Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/228

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Haiti: Her History and Her Detractors

Literature, which during Geffrard's administration had made unusual progress, produced new ideas in the minds of the people, who began to aspire to the greater security of public liberty.

At the outset Geffrard had met with grave difficulties. The former followers of Soulouque, whom the sudden downfall of the Emperor had taken by surprise, began at once to try to regain possession of the power. In September, 1859, a conspiracy led by General Prophète, a member of Faustin's Cabinet, was discovered.

In 1861 the Haitian Government had a new source of anxiety. In March the President of the Dominican Republic, betraying the trust placed in him, had transferred his country to Spain; once more the eastern portion of the island became a Spanish colony. The people who desired to remain an independent State protested against the President's treacherous act by resorting to arms. Spain held Haiti responsible for this resistance to her authority. A fleet under Admiral Rubalcava's command anchored in July in the harbor of Port-au-Prince and threatened to bombard the city. The matter was settled without any serious consequences. But the incident served to show the Haitians the danger there was for them to have one of the great European Powers as their close neighbor. And when in 1863 the Dominicans rose against Spain's authority, all the sympathy of the Haitian people was for those who were struggling for their independence. In 1865 the Spaniards were once more compelled to give up a colony which had cost them the sacrifice of so much life. Haiti might have profited by this opportunity to demand from the Dominicans at least some guarantee for the future. But President Geffrard reckoned too much upon their thankfulness, and they soon forgot the help that had been given them. In his own country there were many restless and disorderly spirits who unceasingly absorbed the President's attention. A liberal policy might have appeased the people; but restraint irritated them. A new attempt at parliamentary government had just failed; and the President, by a Decree of June