François & Jean Claude Duvalier

Single Party Dictators of Haïti

Essential Question

How did the Duvalier’s show their total power over Haiti during their multi-decade reign?

The Duvaliers

François Duvalier

François was born in Port-au-Prince in 1907 into a middle-class African family. He married, and then graduated from the University of Haïti School of Medicine in 1934. While in medical school, François became part of a black nationalist group called Le Group de Griots. Here, they founded the thought that African culture and Voodoo were the true essence of Haïti. After the president, Paul Magloire, resigned office at the end of 1956, Duvalier began his campaign, based on social reform and black nationalism. People began to refer to him as "Papa Doc" He won the elections in 1957. On October 22, 1957 François Duvalier was inaugurated. He began to cut down the size of the army and created a secret police force and presidential guard. He didn't trust the loyalty of the military and created the Tontons Macoutes (the Boogeymen) to be a loyal force to terrorize opponents and balance out the army's power. He created a "cult of personality" to convince other leaders that he was a good leader and his followers claimed that he was the "perfect embodiment of Haïti". Just before his death he appointed his son, Jean-Claude as his successor. He died in Port-au-Prince on April 21, 1972.

Jean-Claude Duvalier

Jean-Claude was born in Port-au-Prince in 1951. Six years after he was born his father was elected president of Haïti. He enjoyed a life of luxury as president's son. Though, in 1963 he survived a kidnapping attempt and was afterwards forced to stay behind the presidential palace walls. He attended the law school at the University of Haïti for a short time and in 1980 he married Micelle Bennette, whom along with his mother Simone had a great influence on his decisions as president. He continued his father's Boogeyman regime, changing it's name to a more socially acceptable "National Security Volunteers". Their numbers jumped to 300,000 and continued their violent actions against opposition. In 1986, Jean-Claude Duvalier was overthrown by a military coup, and was exiled and fled to France.
Haiti and the tonton macoute

The Tonton Macoute

This video is showing the affect of the Tonton Macoute, a presidentially formed "support group" on the people of Haïti. They killed the Duvaliers' opponents until even after Jean-Claude was removed from office and exiled. They terrorized the population and accused innocent people to remain in power.

Journal Entry Written by a Citizen

April 26, 1965

The Boogeymen came for my brother this morning. They knocked on the door and when his wife didn’t come fast enough, they just kicked it down. My wife Maria and I have been living with them ever since she lost her job. It has been very, very hard to live and now they’ve taken Marcus. They accused him of speaking out against our president, but he never did. I think they just wanted a reason to take him. We don’t know what will happen to him, but we fear the worst. We have seen the public killings; beatings and hangings and voodoo, done all to innocent people who let something about Duvalier slip from their mouths. This entry is a dangerous one to write because if anyone finds it, I could be in grave danger. I’ve decided to go back through the entries and scribble out my name, and keep the rest anonymous. I pray to God and all the angles that Marcus stays with us, and that no one else in our family is caught by these awful Tonton Macoutes. I hate them with all of my soul.

God keep us safe,


Works Cited

DOUCET, ISABEAU, and RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD. "Jean-Claude Duvalier - The New York Times." Times Topics - The New York Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Haiti and the Tonton Macoute." YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Tonton Macoutes |"Infoplease: Encyclopedia, Almanac, Atlas, Biographies, Dictionary, Thesaurus. Free online reference, research & homework help. | N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2013. <>.

"World History: The Modern Era - Username." World History: The Modern Era - Username. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2013. <>.