The United States intervened with armed force in Haiti in 1915 to restore order and to forestall possible intervention by some European power. Following the brutal murder of President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, when a reign of terror gripped the Haitian capital, Woodrow Wilson sent marines to that country. The immediate reason for intervention was to protect the lives and property of Americans and other foreigners, but Wilson's concern over the possible extension of German, British, or French influence over Haiti was a more basic consideration. Haiti, strategically located in the Caribbean, covers the Windward Passage and is scarcely more than six hundred miles from the Panama Canal. Consequently, as a security measure, the United States intervened during the second year of World War I.
An agreement finally concluded between the United States and Haiti in 1916 was similar to the Platt Amendment: Haiti virtually became a protectorate of this country. Herbert Hoover sent a special mission to Haiti in 1930 to investigate the possibility of withdrawing the marines earlier than the scheduled date of 1936. This mission, headed by W. Cameron Forbes, advised against the immediate termination of the intervention, but Hoover somewhat relaxed American supervision. The Haitians, impatient for full independence, were embittered by the delay. President Stenio Vincent's comment on the refusal of the United States to withdraw the marines in 1930 was that "for a miserable $15,ooo,ooo owing to a handful of American capitalists," the United States continued an unwarranted intervention in Haitian affairs.
Shortly before the end of the Hoover Administration, the United States signed a treaty with Haiti which provided for the end of the armed intervention on December 31, 1934. This agreement, however, contained two provisions distasteful to the Haitians. One stipulated that should serious disturbances occur before December 31, 1934, the United States might not withdraw the marines. The other provided that this country would maintain control of the Haitian customs until the debt, largely owed to United States citizens, was fully liquidated.
Such was the situation existing when Roosevelt became President. He endorsed the Hoover policy of evacuation, but an executive agreement of August 7, 1933, advanced the withdrawal date to October 1, 1934, and contained no provision for the marines to remain beyond that date in the event of disorder in Haiti. (Note 24)
President Vincent visited Washington in the spring of 1934 Although there was no announcement of the result of the Roosevelt-Vincent conversations, shortly afterward the United States Congress, in response to Roosevelt's request, presented Haiti with the buildings and equipment used by the American marines. In July, Roosevelt, en route to -Panama and the Hawaiian Islands, visited Haiti and announced that the United States would relinquish its control over the Haitian Garde, the military forces of the republic, on August 1 instead of October 1 as scheduled.
The forces of the United States actually left Haiti on August 1 S, 1934, thus ending an armed intervention which had lasted almost two decades. The financial control exercised by this government was finally terminated in 1941. The withdrawal of American marines from Haiti was a significant step in the development of the Good Neighbor Policy, and ample indication that Hull's stand against intervention at Montevideo was sincere. The United States had begun to implement its words with action.
Note # 24 Haitianization of the Garde, Withdrawal of Military Forces from Haiti, and Financial Agreement between the United States of America and Haiti, Dept. of State, Exec. Agr. Ser., No. 46.
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