Sylvain Salnave

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Sylvain Salnave (born February 7, 1826 in Cap-Haïtien , † January 15, 1870 in Port-au-Prince ( execution )) was a Haitian politician and President of Haiti .


Family and military career

The son of Sylvestre Salnave and Fillette Ragonse received a civic school education and joined the army in 1850. Over time, he was promoted to officer . When Faustin Soulouque was overthrown by Fabre Geffrard in January 1859, he was captain of the cavalry . Because of his support for the coup, he was promoted to major by Geffrard . Two years later, however, he fell out with President Geffrard over his position on the question of the occupation of the Dominican Republic by Spain . Later, however, he was the leader of various uprisings on the border with the neighboring country. In 1864 he was one of the helpers in a revolt in northern Haiti , which was suppressed with the help of Spanish troops.

In July 1866 he was the leader of another uprising in Gonaïves . Although this was also suppressed, this revolt increased further, so that after a revolutionary appeal (pronunciamento) of February 22, 1867, he succeeded in marching into Port-au-Prince on March 13, 1867 .

In 1881 his daughter Marie Louise Rosa Salnave married Anténor Firmin , a general who later served as minister and envoy under several presidents.

President 1867 to 1869

After President Fabre Geffrard's flight on March 13, 1867, the Council of State Secretaries and then Nissage Saget took power in Haiti as acting president. Salnave received a warm welcome on his arrival in the capital in April 1867. Shortly afterwards, on May 2, 1867, he became a member of a Provisional Government together with Saget and Victorin Chevallier. His supporters were angry about this division of power and under pressure, he took over the office of President of Haiti as protector of the republic on May 4, 1867 .

The behavior of the masses and the growing popularity of Salnave began to worry the Liberal Party, which once again had to submit to a military-born president. This distrust in their new leader was bad for the public calm. The National Assembly met in Port-au-Prince on May 6, 1867 , and a new constitution was adopted on June 14, 1867, prohibiting the term of office for life and instead limiting the term of office of the chief executive to four years. The constitution of 1867 was essentially based on the constitution of 1843, taking into account the current changes.

On June 14, 1867, Salnave was officially elected President of the Republic. He owed his popularity with the people to his courage and simple way of life. In his political views, however, he was far from being liberal . Soon there were disagreements with the legislature , which believed that the time had come to establish a parliamentary system .

Rebellion in southern Haiti

On October 11, 1867, the break with parliament was complete after the Chamber of Deputies dealt with the arrest and imprisonment of General Léon Montas in an interpellation by the cabinet. Shortly before, the small farmers in Vallières had started an armed uprising against Salnave. General Montas was accused of instigating and leading the uprising. The members of the government openly accused the Chamber of Deputies of tolerating the rebels. The rebellious masses then occupied the parliament building and threw the deputies out of the building. This led to further violent acts. In the meantime, President Salnave went to Gonaïves to defeat the insurgents in Vallières, who had now taken the name of cacos (parrots). At the same time, Salnave dismissed the MPs and suspended the constitution. He was also of the opinion that the opposition he met assumed limited authority. Afterwards, on April 22, 1868, he admitted another error by giving the officers and non-commissioned officers of his army at the headquarters in Trou-du-Nord permission to draft a petition to repeal the constitution and to give the president dictatorial powers . This gave Salnave unconstitutional unlimited power and the presidency for life.

General Nissage Saget , the then commander of the army units in the arrondissement of Saint-Marc , took up arms against this usurpation . Once again the people were disappointed in a government based on legality and freedom . With the nationwide protests, the country quickly reached one of its most critical times since the beginning of independence in 1804. The commanders of the army units in Léogâne (Pétion Faubert), L'Anse-à-Veau (General Normil), Aquin ( Michel Domingue ) as well as in Pétionville and Croix-de-Bouquets ( Pierre Théoma Boisrond-Canal ) all rose against the dictatorship of Salnave in Port-au-Prince. The insurgents' headquarters were at Carrefour , three miles from Port-au-Prince.

Salnave tried in vain to establish relations with the insurgents. Then he tried to maintain his power and authority. He had the advantage of inconsistent leadership within his opposition. After a successful counter-revolution in Léogâne and in the mountains of Jacmel , the rebels saw themselves forced to break off the siege of Port-au-Prince on July 17, 1868. However, this led the rebels to see the need for a unified government organization. For this reason, Saget was proclaimed Provisional President in Saint-Marc on July 17, 1868 , while Domingue became President of the Southern State on September 22, 1868 in Les Cayes .

