The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Christophe, Henri

Edition of 1879. See also Henri Christophe on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

CHRISTOPHE, Henri, king of Hayti, born Oct. 6, 1767, died by his own hand, Oct. 8, 1820. The accounts of his youth are conflicting; according to some he was born in the island of Grenada; others say in St. Christopher, St. Croix, or Santo Domingo. The uprising of the blacks in Santo Domingo found him a slave in that island, and he distinguished himself by activity and boldness. His bravery commended him to the notice of Toussaint l'Ouverture, who gave him a commission as brigadier general, and employed him to quell an insurrection in the northern province of the island. Successful in this, he was appointed governor of the province, and when the French under Leclerc subjugated that part of the island, he and Dessalines were declared outlaws. When Touissant was seized by the French, Christophe and Dessalines again headed an insurrection, and before the close of 1803 succeeded in driving the French from Hayti. During the brief administration of Dessalines Christophe was general-in-chief of the army, and at his death in 1806 was appointed president for life by an assembly convened at Cape Haytien. The people of the southern portion of the island, however, preferred Pétion, and soon after organized a republic of which he was appointed president. A civil war ensued between the two chiefs, which continued for 11 years. In 1811 Christophe, following the example of Napoleon, abolished the republican government, caused himself to be proclaimed king of Hayti under the title of Henri I., and organized a hereditary monarchy and nobility. He promulgated a code which, though based on the Code Napoléon, was not a servile copy, but was adapted to the wants of the people. Meantime the defection of some of his adherents roused the jealousy and cruelty which seemed inherent in his nature, and did much to alienate the affections of his people. In general, however, his measures were judicious, but the mild and pacific sway of Pétion, and his successor Boyer, was far more agreeable to the negroes than the stern rule of Christophe. The number and activity of the malcontents increased, till finally the army became infected, and even the king's body guard went over to Boyer. Irritated at this, and determined not to be made a prisoner, he shot himself. His eldest son, Ferdinand, had been sent as a hostage to France by Gen. Leclerc, and died there in a hospital. His second son, Jacques Victor Henri, was killed by the insurgents a few days after his father's death. A pension was conferred on the widow of Christophe, but the enmity of the people caused her to leave the island. She went to England, travelled in Germany and Italy, and finally took up her abode in Pisa with one of her daughters.