1843 Constitution of Haiti

Charles Riviere-Herard seized power as Haiti's 5th president in 1843, after staging a coup. His reason was the amended 1843 Constitution, passed without his knowledge. Hérard ruled for one year, plagued by two civil uprisings, and failure to repossess the Dominican Republic (DR) as part of Haiti's empire.


During the battle to re-establish Haitian rule over the DR, insurgents were gathering in rural Les Cayes. Known as the Army of the South, they fought to capture Port-au-Prince in a coup attempt. But they did not succeed. In the meantime, another uprising was fomenting in northern Haiti, incited by opposition to Charles Riviere-Herard's government. Confronted with the latest effort to unseat him from office, he tried to maintain control by breaking up Parliament and banning the amended 1843 Constitution. After dissolution of his government, he fled from office and exiled himself to Jamaica where his life ended.

The amended 1843 Constitution included unprecedented changes to government.

• Judges were no longer to be appointed by presidential decree, but by electoral process.

• Crimes of a political nature or civil violations would now be adjudicated by jury trials.

• The president could not appoint himself as ruler for life, but hold office for only a limited four-year term.

• All legislative matters required a co-signatory by an appropriate minister. Parliament was given permission to introduce new legislature and local governments became self-ruling bodies.

• A draft of the annual budget needed approval by Parliament.

• The army was subject to obeying the law.

• Civil and property rights were ensured.

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