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Haiti - Historical Flags

Last modified: 2012-01-20 by zoltán horváth
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War of Independence

1790 Flag

The first reported flag was the one used in the revolt of the black people in 1790. This was white with a head of a black man. Only reconstructed versions are known.
Jaume Ollé, 11 January 1998

1791 Flag

[Caradeu's flag, 1791]
image by Jaume Ollé, 11 January 1998

One year later the Marquis de Caradeu, with supposed powers from the French Assembly, established his power in the island. His flag (shown above), "used for all the nation", was reported by Ignacio Montenegro in Banderas.
Jaume Ollé, 11 January 1998

1803 Flag

[Flag of 1803]
image by Jaume Ollé, 11 January 1998

The black leader Toussaint Louverture adopted in 1798 the French tricolor. In January 1801 he was appointed governor and occupied the Spanish part of the island. In the constitution of 8 July 1801 he was appointed governor for life. Between February and June 1802 the island was occupied by French troops and Toussaint was jailed. But in July 1802 the black people, led by Dessalines, revolted. Other black leaders (Pétion, Christophe ...) helped the revolt and in February 1803 the independence of Haiti was proclaimed. In the Petite Rivière d'Artibonite the white band of the French flag was suppressed. The flag was adopted as the military flag by the Congress of Arcahaie in May 1803 and was used generally with the creole inscription "liberté ou la mort" in white.
Jaume Ollé, 11 January 1998

The French troops were defeated during the battle of Vertie'res (18 November 1803). Their capitulation allowed the proclamation of Haitian independence on 1 January 1804 (and not in February 1803 as erroneously reported above). Dessalines and Pe'tion's were among the leaders of the anti-French insurrection movement. The 18 May 1803 was the closing day of the Arcahaie congress (15-18 May 1803), during which Dessalines had been appointed general-in-chief of the insurrection army and had adopted the motto "L'inde'a'pendance ou la mort" (Independence or death) He also "diminished" the French Tricolor of its white stripe to design the first blue-and-red Haitian flag.
Ivan Sache, 2 December 2000

More on Dessalines "diminishing" the French Tricolor flag: On 18 May 1803, last day of the congress of Arcahaie, all of the local insurrection chiefs acknowledged the leadership of Dessalines. He tore up a French flag and throw away the white stripe. Catherine Flon, Mrs. Dessalines' goddaughter, sewed together the two remaining stripes to make the first Haitian flag
Source: <www.haitien.com>.

5th stanza of the national anthem 'La Dessalinienne' (In English, my own translation):
For the Flag, for the Nation,
It is good to die, it is good to die,
Our past shouts:
Thou shall have harden your soul.
It is good to die, it is good to die,
For the Flag, for the Nation,
It is good to die, die die,
For the Flag, for the Nation.
Source: <www.haitionline.com>.
Ivan Sache, 5 January 2001

Wasn't the French flag 2:3 at the time? That would make the original Haitian flag square.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 7 January 2001

I can see only two explanations:
- the 'historical' square flag was later replaced with a rectangular one.
- the story is another case of 'patriotic urban legend' invented later than the event.
Ivan Sache, 9 January 2001


Civil Wars

1805 Flag

[Flag of 1805]
image by Jaume Ollé 11 January 1998

On 8 October 1804 Dessalines was proclaimed emperor under the name of Jacques I. He adopted a new flag on 20 May 1805: the blue band was changed to black either to symbolise the people of the island or to symbolise the words "freedom (red) or death (black)". The order of the bands is doubtful.
Jaume Ollé 11 January 1998

According to <www.haiti-reference.com>, the black and red vertical flag was also used in 1805-1806 by the empire of the west and between 1811-1820 by the kingdom of the north.
Marc Pasquin, 8 August 2004

1806 Flag

[Flag of 1806]
image by Jaume Ollé 11 January 1998

After the events of Pont Rouge (17 October 1806) when Dessalines was murdered, the empire was abolished and General Pétion, ruler of the south and west, re-established the blue and red flag.
Jaume Ollé 11 January 1998

1811 Flag

[Flag of 1811]
image by Jaume Ollé 11 January 1998

On 27 December 1806, General Henri Christophe, was named president and was recognised in the north, northwest and in Arbonite (1807). Christophe maintained the imperial flag of Dessalines. On 28 March 1811 he was proclaimed king under the name of Henri I, and the flag was changed slightly (according profesor Lux-Wurm): red in the hoist and black in the fly with, in the center, a shield with a phoenix under five five-pointed stars, all in gold on a blue background; the shield bore a crown and the latin inscription 'ex cinerebus nascitur'.

