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Faustin I
Emperor of Haiti
Emperor of Haiti 1849-1859
Faustin I, Emperor of Haïti, 1849–1859, The Illustrated London News, 16 February 1856
Reign 26 August 1849 – 22 January 1859
Full name Faustin-Élie Soulouque
Born 1782 (1782)
Died 1867 (1868)
Predecessor Jean-Baptiste Riché (as President of Haiti)
Successor Fabre Geffrard (as President of Haiti)
Consort Adélina, Empress of Haiti

In office
2 March 1847 – 26 August 1849

Faustin 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.[1]


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.[2] 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.[2] 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.

See also


  1. ^ Rogozinski, Jan (1999). A Brief History of the Caribbean (Revised ed.). New York: Facts on File, Inc.. pp. 220. ISBN 0-8160-3811-2. 
  2. ^ a b Shaw 2005, 5-6.


  • Shaw, Karl (2005) [2004] (in Czech). Power Mad! [Šílenství mocných]. Praha: Metafora. ISBN 80-7359-002-6. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Jean-Baptiste Riché
President of Haiti
Title next held by
Fabre Geffrard
Title last held by
Jacques I
Emperor of Haiti
Succeeded by


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