Vincent, Sténio Joseph (1874–1959)

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Vincent, Sténio Joseph (1874–1959)

Sténio Joseph Vincent (b. 1874; d. 1959), president of Haiti (1930–1941). A member of the mulatto elite, Vincent was a lawyer, diplomat, and politician. He served as the mayor of Port-au-Prince and went on several diplomatic missions to Paris, Berlin, and the Hague. Vincent headed both the anti-interventionist Nationalist Party and the Patriotic Union and gained the presidency on the basis of his opposition to the U.S. occupation. Vincent was elected president by the National Assembly in November 1930. Although he entered office committed to the principle of parliamentary government, he based his power on officially controlled plebiscites.

As president, Vincent was widely regarded as partial toward mulattoes. He was particularly suspicious of the Garde d'Haiti, a predominantly black national guard organized by the U.S. Marines. As such he built up his own special presidential guard, which kept its weapons in the National Palace. In 1934 Vincent visited the United States and convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to withdraw the U.S. Marines. Thereafter, Vincent's fervent nationalism abated somewhat. In 1935 Vincent extended his tenure in office by five years. In addition, he declared the Senate "in rebellion to the will of the people" and expelled its members from the chamber. He then made several overtures to improve U.S.-Haitian relations and to attract U.S. tourists, such as offering to amend a law that would have facilitated casino gambling.

Vincent's popularity waned, however, because of his antipathy toward blacks and his weak reaction to the Dominican massacre of Haitians in 1937. In 1941 Vincent decided against having his term in office extended again and instead retired peaceably. He died in Port-au-Prince.

See alsoUnited States-Latin American Relations .


Robert J. Alexander, ed., Biographical Dictionary of Latin America and Caribbean Leaders (1988).

Roland I. Perusse, Historical Dictionary of Haiti (1977).

Brenda Gayle Plummer, Haiti and the United States: The Psychological Moment (1992), esp. pp. 133, 141-144, and 154-157.

Additional Bibliography

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

Schmidt, Hans. The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915–1934. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1995.

                              Douglas R. Keberlein

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Vincent, Sténio Joseph (1874–1959)

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