Haitian President Alexandre Petion, gens de couleur libres

Born a member of the gens de couleur libres, Alexandre Sabes Petion (1770 - 1818) began life between two worlds. It is a dichotomy he would continue, further marking his legacy as an instrumental force behind the struggle for independence of two lands, his own beloved Haiti, and the republic of Gran Colombia.

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Alexandre Petion attempted to divided country

Alexandre Petion began his career, after an expensive education in France, by joining the fight to force the British out of Saint-Domingue between 1798 and 1799. He would subsequently fight on the side of the mulattos against Toussaint L'Ouverture and the blacks, and was exiled to France when the rebellion ended; he returned soon after with General Leclerc and his assemblage of warships and troops. In 1802, he joined the nationalist force and gave his support to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the future proclaimer of the Haitian Independence and self-declared ruler for life of the newly formed country.

In 1806, after struggles with Dessalines' successor Henri Christophe, Alexandre Petion became president of the southern Republic of Haiti, while Christophe took the title of king of the Northern Kingdom of Haiti. As president, he would found the Lycée Pétion, redistribute land from the rich to the peasantry and, in 1815, would become instrumental to the foundation of Gran Colombia when he provided sanctuary and military support to Simon Bolivar, exacting the condition that Bolivar abolish slavery upon his victory. Though the republic was short-lived, Petion's aid allowed Bolivar to give liberty to the countries it encompassed, branding him for life as the Papa Bon-Coeur of two worlds.

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Read more: president, Toussaint L'Overture, Mulato, Haitian President, France, Independence, Saint-Domingue, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Henri Christophe, Slavery, Land, Land Reform, Simon Bolivar, General Leclerc, Lycee Petion, Government, History

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