History of Haiti Internet Research Project





19th c. Haitian History (to 1915)
The US Occupation (1915) to the Duvaliers (1957-86)
Recent Haitian Politics (1986-2009)
The Earthquake and After (2009-2010)



Brief Chronology


Library of Congress Country Studies: Haiti


Independent Haiti

Christophe's Kingdom and Pétion's Republic

Boyer: Expansion and Decline

Decades of Instability, 1843-1915

The United States Occupation, 1915-34

Politics and the Military, 1934-57

François Duvalier 1957-71

Jean-Claude Duvalier, 1971-86


Bob Corbett Resources:


Haitian 19th c History 1805-1915
The First U.S. Occupation 1915-1934
Haiti 1934-56
The Duvaliers 1957-1986  
Haiti Under Military Rule 1986-90
Recent Haitian Politics 1990-2010


Recent Newspaper Articles:

The Earthquake and After 2009-10



Brief Chronology


Alex , Sparrow. "The Devil in Haiti." Philosophy Helmet: Small Guide to Big Ideas. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sep 2010. <http://philosophyhelmet.com/the-devil-in-haiti>.


1825: The King of France demands payment from Haiti for the loss of property of French planters, for 150 million francs, or, in today’s money, $21 billion.  From 1827, gunboats from France and Great Britain would frequently enter Haitian waters with the intention of intimidation.

1862: The United States finally recognizes Haiti, after fifty-eight years of hostility, as the Union was free of the slave states that refused to consider the Haitian Republic as anything other than a land of “rebel slaves.”

1872: German gunboats enter Haitian waters and stone-cold mug the Haitian government of fifteen thousand dollars.  The Germans literally defecate on the Haitian flag.

1883: European empires and the United States had by this year drained a total of eighty million francs from the Haitian government by the threat of force.

1888: The United States backs a coup against the Haitian government.  In 1891, Frederick Douglass resigns as US consul to Haiti over its hostile behavior towards Haiti.

1897: German warships again enter Haitian waters to demand payment, this time as indemnity for arresting a Haitian with a German father, for assault.  The Germans demanded twenty thousand dollars, an apology to the German emperor, and a twenty-cannon salute.

1902: Since 1879, the Haitian government had lost 2.5 million dollars to the robbery of the European powers and the United States.  Eighty percent of the national budget was given over to the repayment of “debts.”

1915 – 1934: The United States invades and occupies Haiti, and forces the government to sign a treaty making the nation a protectorate.  In 1918, the US forces the Haitian people to approve a constitution drafted by FDR; the constitution includes the repeal of Dessalines’ ban against foreigners owning land.  Once this restriction is lifted, Haiti is rapidly deforested by the foreign buyers, and its forests (revered in Voodoo) were replaced with foreign-owned rubber plantations.  Rebellion against the US occupation in 1918 is suppressed with the murder of at least two thousand, perhaps as many as fifteen thousand, Haitians.  Now that foreigners can own land, US investment enters Haiti to restructure the economy from the dignity of self-sufficient peasants with few exports to the desperation of a dispossessed proletariat working in desperate conditions.  The US succeeded in retiring Haiti’s debt to the French, but also made it deeply indebted to the US.  The US develops Haitian infrastructure – for exporting raw materials, not the use of its people – with forced labor.  Forced labor includes reintroduction of the corvee, the feudal system of forced road-building, to build roads for the movement of US military forces.  Haitians are used as cheap labor for other US Caribbean territories.  FDR ends the occupation in 1934, but the United States maintains control of the nation’s customs houses until 1947.  Said US General Smedley Butler of his long and distinguished military service, “I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.”

1937: Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo, reclaims territory ceded to Haiti under US arms, and massacres between eighteen thousand and thirty-five thousand Haitian peasants in a three-day period.

1957: The Haitian army ensures the election of Dr. Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier as president, ousting the popular reformer, Daniel Fignole.  Duvalier forms the “Volunteers for National Security,” known to history as the “tontons macoutes,” named for an evil creature of voodoo myth.  Duvalier is a client of the United States: US Marines would help suppress violence, USAID trucks would be used to shanghai peasants to Duvalier’s rallies, and the government gives Duvalier forty million dollars in his first four years, though he was briefly cut off during the Kennedy Administration.  Duvalier also had the support of the Vatican, which gave him the power to appoint his own Catholic clergy.  Duvalier’s macoutes kill unknown tens of thousands Haitians during his rule.  Papa Doc was succeeded by his fat, fat son, “Baby Doc,” on arrangement with President Nixon, in 1971.  The nineteen year-old dictator hired a US public relations firm to help him with his image.  During the Duvalier period, US capital begins using Haiti as a seat of cheap “assembly industry,” sending parts to Haiti to be assembled into finished goods.  The US had negotiated measures with Duvalier to ensure that the Haitian people would remain disciplined labor, i.e. poor, including a nearly non-existent minimum wage, the violent suppression of labor unions, and the absence of taxes, making sure that foreign companies could suck Haiti dry by repatriating profits to the home countries of those businesses.

