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Faustin Soulouque

  (Redirected from Faustin I of Haiti)

Faustin-Élie Soulouque (15 August 1782 – 6 August 1867) was a Haitian politician and military commander who served as President of Haiti from 1847 to 1849 and Emperor of Haiti from 1849 to 1859.[1]

Faustin I
Emperor of Haiti
Faustin Soulouque.jpg
Emperor of Haiti
Reign25 August 1849 – 15 January 1859
Coronation18 April 1852
PredecessorHimself (as President of Haiti)
SuccessorFabre Geffrard (as President of Haiti)
7th President of Haiti
Reign1 March 1847 – 25 August 1849
PredecessorJean-Baptiste Riché
SuccessorHimself (as emperor of Haiti)
Born(1782-08-15)15 August 1782
Petit-Goave, Saint-Domingue
Died6 August 1867(1867-08-06) (aged 84)
Anse-à-Veau, Haiti
SpouseAdélina Lévêque
IssueOlive Soulouque
Célita Soulouque
Full name
Faustin-Élie Soulouque
MotherMarie-Catherine Soulouque

Soulouque was a general in the Haitian Army when he was appointed President of Haiti, acquiring autocratic powers to purge the army of the ruling elite, install black loyalists in administrative positions and the nobility, and created a secret police and a personal army. Soulouque was an enthusiastic vodouisant, maintaining a staff of bocors and mambos, and gave the stigmatized vodou religion semi-official status which was openly practiced in Port-au-Prince. Soulouque declared the Second Haitian Empire in 1849 after being proclaimed Emperor under the name Faustin I, and formally crowned in 1852. Several unsuccessful attempts to reconquer the Dominican Republic eroded his support and he abdicated in 1859 under pressure from General Fabre Geffrard and Dominican military victory.[2][3] Soulouque was temporarily exiled to Jamaica before returning to Haiti where he died in 1867.

Soulouque was the last Haitian head of state to have participated in the Haitian Revolution, the last to have been born prior to independence, and the last ex-slave.

Early yearsEdit

Faustin-Élie Soulouque was born on 15 August 1782 in Petit-Goâve, a small town in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, to a slave mother. Soulouque's mother, Marie-Catherine Soulouque, was born in Port-au-Prince in 1744, and was a creole of ethnic Mandinka descent. Soulouque was freed as a result of a 1793 emancipation decree issued by Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, the Civil Commissioner of Saint-Domingue during the French Revolution, that abolished slavery in response to the Haitian Revolution that started in 1791.

Soulouque enlisted in the black revolutionary army in 1803 as a free citizen as his freedom was in serious jeopardy due to attempts of the French government to re-establish slavery. Soulouque fought as a private until 1804, when the conflict ended in revolutionary victory and Saint-Domingue achieved independence as the Haiti. Soulouque became a respected soldier during the conflict, and as a consequence he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Haitian Army in 1806, and made aide-de-camp to General Lamarre.

In 1810, Soulouque was appointed to the Horse Guards under President Alexandre Pétion, and for the next four decades continued to serve in the Haitian military, rising to the rank of colonel under President Philippe Guerrier. Soulouque was finally promoted to the highest command in the Haitian Army, attaining the rank of lieutenant general and Supreme Commander of the Presidential Guards under then-President Jean-Baptiste Riché.

ReignEdit

In 1847, President Riché died, and 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 Soulouque, whom the majority of the Boyerists considered to be a somewhat dull and ignorant man, seemed to be a malleable candidate. Soulouque, aged sixty five years-old, was subsequently enticed to accept the role offered him as Haiti's 7th President, taking the Presidential Oath of Office on 2 March 1847.

