The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Fabre Geffrard

Fabre Geffrard

Fabre Geffrard (1806-1878) was a mulatto general in the Haitian army and President of Haiti from 1859 until his deposition in 1867. He came to power after collaborating in a coup to remove his predecessor, Faustin Soulouque. The aim of the coup was to restore the social and political control of the coloured elite in Haiti. To placate the peasants, Geffard renewed the practice of selling state-owned lands and ended a schism with the Roman Catholic Church, the Church then taking on an important role in improving education. After surviving several rebellions, Geffard was overthrown by Major Sylvain Salnave in 1867 and went into exile in Jamaica. He died in Kingston on 31 December 1878.

No secondary source that I’ve consulted mentions his trip to Europe in 1867 but this photograph indicates that he was in London in that year. I’ve checked various newspaper reports and discovered some of Geffrard’s movements following his removal from power. According to one report: ‘The ex-President embarked on the 13th [of March] with his family on board the French man-of-war D’Estaing and left for Jamaica, where he arrived on the 15th, and proceeded to the residence of Mr S. Laraque, the Consul of Hayti in that island’ [The Glasgow Herald 16 April 1867]. On 13 June 1867, a London newspaper reported ‘Ex-President Geffrard was at Kingston and would leave for England in the mail steamer on 26th May’ [The Daily News, 13 June 1867]. However, another source had already reported that ‘General Geffrard, ex-President of the Republic of Hayti, has arrived in Paris. He is a tall, fine man of colour with a white moustache’ [The Standard, 11 June 1867]. Whenever he arrived, he left Europe at the beginning of November; his name appears among the passengers leaving from Southampton on a Royal Mail Company steamship [The Times, 4 November 1867].

Photographed in 1867 at the London branch of the great French photograph Disdéri.


Code: 125740
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