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Henri Christophe

Henri Christophe (1767-1820) was a liberated slave, who participated in the Haitian struggle for independence, eventually appointing himself king of the northern half of the country.

Born in Grenada, he distinguished himself in the rebellion of 1791, eventually rising to the rank of general in 1802. In 1806 he participated in the coup against Jean-Jacques Dessalines and seized control of northern Haiti. His chief rival was his coconspirator, Alexandre Pétion, who championed a republican form of government and controlled the south of the country.

Despite his efforts to promote education and establish a legal system, the Code Henri, the self-styled King Henri I of Haiti was an unpopular autocratic monarch, whose realm was in a constant state of conflict with the south. Toward the end of his reign, public sentiment was sharply against what was perceived to be his feudal policies, intended to develop the country. Ill and infirm, Henri decided to commit suicide rather than face the possibility of a coup.



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