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Henri Christophe
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    (October 6, 1767-October 8, 1820)
    Born in Grenada
    Birth name was Christopher Henry
    Soldier in the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804)
    Promoted to general (1802)
    Led an invasion of the Dominican Republic (1805)
    Declared himself President of the State of Haiti, ruling the northern half of the country (1807)
    Had himself crowned King Henri I (June 2, 1811)
    During the invasion of the Dominican Republic, he ordered that all male prisoners of war be taken to the cemetary of Santiago, where their throats were slit.
    He discovered an assassination plot against Hatian ruler Jean-Jacques Dessalines and did nothing in hopes of taking over during the subsequent power vacuum (1806).
    He adopted the title 'Henri, by the grace of God and constitutional law of the state, King of Haiti, Sovereign of Tortuga, Gonâve, and other adjacent islands, Destroyer of tyranny, Regenerator and Benefactor of the Haïtian nation, Creator of her moral, political, and martial institutions, First crowned monarch of the New World, Defender of the faith, Founder of the Royal Military Order of Saint Henry.'
    Despite having been a leader in a revolt against slavery, he introduced the corvee system of forced labor that required all adults to work on the plantations.
    During his daily walk, if he encountered someone he thought was being lazy, he would personally flog them with his silver-headed cane.
    After he suffered a stroke, he shot himself with a silver bullet rather than risk being overthrown in a coup.
    His great-great-great-great-grandaughter was spendthrift first lady Michelle Duvalier.
    He was born into slavery.
    He may have been a drummer boy with a French regiment at the seige of Savannah during the American Revolution.
    Working as a hotel manager, he earned enough to buy his freedom.
    He established Haiti's first public schools and hospitals.
    He inspired Eugene O'Neill's play 'The Emperor Jones.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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