1963: Haitians begin to leave Haiti for the first time.  The United States denies the “boat people” landing on American shores political asylum, denying that they are politically persecuted.

1986: The Haitians finally overthrow the younger Duvalier.  Celebrations included destroying a statue of Christopher Columbus, and renaming its plaza after Charlemagne Peralte, the leader of rebels against the US occupation.  However, the Council of National Government was full of Duvalierists, and state violence reappeared in a new form.

1990 – 2004: The popular Jean-Bertrand Aristide Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a priest from the school of Catholic “liberation theology,” which sought to eliminate poverty through collective self-reliance. was elected president.  Aristide had worked in the democratic movement and had suffered numerous attacks on his life by the previous government.  The New York Times denounced him as “strident,” and would continue to run stories repeating the verifiably false claims of Haitian rightists.  Aristide refused his ten thousand dollar salary, initiated a mass literacy program, distributed land to peasants, and confronted organized crime and political corruption.  So of course he had to go.  But in this case, the military regime proved unable to govern, and in 1994, Aristide returned, and wisely disbanded the military, depriving the ruling class and the United States the primary tool by which to overthrow Haiti’s democratic remnants.  This is why the United States had to directly kidnap the Aristide family in 2004 after his recent election to a second term as president.  The nation has been governed by UN Peacekeepers since then, composed of US, French, and Brazilian forces.

2010: An earthquake destroys the vast shanty-town that the Haitian capital has been reduced to as a result of two centuries of foreign plundering of the wealth of Haiti.  Millions of Americans generously donate large sums of money.  The US government sends thousands of soldiers to stem imaginary violence while preventing the arrival of aid to the island.


Haitian 19th c History


Corbett, Bob. "The History of Haiti." World History Archive. N.p., 1995. Web. 24 Sep 2010. <http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43a/index-aa.html>.


Independence and early post-revolutionary period: 1804-1818

·      Part I: Introduction and setting the problematic facing the nation

·      Part II

Formation of economic and social life and the struggle for international recognition 1818-1843

·      The rule of Jean-Pierre Boyer

·      The result of the Petion/Boyer years: Subsistance farming

·      Comments by Jeffrey Altepeter

Formation of the governmental patterns 1843-1915

·      1843-1847: A transition period

·      The rule of Faustin Soulouque (Emperor Faustin 1) March, 1847 to January 15, 1849


The First U.S. Occupation 1915-1934


Corbett, Bob. "The History of Haiti." World History Archive. N.p., 1995. Web. 24 Sep 2010. <http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43a/index-aa.html>.


The 1915 Intervention In Haiti

Paper by the International Law of War Association, n.d. In 1915 the National City Bank of New York was the principle U.S. investor in Haiti. Its interests were threatened by the Haitian government's issuance of inflationary currency. Documentation for what ensued.

Self-Determining Haiti: The American Occupation

By James Weldon Johnson, The Nation, 28 August 1920. James Weldon Johnson's 1920 exposé for The Nation, Self-Determining Haiti, argued that the US really has been quite ignoble.

Hearing the Truth About Haiti

By Helena Hill Weed, The Nation, 9 November 1921. How Haiti was reduced to the state of a conquered province; how the process was prepared in Washington long before intervention began; how little excuse there was for American intervention, and how little America has accomplished there apart from killing Haitians.

Franklin Roosevelt on Haiti: 1928

By Bob Corbett, 15 June 1995. Roosevelt, who visited Haiti, reflects on it and its significance for US foreign policy.



Haiti: 1934-56


Corbett, Bob. "The History of Haiti." World History Archive. N.p., 1995. Web. 24 Sep 2010. <http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43a/index-aa.html>.


Politics and the military, 1934–1957

The Library of Congress, Country Studies, December 1989. The Garde was a new kind of military institution in Haiti. It was a force manned overwhelmingly by blacks, with a United States-trained black commander, Colonel Démosthènes Pétrus Calixte. Most of the Garde's officers, however, were mulattoes. The Garde was a national organization; it departed from the regionalism that had characterized most of Haiti's previous armies.

Paul Magloire: Military ruler behind Haiti's brief golden age of peace

By Greg Chamberlain, in The Guardian, 20 July 2001. Obituary of General Paul Magloire, who ruled as President from 1950 to 1956, which in the writer's view was a period of unusual peace and efforts at modernisation before the long dictatorship of the Duvalier family laid waste to Haiti.