At first Soulouque seemed to fill the role of puppet well, retaining the cabinet-level ministers of the former president and continued the programs of his predecessor. However, within a short time, Soulouque surprisingly rejected his backers and began to consolidate himself as the absolute ruler of Haiti. According to the book A Continent Of Islands: Searching For The Caribbean Destiny by Mark Kurlansky: “He organized a private militia, the Zinglins, and proceeded to arrest, kill, and burn out anyone who opposed him, especially mulattoes, thus consolidating his power over the government". Soulouque's power consolidation saw an increase in racial discrimination in favor of Haiti's black population, including a massacre of the mulattoes in Port-au-Prince on 16 April 1848.[4] Blacks from Louisiana were invited by Soulouque to emigrate to Haiti at the country's expense and the Haitian-educated Emile Desdunes, an Afro-Creole from New Orleans, acted as an agent for Soulouque to arrange free transportation to Haiti in 1859 for at least 350 desperate evacuees. A large number of these migrants later returned to Louisiana.[5] Soulouque placed heavy restrictions towards all opposition, and a wave of violence used against potential rivals led to numerous murders. His open adherence to Vodou, a highly-stigmatized syncretic religion, contributed to his violent reputation in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.[6] Soulouque maintained a resident staff of mambos (Vodou high priestesses) and bocors (male witches) at his residence in Port-au-Prince.

CoronationEdit

 
The coronation of Faustin I

Soulouque's process of obtaining absolute power in Haiti culminated in the formation of the Second Haitian Empire after the Senate and Chamber of Deputies proclaimed him Emperor of Haiti on 26 August 1849, re-establishing the Haitian monarchy that had been abolished in 1806 following the assassination of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who served as Emperor Jacques I of the First Haitian Empire. Soulouque paid £2,000 for his crown, and spent £30,000 for the rest of the accessories (according to Sir Spenser St John, British charge d'affaires in Haiti during the 1860s in his account: Hayti, or, The Black Republic, pp. 95–96). Gustave d’Alaux describes this event in his book, Soulouque and his Empire: “His Imperial Majesty had the principal merchant of Port-au-Prince called one morning and commanded him to order immediately from Paris a costume, in every particular like that he admired in representing the ceremonies of Napoleon’s coronation. Faustin I besides ordered for himself a crown, one for the Empress, a sceptre, globe, hand-of-justice, throne, and all other accessories, all to be like those used in the coronation of Napoleon.".

In December 1849, Faustin married his long-time companion Adélina Lévêque. On 18 April 1852 at Port-au-Prince, both Emperor and Empress were crowned in an immense and lavish ceremony in emulation of the Coronation of Napoléon I. The president of the Senate attached to the breast of the Emperor a large decoration, passed a chain about the neck of the Empress – and pronounced his address, to which His Majesty Faustin replied with spirit: “Vive la liberté, vive l'égalité!” (Gustave d’Alaux). The coronation is illustrated in the Album Impérial d'Haïti, engraved by Severyn, published New York, 1852 (available in the British Library).

NobilityEdit

 
Emperor Faustin I of Haiti, from The Illustrated London News, 16 February 1856

Soulouque attempted to create a strong centralized government, which while retaining a profoundly Haitian 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. The Constitution of 20 September 1849 granted the Emperor the right to create hereditary titles and confer other honours on his subjects. Volumes 5 and 6 of John Saunders and Westland Marston’s The National magazine (published in 1859) stated the empire consisted of 4 princes, 59 dukes, 90 earls, 30 lady knights (but no male knights), 250 barons, and 2 marchionesses. The first letters patents were issued by Soulouque on 21 December 1850. Other sources add "trent cent Chevaliers" and "quatre cents nobles" to this list.[7] Subsequent creations extended the number of noble titles, including titles issued by King Henri Christophe of the Kingdom of Haiti were sometimes reissued by Soulouque. An example was the title of Comte du Terrier-Rouge was issued to Charles Pierre under Christophe (The Armorial of Haiti, College of Arms, London 2007, p. 78) and the same title was issued under Soulouque on behalf of General Guerrier de Prophete (Java-Bode 5 August 1857). In order that he might reward loyalty to his regime as well as add to the prestige of the Haitian monarchy, Soulouque established the Military Order of St. Faustin and the Civil Order of the Haitian Legion of Honor on 21 September 1849. Later, he created the Orders of St. Mary Magdalene and the Order of St. Anne in 1856. That same year he founded the Imperial Academy of Arts.

