"Leconte’s War" by the Island Luminous Editorial Board

President Antoine Simon’s decision to allow an American, James McDonald, build and own a railroad in Haiti was not popular. The German community was especially upset, because McDonald’s railway would compete with its own commercial businesses. Hence the Germans supported Simon’s rival, Cincinnatus Leconte.

Leconte was Jean-Jacques Dessalines’s great-grandson. And he had served under two previous presidents, Simon Sam and Nord Alexis. He had nearly risen to Haiti’s top executive in 1902. That was until Alexis and Anténor Firmin went to war over the presidency. By 1910, Leconte was determined to push aside Antoine Simon and take his place as president.

In the war to overthrow Simon, Leconte was aided by Oreste Zamor, Davilmar Théodore, and Vilbrun Guillaume. Each would eventually become president. But it was Leconte who led them in 1910. Oreste Zamor and his brother, Charles, helped Leconte recruit a peasant army, whose militiamen were called "cacos." Leconte even made an alliance with a Dominican military commander, Desiderio Arias, to oppose Antoine Simon.

The war was short. President Simon attacked Leconte and his allies in Cap Haïtien. But he lost and had to retreat back to Port-au-Prince. Leaders in the south switched sides and joined the revolution. It was then that Simon capitulated and boarded a ship to take him into exile in Jamaica. In August 1911, Leconte became Haiti’s next president.