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Context of 'July 18, 1915: US Sends Troops to Haiti'

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July 18, 1915: US Sends Troops to Haiti

US President Woodrow Wilson sends US forces to Haiti in an attempt to prevent Germany or France from taking it over. Haiti controls the Windward Passage to the Panama Canal and is seen as strategically critical. The Haitian government is near insolvency at this time and is significantly in debt to foreign corporations. German companies control almost 80 percent of Haitian trade. US forces will occupy the country until 1934. [Rogozinski, 1992, pp. 238-239] A few weeks later, the US State Department installs Senator Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave as the head of state. “When the National Assembly met, the Marines stood in the aisles with their bayonets until the man selected by the American Minister was made President,” Smedley Butler, a Marine who will administer Haiti’s local police force, later writes. [Rogozinski, 1992, pp. 239; Common Dreams, 3/10/2004]

Entity Tags: Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, Smedley D. Butler, Woodrow Wilson

Timeline Tags: US-Haiti (1804-2005)

The US drafts a constitution for Haiti, which notably excludes a provision from the country’s previous constitution which had prohibited foreign ownership of land. Under the US-drafted constitution, foreign investors would be able to purchase fertile areas and establish sugar cane, cacao, banana, cotton, tobacco, and sisal plantations. But the Haitian legislature finds the US-proposed constitution unacceptable and continues working on a new document which would reverse the terms of the 1915 treaty (see November 11, 1915), giving control of Haiti back to its own government, and which would leave the previous constitution’s land restrictions intact. When a copy of the document is sent to Washington, it is quickly rejected by the US State Department which complains that it is “unfriendly” and instructs that its passage be prevented. But the Haitian lawmakers continue their work with plans to quickly ratify the new constitution and then impeach Haitian President Dartiguenave on the basis of the new document’s provisions. To prevent its passage, Dartiguenave orders US Marine Smedley Butler to dissolve the Haitian legislature, which he does as they are preparing to vote on the new constitution. Smedley claims that the measure is necessary in order “to end the spirit of anarchy which animates it [the Hatian legislature].” [Rogozinski, 1992, pp. 240; Common Dreams, 3/10/2004]

Entity Tags: Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, Smedley D. Butler

Timeline Tags: US-Haiti (1804-2005)

Haiti’s new constitution (see Early 1917) goes into effect. Sudre Dartiguenave remains president, though his position is nothing more than that of a figurehead. Real power remains with the US occupiers. [Rogozinski, 1992, pp. 240; Common Dreams, 3/10/2004; Encyclopedia of World History, 6th ed., 1/2/2006]

Entity Tags: Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave

Timeline Tags: US-Haiti (1804-2005)

1922: US Appoints New Representatives to Haiti

The Wilson administration appoints General John H. Russell as high commissioner and Louis Borno—an admirer of Mussolini—as the new Haitian president. This event follows the dismissal of the previous Haitian president, Sudre Dartiguenave, who had refused to sign an agreement concerning the repayment of debts to the US-owned National City Bank (later to be name Citibank) which controls Haiti’s National Bank and railroad system. [Rogozinski, 1992, pp. 240; Common Dreams, 3/10/2004] Russel and Borno’s period of rule are characterized by infrastructure improvement, growing racial and cultural tensions, increased US control, and—toward the end of their term—increased civil unrest. Under their authority, most of the country’s tax revenue is used to pay debts owed to foreign interests. The two will jointly rule until 1930 when, after a 1929 uprising, Borno is ousted. A short provisional head will be put in place until the National Assembly elects St�nio Vincent in November 1930 as president. [Rogozinski, 1992, pp. 240-241]

Entity Tags: Sténio Vincent, Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, Citibank, Louis Borno, John H. Russell

Timeline Tags: US-Haiti (1804-2005)

August 1, 1934: US Withdraws from Haiti

US troops withdrawal from Haiti after a 19-year occupation (see July 18, 1915). [Rogozinski, 1992, pp. 241]

Entity Tags: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Timeline Tags: US-Haiti (1804-2005)

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