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Joshua H. Clough

president of Haiti from 21 December 1902 until 2 December 1908, was born in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, to an elite and politically powerful family on 2 August 1820. He was the son of Nord Alexis and Blézine Georges. The former had served as a prominent official in Henri Christophe’s kingdom, and the latter was one of Christophe’s illegitimate daughters. When he was 19 years old, Alexis began his long and distinguished military career, shortly before his father’s death in 1840. He served first in the infantry of Haiti’s 22nd Regiment before serving as an officer in the gendarmerie of the Acul-du-Nord in 1843. From 1845 to 1846, he served as the military aide-de-camp to President Jean-Louis Pierrot. Alexis married Pierrot’s daughter Marie Louise in 1845, further securing his influential position in Haiti’s northern black upper class established under Christophe.

During this period he was also ...



Dario A. Euraque

was born in the Department of Olancho, in eastern Honduras, in the municipality of Juticalpa. His parents were Jorge Bonilla and Dominga Chirinos. He received a rudimentary primary education in the 1850s, and enjoyed no formal high school, much less a university education. We know almost nothing of his infancy and youth, and his black and mulatto ethno-racial background are only discreetly mentioned by his major biographers. However, there is no doubt that General Bonilla was phenotypically black or mulatto, in addition to having been born in a town whose ethno-racial background was the same.

According to Jose Sarmiento, the most important historian of Olancho and Juticalpa, Bonilla’s city of birth, in 1810 in the parish registries we find that nearly all the population is registered as mulatto One of General Bonilla s lesser known biographers also affirms as much Moreover his most important biographer characterizes him as dark ...


Robert Ross

South African lawyer and politician, was born in Cape Town on 6 December 1823. His father, Christoffel J. Brand, a member of a leading Cape family, was a noted journalist and parliamentarian and the first speaker of the Cape Parliament in 1854. Brand Sr. had presented a doctoral thesis to Leiden University in 1820 on the rights of colonists, which the British might have considered treasonable if it had not been written in Latin. By the 1840s he, along with a number of his fellow Dutch-speaking settlers, decided to cooperate with British rule, believing, accurately as it would turn out, that they would be able to dominate democratic institutions in the colony when they were eventually granted.

Jan, as he was known, followed his father to Leiden University in the Netherlands, where he studied law, and thereafter he was admitted to the British Bar. In 1849 ...


Angie Colón Mendinueta

was born in San Francisco de Cara, in the state of Aragua on 22 August 1841. The son of Leandro Crespo and María Aquilina Torres, he was also known as “The Tiger of Santa Inés” and “El Taita” (Daddy). Although the evidence is not conclusive, several sources have suggested that Crespo was of partial African descent. Writing in 1892, the US ambassador to Venezuela described Crespo as a “mulatto,” while the modern historians Winthrop R. Wright (1993) and George Reid Andrews (2000) have claimed that Crespo, like many nineteenth-century Venezuelans, and several South American politicians of that era, was of partial African descent (see Wright, 1993, pp. 66–67). During his youth he lived in Parapara, a plains town in the state of Guárico, where he learned to read and write.

In 1858 at the age of 17 Joaquín began his military career ...


Matthew J. Smith

from 1859 to 1867, was born in the coastal town of Anse-à-Veau in southwest Haiti on 19 September 1806, two years after Haitian independence. Geffrard’s pedigree had fixed his career as a military man. His father, Nicolas, was a renowned general from the same region who died a few months before Geffrard was born. His mother, Marguerite Geffrard (née LeJeune), was born in Saint-Domingue in the early 1770s. When Geffrard was an infant, his mother married another high-ranking officer, Colonel Laurent Fabre, who adopted Geffrard and whose name he carried. He became a soldier at 15, and by the age of 37 he was a commander in the important southern city of Les Cayes.

Geffrard s political emergence paralleled the rise of political instability in mid nineteenth century Haiti Following the fall of the long term president Jean Pierre Boyer a coup that Geffrard participated in there were ...


Fabre-Nicolas Geffrard was a general in the Haitian army during the reign of Faustin Elie Soulouque. He participated in Soulouque's unsuccessful effort to invade the Dominican Republic in 1849. In 1859 Geffrard led the insurrection which deposed Soulouque, and subsequently assumed the presidency. In 1867 he was ...


April J. Mayes

later known as Lilís, was born Hilarión Level on 21 October 1845 in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, the son of Josefa Level, an immigrant from St. Thomas (then in the Danish Virgin Islands) and D’Assas Heureaux from Haiti. Puerto Plata, located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, was a dynamic center of commerce and migration, but little is known about Lilís’s early years there. He was of African descent on both his mother’s and father’s sides, and of French descent on his father’s side. His class and racial origins contributed to the belief of some Dominicans that Lilís was of “low” birth.

Historian Mu-Kien Sang notes that when Heureaux became president in 1882, some residents of Puerto Plata exclaimed, “the boy who bathed Fransuá Dambruá’s dog, [is now] President” (Sang, 1996 p 10 Although some in Puerto Plata may have rejected Heureaux as being lower ...