PoliticsEdit

Soulouque's foreign policy was centered on preventing foreign intrusion into Haitian politics and sovereignty. His main issue was the Dominican Republic, whose independence from Haiti in 1844 after the Dominican War of Independence ended 22-years of Haitian rule during the Unification of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic's white and mulatto rulers were considered as his “natural” enemies and the country's independence was, in his view, a direct threat to Haiti's security.[8] In 1849, Soulouque launched his first invasion of the Dominican Republic, but his army fled after 400 Dominicans put up resistance at Ocoa.

Haitian strategy was ridiculed by the American press:

[At the first encounter] ... a division of negro troops of Faustin ran, and their commander, Gen. Garat, was killed. The main body, eighteen thousand troops, under the Emperor, encountered four hundred Dominicans with a field piece, and notwithstanding the disparity of force, the latter charged and caused the Haytiens to flee in every direction ... Faustin came very near falling into the enemy's hands. They were once within a few feet of him, and he was only saved by Thirlonge and other officers of his staff, several of whom lost their lives. The Dominicans pursued the retreating Haytiens some miles until they were checked and driven back by the Garde Nationale of Port-au-Prince, commanded by Robert Gateau, the auctioneer.[9]

A second invasion followed in 1850 which was checked by diplomatic opposition from the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. In the third and final invasion in 1855, Soulouque marched into the Dominican Republic at the head of a 30,000-man army which fled at the first shot.

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

The question of who Soulouque really was is heavily disputed. Virtually no official government records of cabinet meetings exists. According to Latin American scholar Murdo J. MacLeod ("The Soulouque Regime In Haiti -- 1847 - 1859: A Reevaluation.", Caribbean Studies/Vol. 10. No. 3): "We are left with his policies as they are discernible, with an assessment of the men whom he used to govern, and with our evaluation of how correct his appreciation of the situation really was. In every case we must conclude that Faustin Soulouque was a man of high intelligence, a realist, a pragmatist, and a superb, if ruthless politician and diplomat. There is no denying his patriotism and his ability to impose domestic tranquility.".

Known ministersEdit

  • Louis Dufresne (general of the army, minister of war, the navy and foreign relations)
  • Jean-Baptiste Francisque (minister of justice, worship and public education)
  • Lysius Salomon (Finance, Commerce and Foreign Relations)

Line of successionEdit

Soulouque's marriage to Empress Adélina produced one daughter, Princess Célita Soulouque. The emperor also adopted Adélina's daughter, Olive, in 1850. She was granted the title of Princess with the style Her Serene Highness. Célita married Jean Philippe Lubin, Count of Pétion-Ville,[10] and had issue. The emperor had one brother, Prince Jean-Joseph Soulouque, who in turn had eleven sons and daughters.

The Constitution of 20 September 1849 made the Imperial Dignity hereditary amongst the natural and legitimate direct descendants of Emperor Faustin I, by order of primogeniture and to the perpetual exclusion of females. The Emperor could adopt the children or grandchildren of his brothers, and become members of his family from the date of adoption. Sons so adopted enjoyed the right of succession to the throne, immediately after the Emperor's natural and legitimate sons.[7]

Jean-Joseph's eldest son, Prince Mainville-Joseph Soulouque,[11] was created Prince Imperial of Haiti and heir apparent upon the succession of his uncle to the throne.[12] His marriage to Marie d'Albert produced a daughter, Marie Adelina Soulouque "princesse impériale d'Haiti".[13]

Exile and deathEdit

In 1858, a revolution against Soulouque was led by General Fabre Geffrard, Duc de Tabara, and in December of that year, Geffrard defeated Soulouque's army and seized control of most of Haiti. On the night of December 20, 1858, Soulouque left Port-au-Prince in a small boat, accompanied only by his son and two trusty followers, Ernest Roumain and Jean-Bart, and two days later arrived at Gonaives, where the insurrection broke out. The Republic of Haiti was re-proclaimed and the Constitution of 1846 was adopted.

