Jean-Louis Vigouroux, 1st Duke of Cap-Haïtien
The Duke of Cap-Haïtien
The Duke of Cap-Haïtien in 1805
|1st and 4th Chancellor of Haiti|
14 August 1811 – 11 October 1818
|Preceded by||The Earl of Miragoâne|
|Succeeded by||The Duke of Port-de-Paix|
22 September 1804 – 7 June 1807
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||The Earl of Gonaives|
19 March 1767
22 August 1840 (aged 73)|
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haiti
|Resting place||Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Cap-Haïtien|
Marie-France Barthélemy (m. 1798)
Kingdom of France|
French First Republic
French Revolutionary Army
Imperial Haitian Army
|Years of service||
French Revolutionary Wars|
Holy Cross of Haiti|
Order of the Black Spear
Order of the White Shield
Cross of St Louverture
Order of Honor and Merit
Born to slaves in the old French colony of Saint-Domingue, Vigouroux was raised on the sugar plantations of his family's masters in central Haiti, serving as a sugarcane harvester with the rest of his family. Showing promise as a bright fighter and tactician when he attempted to escape enslavement, his master recruited him as a house servant and personal chauffeur, before he caught the eye of French military officers who encouraged his master to turn him over to the military in 1784, giving him the opportunity to earn his freedom by serving France in the army. Vigouroux impressed his new commanders in the French Army, as he quickly established leadership and authority within his unit, and earned the respect of his fellow soldiers in spite of his black heritage. Vigouroux was promoted to the rank of corporal by his superiors in 1786, and sent to serve in the Caribbean combating natives and pirates in the region. He was recalled to France at the start of the French Revolutionary Wars, where he served at the front fighting the Republican forces revolting against the King of France.
Vigouroux deserted from the Royalist forces during the War of the First Coalition, when he had tired of witnessing all the grievances of the French commoners manifest by the actions of the royal army. Convincing many men to switch allegiance to the Republican forces, Vigouroux brought several hundred men with him to the lines of the revolutionary forces, where he was promoted to the rank of colonel for his actions, and given a command under the leadership of François Christophe de Kellermann. Under de Kellermann, Vigouroux served as one of his superior's advisers during the Battle of Valmy in 1792, where Revolutionary France secured its first military victory and was followed by the declaration of First French Republic two days later. The role Vigouroux played as both a scout and a message courier allowed him to get his name out to the leaders of the new French republic, and prompted his meteoric rise in the ranks of the military. Vigouroux was later promoted to the rank of general in 1795 during the military campaigns of that year, and served as one of the primary military leaders in the campaigns in Italy, where he gained invaluable experience leading forces at the front.
Eventually, Vigouroux was ordered to Haiti in 1798 to assist Toussaint Louverture in putting down the slave rebellion in the colony which had been ongoing for nearly seven years at that point. Working with Louverture, Vigouroux had come to respect the man and his ideals of a free black colony, though still under the leadership of France, and actively supported his efforts. In 1800, Vigouroux joined with Louverture and several other black military leaders in transforming what had been a largely unsuccessful insurgency in the colony, into a full-fledged revolution. Vigouroux was given command over tens of thousands of slaves seeking their freedom, and aided their efforts in gaining that desire throughout the conflict. When Louverture was captured and executed in 1803, Vigouroux surpassed him as the primary military commander for the rest of the revolution, living Dessalines in charge of governing the newly liberated regions of Haiti. When independence was attained in 1804, the newly crowned Emperor Jacques I of Haiti created Vigouroux the "Duke of Cap-Haïtien" in exchange for his allegiance and military backing, which Vigouroux readily provided.
Vigouroux spent the rest of his military career following independence suppressing revolts, enforcing professionalism in the military of Haiti, establishing a competent officer corps, defending Haiti against French aggression, and conquering and pacifying the former Spanish colony of Santo Domingo. Vigouroux was appointed the Chancellor of Haiti in 1804 by Jacques I, and would play a paramount role in keeping the founding fathers of Haiti from carving the first independent black nation in the New World into personal realms and fiefdoms. Vigouroux was granted the rank of marshal in 1807 following his first term as chancellor by the Emperor of Haiti, and retired to his lands in northern Haiti following a successful premiership over the country from 1811 to 1818. Vigouroux would hold the rank of marshal until his death in 1840, and is currently resting in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in Cap-Haïtien.