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Riche, Jean Baptiste

Riche, Jean Baptiste  (1780 – February 27, 1847) was a career officer and general in the Haïtian Army. He was made President of Haïti on March 1, 1846.

Riche 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 Haïti). His father was a sergeant in the colonial militia and probably served in the rebel forces. Riche himself joined the Haïtian Revolutionaries probably some time in 1801. After Haïti gained independence at the end of the revolution in 1803, Riche joined the forces 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, and as a consequence he was placed in command of Haïti's Northern Province, where he was effective in subduing the mulatto population.

After Christophe's downfall in 1820, Riché supported the new government and was therefore able to retain his post during the subsequent administration of Jean Pierre Boyer, and those that followed. This continued until Jean-Louis Pierrot became President of Haïti in 1845. Pierrot attempted to reform the Haïtian government, causing the Boyerist hierarchy of Haïti 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 Haïti on March 1, 1846. After much of the Haïtian army sided with the rebels, President Pierrot relinquished his office on March 24, 1846. After gaining the presidency of Haïti, 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 similar to those espoused by former President Pierrot. Probably as a result of these proposals he died on February 27, 1847, possibly from being poisoned, although this has never been established. Riché's presidency, considered ineffective by historians, opened the way for considerable changes in the political landscape of Haïti during the succeeding administrations. As a result, his presidency can be considered a turning point in the history of Haïtian politics.

After Riché's death in 1847, he was replaced by Faustin-Élie Soulouque, who was anticipated to be similar to Riché. Soulouque later appointed himself Emperor Faustin I.

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