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Haiti History 101: Haiti by the Decades, The 1910s


This is one of Haiti’s street markets, as captured in 1910, by Sir Harry Johnston, a historian who visited several black communities in the Caribbean in the 1910s—Haiti among them.

Taken in 1919, this photo shows some Haitian women taking a stroll.

The man on this 10 cents stamp is Haitian president Emmanuel Oreste Zamor. Born in 1861, Zamor served as president of Haiti from February 8, 1914 to October 27, 1914. He was the leader of the Cacos, a countryside army, that often took part in rebellions. Zamor overthrew Michel Oreste (no relation that we know of). Davilmar Theodore overthrew him, and he in turn was overthrown by Jean Vilbrun Gillaume Sam.

Zamor was arrested under the orders of Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam and placed in prison, according to historical records.

In the 1910s, Haiti went through a lot of leaders, some like Davilma Théodore lasting just a few months…

A farmer in 1910. As with other societies in the world, farming land and owning land was a common path into earning a prominent social place in society.

This is what the streets looked like in 1915, the same year the U.S. Marines came to the country for what was to be a 19-year stay. But this wasn’t a typical day. President Guillaume Sam had ordered the killing of 167 political prisoners, among them the aforementioned Oreste Zamor, a former president. This led to national outrage in Port-au-Prince, and mass funerals for the relatives of the slain.

A key figure at the time, was this man, Rosalvo Bobo (Being a Haitian, his name is much longer than this of course: Pierre François Joseph Benoit Rosalvo Bobo). A native of Cap Haitian, he was a doctor, and also a man of the state, having served as a minister. After the fall of President Jean-Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, he marched with Caco troops from Cap Haitian to Port-au-Prince, with the intention of becoming Haiti’s next leader. According to the historian Max Laudun, the U.S. had already chosen Sudre Dartiguenave, as Haiti’s next president. Bobo went into exile soon after (in France, where he died in 1929).

Two U.S. Marines stand guarding what was then the Palais Nationale (Haiti’s White House). This photo, taken in October of 1915, is just two months after then-President Jean-Vilbrun Guillaume Sam was dismembered by a vindictive mob, and U.S. Marines landed in Haiti.

Another key figure during this decade in Haiti was Charlemagne Peralte. Peralte strongly opposed the presence of the United States in Haiti, and he rallied the guerilla Caco forces in constant rebellions. Peralte is the man standing in the front row, the one in the far right in this photo.

He was killed by two U.S. marines in an ambush, who were assisted with Peralte’s fellow countryman Jean Conzé. Peralte’s body was hung on a door, displayed publicly by the Marines, and photographs of his body were dispersed all over Haiti. According to the book Roaming through the West Indies by Harry Alverson Franck (1922), that chronicled recent events in the Caribbean, upon Peralte’s death, the Marines found a heap of letters of correspondence he kept, as well as a fiscal diary of Haitians in the financial business sector who were financing him.

Conzé was given $2000 for his part in the plot and was made a prominent officer in the Garde D’Haiti, Haiti’s U.S.-trained army. In his book Franck affirmed that Peralte’s legendary status among Haitians at the time was so great that few believed that he was really dead (even after the display of his body). St. Remy Peralte, Peralte’s brother and sidekick, was wounded during the attack, but other Caco leaders continued their resistance. Peralte was considered a hero by many, and entire poems and entire verses, by such poets as Jean-Francois Brière were dedicated to him. Arguably, one of Haiti’s most renowned paintings Philomé Obin created a painting in his honor.

The ancestor of the Haitian tap-tap?

The Haitian white House (Le Palais National) as it looked in 1912.

This is the Archer family, one of the oldest and elite families in Haiti in their car in 1916. Back then Haiti celebrated a holiday called Fête des Fleurs, so here are members of the Archer family in their best, riding in their flower-filled vehicle as part of the parade celebration.

Photos: Corbis, Perry Young Collection, and Getty Images, and Lehman CUNY and Moun

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6 Comments to “Haiti History 101: Haiti by the Decades, The 1910s”

  1. […] 3: Jean-Baptiste Conzé joined forces with the U.S. Marines in 1918 to ambush Charlemagne Peralte, leader of the resistance group called the Cacos. Charlemagne Peralte got killed, but what of our […]

  2. karvin zamor says:

    i want to more about my family legacy i;m a zamor the original plz

    • Kat says:

      Hello! As future installments of Haiti History 101 come to fruition, more mentions will be made of Mr. Zamor! In the meantime, do check out Roots Ancestry Web!

  3. lysoubhaa duckeenslysoubhaa duckeens says:

    im really love those historical pic but at the same time i want the haitian gorvernment to put haitian school system in tree languages french english creole cause of geografical position n the tourism market*****

  4. […] society—at first, according to Soud Fungcap’s son Essud Fungcap. Some who were in Haiti in the early 1910s had to contend with anti-foreign sentiments that were being flamed by influential Haitian and […]

  5. […] we shall look at fashion history, and fashion moments in Haiti. This segment will concentrate on the 1910s decade. Sir Harry Hamilton Johnston who visited Haiti in the early 1900s, would later write this in his […]

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