Salnave, Sylvain (1827–1870)

views updated

Salnave, Sylvain (1827–1870)

Sylvain Salnave (b. 1827; d. 15 January 1870), president of Haiti (1867–1869). Sylvain Salnave's presidency was marked by civil unrest that threatened to tear the country apart and tempted foreign powers to intervene, once again, in Haitian affairs. Tensions produced in part by the collapse of cotton exports to the United States contributed to the problems Salnave faced. Yet, Salnave's seizure of power through a military rebellion backed by U.S. and Dominican elements also provoked angry reactions from other Haitian leaders. Salnave faced a general uprising in the countryside as various chieftains from the provinces refused to recognize his regime. This led to a state of chronic civil war in which the country became divided into the northern, southern, and central regions. While Salnave faced opposition from armed peasants in the North, the Cacos, and peasant bands in the South, the piquets, most of his support came from the center, especially the capital. Salnave became quite popular among the black urban masses, who appreciated his populist economic policies, including the establishment of state-run food stores where basic goods could be bought at low prices. Because of this black support and despite his status as a mulatto, he has been viewed as a founder of Haiti's National Party, which has claimed to speak for the interests of the ordinary black Haitian.

See alsoHaiti .


Frank Moya Pons, "Haiti and Santo Domingo, 1790–ca. 1870," in The Cambridge History of Latin America, vol. 3, edited by Leslie Bethell (1985), pp. 237-275.

Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Haiti: State Against Nation (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Nicholls, David. From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour, and National Independence in Haiti. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996.

                                          Pamela Murray