Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CHRISTOPHE, Henri (cris-toaf'), king of Hayti, born 6 October, 1767; died 16 October, 1820. According to the best accounts, he was born in the island of Grenada, British West Indies; others say in St. Christopher, St. Croix, or Santo Domingo. He was the son of a free mulatto and a slave negress, and his master took him to Santo Domingo and sold him to an innkeeper at Cape Haytien in 1791. He worked at the inn as a waiter or cook, and, by saving whatever money was given to him, bought his freedom and opened a butcher-shop. Other authorities say that, after serving in the American war, and, receiving a wound at the siege of Savannah, he went to Santo Domingo and was employed on the plantation of Limonade, displaying as an overseer his characteristic severity. When the uprising of the blacks occurred in Hayti, he took a decided part in favor of independence, and in 1794 was chief of a band of insurgents, signalizing himself by activity and boldness. Toussaint l'Ouver-ture confirmed the appointment of Christophe as brigadier-general, which he first had obtained when sent to quell an insurrection in the northern province of the island, and, being successful in this, he was also appointed governor of that part of the country. He held that command when a French army under Leclerc arrived in 1802, subjugated the Negroes, and declared Christophe and Dessa-lines outlaws. The revolution for independence was renewed in 1803, and at the close of 1805 no French force remained in the island. Christophe was general-in-chief during the short administration of Dessalines, and after his death was appointed president for life by an assembly convened at Cape Haytien. But the southern portion of the island had organized another republic, under Pe-tion, and a civil war ensued, which lasted eleven years, Christophe heading the party of the Negroes against the mulattoes. He caused himself to be proclaimed, 28 March, 1811, king of Hayti, and was crowned, 2 June, 1812, as Henry I., at Cape Haytien. He organized a hereditary monarchy and nobility, and governed the country, in a despotic manner, for nine years. He promulgated a code compiled from that of Napoleon, but judiciously adapted to the wants of Hayti, and called it "Code Henri." A revolution broke out against Christophe, whose stern rule was not liked by the Negroes, after the death of Pdtion in 1818; and even his body-guard was implicated, and on 8 October, 1820, the principal military chiefs declared in favor of the dethronement of Christophe. Irritated at this, and unwilling to surrender to the revolutionists, but knowing that his case was desperate, he shot himself, in his fortified palace of Sans Souci.--His eldest son, Ferdinand, had been sent as a hostage to France by General Leelerc, and died there in a hospital.--His second son, Jacques Victor, was murdered by the insurgents a few days after his father's death.--His widow was protected by Boyer, the new ruler, and allowed a large sum. She went to Europe, and, after traveling in England and Germany, settled in Pisa.
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