In the rest of the country, General Pétion was proclaimed president on 19 March 1807. Pétion changed his blue-red vertical flag to horizontal, the same as the current civil flag. The kingdom of Henri I was suppressed in 1818 after Pétion's conquest of the north. Boyer succeeded to Pétion on 8 Octuber 1820 and maintained the horizontal flag. Rigaud revolted in the south against Pétion and dominated the zone (3 November 1810 to June 1811) and after Rigaud was Borgella Gauman (1811-12), but Pétion suppressed the revolt. The rebels under Rigaud and Gauman used blue-red vertical or horizontal flags with a red star in the blue stripe.
Jaume Ollé, 11 January 1998


Spanish Haiti


image by Ivan Sache, 29 June 2001

[Spanish Haiti, 1821]
reported WRONG flag
image by Jaume Ollé, 18 January 1998

On 9 February 1822 Boyer annexed the Spanish part of the island (now the Dominican Republic) which a few months before had proclaimed its independence from Spain (30 November 1821) under the name Republica del Haiti espanol (Republic of Spanish Haiti). Some days later General Caceres proclaimed its union with Great Columbia, but nine weeks later the Haitians occupied the country and the republic ended. The flag of Spanish Haiti is shown above. In the first weeks of 1822 the flag of Great Columbia was in use.
Jaume Ollé
, 18 January 1998

The image of the Colombian flag of Haiti has wrong colours. It really are the Colombian colours! This flag has been printed on a Haitian postage stamp.
Ralf Stelter, 2 July 1999

In fact it is logical because this flag was used when Saint Domingo was part of the Republic of Great Colombia.
Jaume Ollé, 2 July 1999

The last issue of Franciae Vexilla (#22/68, June 2001) is totally dedicated to Haiti, with papers by Olivier Corre and Herve Calvarin. Concering the independent state of Spanish Haiti, as reported by Ralf Stelter, Jaume's image is erroneous. It should be the Colombian flag in its colors and stripe proportions with an arc of five white stars.
Ivan Sache, 29 June 2001

This flag appeared in a stamp dated 1971, devoted to the "first independence". I have a photocopy of a catalogue where the flag is shown in w/b, but colors are quoted as "outremer, jaune et rouge" (i.e. dark blue, yellow and red). The upper stripe is darker that the central one.
Jaume Ollé, 29 June 2001

In the discussion about the correct version of the flag, the possible support for the blue-yellow-red version lies in Jaume Olle having seen a black-and-white copy of a 1971 stamp which appears to show the flag like this. However, the stamp can now be seen here to actually show the flag as yellow-blue-red.
Source: <www.flagsonstamps.info>
Ole Martin Halck, 30 July 2007


Faustin's Empire

[Flag of Haiti, 1849-1859]
image by Jaume Ollé, 18 January 1998

The Haitian Constitution of 1843 confirmed the horizontal blue and red flag (article 192) and it was confirmed in subsequent constitutions. An attempt to restore the black and red flag which was made in 1844 failed. In 1847 Faustin Soulouque was elected president and in 1849 he proclaimed himself emperor under the name of Faustin I (1849-59). The blue-red flag was confirmed in the 1849 constitution but the shield was modified. Faustin's Empire ended on 15 January 1859. No change was made in the flag but the previous arms were restored.
Jaume Ollé
, 18 January 1998

At J.W Norie - J.S. Hobbs: Flaggen aller seefahrenden Nationen, 1971 [nor71] (original print 1848):
292 Hayti - horizontal blue and red flag.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2001

Accordibg to <www.haiti-reference.com>, the horizontal blue-red said to have been first adopted by General Pétion for the republic of the west and to have become the national flag after 1820 .
Marc Pasquin, 8 August 2004

Flag According to Steenbergen Book (1862)


image by Jaume Ollé, 26 July 2003

No. 832 - Haiti.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 26 July 2003


image by Jaume Ollé, 19 August 2003

No. 860 - Hayti  [Note that was a rival government as was reported in Francia Vexilla].
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 19 August 2003


image by Jaume Ollé, 19 August 2003

No. 861 - Hayti [Note that Steenbergen didn't knew the arms well, but he tried to draw an image that has a similitide with the arms].
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 19 August 2003


