Item #7332 President’s Band, Port au Prince [recto caption]. [at verso:] Ex President General Tirésias Simon Sam.
President’s Band, Port au Prince [recto caption]. [at verso:] Ex President General Tirésias Simon Sam.

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President’s Band, Port au Prince [recto caption]. [at verso:] Ex President General Tirésias Simon Sam.

Port au Prince, Haiti, [circa 1900]. Two albumen prints mounted on opposite sides of a single album leaf, recto image, 7” x 8.75”, verso image, 5” x 4”. Early manuscript captions in ink below each photo. Two later printed labels of Culver Pictures, Inc. and two Culver Pictures ink stamps on verso. CONDITION: Recto image good, strong tonality, small losses at upper corners and right margin of image, a few small stains to image and mount, one short closed tear at lower left of image; verso image good, creasing and light wear; few losses to mount, one piece of tape affixed to verso.

A rare and striking pair of images picturing Haiti’s Presidential band and Haiti’s President Tirésias Simon Sam, who served at the turn of the century.

The photo on the recto shows thirty-nine band members organized in four rows standing on the steps of a building with columns and three tall doors,likely the Haitian National Palace. Wearing uniforms and tasseled hats, the men hold instruments such as a drum, tuba, trumpet, flute, saxophone, clarinet, trombone, French horn, and so forth. The band-leader is seated in a chair in front of the group holding a baton.

The Presidential Guard Orchestra (also known as the Fanfare of the National Palace) was—and remains—a police band unit of the Republic of Haiti. Drawing from French and American military traditions, the band also employs many styles native to Haiti and the Caribbean region. In its roles as both a police and military band, it performs the national anthem La Dessalinienne on special occasions.

The companion image shows Haiti’s President Tirésias Simon Sam (1835–1916) dressed in uniform and wearing a sword on his belt; his tasseled hat rests on a table next to him. Sam served as the President of Haiti from 1896 to 1902, becoming president a week after his predecessor Florvil Hyppolite died. Having served as Haiti’s Secretary of War, Sam had strong ties within the then-dominant dark-skinned faction of the country’s oligarchy. Despite interference from foreign authorities, including the U.S., France and Germany, Haiti remained stable during Sam’s reign. His primary focus was infrastructure development, including the construction of railroads. After attempting to prolong his constitutional mandate, Sam was forced out of power and predicted an endless civil war, declaring, “I am the last president of Haiti.” In 1915, his son Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam became president, but was assassinated just five months into his term.

REFERENCES: “Sam, Tirésias Augustin Simon (1835–1916),” Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture online.

Item #7332

Price: $750.00

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