The Duvaliers 1957-1986


Corbett, Bob. "The History of Haiti." World History Archive. N.p., 1995. Web. 24 Sep 2010. <http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43a/index-aa.html>.


Review of Elizabeth Abbot, Haiti: The Duvaliers and their Legacy

By Bob Corbett, 1989.

The Duvalier regime in comparison with post-Duvalierist Haiti

A dialog from Bob Corbett's Haiti list, December 1995. Does the Duvalier father-son regime really represent the good old days?

The Library of Congress, Country Studies, December 1989

The Library of Congress, Country Studies, December 1989. Like many Haitian leaders, Duvalier produced a constitution to solidify his power. In 1961 he proceeded to violate the provisions of that constitution. His public recognition of voodoo and its practitioners and his private adherence to voodoo ritual, combined with his reputed practice of magic and sorcery, enhanced his popular persona among the common people.

More on 1971 election

4 March 1996. Perspective of a youthful player in a band regarding support for Duvalier.

Jean-Claude Duvalier, 1971–1986

The Library of Congress, Country Studies, December 1989. The first few years after Jean-Claude Duvalier's installation as Haiti's ninth president-for-life were a largely uneventful extension of his father's rule. Jean-Claude was a feckless, dissolute nineteen-year-old.

Haiti-Bitter Anniversary

By Michael Norton, AP, 7 February 2003. Haitians mark the anniversary of Jean-Claude Duvalier's toppled dictatorship in 1986, searching for a way out of their latest political and economic crisis. Some say the country is better-off than in the days of brutal dictatorship under Baby Doc Duvalier, while others point bitterly to Haiti's mounting problems.

Haiti Under Military Rule 1986-90


Corbett, Bob. "HAITIAN HISTORY -- TOPICS." Bob Corbett's Home Page. Webster University, n.d. Web. 24 Sep 2010. <http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/history/history.htm>.


The Post-Duvalier Period

U.S. Library of Congress, Country Studies, December 1989. Jean-Claude Duvalier left behind a hastily constructed interim junta, controlled by the armed forces. The Council of Government (CNG) the VSN, but it avoided the politically difficult measure of effectively halting the VSN's activities. This nonfeasance prompted angry mobs to murder known members of the VSN and set in motion a cycle of instability from which Haiti had yet to recover.

Though Duvalier is Gone, Haiti Still Needs Help

By Mark Danner, Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley, The New York Times, 19 May 1986. Three months have passed since the former President, Jean-Claude Duvalier flew off into exile and, clearly, building the new Haiti will be a slow and painful process. Mr. Duvalier bequeathed his country a weak interim Government headed by the former Army chief of staff, Gen. Henri Namphy, which has spent the past three months struggling to wrest the political initiative from a newly vocal opposition.

Just past ten on a sunny morning last month in Port-au-Prince...

By Mark Danner, The New Yorker, 16 July 1990. The fate of the post-Duvalierist opposition that took root since Duvalier's departure in 1986. Now Haiti is on its fifth government. After the 1987 massacre, the U.S. stopped funding the government, and the military put together another election, and Leslie F. Manigat became President for four months, until General Namphy deposed him. Namphy lasted three months before being deposed by another general, Prosper Avril, who managed to reign for eighteen months, with increasing brutality, before a popular uprising forced him to flee the country in March 1990.


Recent Haitian Politics 1990-2010


Corbett, Bob. "HAITIAN HISTORY -- TOPICS." Bob Corbett's Home Page. Webster University, n.d. Web. 24 Sep 2010. <http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/history/history.htm>.Links:


Who is Aristide?” from The Uses of Haiti p. 133f.  by Paul Farmer
Who removed Aristide? Paul Farmer reports from Haiti” LRB Vol. 26 No. 8 · 15 April 2004
pages 28-31
An Interview with Jean-Bertrand Aristide” by Peter Hallward LRB Vol. 29 No. 4 · 22 February 2007 pages 9-13


The Earthquake and after 2009-10




Partners in Health (Paul Farmer’s Organization)
The Haitian Earthquake Six Months On (Guardian)
In Haiti, the Displaced Are Left Clinging to the Edge by Deborah Sontag  NY Times July 11, 2010
Haiti: An Overview and Articles from the NY Times
Finishing Haiti’s Unfinished Workby Jean-Max Bellerives and Bill Clinton
NY Times July 11, 2010

Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (Clinton and Bellerives’ Website)
Haitians Look to Family 1,500 Miles North for Help by Anne Barnard NY Times August 8, 2010