Vilbrun Guillaume Sam

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Vilbrun Guillaume Sam
Vilbrun Guillaume Sam portrait.jpg
26th President of Haiti
In office
25 February 1915 – 28 July 1915
Preceded by Joseph Davilmar Théodore
Succeeded by Philippe Sudré Dartiguenave
Minister of War and Navy
In office
13 December 1897 – 12 March 1902
President Tirésias Simon Sam
Preceded by Septimus Marius
Succeeded by Pierre Nord Alexis
Personal details
Born Jean Simon Guillaume
(1859-03-04)4 March 1859
Ouanaminthe, Haiti
Died 28 July 1915(1915-07-28) (aged 56)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Spouse(s) Lucie Parisien
Profession Military officer

Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam (4 March 1859 – 28 July 1915) was President of Haiti from 4 March to 27 July 1915. He was a cousin of Tirésias Simon Sam, Haiti's president from 1896 to 1902.

Presidency[edit]

Sam was the commander of Haiti's Northern Division when he led the revolt that brought President Cincinnatus Leconte to power. He later headed the revolt that toppled President Oreste Zamor. Sam was proclaimed president when his predecessor, Joseph Davilmar Théodore, was forced to resign on 25 February 1915, when he was unable to pay the militiamen (called "Cacos") who had helped him overthrow Zamor.

As the fifth president in five turbulent years, Sam was forced to contend with a revolt against his own regime, led by Dr. Rosalvo Bobo, who opposed the government's expanded commercial and strategic ties with the United States. Fearing that he would share the same fate as his predecessors, Sam acted harshly against his political opponents, particularly the better educated and wealthier mulatto population. The culmination of his repressive measures came on 27 July 1915, when he ordered the execution of 167 political prisoners, including former president Zamor, who was being held in a Port-au-Prince jail. This infuriated the population, which rose up against Sam's government as soon as news of the executions reached them.

Sam fled to the French embassy, where he received asylum. The rebels' mulatto leaders broke into the embassy and found Sam. They dragged him out and beat him senseless then threw his limp body over the embassy's iron fence to the waiting populace, who then ripped his body to pieces and paraded the parts through the capital's neighborhoods. For the next two weeks, the country was in chaos.

News of the murder soon reached the American Navy ships anchored in the city's harbor, and Washington D.C. President Woodrow Wilson, who was wary about the turn of events in Haiti, and especially the possibility that Bobo would take power, ordered American troops to seize the capital, claiming that the unrest might precipitate a German invasion of the country. They landed the next day, on 28 July, and continued to occupy the country for nineteen years, until August 1934.

Legacy[edit]

  • His chief of police Charles Oscar Etienne, who cleaned out the jails by executing his political opponents, inspired the boogeymen Haitian carnival disguises known as "Chaloska".
Preceded by
Joseph Davilmar Théodore
Coat of arms of Haiti.svg
President of Haiti

1915
Succeeded by
Philippe Sudré Dartiguenave