Marie-Madeleine Lachenais, Joute, Powerful Haitian Woman

Joute Lachenais known as Joute (Arcahaie, Haiti 1778 - Kingston, Jamaica 22 July 1843) is considered as one of the most influential Haitian women in history and mistress of two presidents in the 1800s. She was the mistress and political advisor of two solid Haitian leaders (Alexandre Sabès Pétion and Jean-Pierre Boyer) over a period of long 36 years and that too at a time well before 1950's when the women of the country didn't have a voting right. She exerted a significant influence over the affairs of state during their presidencies (1807 to 1843).

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She was born of a white French colonel de Lachenais and a black woman Marie-Therese Fabre. When she was 20 years old, married Marc Joseph Lefèvre Laraque, the military commander of her hometown and had a daughter named Marie Josephine Laraque. After the death of Marc Laraque, Lachenais at the age of twenty five, started a relationship with Anne-Alexandre Sabès, known as Petion. Petion is known as the founding father of Haiti who was the first Haitian officer to revolt against France. In 1807, Alexandre Petion became president, and she acted as his active adviser.

With Petion she had two daughters, Cecile (1805) and Hersilie (1818). Hersille was raised by Jean-Pierre Boyer. Pétion did not live to see his daughter Hersilie as he passed away on March 29 that same year following what many historians feel was grief caused by the 'infidelity' of the only woman he ever loved. Earlier, Petion appointed Jean-Pierre Boyer as his successor with Joute's support. After the installment of Jean-Pierre Boyer in 1818, she functioned as Boyer's mistress and political adviser. She had a daughter, Azema, with him. When Boyer was dethroned in 1843, she went into exile with him in Jamaica. She died shortly after arriving Jamaica.

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