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Sam was a leader of the revolt that brought assassinated President Cincinnatus Leconte to power and of the later revolt that toppled President Oreste Zamor. He was selected as president when his predecessor, Joseph Davilmar Théodore, was forced to resign because he was unable to pay the cacao workers that formed his militia in the overthrow of Zamor.
As the fifth president in five turbulent years, Sam was forced to contend with a revolt against his own regime, led by Rosalvo Bobo, who reputedly opposed the government's expanded commercial and strategic ties with the United States. Fearing that he would share the same fate as his predecessors, Sam acted harshly against his political opponents, particularly the better educated and wealthier mulatto population. The epitome of his repressive measures came on July 27, 1915, when he ordered the execution of 167 political prisoners, including former president Zamor, who was being held in a Port-au-Prince jail. This infuriated the mulatto populations, which rose up against Sam's government as soon as news of the executions reached them.
Sam fled to the French embassy, where he received shelter. It was too late, however. The rebels seized the embassy and finally found Sam hiding in a toilet. They beat him and threw his limp body over the embassy's iron fence, impaling him, then ripped his corpse to pieces and paraded them through the capital's various neighborhoods. For the next two weeks, the country was in turmoil.
News of the murder soon reached the American Navy ships anchored in the city's harbor, and Washington D.C.. President Woodrow Wilson, who was wary about the turn of events in Haiti, and especially the possibility that Bobo would take power, ordered American troops to seize the capital, claiming that the unrest might precipitate a German invasion of the country. They landed the next day, on July 28, and continued to occupy the country for nineteen years, until August 1934.
Joseph Davilmar Théodore
|President of Haiti|
Philippe Sudré Dartiguenave