him with material and infantry support. This was vital aid played a defining role in Bolivar's success in liberating the countries of what would make up Gran Colombia.

Boyer was named successor to Pétion and took control following the death of Pétion from yellow fever in 1818.

boyerJean-Pierre Boyer (possibly February 15, 1776 – July 9, 1850), a native of Saint-Domingue, was a soldier, one of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution, and President of Haiti from 1818 to 1843. He reunited the north and south of Haiti in 1820 and also invaded and took control of independent Santo Domingo, which brought all of Hispaniola under one government by 1822. Boyer managed to rule for the longest period of time of any of the revolutionary leaders of his generation.

Born a free gens du couleur (or mulatto) in Hispaniola and educated in France, Boyer fought with Toussaint Louverture in the early years of the Haitian Revolution. He allied himself with André Rigaud, also a mulatto, in the latter's abortive insurrection against Toussaint to keep control in the south of Saint-Domingue.

After going into exile in France, Boyer and Alexandre Pétion, another mulatto, returned in 1802 with the French troops led by General Charles Leclerc. After it became clear the French were going to try to reimpose slavery and restrictions on free gens de couleur, Boyer joined the patriots under Alexandre Pétion and Jean-Jacques Dessalines who led the colony to independence. After Pétion rose to power in the State of Haiti in the South, he chose Boyer as his successor.

When Santo Domingo became independent late in 1821, Boyer was quick to invade and gain control, uniting the entire island under his rule by February 9, 1822. Boyer ruled the island of Hispaniola until 1843, when he lost the support of the ruling elite and was ousted.


Boyer was the son of a Frenchman, a tailor by profession, and an African mother, a former slave from Guinea. His father sent Boyer to France and paid for his education at a military school. Boyer joined the French Republican Army and earned the rank of battalion commander.

After the uprising of slaves in the north of Saint-Domingue, Boyer joined with the French Commissioners and went there to fight against the grand blancs (plantation owners) and royalists. In 1794, Saint-Domingue was invaded by English forces trying to capitalize on the unrest in the formerly wealthy colony. Boyer went to Jacmel, where he joined forces with the mulatto leader, General Rigaud. When other mulatto leaders surrendered to Toussaint Louverture in southern Saint-Domingue, Boyer, Rigaud, and Petion went to France. On his way to France, Boyer stopped in the United States for his first and last time. He only visited the United States that one time but “he always remembered it vividly.”

Shortly after this the Franco-American crisis ended, Boyer traveled to Paris, where he stayed until 1801. Next, he returned to Haiti to protest the independence that Toussaint L'Ouverture had just achieved. During this time it was uncovered that the French were planning on taking away the civil rights of mulattoes and reinstituting slavery for former slaves in Saint Domingue (as they managed to do in Guadeloupe.) Boyer collaborated with other native leaders to defeat the French.

Unification of Haiti and Spanish Haiti (Dominican Republic)

In November 15, 1821, several frontier towns near the border with Santo Domingo raised the Haitian flag as a show of independence. Dominicans' opposing unification with Haiti declared independence from Spain on November 30, 1821.[3] The new nation was known as El Haití Español (Spanish Haiti).[2] On December 1, 1821, the leaders of the new nation resolved to unite Spanish Haiti with Gran Colombia.


Some politicians and military officers in Santo Domingo favored unification with the Republic of Haiti. Former slaves sought to secure emancipation under Haitian President Jean-Pierre Boyer. Another faction based in Dajabon, near the border, opposed union with Gran Colombia and supported Boyer.


Boyer sought to protect his country from the danger of France or Spain's retaking Haití Español and attacking or re-conquering Haiti. He wanted to maintain Haitian independence and secure the freedom of the slaves in Haití Español.


After promising protection to several Dominican frontier governors and securing their allegiance, Boyer invaded the Dominican Republic with a force of 50,000 soldiers in February 1822. These forces encountered resistance from the white population. On February 9, 1822, Boyer formally entered the capital city, Santo Domingo, where Núñez turned over the keys to the city. Dominicans reacted uneasily to the Haitian invasion.

