Drawing on never-before-utilized archival and oral sources, “Making Peasants Chèf” contends that decades of peasant marginalization from political power created the social and political conditions for the rise of the infamous tonton makout militia under the dictator François Duvalier. After coming to power in 1957, Duvalier militarized and rearmed peasants in exchange for their loyalty. Thousands of previously ostracized peasants enlisted in the dreaded makout militia to access status and political power. This explains why the peasant-based militia formed an arm of state repression. With the support of an armed peasantry, Duvalier successfully repressed the political opposition, allowing the regime to stay in power for almost three decades.