1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Boyer, Jean Pierre

BOYER, JEAN PIERRE (1776–1850), president of the republic of Haiti, a mulatto, was born at Port-au-Prince on the 28th of February 1776. He received a good education in France, and, returning to St Domingo, joined the army in 1792. In 1794 he was already in command of a battalion, and fought with distinction under General Rigaud against the English. The negro insurrection under Toussaint l’Ouverture, which was directed against the mulattoes as well as the whites, ultimately forced him to take refuge in France. He was well received by Napoleon, and in 1802 obtained a commission in Leclerc’s expedition. Being opposed to the reinstitution of slavery, he turned against the French and succeeded in producing an alliance between the negroes and mulattoes by which they were driven from the island. Dessalines, a negro, was proclaimed king, but his cruelty and despotism were such that Boyer combined with A. A. S. Pétion and General Christophe to overthrow him (1806). Christophe now seized the supreme power, but Pétion set up an independent republic in the southern part of the island, with Boyer as commander-in-chief. Christophe’s efforts to crush this state were defeated by Boyer’s gallant defence of Port-au-Prince, and a series of brilliant victories, which, on Pétion’s death in 1818, led to Boyer’s election as president. Two years later the death of Christophe removed his only rival, and he gained almost undisputed possession of the whole island. During his presidency Boyer did much to set the finances and the administration in order, and to encourage the arts and sciences, and in 1825 obtained French recognition of the independence of Haiti, in return for a payment of 150,000 francs. The weight of this debt excited the greatest discontent in Haiti. Boyer was able to carry on his government for some years longer, but in March 1843 a violent insurrection overthrew his power and compelled him to take refuge in Jamaica. He resided there till 1848, when he removed to Paris, where he died in 1850.

See Wallez, Précis historique des négociations entre la France et Saint-Domingue, avec une notice biographique sur le général Boyer (Paris, 1826).