The island of Hispaniola was now united under one government from Cape Tiburon to Cape Samana. By awarding land to Haitian military officers at the expense of former members of the Spanish forces of Santo Domingo, Boyer reduced his influence with the Spanish-Haitian leadership. He continued the policy of Alexandre Pétion, his former political mentor, of helping free people of color in other Spanish Latin American colonies resist the Spanish crown. Boyer ignored Haitian political opponents who called for reforms, such as parliamentary democracy, and veteran generals of the War of Independence, who believed that the revolution was not complete and that they were being neglected.

Payment of indemnity to France

Boyer was anxious to remove the threat of France and opened negotiations. An agreement was reached on July 11, 1825, when (with fourteen French warships off Port-au-Prince) Boyer signed an indemnity stating that in return for 150 million francs paid within five years, France would recognize Haiti as an independent country. While this sum was later reduced to 90 million francs (1838), it was a crushing economic blow to Haiti.

Boyer had to negotiate a loan from France of 30 million francs to pay the first part of the indemnity. Most of the largely rural Haitian population meanwhile was retreating into an agricultural subsistence pattern, defying Boyer's attempt to enforce the semi-feudal fermage system.

The people of Haiti were distressed at their situation. Boyer resurrected a land distribution program. He broke up some of the large plantations and distributed land to the small farmers. To try to produce enough products for export to generate revenue, the government "tied" the rural population to their smallholdings and established production quotas.

Boyer's rule lasted until 1843, when the poor economic situation was worsened by an earthquake. The disadvantaged rural population rose up under Charles Rivière-Hérard in late January. On February 13, Boyer fled Haiti to nearby Jamaica before settling in exile in France, where he died in Paris. Descendants of Boyer still live in Haiti.

Historical background

Dessalines declared Haitian independence on January 1, 1804. He established himself as Emperor Jacques I. He was assassinated by opponents in 1806.

Alexandre Pétion and Henri Christophe competed to rule the nation. After years of warfare, they each established separate states: Pétion established the State of Haiti in the southern part of Haiti, and Christophe created what became the Kingdom of Haiti in the north. Boyer worked closely with Pétion to create a Republican Constitution similar to that of the United States. President Pétion taught Boyer what to do, and what not to do. Pétion succeeded in winning the hearts of his people and grew to be the most liked of any leader. In 1816, Pétion succeeded in amending the constitution to allow him to name his own successor. Before dying in 1818, Pétion anointed Boyer, and the Senate immediately approved his choice.

Boyer believed Haiti had to be acknowledged as an independent nation, and that this could be established only by cutting a deal with France. On July 11, 1825 Boyer signed an indemnity saying Haiti would pay France a certain amount of money (to compensate for the lost property in slaves and trade) in exchange for formal recognition of its independence.

Haiti’s motto is “in unity there is strength”. As soon as Boyer came to power, he was confronted with the continuing competition with Henri Christophe and the Kingdom of Haiti in the north. Christophe's autocratic rule created continued unrest in the Kingdom of Haiti. His soldiers rebelled against him in 1820. In failing health and fearing assassination, Christophe committed suicide. Boyer reunited Haiti without a single battle.

Welcoming freed black Americans

Boyer encouraged freed American blacks to emigrate to the Republic of Haiti. His government advertised the opportunities in newspapers: “promising free land and political opportunity to black settlers." Boyer sent agents to black communities to convince them that Haiti was a sovereign state, and open to immigration only for blacks.

The American Colonization Society (ACS) noticed the recruitment effort. Concerned that free blacks could never assimilate to the United States, its members supported "repatriating" American blacks to Africa, regardless of where they had been born. The ACS was organizing a colonial movement to Liberia for former slaves. The organization tried to persuade free blacks to leave the US voluntarily. In 1817 Loring D. Dewey toured the East Coast, starting in New York, to recruit emigrants. The organization hoped to resettle 100,000 free people of color within 10 years.

His meetings with people in New York convinced Dewey to abandon the idea of colonizing Liberia. Haitian citizens there told him that Haiti was the ideal Black homeland, due to its moderate weather conditions and independent Negro government. After Dewey wrote to Boyer to determine if he was still interested in receiving American immigrants, Boyer proposed that Haiti would seek Blacks from America exclusively.

