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Wednesday 18 October 2017
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Haitian Women in History: Henriette Saint-Marc

Henriette Saint Marc

Perhaps you’ve never heard of her. However during her life she marked Haitian history indefinitely. Who was Henriette Saint Marc? 

 

Henriette Saint Marc (died in 1802) was a Haitian spy and arms dealer during the Haitian Revolution. Her background is basically unknown, but she seems to have worked as a prostitute in Port-au-Prince. Henriette was a young woman of humble origins, who was also described as very beautiful. According to historians, she often, “was seen passing in the Rue d’Orleans, rue d’Aunis and sometimes in the street before the Barracks Barracks old regiments of Artois, Guyenne and Normandy. ” (1)

Her Mission

Her mission was to seduce the French soldiers to extort the arms,gunpowder and ammunition. Her strategy was based almost exclusively on the use of her incomparable beauty and irresistible charm in the service of freedom, going in alone and coming out with her payment in weapons instead of gold. She primarily lured French soldiers into the woods or empty buildings, where rebels would dispossess the soldier of his weapons and uniform, before killing or kidnapping him.

She had many admirers among the French soldiers, and succeeded in smuggling arms and ammunition from the capital to the rebels, mosty in Arcahaie, for years. Eventually, the French started to notice that all the men who would employ her “services” ended up missing or dead. Shortly after Toussaint L’Ouverture was arrested, Henriette was arrested and accused of sending gunpowder to the revolutionaries of Arcahaie. She was executed at ten in the morning on the market square in front of the Church of Croix-des-Bouquets.

According to Thomas Madiou, “she was arrested and immediately given the death penalty. Pulled away from the prison, she was placed between two platoons of riflemen and drivers, followed by her coffin on the market place vis-a-vis the church. At ten in the morning, in the presence of a great people, a gallows was erected before her eyes. She mounted the scaffold with courage. When her corpse balanced in the air, a mournful cry, sobs broke out in the crowd. Women abandoned the market, horror seized … ”

 

 

 

(1) Dantès Bellegarde (1953). Histoire du Peuple Haïtien. pp. 226-227.
(2) Thomas Madiou (1847). Histoire d’Haiti, Volume II: 1799-1803. pp394.