On 23 December, the Departmental Committee which had been organized, divested Faustin Soulouque of his office and appointed Fabre Geffrard President of Haiti. Cap-Haitien and the whole Department of Artibonite joined in the restoration of the Republic. As a result, the Soulouque abdicated his throne on 15 January 1859. Refused aid by the French Legation, Soulouque was taken into exile aboard a British warship on 22 January 1859.

Soon afterwards, Soulouque and his family arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, where they remained for several years. Some records claim that he died in Kingston, but according to Haitian historian Jacques Nicolas Léger in his book Haiti, her History and her Detractors, Soulouque actually died in Petit-Goave in August 1867, having returned to Haiti at some point.

See alsoEdit

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Official website of the Presidency of Haiti (in French)
  2. ^ Deibert, Michael (2011). Notes From the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti. Seven Stories Press. p. 161.
  3. ^ Rogozinski, Jan (1999). A Brief History of the Caribbean (Revised ed.). New York: Facts on File, Inc. p. 220. ISBN 0-8160-3811-2.
  4. ^   Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Faustin I" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  5. ^ Bell, Caryn Cossé, ed. (1997). "Revolution, Romanticism, and the Afro-Creole Protest Tradition in Louisiana 1718–1868". p. 86. ISBN 0-8071-3026-5. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  6. ^ Website of the Smithsonian magazine.
  7. ^ a b Website of Christopher Buyers
  8. ^ Baur, John E. (1949). "Faustin Soulouque, Emperor of Haiti His Character and His Reign": 143. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 28, 1856.
  10. ^ Roman Catholic Church Kingston (Jamaica) Marriages 1839-1869: Act of marriage: Pierre Joseph Amitie Vil Lubin, native of Haiti, lawful son of His Lordship Earl Philippe Vil Lubin and by his wife, Elizabeth Ulcénie. Lord Amitie Vil Lubin, married on 12/26/1861 HSH Princess Genevieve Olive Soulouque, native of Haiti, lawful daughter of Emperor Faustin Elie Soulouque and Empress Adélina Lévêque. Witnesses: Alexandre Bravo, Charles Grant, widow Lubin, Amitie Lubin, widow of Louis Lubin, Elizabeth Grant, James Male, Jean Baptiste Vil Lubin, George Clermont, A.M. Lhoste, Felicite Faustin, Ameisima Amitie, Elina Mainvaille, L. Bedonet, Elizabeth Bourke, Caroline Crosswell.
  11. ^ "Pedigree Resource File," database, FamilySearch; accessed 2015-07-18, entry for Mainville Joseph Soulouque prince imperial, submitted by rcsimon2749685.
  12. ^ Lines of succession: the case of Faustin Soulouque, emperor of Haiti
  13. ^ Pedigree Resource File

ReferencesEdit

  • "L’Empereur Soulouque et son empire", Gustave d’Alaux, Revue des Deux Mondes T.9, 1851,http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/L%E2%80%99Empereur_Soulouque_et_son_empire.
  • Léon-François Hoffman, Faustin Soulouque d'Haiti: dans l'histoire et la littérature, Paris : L'Harmattan, c2007.
  • Robert Debs Heinl, Nancy Gordon Heinl, Michael Heinl, Written in blood: the story of the Haitian people, 1492-1995, University Press of America 1996
  • Shaw, Karl (2005) [2004]. Power Mad! [Šílenství mocných] (in Czech). Praha: Metafora. ISBN 80-7359-002-6.
  • "Pedigree Resource File," database, FamilySearch: accessed 2014-04-07; entry for Faustin-Elie Soulouque Empereur d'Hayti, submitted by csimon2749684.
  • Hartog, [dr.] Johan Curaçao; From Colonial dependence to autonomy. Oranjestad, Aruba: De Wit publishers 1968 (Faustin's exile on the island of Curaçao)
  • Lines of succession: the case of Faustin Soulouque, emperor of Haiti
  • Image Credit: The Schomberg Research Center, NY
Political offices
Preceded by
Jean-Baptiste Riché
President of Haiti
1847–49
Vacant
Title next held by
Fabre Geffrard
Vacant
Title last held by
Jacques I
Emperor of Haiti
1849–59
Succeeded by
Joseph I
(Mainville-Joseph Soulouque)