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Faustin Soulouque

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Faustin-Élie Soulouque (1782? - August 6, 1867) became President of Haiti on March 1, 1847 and assumed the title Emperor Faustin I on August 26, 1849, with a lavish coronation ceremony following on April 18, 1852. Facing a possible revolution led (or at least declared) by Fabre Geffrard, Faustin abandoned his throne on January 15, 1859, fleeing to Jamaica.

A soldier by training, Faustin's rule was brutal and repressive, but not exceptionally so for its period in Haitian politics. His militia, the "Zenglen" (haitian creole for sharp pieces of glass) is still remembered in the word "Zenglendo", designating road bandits in contemporary Haiti.

Soulouque was ruthless in suppressing dissent and possible opposition, but not entirely paranoid in so doing, as the forces he sought to subordinate and disband did eventually unthrone him. His brief empire was distinguished by a strong stand against encroaching interests of American imperialism (exhibited in the Navassa Island affair, in which the U.S. claimed ownership of a Haitian island on the grounds that America could legally appropriate any uninhabited island on which business interests discovered guano) and attempts to improve the standing of both the Voodoo and Catholic religions in the country, smoothing over formerly fraught relations between these religions and the Haitian state.

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