The A.C.S. sent Boyer questions related to its goal of a colony for American freedmen. Boyer was confident that his government would be able to receive these people. The A.C.S. tried to negotiate to have the Haitian government pay transportation costs for the immigrants. Boyer responded that the government would pay for those who could not afford it, but the American Colonization Society would have to take care of the rest of the finances. Haiti was already in debt to the French, which had exacted payment for lost properties, in essence making Haiti pay for its independence. The government did not have funds to transport American families to Haiti.

Dewey proposed establishing a colony for American freedmen that would be separate from the rest of the island, with its own laws, legislature, etc. Boyer was opposed the idea of an American colony on the island, since the Haitians already feared re-colonization by the French. He told Dewey that the laws of the Haitian government applied to everyone across Haiti.

Beginning in September 1824, within a year nearly 6,000 Americans, mostly free people of color, migrated to Haiti, with ships departing from New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Due to the poverty of the island and the inability of Boyer's administration to help the new immigrants in the transition, most returned to the U.S.


Exile and death

After being overthrown, Boyer left Haiti on February 13, 1843 and went first to Jamaica. Then he was exiled to France. He died there in 1850.


Charles Rivière-Hérard also known as Charles Hérard Aîné (16 February 1789 - 31 August 1850) was an officer in the Haitian Army under Andre Petion during his struggles against Henri Christophe. He was declared President of Haiti on 4 April 1843. He was forced from office by revolutionaries on 3 May 1844.

Charles Hérard Aîné was born at Port-au-Prince on 16 February 1789. Little about his early life is generally known, except that he fought with the revolutionaries against the French, and that he was an officer commanding a battalion of black troops, probably later in his military career.

Hérard was chief among the conspirators who ousted President Boyer during the 1843 Revolution. On 30 December of that same year, a Provisional Parliament of Haiti enacted a new Constitution, apparently without Hérard's approval. Soon afterward, General Hérard, who had the loyalty of the army, seized control of the government and declared himself President of Haiti.

Soon after Hérard's rise to power, the eastern half of Haiti, known as Santo Domingo, staged a revolt. On 27 February 1844, rebels occupied the capital city of Santo Domingo and the following day declared the Dominican Republic's independence from Haiti. Hérard responded almost immediately. Fielding an army of 25,000 soldiers on 10 March 1844, he entered the new Dominican Republic with the intent of returning the eastern half of the island to Haitian rule. He was quickly defeated however, and within a month was forced to retreat with his army back into Haïti. Facing increasing opposition in the government and a rapidly deteriorating political situation within the country, on 30 March 1844 Hérard dissolved the new Constitution and the Parliament.

During Hérard's invasion of the Dominican Republic, an armed revolt began in the Haitian countryside. By the end of March 1844, a rebel army composed of peasants and farmers began to muster near the city of Les Cayes on the southwest peninsula. The rebels, known as piquets, were armed with long pikes (from which they derived their name). Gathering under the command of a General Jean-Jacques Acaau, they formed what became known as "L’Armée Souffrante" or the Army of the South. In April of that year, they met and defeated a government army, although soon after this, their advance on the Haitian capital was checked at the town of Aquin.

This however, did not provide a respite for Hérard. While General Acaau was marching against Port-au-Prince in the south, an armed revolt had begun in the North, fueled by Hérard's opponents in the government. Faced with this crisis, Hérard relinquished the Presidency on 3 May 1844. He went into exile on 2 June 1844, resettling in Jamaica where he died on 31 August 1850. 

Philippe Guerrier (1773 - 1845) was a career officer and general in the Haïtian Army who became President of Haïti on May 3, 1844, and died in office on April 15, 1845. A respected soldier, Guerrier had successfully commanded the southern black army during the Haïtian Revolution. After Haïti became independent, he retired from active service and became a plantation owner. King Henry I gave him the hereditary title of Duke of l'Avancé.

In 1844, discontent erupted among rural farmers and cultivaters over economic conditions within the country. These disaffected groups formed bands of brigands known as piquets. The piquets were gradually brought under the command of a former army officer, Louis Jean-Jacques Acaau, who used them to disrupt government control over the south of Haïti. Eventually with their increasing success, the piquets formed political aspirations. The foremost of these were the dismantling of mulatto power over the government and a return to black rule. These goals were believed to have been met when in May 1844, President Rivière-Hérard was removed from office by the Mulatto hierarchy and replaced with the aged black general, Philippe Guerrier, who assumed the Presidency on May 3, 1844. Guerrier held office for only 11 months before he died on April 15, 1845.

