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Jean Pierre Boyer

Jean Pierre Boyer (possibly February 15, 1776 - June 9, 1850) was president of Haiti from 1822 until 1843.

Boyer was a freed mulatto, born in Port-au-Prince he worked as a tailor. He fought with Toussaint L'Ouverture from 1792 and reached the rank of captain but turned against him after the victory. After participating in the failed coup of 1799 he fled the island for France, not returning until 1802 with the French under Charles Leclerc. Again he abandoned his erstwhile allies to join the forces of Alexandre Pétion.

Old French Haiti split north-south in 1806 following the overthrow of Emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines into two separate realms of Henri Christophe and Pétion. Boyer was made the successor of Pétion and took control of the south following his death in 1818. When Christophe committed suicide in 1820 Boyer secured the northern portion of the country. When Spanish Santo Domingo became independent in late 1821 Boyer was quick to invade and thereby unite the entire island by February 1822.

Internationally Boyer was anxious to remove the threat of France and opened negotiations. An agreement was reached on July 11 1825, when with fourteen French warships off Port-au-Prince, Boyer signed an indemnity, stating that in return for 150 million frances paid within five years France would recognize Haiti as an independent country. While this sum was later reduced to 60 million francs (1838) it was a crushing economic blow to Haiti, and cruelly Boyer had to negotiate a loan from France of 30 million francs in order to pay the first part of the indemnity. The Haitian population meanwhile was retreating into an agricultural subsistence pattern, defying the initial plan of Boyer to enforce the semi-fuedal fermage system.

The people of Haiti were aggrieved at their situation and in order to placate them Boyer resurrected a land distribution program, attempted and then abandoned during the initial revolution. The large plantations were broken up and the land distributed, the rural population were tied to their smallholdings and given production quotas.

Boyer's rule lasted until 1843 when the poor economic situation was worsened by an earthquake, and the disadvantaged rural population rose up under Charles Riviere Hérard[?] in late January. On February 13 Boyer fled Haiti to nearby Jamaica before eventually settling in exile in France, dying in Paris.

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