Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam
Former President of Haiti
Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam was President of Haïti from 4 March to 27 July 1915.
He was a son of Tirésias Simon Sam, Haiti's president from 1896 to 1902.
Sam was the commander of Haiti's Northern Division when he led the revolt that brought President Cincinnatus Leconte to power. He later headed the revolt that toppled President Oreste Zamor. Sam was proclaimed president when his predecessor, Joseph Davilmar Théodore, was forced to resign on February 25, 1915, when he was unable to pay the militiamen (called "Cacos") who had helped him overthrow Zamor.
As the fifth president in five turbulent years, Sam was forced to contend with a revolt against his own regime, led by Dr. Rosalvo Bobo, who opposed the government's expanded commercial and strategic ties with the United States. Fearing that he would share the same fate as his predecessors, Sam acted harshly against his political opponents, particularly the better educated and wealthier mulatto population. The epitome of his repressive measures came on 27 July 1915, when he ordered the execution of 167 political prisoners, including former president Zamor, who was being held in a Port-au-Prince jail. This infuriated the population, which rose up against Sam's government as soon as news of the executions reached them.
Sam fled to the French embassy, where he received asylum. After burying their children and still dressed in black frocks, however, the rebels' mulatto leaders broke into the embassy and finally found Sam hiding in a toilet. They beat him to death and threw his limp body over the embassy's iron fence to the waiting populace, who then ripped his cadaver to pieces and paraded the parts through the capital's neighborhoods. For the next two weeks, the country was in chaos.
News of the murder soon reached the American Navy ships anchored in the city's harbor, and Washington D.C.. President Woodrow Wilson, who was wary about the turn of events in Haïti, and especially the possibility that Bobo would take power, ordered American troops to seize the capital, claiming that the unrest might precipitate a German invasion of the country. They landed the next day, on28 July, and continued to occupy the country for nineteen years, until August 1934.