Haiti History 101: Haiti By the Decades, The 1870s (Part II)

Written by Kat with 3 Comments

It’s that time again, oh faithful pupils. Haiti History 101! Looking at Haiti over the years, we have now landed on the second part of the 1870s decade. If you missed the first part, CLICK HERE.

boisrond canal portrait
Pierre-Theoma Boisrond-Canal in a portrait. Photo Credit: Public Domain.

Pierre-Theoma Boisrond-Canal had been among the three generals accused by General Septimus Rameau and Michel Domingue of plotting against Domingue’s administration. He had to run for cover to the U.S. embassy and remained there, according to Historical Dictionary of Haiti by Michael R. Hall, for six months, until he was able to be escorted to his exile in Jamaica in October of 1875. He returned to Haiti in April of 1876, shortly after Michel Domingue had given up the presidency and went into exile in Jamaica. Boisrond-Canal, states Hall, was initially the interim president, but was eventually elected as the actual president.

The book Haiti and Her Detractors contends that Boisrond-Canal had to deal with a Parisian loan with questionable terms that Septimus Rameau had masterminded during the presidency of his uncle Michel Domingue. France was demanding repayment of this loan, but Leger maintains that all of Haiti and all of France knew that Haiti had never seen a penny of this loan. Haiti balked at the 58 million francs that France claimed the country had borrowed and refused to honor any repayments, as the entire country felt that Domingue and his nephew had gotten it fraudulently. (Still according to Leger), Haiti did agree to pay back 21 million francs. Satisfied, France renewed its diplomatic relationship with Haiti in 1878.

Domingue had instated a new constitution in 1874, and it was thrown out, and Boisrond-Canal reverted to another one from 1867.

Boisrond-Canal, states the book The African Abroad, or, His Evolution in Western Civilization, Volume 2 by William Henry Ferris, had been one of the insurrection leaders against a previous president Sylvain Salnave. Ferris is among the historians who praise Boisrond-Canal for his intellectual and diplomatic capacities. Max Manigat notes that Boisrond-Canal was called upon to be interim president several instances during Haiti’s history. Ferris recalls how Boisrond Canal’s actions during the civil war between between Florvil Hyppolite and Francois Denys Legitime in a later decade (the 1880s):

It is said that when the European Powers wanted legal justification of Hyppolite’s course. Boisrond Canal was sought for. He was found in his hiding place in a barn. Without reading a book or pamphlet or searching for notes Boisrond Canal on the spur of the moment wrote down the legal justification for Hyppolite’s course.

Historian Roger Gaillard maintains that Canal was born in the city of Les Cayes on June 12, 1832, the son of Louis-Auguste Boisrond-Canal and Marie-Magdelaine Aménaïde Moreau (there was also a Louis-Auguste Boisrond-Canal jeune, or Junior, Pierre-Theoma Boisrond Canal’s brother). He married Marie Claire Wilmina Phipps Lise Régnier, the daughter of the widow Lise Wilson Phipps, in 1877.

Parti Liberal (majority of whom were mulattoes) and the Parti National (mostly dark-skinned Haitians) clashed constantly during Boisrond-Canal’s term, according to Leger, and the president chose to resign on July 17, 1879. Lysius Salomon returning from exile, finished off the rest of the decade as president. Boisrond-Canal went to Jamaica, but eventually he returned to Haiti. He would be instrumental in making Florvil Hyppolite president in the next decade. He died in March of 1905, at the age of 72.

Now, a brief overview of some individual who were prominent in Haiti during the 1870s decade!

armand thoby

(Left: photo of Armand Thoby)

Born in St. Marc, Armand Thoby was Haiti’s Minister of Interior from November 1876 to August of 1877. In 1880, Thoby would write a memoir about Boisrond-Canal entitled Le gouvernement de Boisrond-Canal devant l’histoire (The Government of Boisrond-Canal Before History).

Armand-Thoby would later go into exile on the island of St. Thomas. The book The Greenwood Encyclopedia of The World’s Political Parties lists him as one of the co-founders of Haiti’s Parti Liberal during this decade—along with men like Edmond Paul, Charles Boyer Bazelais, Nemours Auguste, Louis Audain, and Boisrond Canal himself.

Edmond Paul, historien et economiste

But Armand Thoby was just one of many intellectual heavyweights in Haiti in the 1870s. Chetan Kumar in his book Building Peace in Haiti recognizes the aforementioned Edmond Paul [Photo Above. Photo via Tout Haiti ) as one of the leading figures of this period. Born in Port-au-Prince in 1837, Paul was a well-known economist. Kumar maintains that Paul’s book De I’Impôt sur le Cafe, (Regarding The Tax On Coffee) published in 1876, opened the eyes of many to the extend to which heavy taxes placed on exported coffee was taking a heavy toll on Haiti’s farmers. Analyzing Paul’s book, author Leslie Anne Brice contends that he placed the blame of some of the unrest that had plagued Haiti in the 1860s on the “disproportionate taxation”. Brice further states that Paul had argued that Haiti didn’t need more poets but more engineers, scientists, and industrialists. Paul wrote several other books, including Patriotisme et Conscience, (Patriotism and Conscience) published in 1877. When he died in the 1890s, the New York Times saw it fit to write an obituary. You can read it by CLICKING HERE. Today, he has a street named after him in Haiti.

The 1870s in Haiti saw the birth of many individuals who would be instrumental in Haiti in later years, most notably Stenio Joseph Vincent, who was born in the year 1874. In November of that year, according to Jacques Nicolas Leger, Haiti and the Dominican Republic signed a Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, and Haiti fully recognized the independence of the Dominican Republic; Haiti also signed a treaty with Great Britain, promising to allow for the extradition of British criminals who were hiding out in Haiti.

haiti 1870s 1875 bank note five piastre

This is Haitian paper money from 1875. The photo to the right is of Haiti’s then-prez Michel Domingue. The monetary unit was called piastre, according to historian Jacques Nicolas Leger.

haiti 1871-tiberius zamor

General and Commander of Leogane, Tiberius Zamor (left) entertains two of his guests at his post in 1871.

haiti 1871 soldier-19

A soldier from Haiti’s army takes a lunch break. Look at the size of that gun! It’s almost the same height as the soldier himself!

haiti 1870s-cap haitien view

A view of the city of Cap Haitien as it looked in the 1870s. [Photo Credit: Marc Pean Collection]

[Image Credit: Boisrond Canal photo—public domain; Haitian army photos—Image Credit: T. Wust, Collections CIDDICA. Courtesy of Frantz Voltaire. Thanks to Dr. Bellegarde-Smith for the heads up.]

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3 comments on “Haiti History 101: Haiti By the Decades, The 1870s (Part II)”

  1. “Brice further states that Paul had argued that Haiti didn’t need more poets but more engineers, scientists, and industrialists.” A very wise man. You ought to take his advice and feature some Haitian engineers and scientists along with all the writers, singers, etc. you regularly figure on this blog. You might start with Christophe’s architect.

  2. I have been trying to find the book from where the illustration of the seated soldier eating comes from. Do you have the name of the book you got the picture?

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