Pierre Nord Alexis
Former President of Haiti
Pierre Nord Alexis was President of Haiti from 21 December 1902 to 2 December 1908.
He was son of Nord Alexis, a high-ranking official in the regime of Henry Christophe, and Blézine Georges, Christophe's illegitimate daughter.
Alexis joined the army in the 1830s, serving President Jean-Louis Pierrot, his father-in-law, as an aide-de-camp. In the ensuing years, he had a tumultuous career: he was exiled in 1874, but returned to Haiti a few years later by President Pierre Théoma Boisrond-Canal. During the presidency of Lysius Salomon, he was a vocal leader of the opposition, enduring several jail sentences before Salomon was finally ousted in a revolt. The new president, Florvil Hyppolite, gave him an important military position in the north, but when President Tirésias Simon Sam resigned, he joined Anténor Firmin in a march on Port-au-Prince in an effort to seize control of the government.
The new president, however, was his old ally, Boisrond-Canal, who had returned him from exile some twenty years earlier. Canal defused the tension by appointing Alexis as his Minister of War, driving a wedge between him and Firmin. Troops loyal to Firmin were finally defeated in Port-au-Prince, leaving only two strongholds, St. Marc and Gonaïves, opposed to the new government of Canal and Alexis. Alexis took advantage of the situation by negotiating with the United States and declaring himself in support of American interests in the Caribbean. The U.S. responded by imposing a naval blockade on the two centers still loyal to Firmin, paving the way for Alexis to seize control of the government for himself.
At the age of 82, he became President on 21 December 1902 by leading troops loyal to him into the country's Chamber of Deputies and forcing the legislators to declare him president. Alexis managed to hold on to power for the next six years, though his regime was plagued by rebellion, and the government he presided over was frequently accused of corruption. In January 1908, Alexis, already in his eighties, decided to have himself proclaimed president for life. This reunited the supporters of Firmin, who launched a new revolt against Alexis. While the revolt was crushed, it exacerbated the country's existing economic problems. A famine in the south that same year led to violent food riots and a new rebellion, this time from the south, led by General Antoine Simon.
Exile and death
Ousted from power on 2 December 1908, Alexis went into exile in Jamacia and later relocated to New Orleans with his family, where he died on 1 May 1910. He is buried in St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans.