Adélina Lévêque

Drawing of Adélina Lévêque (1859). Image Credit: WikiCommons, L’univers illustré.

By Gabby Storey

Élisabeth Adélina Dérival Lévêque was born on 26 July 1820 to Pierre Michel Lévêque, a Haitian of mixed-race heritage, and Anne Augustin. Little is known of her early life other than she was born in Arcahaie, a small Haitian town.

She married her long-term partner Faustin Souloque, later Emperor Faustin, on 31 December 1847. Faustin had become President on 2 March 1847 but re-established the monarchy in 1849, being proclaimed Emperor on 26 August 1849.

The same day, Adélina was proclaimed empress. She was crowned with Faustin at Port-au-Prince on 18 April 1852. The return to monarchical rule saw the establishment of an extensive court and household to Haiti.

The extent of Adélina’s power is difficult to ascertain – she certainly performed ceremonial duties and engaged in representing the crown and holding audiences at court.

A revolution began in 1858 which saw Faustin abdicate his throne on 15 January 1859. The imperial family went into exile in Jamaica for several years. They were later allowed to return to Haiti, where Faustin and Adélina died respectively in 1867 and 1878.

They had two daughters, the first of which was made legitimate on the marriage of her parents. Geneviève Olive was born in 1842 and married her cousin Mainville-Joseph Soulouque in 1861. The second daughter, Célestine Marie Françoise, born in 1848, later married a lieutenant-general.

Recommended Reading

John Bigelow, Jamaica in 1850: or, The Effects of Sixteen Years of Freedom on a Slave Colony (London: George P. Putnam, 1851)

Marlène Racine-Toussaint, “Perspective historique du rôle de la première dame de la République d’Haïti,” Journal of Haitian Studies 10.1 (2004): 44-55.

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