Marie-Madeleine Lachenais was the beautiful mistress and political advisor of two solid Haitian leaders.
For a period of 36 years, she was the most politically powerful woman in the country even before women were given more opportunities such as the right to vote in the year 1950.
She wielded so much power and influence that she was known as “The President of Two Presidents.”
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The Birthplace of Marie-Madeleine Lachenais
Marie-Madeleine Lachenais was born in Archae, the city that produced the Haitian flag. She was the daughter of black woman Marie Thérèse Fabre and the French colonel de Lachenais.
At the age of 20, she married Marc Joseph Lefevre Laraque, a military commander in her hometown, and gave birth to a daughter, Marie Josephine Laraque; known popularly as Fine.
According to Potomitan reports, Fine is the first published Haitian female writer whose letters to her husband are considered Haiti’s first female writings to have been published in 1847 by her husband Pierre Faubert.
A few years after the birth of Fine, Lachenais lost her husband and in no time began a relationship with Anne Alexandra Sabes popularly known as Pétion in the year 1804. Pétion became the elected president of southern Haiti in 1807.
Anne Alexandra Sabes was one of the first Haitian officers to revolt against France. He is regarded as one of Haiti’s founding fathers, alongside Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and his rival Henri Christophe.
After 13 years of military battle between the slaves and their French colonial masters, the slaves eventually gained independence in the year 1804.
This made the nation of Haiti the first independent black republic in the West.
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The Switch of Power
Jean Jacques Dessalines, a freed slave who declared Haiti’s independence later became the emperor but was assassinated in the year 1806 when war broke out between his generals.
A short civil war ensued between Pétion and his rival Christophe. This war divided Haiti with Christophe taking charge of the North, and Pétion leading the South.
Marie-Madeleine Lachenais stood by Pétion during this period as his mistress and advisor. The two gave birth to their first daughter, Celie in 1805.
In the year 1818, they had a second daughter, Hersille but Pétion did not live long enough to see his daughter as he passed away on March 29 that same year. An event many historians feel was grief caused by the “infidelity of the only woman he ever loved.”
Marie-Madeleine Lachenais also became a mistress of Jean-Pierre Boyer who Pétion chose to be his successor before his death.
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Marie-Madeleine Lachenais’ Relationship with Jean-Pierre Boyer
After Boyer took over in 1818, Lachenais started a relationship with him as she functioned as his political adviser. Their intimate relationship went on, and she gave birth to a daughter named Azema.
During this era, having a concubine was allegedly more popular than marriage, but the affair between Boyer and Lachenais “weakened” Pétion, as “he could not resist the illness which overcame him on March 29, 1818, at the age of 48.
Caribbean Quarterly wrote, “His death caused an explosion of grief such that has never been witnessed in the history of Haitian leaders, for the people, and especially the peasants that adored him.”
Marie-Madeleine Lachenais continued to be behind the scenes, as she co-ruled a newly-united Haiti behind Boyer following the death of the rival leader, Christophe in 1820.
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Some of Lachenais’ Achievements
Marie-Madeleine Lachenais influenced many acts that was passed in parliament between 1818 and 1840. She also allegedly attempted a planned coup against Boyer.
In the year 1838 when Boyer thought of stepping down from the presidency, her words persuaded him to revoke his decision.
Boyer was exiled in February 1843. He and Lachenais went into exile in Kingston, Jamaica, where she died in July of that same year.
Some historians say that Marie-Madeleine Lachenais died being a mistress to Boyer, while others argue that Boyer married her shortly before her death.
The truth about Marie’s status with Boyer is yet to be confirmed. However, she died while still in a relationship with Boyer.