I’ve brought up these other books to show that Hesketh Prichard was a British traveler and explorer, not a “white supremacist propagandist,” but it is his harsh assessment of the Black Republic in 1900 that interests us here:
“To-day in Haiti we come to the real crux of the question. At the end of a hundred years of trial, how does the black man govern himself? What progress has he made? Absolutely none. …
Can the negro rule himself? Is he congenitally capable? …
Up to date he has certainly not succeeded in giving any proof of capability, has not indeed come within measurable distance of success. I think we may go a full step beyond the non-proven. We may sat that, taken en masse at any rate, he has shown no signs whatsoever which could fairly entitle him to the benefit of the doubt that has so long hung about that question.
He has had his opportunity. The opportunity has lasted for a hundred years in a splendid land which he found ready prepared for him. Yet to-day we find him with a Government which, save in the single point offorce majeure, has degenerated into a farce; and as for the country itself, houses and plantations have disappeared, and where clearings once were there is now impenetrable forest. Certainly he has existed through one hundred years of internecine strife, but he has never for six consecutive months governed himself in any accepted sense of the word. To-day, and as matters stand, he certainly cannot rule himself.” (Hesketh Prichard, Where Black Rules White: A Journey Across and About Haiti, pp.280-284)
Prichard’s dismissive words about Haiti’s lack of capacity for self government clash with modern liberal sensibilities, but let us consider the Black Republic’s record at “a hundred years of trial” that was the evidence before him in 1900:
A Hundred Years of Trial: The First Century of Haitian Independence
Two Hundred Years of Trial: The Second Century of Haitian Independence
In 1884, the former British consul Sir Spenser St. John summed up the course of Haiti’s history in the introduction of book, Hayti, or the Black Republic:
“With regard to the history of this country, materials abound for writing a very full one, but I do not think it would prove interesting to the general reader. It is but a series of plots and revolutions, followed by barbarous military executions.”(Sir Spenser St. John, Hayti, or, The Black Republic, p.x)
In 1900, Hesketh Prichard would later add in his book:
“Corruption has spread through every portion and department of the government. Almost all the ills of the country may be traced to their source in the tyranny, the ineptitude, and the improbity of those at the helm of state. …
It is not overstating the case to say that the ambitions of the average Haytian politician on entering office are not towards the advancement of his country or projects of reform; his main idea is to make a fortune for himself and to use his power to avenge his personal resentments. In the former connection, there is a national proverb: “it is no robbery to rob the state.” (Hesketh Prichard, Where Black Rules White: A Journey Across and About Haiti, p.281)
The second century of Haitian independence kicked off in 1904 and can be characterized as an acceleration of the late 19th century death rattle:
19.) Pierre Nord Alexis, 1902-1908: Resigned amid revolt
20.) Antoine Simon, 1908-1911: Resigned amid revolt
25.) Joseph Davilmar Théodore, 1914-1915: Overthrown killed by mob
26.) Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, 1915-1915: Killed by mob
First US Occupation, 1915-1934
In between 1911 and 1915, Haiti went through no less than six presidents. A new low was reached when Cincinnatus Leconte died when his own ammunition exploded in the presidential palace and whenVilbrum Guillaume Sam was dragged off the toilet in the residence of the French ambassador and was torn limb from limb in the streets of Port-au-Prince by an irate mob composed of Haiti’s best families.
27.) Sudré Dartiguenave, 1915-1922: Fulfilled his term
28.) Louis Borno, 1922-1930: Fulfilled his term
29.) Eugène Roy, 1930-1930: Fulfilled his term
30.) Sténio Vincent, 1930-1934: Fulfilled his term
Second Independence, 1934-1994
The first US occupation had effectively given Haiti a “second chance” at national independence.
Among other things, the US imposed a customs receivership on Haiti, sorted out its chaotic finances, and supervised the repayment of its debt in 1947. The US also built roads, bridges, a telephone system, and modernized Haiti’s ports.
In 1957, Haiti had the most democratic election in its history up to that point: Haitians chose none other than François “Papa Doc” Duvalier as their standard bearer, an anti-American black nationalist.
The rest of the this period is characterized by Haiti’s descent into Duvalierism, the rise of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Lavalas, the coup d’état that ousted Aristide, and his lobbying campaign in Washington that brought about the second US occupation which lasted from 1994 to 2000:
30.) Sténio Vincent, 1934-1941: Fulfilled his term
31.) Élie Lescot, 1941-1946: Resigned amid revolt
32.) Dumarsais Estimé, 1946-1950: Deposed by army
33.) Paul Magloire, 1950-1956: Forced to resign by army
34.) Joseph Nemours Pierre-Louis, 1956-1957: Resigned amid labor strike
35.) Franck Sylvain, 1957-1957: Resigned
36.) Daniel Fignolé, 1957-1957: Forced out by army
42.) Hérard Abraham, 1990-1990: Fulfilled his term
43.) Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, 1990-1991: Fulfilled her term
44.) Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 1991-1992: Toppled by military
45.) Joseph Nérette, 1992-1992: Fulfilled his term
46.) Marc Bazin, 1992-1993: Resigned
Second US Occupation, 1994-2000
In 1994, Bill Clinton intervened in Haiti to return Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power and to stop the migration of Haitian boat people to Florida.
The year 1994 proved to be the international community’s highwater mark of optimism about Haiti. Excited by the prospect of a genuinely popular and “democratic” leader taking over control of Haiti, foreigners sunk billions of dollars into Haiti’s stabilization and reconstruction.
GDP per capita actually sunk in the 1990s and Haiti devolved once again into political assassinations and instability. Disgusted with “Haiti fatigue,” the US pulled out its last remaining troops in 2000.
47.) Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 1993-1995: Fulfilled his term
48.) René Préval, 1994-2001: Fulfilled his term
Three Hundred Years of Trial: The Third Century of Haitian Independence
In 2004, Haiti celebrated the bicentennial of its independence ranked by Transparency International as the most corrupt country in the world.
No other point in Haitian history provides a better illustration of the total incapacity of Haitians to rule themselves. In spite of billions of dollars in foreign aid, an expensive US intervention that forced “democracy” on the country, and a seemingly incorruptible popular leader … once again, Haiti was right back where it was in 1904.
49.) Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 2001-2004: Forced out office
UN Occupation of Haiti (MINUSTAH), 2004-Present
Since 2004, Haiti has effectively been a ward of the international community. UN troops have occupied the country and the “Republic of NGOs” have provided the services which are normally provided by a sovereign state.
50.) Boniface Alexandre, 2004-2006: Fulfilled his term
51.) René Préval, 1996-2011: Fulfilled his term
52.) Michel Martelly, 2011 – present
In 2011, Haitians more or less acknowledged they had given up trying to rule themselves when they elected Michel Martelly (aka “Sweet Mickey), a popular Kompa musician and celebrity, as their president. In the US, this would have been the equivalent of someone like Macklemore or Jay Z winning the presidency.
Note: I should add here that I don’t necessarily believe that “political instability” is responsible for Haiti’s condition. The present state of Detroit and other black-run major cities in the United States suggest otherwise.