Jean Pierre Boyer's Autocratic Rule

Jean Pierre Boyer, Haiti's 4th President, ruled for 25 years. He was one of several military leaders instrumental in establishing the Republic of Haiti in 1804. A high-born mulatto, he received his education in France, where he entered the French Revolutionary Army, becoming a battalion commander.


Boyer originally fought alongside Toussaint L'Ouverture towards the beginning of the Haitian Revolution, but switched allegiance to Alexander Petion when he learned the French wanted to re-introduce slavery. During Petion's rulership of Haiti, he had the Constitution amended so he could name his successor. Shortly before his death, he appointed Boyer.

Three years after Boyer assumed power in 1818, he sought unification of north and south Haiti, and power over Santo Domingo. He crossed the border into Santo Domingo, robbing it of its independence, conquering the country in 1820. One year later, he unilaterally ruled the island of Hispaniola.

Wanting to consolidate his power as ruler, he bought France's official acknowledgement of Haiti's sovereignty, negotiating a protection pact in 1825. He promised to pay France 150 million francs, even though his forces had beaten the French already.

During Boyer's reign, he created the Rural Act, leading to his downfall. It was a form of slaveship that demanded strict agriculture production standards and disallowed peasant farmers means to control their output fairly. A movement began when they united under Charles Rivière-Hérard and ran Boyer out of Haiti in 1845. He went into exile in France, and his death occurred as a resident of Paris.

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