Attempt to regain power, deposition and execution

Salnave's fearlessness seemed for a time to enable his opponents to be crushed. He had next to the United States a steamer purchased that conquered the south rebels warships 22 Decembre and Geffrard was supposed to replace. The new warship with the name "Alexandre Pétion" reached Port-au-Prince on September 19, 1868. The next day Salnave sailed with the "Alexandre Pétion" towards Petit-Goâve , where the warships captured from the south anchored. The Alexandre Pétion sank the "22nd Decembre" , while the commander of the Geffrard blew up his ship himself to prevent it from being captured by Salnave. In the battle to Salnaves made use of a trick: the "Alexandre Pétion" sailed under the command of US Captain Niekells and under the flag of the United States , they only at the opening of fire on the "Le 22 Decembre" by the flag Haitis replaced. This misuse of the national colors of a friendly power took the rebels by surprise and could easily be destroyed.

In October 1868 Salnave again violated international law . He was on board the Alexandre Pétion, which Jérémie bombed when the US steamer " USS Maratanza " reached this port. Its owners negotiated with the Salnave government, which decided to buy the ship. The US diplomatic negotiator , CH Hollister, was on board the ship to speak to the US consul in Jérémie about the best possible protection of American interests and citizens. Salnave bought the ship immediately after boarding the USS Maratanza, lowered the US flag, hoisted the Haitian flag and, despite protests from Hollister, included the USS Maratanza in the bombing of Jérémie.

After this success, the insurgents had to evacuate Petit-Goâve . In February 1869, the department Sud was again under Salnave's control, with the exception of the cities of Jérémie and Les Cayes, which were besieged by his troops. From Camp Boudet he personally commanded the siege of Les Cayes, which he would probably have conquered had not his troops at Artibonite suffered defeat at the same time . His deputy and old companion, General Victorin Chevallier, was given the task of evacuating Gonaïves , which were occupied by the troops of Saget. When Chevallier's troops arrived in Port-au-Prince, there was such fighting that Salnave and his units had to leave Camp Boudet as quickly as possible to reach the capital on September 1, 1869.

At the same time, he was already facing resistance from the Catholic clergy after he had dismissed the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Testar du Cosquer, without notice on June 28 . This resistance increased even further after the dismissal of Monsignor Guilloux, vicar general of the diocese , on October 16, 1869, also without notice .

Salnave's situation was deteriorating. One of his closest allies, Minister of War Chevallier, who was also the commander of the government army around Jacmel, deserted in November 1869 and joined the rebels around Saget, Domingue and Boisrond Canal.

Salnave tried previously by renouncing the previously usurped dictatorial power to maintain his presidency over the entire country. In August 1869 he appointed a legislative council, which met in November 1869, confirming the presidency for life for Salnave and reintroducing the 1846 constitution. However, these steps came too late, so that the renunciation of dictatorial power turned out to be useless in maintaining his rule, especially since Cap-Haïtien and the entire department of Nord-Ouest joined the rebellion against Salnave.

A daring attack on the capital finally ended this civil war. On December 18, 1869, Generals Boisrond-Canal and Brice reached Port-au-Prince at the head of 1,200 soldiers, after they had captured the La Terreur government's warship the night before. During the battles that followed, the ship began bombing the seat of government ("Maison Exécutif"), destroying the palace's powder store shortly after President Salnave left the building.

On December 27, 1869, a Provisional Government was constituted under the chairmanship of Saget , Vice-President Domingue and the other members Pierre Nord Alexis , Dupont Junior and Volmar Laporte.

Salnave fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic , but was extradited to the insurgents by the Dominican general José María Cabral , who had sympathy for his opponents. On January 15, 1870, after his arrival in Port-au-Prince, he was tried before a court martial . From this he was appointed sentenced death and tied up on the same day at 18 o'clock on a post on the site of burnt-government seat shot .

Individual evidence

  1. Steven Gregory, Roger Sanjek (Eds.): Race . Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ 1994, ISBN 0-8135-2109-2 , pp. 156 ff . (English, 407 pages, limited preview in Google Book Search).
  2. ^ "Election Of A President -Salnave Unanimously Chosen For A Term Of 4 Years," New York Times July 17, 1867
  3. ^ "Hayti; Progress Of The Revolution - Affairs At Port-au-Prince - Capture Of A Government Corvette - Latest From Jacmel" , New York Times August 22, 1868
  4. Papers Relating To Foreign Affairs, Washington, 1869, Part 2, p. 364, in: Chapter XIX, Haiti History Chapters, in: ( Memento of the original of November 21, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet tested. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. "Hayti .; Salnave's Campaign in the Southern Peninsula - Seven Towns Captured" 11, New York Times in January 1869
  6. "Salnave .; End of His Career and the Latest War in Hayti. His Flight, Pursuit, Capture, Trial and Execution. Scenes in the Court Room at Port-au-Prince. Excitement of the People at the execution. HOW THE EX - PRESIDENT MET DEATH " , New York Times January 28, 1870

Web links

predecessor Office successor
Nissage says President of Haiti
May 4, 1867 - December 27, 1869
Nissage says