Republic of Haiti (1806–1820)

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Republic of Haiti

République d’Haïti
Repiblik d Ayiti
Flag of Haiti
The Republic of Haiti in the southwest of Hispaniola
The Republic of Haiti in the southwest of Hispaniola
Common languagesFrench, Haitian Creole
Roman Catholic
GovernmentRepublic (de jure)
Dictatorship (de facto)
• 1807–1818
Alexandre Pétion
• 1818–1820
Jean-Pierre Boyer
• Upper Chamber
• Lower Chamber
Chamber of Deputies
Historical era19th century
• Assassination of Emperor Jacques I
17 October 1806
• Reunification of North and South Haiti
18 October 1820
CurrencyHaitian gourde
ISO 3166 codeHT
Preceded by
Succeeded by
First Empire of Haiti
Republic of Haiti (1820–1849)
Today part of Haiti

The first Republic of Haiti (French: République d’Haïti, Haitian Creole: Repiblik d Ayiti) controlled the southern portions Haiti from 1806 until 1820. The republic, commonly referred to as South Haiti during its existence, was created on October 17, 1806 following the assassination of Emperor Jacques I and the overthrow of the First Empire of Haiti. The southern Republic of Haiti was ruled by General Alexandre Pétion, a free person of color, as President from March 9, 1807[1] until his death on March 29, 1818. He was succeeded by Jean-Pierre Boyer.

While the Republic the Haiti had control in the south, Henri Christophe ruled over the north of the country as President of the State of Haiti until 1811 when he proclaimed the Kingdom of Haiti with himself as King Henri I. Following King Henri's death in 1820, Haiti was unified as a single republican state under Boyer.

Domestic policies[edit]

Initially a supporter of democracy, Pétion modified the terms of the presidency in the Revision of the Haitian Constitution of 1806 on June 2, 1816, making the post of president a position for life, with the president having the power to appoint his successor.[2] Furthermore, he found the constraints imposed on him by the Senate onerous and suspended the legislature in 1818.[3]

Pétion named General Jean-Pierre Boyer as his successor; the Senate approved his choice. Boyer took control in 1818 following the death of Pétion from yellow fever. After Henri I and his son died in 1820, Boyer reunited the two parts of the country in 1820;[4] he went on to unify the entire island of Hispaniola under his rule in 1822, and presided over the unified Republic of Haiti until his overthrow in 1843.

Economic policies[edit]

Pétion seized commercial plantations from the rich gentry. He had the land redistributed to his supporters and the peasantry, earning him the nickname Papa Bon-Cœur ("good-hearted father"). The land seizures and changes in agriculture reduced the production of commodities for the export economy. Most of the population became full subsistence farmers, and exports and state revenue declined sharply, making survival difficult for the new state.[5]

Foreign relations[edit]

Pétion gave sanctuary to the independence leader Simón Bolívar in 1815 and provided him with material and infantry support. This vital aid played a defining role in Bolivar's military career, and ensured his success in the campaign to liberate the countries of what would make up Gran Colombia.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mellen, Joan. "Our Man in Haiti: George de Mohrenschildt and the CIA in the Nightmare Republic". p. 7. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Constitution of Haiti from 27 December 1806, and its revision from 2 June 1816, year 13 of independence". Saint Marc. 1820: Article 142. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Senauth, Frank (2011). The Making and the Destruction of Haiti. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. p. 25.
  4. ^ Ferrer, Ada (2012). "Haiti, Free Soil, and Antislavery in the Revolutionary Atlantic". The American Historical Review. 117 (1): 40–66. doi:10.1086/ahr.117.1.40. Archived from the original on 28 December 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  5. ^ Jenson, Deborah (2012). Beyond the slave narrative: politics, sex, and manuscripts in the Haitian revolution. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. p. 185.
  6. ^ Marion, Alexandre Pétion, Ignace Despontreaux Marion, and Simón Bolívar (1849). Expédition de Bolivar (in French). Port-au-Prince: De l'imp. de Jh. Courtois.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)