Jean-Louis Pierrot (1761-1857) was a career officer and general in the Haïtian Army. He became president of Haïti on April 16, 1845. During the first Haïtian Kingdom, Henry I promoted Pierrot to the rank of Lieutenant General in the Army and granted him the hereditary title of Prince. As President of Haïti, he was intended to be a figurehead for the Mulatto ruling class. A failure in that role, he was overthrown in a coup d'etat on March 24, 1846, after attempting reforms in the government.He is known to have had a daughter, Marie Louise Amélia Célestine (Princess Pierrot), who in 1845 married Lieutenant-General Pierre Nord Alexis, a provincial governor under Emperor Faustin I, who later became Haïtian Minister for War from 1867 to 1869 and president of Haiti from 1902 to 1908.

Jean-Baptiste Riché (1780 - February 28, 1847) was a career officer and general in the Haïtian Army. He was made President of Haïti on March 1, 1846.

Riché was born free, son of a prominent free black man of the same name in the North Province. His father was a sergeant in the colonial militia and probably served in the rebel forces. Riché himself joined the Haïtian Revolutionaries probably some time in 1801. After Haïti gained independence at the end of the revolution in 1803, Riche joined the forces of Henri Christophe, who in 1807 promoted him to the rank of general and deputy commander of his army. During the civil war that followed between Alexandre Petion and Christophe, Riché was instrumental in Christophe's victory at the Battle of Siebert on January 1, 1807. During the siege of Port-au-Prince in 1811, Riche commanded the left wing of Christophe's army. A loyal officer, Riché quickly became one of Christophe's most trusted commanders, and as a consequence he was placed in command of Haïti's Northern Province, where he was effective in subduing the mulatto population.

After Christophe's downfall in 1820, Riché supported the new government and was therefore able to retain his post during the subsequent administration of Jean-Pierre Boyer, and those that followed. This continued until Jean-Louis Pierrot who became President of Haïti in 1845. Pierrot attempted to reform the Haïtian government, causing the Boyerist hierarchy of Haïti to sponsor a rebellion in the provinces of Port-au-Prince and Artibonite in 1846. The rebel army under mulatto control proclaimed Riché President of Haïti on March 1, 1846. After much of the Haïtian army sided with the rebels, President Pierrot relinquished his office on March 24, 1846. After gaining the Presidency of Haïti one of Riché's first acts was to restore the Constitution of 1816.

As President, Riché was considered a failure by his Boyerist backers. Originally intended to be a figurehead, Riché quickly began to take an active role in the presidency. He soon proposed reforms similar to those espoused by former President Pierrot. Probably as a result of these proposals he died on February 28, 1847, possibly from being poisoned, although this has never been established. Riché's presidency, considered ineffective by historians, opened the way for considerable changes in the political landscape of Haïti during the succeeding administrations. As a result his presidency can be considered a turning point in the history of Haïtian pol.

FESFaustin I (1782–1867) was born Faustin-Élie Soulouque. He was a career officer and general in the Haïtian army when he was elected President of Haïti in 1847. In 1849 he was proclaimed Emperor of Haïti under the name of Faustin I. He soon purged the army of the ruling elite, installed black-skinned loyalists in administrative positions, and created a secret police and a personal army. In 1849 he created a black nobility. However, his unsuccessful attempts to reconquer the Dominican Republic undermined his control and a conspiracy led by General Fabre Nicolas Geffrard forced him to abdicate in 1859.

Early Years

Born in Petit-Goâve in 1782 as Faustin-Élie Soulouque, he was one of two sons born to Marie-Catherine Soulouque. He was freed by Léger-Félicité Sonthonax in 1793. As a free citizen he enlisted in the black revolutionary army and fought as a private during the Haïtian Revolution between 1803–1804. During the conflict Soulouque became a respected soldier and as a consequence in 1806 he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Army of Haïti and made Aide de Camp to General Lamarre. In 1810 he was appointed to the Horse Guards under President Pétion. During the next four decades he continued to serve in the Haïtian Military, rising to the rank of Colonel under President Guerrier, until finally promoted to the highest command in the Haïtian Army, attaining the rank of Lieutenant General and Supreme Commander of the Presidential Guards under then President Jean-Baptiste Riché. 