Mayda Grano de Oro

Born in poverty in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, to a Haitian father and a mother from the Antilles, Ulíses Heureaux was a principal political and military leader in the Restoration War along with Gregorio Luperón. This conflict, which significantly involved Afro-Dominicans in a fight for their sovereignty and against the reinstitution of slavery for the first time, resulted in Spain's final withdrawal from the Dominican Republic.

Heureaux, who was also known as Lilís, became one of the most important political figures of the nineteenth-century Dominican Republic. He began his political career as the military leader of Gregorio Luperón's Partido Azul (Blue Party), opposing Buenaventura Baez's Partido Rojo (Red Party) during Baez's six-year regime from 1868 to 1874. After this regime the presidency was limited to a two-year term, and between 1876 and 1882 the Blue and Red Parties alternated control of the government ...


Mary Grace Albanese

was born on 2 March 1828 at Cap-Haïtien, the son of Jacques Sylvain Gélin Hyppolite, a leading Haitian politician, and a mother whose name is unknown. A member of the emerging black elite, Hyppolite received an education in Haiti before beginning his military career. In 1848 he was promoted to the rank of captain and by 1888 had risen to the rank of general.

That year, Hyppolite served as minister of agriculture and police in a provisional government established in the wake of former President Lysius Salomon’s flight from Haiti. Led by former President Pierre Théoma Boisrond-Canal, other members of the government included E. Claude, S. U. St. Armand, C. Archin, former Senator François D. Légitime (of Port-au-Prince), and General Séide Thélémaque (of Cap-Haïtien). Soon after this government revoked the 1867 Constitution, a divide developed between Thélémaque and Légitime. On 26 September 1888 Thélémaque was killed in an attempt ...


David M. Carletta

In August 1888 a political uprising forced Lysius Salomon, the Haitian president, to sail off into exile after allegedly attempting to make himself president for life. In his absence, rebel leaders set up a provisional government, which included François D. Légitime and Louis Modestin Florvil Hyppolite. In the elections for a constituent assembly, only Port-au-Prince supported Légitime, who received prompt recognition from France, Haiti's former colonial ruler, as well as from England. A civil war followed, during which opponents of Légitime formed a government of their own under the leadership of Hyppolite at Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti.

The Democratic administration of President Grover Cleveland maintained a policy of neutrality in the conflict Légitime lacked an adequate supply of armaments and a sufficient number of ships to close off Haiti s northern ports The French unwilling to arouse the anger of the United States did not sell Légitime enough ...


Fransjohan Pretorius

last president of the Transvaal (South African Republic), was born in the Cradock district of the Cape Colony on 10 October 1825. As a ten-year-old boy he accompanied his parents, Casper Kruger and Elsie Steyn, on the Great Trek of white emigrant farmers to the interior. Brought up in the traditional Calvinism, he linked the history of his own people with that of Israel and saw the Boers as the “chosen people.” He was called “Paul” for short.

The history of the Transvaal, which was granted independence by Great Britain through the Sand River Convention of 1852, is closely connected with the history of Paul Kruger. Elected field cornet in 1851 and commandant-general in 1863, he fought bravely in the campaigns against the black communities in the Transvaal. As a member of a Boer triumvirate, he attempted to reverse the British annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 ...


Maria Lucia Cacciato

commonly regarded as the republic’s only black chief executive. Carlos Antonio Mendoza was the grandson of Antonio Mendoza, a Venezuelan officer who fought in the wars for independence and who settled in Panama after the conflict. Carlos’s father, Juan Mendoza (1829–1876), served as head of Panama’s regional government and occupied important legislative and judicial positions during the Colombian period. Carlos Antonio Mendoza was born in Santa Ana, the traditional plebian barrio of Panama City. In 1869 he received a state scholarship to continue his education in Bogotá. Mendoza finished his secondary studies at the Colegio de San Bartolomé and pursued a law degree at the Colegio Mayor del Rosario. In 1875 he returned to Panama and soon became involved in politics identifying with the dominant Liberal Party and its most radical and popular elements Over the following years Mendoza held many public offices including archivist for Panama ...


Martine Fernandes

Born to a black family of southern landowners in Haiti, Salomon was involved at an early age in social and political activities. In 1843 he became a spokesperson for black peasants of Les Cayes who were rebelling against the mulatto-led Liberal Party. Salomon's participation, which began after the government suppressed the formation of small landholdings in the interest of larger estates, made him a legendary figure. A senator in his early thirties, he went on to hold the influential post of minister of finance for eleven years under Faustin Elie Soulouque, a national president who later declared himself emperor.

After a coup overthrew Soulouque, Salomon lived in exile in Jamaica and Europe for more than twenty years During Salomon s period of exile the Haitian elite was divided into various competing groups and Salomon s family became deeply involved in the ensuing political struggle which would cost ...


Faustin Elie Soulouque was elected president of Haiti by the National Assembly, under the belief that he could be easily manipulated. On the contrary, Soulouque established a strong and repressive regime. In 1849 he unsuccessfully attempted an invasion of the neighboring Dominican Republic which had won its independence from ...