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Geffrard, Fabre Nicolas (1803–1878)

Geffrard, Fabre Nicolas (1803–1878)

Fabre Nicolas Geffrard (b. 1803; d. 31 December 1878), Haitian general and president (1859–1867). Geffrard rose to the rank of general under Emperor Faustin Soulouque (1785–1867). He was one of the few to emerge with credit from Soulouque's disastrous last invasion of the Dominican Republic (1856). As head of the army, Geffrard led a revolt against Soulouque in 1858 and restored the republican constitution. He became president the following year and sought to improve Haiti's international image, which had deteriorated under Soulouque's harsh and nationalistic regime. He signed a concordat with the Holy See in 1860, and he obtained U.S. recognition of the Haitian state in 1862. President Abraham Lincoln and Congress had proposed settling U.S. blacks in Haiti, but in spite of some cooperation from Geffrard, the scheme failed.

Internally, Geffrard favored the Catholic Church and attacked vodun, which had grown under Soulouque. He also favored the mulatto class, which had suffered under the regimes since 1844. Early in his term he attempted to install a more open and less authoritarian government, but assassination attempts against him and his family and a revolt led by Sylvain Salnave (1827–1870) at Cap Haïtien in 1865 pushed him to the familiar pattern of repression and executions. Geffrard was overthrown by Salnave in 1867, and he left for exile in Jamaica, where he died.

See alsoSalnave, Sylvain; Soulouque, Faustin Élie.


Heinl, Robert Debs Jr., Nancy Heinl, and Michael Heinl. Written in Blood: The Story of the Haitian People, 1492–1995, 3rd edition. Lanham: University Press of America, 2005.

Largey, Michael. "Composing a Haitian Cultural Identity: Haitian Elites, African Ancestry, and Musical Discourse." Black Music Research Journal 14 (Autumn 1994): 99-117.

                                  Murdo J. MacLeod

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