Biography of Enrique Christophe (1767-1820)

Revolutionary and Haitian politician, born on 6 October on the island of Grenada and died on October 8, 1820 in the Sans Souci Palace, in the North of Haiti. He stood out as one of the main leaders during the war of independence in the Caribbean country (1791). He was President of Haiti between 1807 and 1811, and in 1811 was proclaimed King with the name of Enrique I.

Born as a slave, he won freedom in his youth. Moved to Hispaniola, where he worked as a domestic worker in the hotel of the Crown in Cap-Haïtien, establishment of which became owner. He fought in the war of American independence, where he stood for his participation in the battle of Savannah. In 1790 he returned to Haiti in order to join the black rebels fighting for the independence of the island, by then French colony. Along with other two hundred slaves from different plantations and workshops of all the colony, he participated in a ceremony of Voodoo in which were encouraged to start the rebellion. Became one of the lieutenants of Toussaint Louverture, the main leader of the rebels, who appointed him general. The colonial authorities attempted to salvage the situation by giving some of the claims of the mulatto Freedmen, but the protests of white settlers caused that you an end to the reforms initiated.

In a desperate attempt to curb independence, Louverture was appointed by the French revolutionary authorities Governor and Chief of the armies of the island. The French tried to retake the colony in 1801, but Christophe rebel remained in the North until 1802. He surrendered only when it received the promise of preserving their rank in the French army. In October 1802 he returned to revolt at the head of his troops, along with Jean-Jacques Dessalines, when France wanted to restore slavery. To maintain the sovereignty, the French Government sent an army under the command of general Leclerc composed 86 vessels and 22,000 soldiers. The French troops were decimated by an epidemic of yellow fever. General rebels were able to expel definitely the French November 11, 1803, when they conquered Cap-Haitian, the last redoubt defended by the vicomte de Rochambeau, successor of Leclerc. In 1806 Christophe, with the help of the general Alexander Sabès Petion, overthrew Dessalines, whom Emperor had proclaimed itself and it had established a regime of hardness.

Dessalines was appointed Governor general, but nevertheless continued with the despotic policy pursued by his predecessor. Prodded receiving, it convened a constituent Assembly on December 18, 1806 in order to draft a Constitution. Differences with Petion, which led to the mulattoes and the privileged classes of the island soon emerged. Pétion became the Governor of the South and West of Haiti and drafted their own Constitution, in which Christophe was relegated to a secondary role. The revolutionary, which was led by Blacks, tried to retaliate against its former ally, whom he accused of betraying the revolution of 1791, and attacked him January 1, 1807, with all his strength. But his men were defeated on 6 January, forcing him to take refuge in his dominions in the North, where was proclaimed President. He divided the former colonial plantations among his generals, which granted titles of nobility such as: Duke of marmalade, Knight of the coconut or count of the lemonade. He instituted archbishops and bishops and created the Royal order and military of San Enrique.

The majority of soldiers forced to return to their former occupations as farmers, which, despite being free, continued being very harsh living conditions. He tried to seize on several occasions in Port au Prince, but all attempts ended in sonorous failures. In 1811, with the support of England to be reelected President Petion, a Kingdom established in their territories and proclaimed himself King under the name of Enrique I. received several sent Luis XVIII to convince him to return to recognize the sovereignty of France. One of these ambassadors was taken prisoner and executed on charges of having acted as a spy. One of his biggest obsessions was the construction of large works, erected the Sans Souci Palace and the impressive fortress of the Citadelle Laferrière.

Christophe was partially immobilized due to a cerebral palsy suffered in August 1820. His illness provoked a series of riots across the country. Not to put an end to the disturbances, committed suicide from a shot in the head. One of his sons was killed by the rebels, and the other escaped to France, while his wife and daughters settled to England, to then move to Italy. After his death, his possessions reunify with the South and West under the command of Jean Pierre Boyer to constitute the Republic of Haiti.

Bibliography

FRANCO, j. L.: History of the Haitian revolution. (Havana: Academy of Sciences, 1966).

FRANCO, J.L.: Black rebellions in the 18th and 19th centuries. (Havana: University, 1975).

LANGLEY, L.D.: The Americas in the age of revolution, 1750-1850. (New Haven: Yale University, 1996).

NICHOLLS, D.: From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour and National Independence in Haiti. (London: 1979).

SCHOELCHES, V.: Vie de Toussaint Louverture. (Paris: Karthala, 1982).