Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/224

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Haiti: Her History and Her Detractors

This agreement accounts for the attitude of Great Britain and France, who neglected none of the means in their power to prevent Faustin I from pressing Haiti's legitimate claim concerning Navassa Island, of which some citizens of the United States had unduly taken possession.[1] Yet the representatives of these two Powers had been the first to inform the Emperor of the seizure of this portion of the Haitian territory by the Americans.

The sufferings endured by the soldiers during the campaign of 1855, the losses and sacrifices inflicted on the country without compensation or practical result provoked great discontent. The responsibility for the failure of the undertaking was cast on the Emperor. Confidence in him was shaken; however, the Empire might yet have been saved by taking wise measures in regard to the interests and welfare of the people. But the Government, in order to maintain its authority, resorted instead to intimidation and violence, which method had once proven to be successful. No regard was paid to public liberty. Bad financial measures, added to a faulty management of the nation's revenues, soon aggravated the situation. The Emperor was still feared, but his prestige was entirely gone. Those who had cause to dread his anger began to plot against him. Even his partisans ended by seeking to come to an agreement with the enlightened Haitians who were endeavoring to obtain more freedom for their fellow-citizens.

Such was the state of affairs when General Fabre Geffrard considered that the time had come for the overthrow of the man who had, in reality, assumed dictatorial power. On the night of December 20, 1858, he left Port-au-Prince in a small boat, accompanied only by his son and two trusty followers, Ernest Boumain and Jean-Bart. On the 22d he arrived at Gonaives,

  1. J. N. Léger, La Politique Extérieure d'Haiti, p. 99.