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*The birth of Jean-Baptiste Riché is celebrated on this date in 1780. He was a Black Haitian, a career officer, and a politician.
Riché was born free, the son of a prominent free black man of the same name in the North Province of Saint-Domingue (the French colony that later became Haiti). His father was a sergeant in the colonial militia and probably served in the rebel forces. Riché himself joined the Haitian Revolutionaries probably sometime in 1801.
After Haiti gained independence at the end of the revolution in 1803, Riché joined the troops of Henri Christophe, who in 1807 promoted him to the rank of general and deputy commander of his army. During the civil war that followed between Alexandre Pétion and Christophe, Riché was instrumental in Christophe's victory at the Battle of Siebert on January 1, 1807. During the siege of Port-au-Prince in 1811, Riché commanded the left wing of Christophe's army. A loyal officer, Riché quickly became one of Christophe's most trusted commanders. He was placed in command of Haiti's Northern Province, where he was influential in subduing the mulatto population.
When Henry Christophe became King in 1811, He proclaimed him Count of Grande-Riviere-du-Nord. When the Kingdom was abolished in 1820 after Prince Jacques-Victor Henry's death, he lost the title of Count of Grande-Riviere-du-Nord. Presidency After Christophe's downfall in 1820, Riché supported the new government and retained his post during the administration of Jean-Pierre Boyer and those that followed. This continued until Jean-Louis Pierrot became President of Haiti in 1845. Pierrot attempted to reform the Haitian government, causing the Boyerist hierarchy of Haiti to sponsor a rebellion in the provinces of Port-au-Prince and Artibonite in 1846.
The rebel army under mulatto control proclaimed Riché president of Haiti on March 1, 1846. After much of the Haitian army sided with the rebels, President Pierrot relinquished his Office on March 24, 1846. After gaining the presidency of Haiti, one of Riché's first acts was to restore the Constitution of 1816. As President, Riché was considered a failure by his Boyerist backers. Originally intended to be a figurehead, Riché quickly began to take an active role. He soon proposed reforms like those espoused by former President Pierrot.
Probably because of these proposals, he died on February 27, 1847, possibly from being poisoned. Riché's presidency, considered ineffective by historians, opened the way for considerable changes in the political landscape of Haiti during the succeeding administrations. As a result, his presidency can be considered a turning point in Haitian politics. After Riché's death on February 27, 184, he was replaced by Faustin-Élie Soulouque, who was anticipated to be like Riché. Soulouque later appointed himself Emperor Faustin I.