Learning About Haiti Will Make Your Mission Trip More Meaningful
Did you know Haiti declared its independence in 1804 it was the first democracy started by people of African descent? Did you know the Haitians defeated an army sent by Napolean? Did you know Haiti was once the richest island in the Caribbean and was called the “Pearl of the Caribbean?” Did you know the Haitian people always seem to find something to be joyful about, despite the challenges of chronic poverty and dependence?
These are just a few of the facts that you can learn when you study Haiti in preparation for you mission trip there. The information on this page can give a an overview. The free ebook below can give you much more detailed information. Whether you’re planning to travel to Haiti with World Wide Village, or with some other organization, we hope you will read up on Haiti before you go. The Haitians you meet will appreciate it…and so will you!
We’ve also included a free Mission Team Fundraising Guide to help you raise the money you will need to take your mission trip. It’s full of practical tips on making your trip a reality. We hope you find it useful.
Please fill out the form below to get your free history of Haiti ebook:
More Ways to Learn About Haiti
Haiti Could Be Rich Again — A Story of Haiti’s Economic History in the NY Times
HAITI wasn’t always the “poorest nation in the Western hemisphere,” though it’s almost impossible to read about the country today without coming across that phrase. READ MORE…
A Brief History of Haiti
- December 5, 1492: Columbus discovers Haiti (the island of Hispaniola)
- 1697: The Spaniards cede the western third of Hispaniola to the French crown at the Treaty of Ryswick. Haiti is now called “Saint Domingue”.
- 1697-1791: Saint Domingue becomes the richest colony in the world. Its capital, Cap Français, is known as the Paris of the New World. It is also a regime of extraordinary cruelty; the 500,000 slaves taken by the French are flogged, starved, and buried alive for minor offenses.
- August 1791: the first major black rebellion takes place, initiated by Boukman, a voodoo houngan. This begins the markings of civil war between the black dominated north and the mulatto dominated south.
- 1796: Toussaint L’Ouverture, an educated herb doctor and military man, emerges as the leader of the former slaves in the north. He restored order, ended the massacres, and restored some of Saint Domingue’s former prosperity.
- 1801: Napoleon Bonaparte despatches an army of 34,000 to tru to subdue the slave armies and retake the colony for France; this mission was unsuccessful. The leader of the army Leclerc ultimately had Toussaint L’Ouverture seized and deported to France. He died within a year.
- May 1802: Convention in Paris reintroduces slavery, which brings on more rebellions and massacres.
- January 1804: Jean Jacques Dessalines proclaimed the independent black Republic of Haiti in the northern half of the island. Dessalines was unpopular with the mulattos and was assassinated in 1806. His death led to civil war again between the south (under General Petion) and the north (under Henry Christophe).
- 1820: Henry Christophe commits suicide by shooting himself with a silver bullet; he had been a tyrannical ruler, crowning himself “king”, and building a palace and citadel (at Cap Haitien in the north) at great cost to Haitian lives. At his death Haiti was taken over by General Boyer, and civil war ceased. Boyer obtained official Haitian independence from France at the price of 150 million French francs.
- 1843 to 1915: Haiti sees 22 heads of state, most of whom leave office by violent means. Rivalry continues among the whites, the mulatto elite, and the blacks.
- 1915: Presdient Guillaume Sam is dismembered and the Americans invade the country. They remain for 19 years. Despite improvements made to the infrastructure by the Americans, the Haitians opposed their presence.
- 1934: The Americans leave Haiti, which is now prospering once again.
- 1957: François Duvalier, a doctor and union leader, was elected president. Duvalier, also known as ‘Papa Doc’, terrorized the country, rooting out any and all opponents to his administration. He was a practicing vodunist, his loa being Baron Samedi, the guardian of cemeteries and a harbinger of death. He ensured his power through his private militia, the tontons macoutes (which means in kreyol, “uncle boogeyman”).
- 1964: Duvalier changes the constitution so that he can be elected president for life.
- 1971: François Duvalier dies and is succeeded by his son Jean Claude, age 19 (also known as ‘Baby Doc’). By this time Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere (and remains so to this day).
- February 1986: The Duvalier regime collapses under Operation Deschoukay and Baby Doc flees to France.
- December 1990: Jean-Bertrand Aristide (a religious priest) is elected in a landslide victory.
- Military coup deposes Aristide’s government; Organization of American states imposes an embargo lasting three years.
- 1994: Aristide returns to Haiti to serve out his term of office, facilitated by the US military and UN troops
- January 12, 2010: A devasting earthquake strikes Haiti, killing 300,000 people, leaving 1,000,000 homeless, and crumbling an almost non-existent infrastructure.
- April, 2011: Michel Martelly elected President with 68% of the vote. He is wildly popular with the Haitian people, bringing a new hope that he will end the political corruption that has plagued Haiti’s history.