Former President of Haiti
Faustin-Élie Soulouque was President of Haiti from 1 March 1847 to 25 August 1849.
Born into slavery in Petit-Goâve in 1782, Soulouque was one of two sons of Marie-Catherine Soulouque. The latter was born at Port-au-Prince, Saint-Domingue, 1744, as a creole slave of the Mandingo race. She died at Port-au-Prince, 9 August 1819. He was freed as a result of a 1793 decree of Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, the Civil Commissioner of the French colony of Saint-Domingue, that abolished slavery in response to slave revolts in 1791. As a free citizen, and with his freedom in serious jeopardy due to attempts of the French government to re-establish slavery in its colony of Saint-Domingue, he enlisted in the black revolutionary army to fight as a private during the Haïtian Revolution between 1803–1804. During this conflict, Soulouque became a respected soldier and as a consequence he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Army of Haïti in 1806 and made aide-de-camp to General Lamarre.
In 1810 he was appointed to the Horse Guards under President Pétion. During the next four decades he continued to serve in the Haïtian Military, rising to the rank of Colonel under President Guerrier, until finally promoted to the highest command in the Haïtian Army, attaining the rank of Lieutenant General and Supreme Commander of the Presidential Guards under then President Jean-Baptiste Riché.
He was a career officer and general in the Haïtian army when he was elected President of Haïti in 1847.
In 1849 he was proclaimed Emperor of Haïti under the name of Faustin I.
He soon purged the army of the ruling elite, installed black-skinned loyalists in administrative positions, and created a secret police and a personal army.
In 1849 he created a black nobility.
However, his unsuccessful attempts to reconquer the Dominican Republic undermined his control and a conspiracy led by General Fabre Nicolas Geffrard forced him to abdicate in 1859.
In 1858 a revolution began, led by General Fabre Geffrard, Duc de Tabara. In December of that year, Geffrard defeated the Imperial Army and seized control of most of the country. On the night of 20 December 1858, he left Port-au-Prince in a small boat, accompanied only by his son and two trusty followers, Ernest Roumain and Jean-Bart. On the 22d he arrived at Gonaives, where the insurrection broke out. The Republic was acclaimed and the Constitution of 1846 was adopted.
On the 23d of December the Departmental Committee, which had been organized, divested Faustin Soulouque of his office and appointed Fabre Geffrard President of Haiti. Cap-Haitien and the whole Department of Artibonite joined in the restoration of the Republic. As a result the emperor abdicated his throne on 15 January 1859.
Faustin's marriage to Empress Adélina produced one daughter, Princess Célita Soulouque. The emperor also adopted Adélina's daughter, Olive, in 1850. She was granted the title of Princess with the style Her Serene Highness. She married Jean Philippe Lubin, Count of Pétionville, and had issue. The emperor had one brother, Prince Jean-Joseph Soulouque, who in turn had eleven sons and daughters. The Constitution of 20 September 1849 made the Imperial Dignity hereditary amongst the natural and legitimate direct descendants of Emperor Faustin I, by order of primogeniture and to the perpetual exclusion of females. The Emperor could adopt the children or grandchildren of his brothers, and become members of his family from the date of adoption. Sons so adopted enjoyed the right of succession to the throne, immediately after the Emperor's natural and legitimate sons. Jean-Joseph's eldest son, Prince Mainville-Joseph Soulouque, was created Prince Imperial of Haiti and heir apparent upon the succession of his uncle to the throne. He later married Marie d'Albert and had a daughter Marie Adelina Soulouque "princesse imperial d'Haiti".
Refused aid by the French Legation, Faustin was taken into exile aboard a British warship on 22 January 1859. Soon afterwards, the emperor and his family arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, where they remained for several years. Some records claim that he died in Kingston. But, according to Haitian historian Jacques Nicolas Léger in his book Haiti, her History and her Detractors, Emperor Faustin actually died in Petit-Goave in August 1867, having had returned to Haiti at some point.