The United States is playing a leading role in the meeting at the United Nations this week, where countries will announce their commitment to help rebuild Haiti. The involvement of the United States with Haiti is not new, and it has not always been benign. The two countries have had consistent interactions since the mid-18th century. Take a look at The Root‘s timeline of important Haiti/U.S. relations.
–1492 Dec. 5, after “discovering” the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas and missing the North American continent completely, Christopher Columbus sets up the first European settlement in Hispaniola, the island now shared by Haiti and Santo Domingo.
–1760 Rosette Rochen is born in Alabama; she lives with a planter in Haiti until 1797, when she flees the Haitian Revolution to New Orleans; she becomes an important investor in the suburb of Marigny, later the home for many free blacks.
–1777 Some 861 “free colored” troops from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) under the command of French officers join U.S. rebel forces in fighting the British in Savannah, Ga. The battle claims 34 Haitian lives.
–1779 Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, son of a French pirate and a Haitian woman, settles on the Western shore of Lake Michigan and opens a trading post at what will become the city of Chicago.
–1785 John James Audubon is born in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), son of a French sea captain and his mistress. Raised in France, he becomes the leading wildlife painter in the United States in the first half of the 19th century.
–1787 Pierre Toussaint, a slave from Haiti, becomes hairdresser to the rich and powerful in New York City. A devout Catholic, a freed Toussaint ministers to the sick during a plague, becomes wealthy and raises funds for the first Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, begun in 1809. He is now a candidate for canonization.
–1793 The Haitian revolution sends thousands of refugees to the United States on French naval ships. The refugees, whites, free blacks and their slaves, settle in New Orleans, Charlotte, New York and Philadelphia, altering the demographics, politics and cultures of those cities.
–1794 The first newspaper in New Orleans is established by Louis Duclos, a refugee from Haiti.
–1795 Refugees from the French Revolution and the struggle in Haiti create the Courier de la France et des Colonies, a weekly newspaper in French, in Philadelphia to track events.