Reported Imperial Flag

[Reported imperial flag, 1862]
image by Jaume Ollé, 10 September 1996

In an old atlas (Frangott Bromme, Multrirter Hand-Atlas der Geographie und Statistik, Stuttgart 1862) there is a blue and white horizontal flag with a central square containing a red and green flower. W. Smith identifies this flag as that of the Haiti Empire.
Jaume Ollé
, 7 September 1996

Blue and white on a Haitian flag is certainly a new one on me - I thought that the horizontal blue-red flag was in use from 1822-1964. It's possible, of course, that the flag you describe isn't the national flag but the flag of a would-be dynasty or faction.
Stuart A. Notholt
, 6 September 1996

This flag is shown in the Brommer Atlas (1864) and is labelled 'Empire of Haiti' but I think that it may be a mistake (white instead red).
Jaume Ollé
, 23 January 1996

The reported flag of blue over white is a printing error. Both sources we have showing that flag also show a yellow-white-red flag for Ecuador!
But the emblem in the center is interesting! Colour the leaves in blue and red and the flower on top with heavy green leaves, the base green etc. and it becomes the palmetto-emblem. We have several illustrations of this "CoA" but all are in outlines only and without colours! So probably it was only a sketch .I believe it is a mistaken CoA.
Ralf Stelter, 2 July 1999

If I don't remember wrong when I posted the flag , it was a discussion about him. He is shown in Brommer Atlas with presentation of W. Smith. It seems as an mistake but it is labelled "Haiti empire" and the arms are unknow and therefore must be considered as posible or if it is not, then not only the white color is wrong, but also the arms (as Stelter said) and I considered that ut can be posisble real flag. This Atlas shows also another interesting flag: the one of Los Altos in vertical bands with a bird in center that is similar to an eagle instead to a "Quetzal". Somer sources give for Los Altos the flag in vertical arrangement and another in horizontal arrangement.
I believe that can be labelled "Haiti empire according Brommer Atlas"
I don't remember that in Brommer Atlas the flag of Ecuador is shown in wrong colors,
and unafortunately I can't check it. certainly the arms show in full color and I believe that I reproduced him as accurate as posible.
Jaume Ollé, 2 July 1999

I? the flagbook of Mr. W. Wezepoel, from 1862, which is stored in the Zeeuws Archief in Middelburg.(NL): Haiti - blue over white bicolour. My own suspicion re this flag is that it was based on a printing error whereby the red was left out in some illustration of the Haitian flag, and was then uncritically repeated by others.
Jarig Bakker and Ned Smith, 30 November 2004

Flag According to Steenbergen Book (1862)


image by Jaume Ollé, 26 July 2003

No. 830 - Haiti.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 26 July 2003

Flag in US flag chart (1858)


image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 3 September 2008

There is only one of these in 1858 US flag chart [hbl58]:  "Hayti" at position (1;9): Rectangular ~2:3 horizontal blue over white diband, matching the report from Steenbergen.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 3 September 2008     


19th-20th Centuries


image by António Martins, 27 November 2001

In the second half of the 19th century and in the 20th century the current flag was in use: the national flag and ensign a plain bicolor; the state flag and naval ensign with the addition of the arms on a central square. The civil flag is the origin of the incident in the Olympics Games of 1936 when Liechtenstein had to change its flag to distinguish it from the Haitian one.
Jaume Ollé
, 18 January 1998

The Haitian national flag 1936 motived a change in the Liechtenstein national flag , as both were simple blue over red bicolors (nothing is said about ration and specific shades). This flag must have been in use from c. 1860 to 1957.
António Martins, 27 November 2001


"Faustin II's Kingdom"

Reported flags of a reported king in La Gonave, Haiti from Bruno Fuligni's "L'Etat c'est moi", 1997 [fuL97]

"Faustin II of La Gonave.

Historical context :
There was a treaty of protectorate between USA and Haiti signed in 1915. That's the reason why the United States established a police station in Anse-à-Galets, island of La Gonave, 40 miles West of Port-au-Prince.
Faustin Wirkus was born 1897 in Pennsylvania from Polish parents. He engaged himself at 17 in the Marine Corps (French text says : "fusiliers marins"), discovered therefore Haiti in 1915, became later sergent in Cuba, came back to the USA, and served at Haiti from 1919. In 1925, he asked to get the commandment of the station of La Gonave (12.000 inhabitants, organized in ten "Congo societies" Each society has its own banner and queen, and there is a supreme queen, Ti Memenne).
When the queen learned that Wirkus' first name was Faustin, she was impressed, and her "hougan" (witch) declared that Wirkus was the reincarnation of Faustin I, the emperor of Haiti. So, the american sergent became king of La Gonave. It is reported that two young women came and raised two flags in front of the door : one was plain yellow and the other one star-spangled blue - each star stood for a Congo society. (well, that makes 10 stars...).
Queen Ti Memenne said : "Here are your flags, King! They are symbols of your authority : these women are the keepers of the flags, and they will stand behind you bearing your flags, they will walk with you during processions". (the whole ceremony is then described in the book).

