Pétion, Alexandre

Pétion, Alexandre älĕksäNˈdrə pātyôNˈ [key], 1770–1818, Haitian revolutionist. After taking part in the expulsion (1798) of the English from Haiti, he joined (1799) André Rigaud against Toussaint Louverture and commanded the heroic but tragic defense of Jacmel, a southern port. Exiled, he returned with the French army under Leclerc in 1802. Rejoining the patriots because he feared the reestablishment of slavery, Pétion, after the death of Dessalines, engaged in a fierce but inconclusive struggle with Henri Christophe for control of Haiti.

In 1807 he was chosen president for life of the republic in S Haiti. He confiscated the great French plantations, divided the land among the peasants, and gave his people unprecedented freedom. In 1816 he welcomed the exiled Spanish-American revolutionist Simón Bolívar and provided him with military assistance. Nevertheless, his administration was tainted with waste and corruption. Pétion was succeeded by Jean Pierre Boyer.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Haiti History: Biographies