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Self-Determining Haiti by James Weldon Johnson

Self-Determining Haiti



Four articles reprinted from _The Nation_ embodying a report of an investigation made for


_Together with Official Documents_

25 cents a copy

Copyright, 1920



The articles and documents in this pamphlet were printed in _The Nation_ during the summer of 1920. They revealed for the first time to the world the nature of the United States' imperialistic venture in Haiti. While, owing to the censorship, the full story of this fundamental departure from American traditions has not yet been told, it appears at the time of this writing, October, 1920, that "pitiless publicity" for our sandbagging of a friendly and inoffensive neighbor has been achieved. The report of Major-General George Barnett, commandant of the Marine Corps during the first four years of the Haitian occupation, just issued, strikingly confirms the facts set forth by _The Nation_ and refutes the denials of administration officials and their newspaper apologists. It is in the hope that by spreading broadly the truth about what has happened in Haiti under five years of American occupation _The Nation_ may further contribute toward removing a dark blot from the American escutcheon, that this pamphlet is issued.

Self-Determining Haiti



To know the reasons for the present political situation in Haiti, to understand why the United States landed and has for five years maintained military forces in that country, why some three thousand Haitian men, women, and children have been shot down by American rifles and machine guns, it is necessary, among other things, to know that the National City Bank of New York is very much interested in Haiti. It is necessary to know that the National City Bank controls the National Bank of Haiti and is the depository for all of the Haitian national funds that are being collected by American officials, and that Mr. R. L. Farnham, vice-president of the National City Bank, is virtually the representative of the State Department in matters relating to the island republic. Most Americans have the opinion--if they have any opinion at all on the subject--that the United States was forced, on purely humane grounds, to intervene in the black republic because of the tragic coup d'etat which resulted in the overthrow and death of President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam and the execution of the political prisoners confined at Port-au-Prince, July 27-28, 1915; and that this government has been compelled to keep a military force in Haiti since that time to pacify the country and maintain order.

The fact is that for nearly a year before forcible intervention on the part of the United States this government was seeking to compel Haiti to submit to "peaceable" intervention. Toward the close of 1914 the United States notified the government of Haiti that it was disposed to recognize the newly-elected president, Theodore Davilmar, as soon as a Haitian commission would sign at Washington "satisfactory protocols" relative to a convention with the United States on the model of the Dominican-American Convention. On December 15, 1914, the Haitian government, through its Secretary of Foreign Affairs, replied: "The Government of the Republic of Haiti would consider itself lax in its duty to the United States and to itself if it allowed the least doubt to exist of its irrevocable intention not to accept any control of the administration of Haitian affairs by a foreign Power." On December 19, the United States, through its legation at Port-au-Prince, replied, that in expressing its willingness to do in Haiti what had been done in Santo Domingo it "was actuated entirely by a disinterested desire to give assistance."

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