In 1847 President Riché died. During his tenure he had acted as a figurehead for the Boyerist ruling class, who immediately began to look for a replacement. Their attention quickly focused on Faustin Soulouque, whom the majority considered to be a somewhat dull and ignorant man. At the age of 65 he seemed to be a malleable candidate and was subsequently enticed to accept the role offered him, taking the Presidential Oath of Office on 2 March 1847.

At first Faustin seemed to fill the role of puppet well. He retained the cabinet level ministers of the former president, and continued the programs of his predecessor. Within a short time however, he overthrew his backers and made himself absolute ruler of the state. Supported by a gang of highly loyal militia known as "zinglins", Soulouque continued to consolidate his power over the government, a process which culminated in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies proclaiming him Emperor of Haïti on 26 August 1849. His reign was marked by a violent restrictions towards opposition and numerous murders. Soulouque himself was reported to participate in cannibalism of his opponents and drinking of their blood. In December 1849 Faustin married his long time companion Adélina Leveque. On 18 April 1852 at the capital Port-au-Prince, both emperor and empress were crowned in an immense and lavish ceremony, in emulation of the coronation of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. During his subsequent reign, Faustin attempted to create a strong centralized government, which while retaining a profoundly Haïtian character, borrowed heavily from European traditions, especially those of the First French Empire. One of his first acts after being declared emperor was to establish a Haitian nobility. By September, 1850, Faustin had granted Letters Patent creating 4 Princes of the Empire, 59 Dukes, 2 Marquis, 99 Counts, 215 Barons, and scores of Hereditary Chevaliers and lesser nobles. In order that he might reward loyalty to his regime as well as add to the prestige of the Haitian Monarchy, on 21 September 1849 he established the Military Order of St Faustin and the Civil Order of the Haïtian Legion of Honor. Later, in 1856 he created the Orders of St. Mary Magdalene and the Order of St. Anne. That same year he founded the Imperial Academy of Arts.

Faustin's foreign policy was centered on preventing foreign intrusion into Haïtian politics and sovereignty. The independence of the Dominican Republic (then called Santo Domingo) during the Dominican War of Independence from Haïti was, in his view, a direct threat to that security. Faustin launched successive invasions into Dominican territory, in 1849, 1850, 1855 and 1856, each with the objective of seizing the eastern half of the island and annexing it to Haïti. However, all of the attempts ended in defeat for the Haïtian Army.

During his reign, Faustin also found himself in direct confrontation with the United States over Navassa Island which the U.S. had seized on the somewhat dubious grounds that guano had been discovered there. Faustin dispatched warships to the island in response to the incursion, but withdrew them after the U.S. guaranteed Haïti a portion of the revenues from the mining operations.

Faustin's marriage to Empress Adélina produced one daughter, Princess Célita Soulouque, who had no issue. The emperor also adopted Adelina's daughter, Olive, in 1850. She was granted the title of Princess with the style Her Serene Highness. She married Jean Philippe Lubin, Count of Petion-Ville, and had issue. The emperor had one brother, Prince Jean-Joseph Soulouque, who in turn had eleven sons and daughters. Jean-Joseph's eldest son, Prince Mainville-Joseph Soulouque, was created Prince Imperial of Haïti and heir apparent upon the succession of his uncle to the throne, he later married Marie d'Albert.


Exile and death

In 1858 a revolution began, led by General Fabre Geffrard, Duc de Tabara. In December of that year, Geffrard defeated the Imperial Army and seized control of most of the country. As a result the emperor abdicated his throne on 15 January 1859. Refused aid by the French Legation, Faustin was taken into exile aboard a British warship on 22 January 1859. Soon afterwards, the emperor and his family arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, where they remained for several years. Allowed to return to Haïti, Faustin died at Petit-Goâve on 6 August 1867 and was buried at Fort Soulouque.

From: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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