Vilbrun Guillaume Sam

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Vilbrun Guillaume Sam
Vilbrun Guillaume Sam portrait.jpg
24th President of Haiti
In office
25 February 1915 – 28 July 1915
Preceded byJoseph Davilmar Théodore
Succeeded byPhilippe Sudré Dartiguenave
Minister of War and Navy
In office
13 December 1897 – 12 March 1902
PresidentTirésias Simon Sam
Preceded bySeptimus Marius
Succeeded byPierre Nord Alexis
Personal details
Jean Simon Guillaume

(1859-03-04)4 March 1859
Ouanaminthe, Haiti
Died28 July 1915(1915-07-28) (aged 56)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Spouse(s)Lucie Parisien
ProfessionMilitary 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.


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. 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.


  • 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".

In fiction[edit]

Eugene O'Neill stated that Sam was the inspiration for his 1920 play, The Emperor Jones.[1][2]

Sam is the main figure in Arthur J. Burks's short story, "Thus Spake the Prophetess" (Weird Tales, November 1924).

Sam appears as a supporting character in the 1993 Doctor Who novel White Darkness which is set during his presidency.[3] The novel takes several liberties with history, having Sam committing suicide rather than being murdered by the rebels as was actually the case.


  1. ^ Dowling, Robert M. (4 March 2018). "Critical Companion to Eugene O'Neill: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work". Infobase Publishing – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Cohn, Ruby (4 March 1971). "Black Power on Stage: Emperor Jones and King Christophe". Yale French Studies (46): 41–47. doi:10.2307/2929605. JSTOR 2929605.
  3. ^ McIntee, D. A. "White Darkness". Virgin Publishing, 1993