"The Death of Leconte" by Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
Hurston was an African-American anthropologist who contributed numerous books and essays to the Harlem Rennaissance. In her book, Tell My Horse (1938), Hurston examines Afro-Caribbean religion
and folklore to try to reconnect with her African roots. Today many people pan the book because it portrays Haitians as primitive and savage, especially in chapter nine, which retells an unsubstantiated
legend about President Leconte's violent death. Please note that this is only a story.
The history books all say Cincinnatus Leconte died in the explosion that destroyed the palace, but the people do not tell it that way. Not one person, high or low, ever told me that Leconte was killed by the
explosion. It is generally accepted that the destruction of the palace was to cover up the fact that the President was already dead by violence.
For example, some tell a story of the little son of Leconte who was said to be a love child. He loved the boy with a great love, but that seemed not to be reason enough to cause him to marry the mother of
his child. She belonged to a high caste family and there was said to be a great deal of hard feeling between the family of the young woman and the President.
The first person who told me about it said that he was not even killed in the executive mansion. He said that a message came to the president to visit his little son who was with his mother at the time. He
disguised himself and entered the bus driven by the aged coachman of the palace called Edmond, whose loyalty to Leconte was doubtful.
Rumor says that they left the palace by the gate called Port Salnave, and that Leconte left the conveyance at the house of the father of his child's mother, whose father was one of his Ministers, and never
came out again. That is, he never came out alive.
The family whose honor had been outraged by the refusal of Leconte to marry the daughter of the house had secretly joined forces with the president's political enemies. Some of them were in the house
when Leconte arrived. The arrangement for the body to be carried out on the Plain-Cul-de-Sac to be buried had already been made. It is said that he was killed after a short altercation. The body was
wrapped up, placed in the bus and driven out to the estate of one of the conspirators to be buried. The old coachman was rewarded and the palace blown up.