The United States and Haiti, 1791-1863: A Racialized Foreign Policy and its Domestic Correlates
Abstract (Summary)The Haitian Revolution represents a truly unique moment in world history. Between 1789 and 1804 a colony composed primarily of black plantation slaves overthrew their white masters and with them a well-established political and economic system. Founding a new state composed of and led by free blacks, the Haitian Revolution succeeded in this respect against all odds and the best efforts of the leading imperial powers. The largely reactionary policies of the United States which resulted from this event suggest a need for further investigation. The Haitian Revolution clearly touched a raw nerve in American domestic politics and society, bringing into view apparent divisions in these spheres on a range of topics, with race relations foremost among them. In the face of the Haitian Revolution, American foreign policy took a number of seemingly contradictory turns, ultimately resulting in the non-recognition of Haiti for years to come. Scholarship in this area has clearly revealed the influence of Southern slaveholders who succeeded in applying a racist ideology in order to effectively isolate Haiti from the United States. Despite various and compelling counter-interests, their proponents never mobilized extensively enough to pose a significant threat to the agenda of Southern conservatives until the outbreak of the Civil War. A study of the development of Haiti as an object of ideological and symbolic importance in American politics reveals the important role it played in fueling both sides of the increasingly sectional divide over race and the future of slavery in the United States. By tracing the evolution of U.S. policy and thought on Haiti, a new perspective on America's long and painful journey out of slavery is proposed; one that exists at the intersection of racial politics and the construction of foreign policy.
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:united states haiti foreign policy race politics
Date of Publication:01/01/2008