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Hyppolite, Louis Modestin Florville (1827–1896)

Hyppolite, Louis Modestin Florville (1827–1896)

Louis Modestin Florville Hyppolite (b. ca. 1827; d. 24 March 1896), president of Haiti (1889–1896). On 9 October 1889 the Haitian Constituent Assembly elected Florville Hyppolite to the Haitian presidency following his successful revolt against the government of François Denys Légitime. The United States had supplied weapons in support of Hyppolite against his French-backed opponent and expected the new president to reward its generosity with a naval station in Haiti. But Haitian national pride more than the resistance of Hyppolite blocked U.S. acquisition of the harbor at Môle Saint-Nicholas. Many U.S. newspapers of the time blamed U.S. ambassador to Haiti Frederick Douglass rather than recognize this fact.

Hyppolite, though a black and from the north, had leanings toward the mulatto-dominated Liberal Party. On the domestic scene, his greatest achievements were public-works projects, especially those involving communication and transportation. Hyppolite's biggest domestic problems, however, were heavy internal debt and French infringements on Haitian sovereignty. He found no solutions. He forced the French embassy to cease its practices of granting French citizenship to Haitians of proven Gallic ancestry. This had been a mulatto ploy to dodge Haitian law, but it became a Pyrrhic victory when Hyppolite borrowed 50 million francs from France to redeem his internal debt.

In 1893 Hyppolite scored a diplomatic triumph by appointing Frederick Douglass to represent Haiti at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. The old abolitionist had frequently expressed pride in Haiti but never to the extent that it confused his ambassadorial duties (1889–1891). Three years later Hyppolite died during a coup against his government.

See alsoHaiti .


Jacques N. Leger, Haiti: Her History and Her Detractors (1907).

James Leyburn, The Haitian People (1941).

Rayford W. Logan, The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with Haiti, 1776–1891 (1941).

David Nicholls, From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour, and National Independence in Haiti (1979).

Additional Bibliography

Dayan, Joan. "A Few Stories about Haiti, or, Stigma Revisited." Research in African Literatures 35 (Summer 2004): 157-172.

Gaillard, Roger. Une modernisation manquée (1880–1896). Port-au-Prince: R. Gaillard, 1984.

                                         Thomas O. Ott

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