Faustin Souloque (1782-1867) was a Haitian military officer, president and Emperor of Haiti. Born less than a decade before the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution, Souloque served under the orders of Alexandre Pétion in the latter part of the conflict. By the 1840s, he had become commander of the Presidential Guard under Jean-Baptiste Riché’s term. When Riché died in 1847, Soulouque was selected by the mulatto elite to be his successor. Soulouque’s nomination was no revelation. Believing that with his lack of education and his appearance of political aloofness he would be easily manipulated, many had rushed his appointment. The process of electing a poorly educated black president to “appease” the black masses while still serving mulatto interests, as it was the case with Soulouque, has since been labeled “politique de doublure” by Haitian historians.
Realizing he was a nominal president, Soulouque quickly distanced himself from those who had put him in power, before disposing of them. To fully consolidate his power, he created his own black paramilitary force known as the Zinglins. In 1949, Soulouque declared himself Emperor Faustin I of Haiti. Inspired by Henri Christophe’s (Henri I) regime a few decades earlier, Soulouque handpicked a nobility of loyal followers. Unlike Christophe however, he enjoyed much less success or recognition. By the 1850s, fearing that new newly independent Dominican Republic might become a threat to Haiti’s internal safety and his regime, Soulouque attempted to invade the country four times, always unsuccessfully, and greatly deteriorating the relationship between the two countries for years to come. Following his failed expeditions to his neighboring country, and his dictatorial regime, Soulouque was ousted in a military coup led by Fabre Geffrard in 1858-1859. After a forced exile to Jamaica, Soulouque returned to Haiti where he died in 1867. (Source + Source)