The writer William Seabrook, who visited Haiti at that time, told that story in a book. Later, the president of Haiti heard of it, and decided it was not possible to accept that there is a king in the Republic of Haiti. "Faustin II" was therefore forced to leave in 1929, in order to remedy to the "bad consequences of staying too long in far away military stations".
I don't know what the stars of the blue flag looked like, and how they were arranged.
Olivier Touzeau, 23 December 2000


The Duvalier dictatorship

[State flag, 1964-86]
image by Željko Heimer, 31 October 2001

Duvaliar was elected president in 1957 and took all power in 1960. In 1963 the single party system was established. A new constitution was adopted on 25 May 1964 which restored the black and red flag. This design was oficially readopted on 21 June 1964. The state flag and naval ensign included a white square with the full arms. Duvalier died on 21 April 1971. His son, Jean Claude was proclaimed president. After a popular revolt, Jean Claude fled to France in February 1986. In the revolt the old blue and red flag (without the arms) was used. It was later readopted "de facto" as national flag and ensign and was officially readopted by a decree of 25 February 1986 and confirmed by the constitution of 1987. The state flag and naval ensign included the white square with arms, but the flags in the arms continued to be vertically divided. Later a modification of the decree removed this discrepancy and the shield now has the flags horizontally divided.
Jaume Ollé
, 18 January 1998

A black-red vertical bicolour was used from 1964 to 1986 during the dictatorship of the Duvaliers: the state flag was charged with the arms but the civil flag was plain. Note that the cap of liberty was omitted from the arms during this period.
Vincent Morley
, 10 January 1998

Smith [smi75c] and [smi82] show the 1964 version of the flags, vertically divided black and red. For the state flag Smith gives symbol meaning "variation", I guess, just to indicate that the size and artistic redention of the CoA is not consistently used and may vary (significantly).
Željko Heimer, 31 October 2001

I read that in 1964 the haitian Coat of Arms had no red cap at the top.
Victor Lomantsov, 4 November 2001

I believe the coat-of-arms would also show "vertically" divided black and red flags.
Santiago Dotor, 5 November 2001

Our illustration of the 1964 flag shows a Cap of Liberty above the palm, but the notes below suggest that it was deleted on this version.  I can confirm that Article 191 of the Constitution dated 21 June 1964, omits reference to the Phrygian Cap (which occurs in all other official descriptions of the arms), and can suggest therefore, that the illustration requires amendment?
Christopher Southworth, 10 November 2003

This prompted me to get my copy of a Haitian flag out and look at it as it was made in the last 3-4 years.  It still includes the Phrygian Cap.  I'm not sure if we have it is de facto versus de jure flag situation; an omission from the Constitution or what.  I called the US company that manufactures flags for the UN (Annin & Co.) and they said that they knew of no such amendment.  Maybe a call to the local embassy would clarify any questions.
Paige Herring, 10 November 2003

I don't believe there is any doubt that the current arms include the Cap of Liberty, however, if the written evidence is anything to go by it was removed when the arms and flag were amended in 1964, and whilst the blue-red was restored by a Decree of 11 February 1986, restoration of the Cap (probably through an oversight) had to wait until Article 3 of the Constitution dated 10 March 1987.
Christopher Southworth, 11 November 2003

The change to black was on the order of "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Black was first used in 1805 probably to represent the people of the island. They went back to blue (with minor exceptions) until Duvalier. It was for the black African heritage of the people. Certainly not socialist or anarchist.
Albert S. Kirsch, 21 October 2004

Civil Flag and Ensign


image by Željko Heimer, 31 October 2001

The civil flag and ensign of the Duvalier era, a simple vertical black and red bicolor.
Ivan Sache, 30 June 2001

War Pennant


image by Željko Heimer, 31 October 2001

No war pennant is shown, but I think we could safely assume that black over red pennant was used.
Željko Heimer, 31 October 2001