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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.

—1803 Napoleon's defeat in Haiti prompts him to sell the Louisiana Territory, which stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, to the United States, greatly expanding the young republic.


1804 Stephen Jumel, a French planter who had property in Haiti and his wife, Eliza, purchase Jumel Mansion in Harlem. The building dates from 1765 and was the temporary headquarters of George Washington after his losses at the Battle of Long Island.

—1806 Louisiana's territorial legislature, fearing the influence of the Haitian Revolution, bars entry to all free black males over 14 years old from the French Caribbean. In 1808, the ban is extended to all free black males regardless of origin.

—1809 Nearly 10,000 white, free black and slave refugees from Saint-Domingue arrive in New Orleans after they are driven out of Cuba, accused of stirring up unrest.


—1822 Denmark Vesey, inspired by the Haitian Revolution, plots to launch a slave insurrection; he is betrayed, captured and hanged.

—1829 Father James Joubert de la Muraille, a French priest and refugee from the Haitian Revolution, persuades two black nuns, Elizabeth Clarisse Lange and Marie Magdelaine Balas, to open a school for black children in Baltimore. They create the first order of black nuns, the Oblate Sisters of Providence.

—1844 The United States helps Spanish-speaking Santo Domingo break away from 20 years of Haitian rule, splitting the island permanently into two countries.


—1845 Armand Lanusse publishes Les Cenelles in New Orleans, the first collection of African-American poetry; many of the authors are émigrés from Saint-Domingue.

—1849 Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes, son of a Haitian immigrant, is born in Louisiana. He becomes a historian of the Creoles and member of the group that brings Plessy v. Ferguson to challenge segregated transportation.

—1863 President Abraham Lincoln recognizes the independence of Haiti and establishes relations with the black Republic.


—1868 President Andrew Johnson suggests annexing Haiti and the Dominican Republic to establish a U.S. presence in the Caribbean.

—1888 U.S. Asst. Secretary of State Alvey Adee calls Haiti "a public nuisance at our door."

—1889 Frederick Douglass appointed minister to Haiti by President William H. Harrison.


—1893 A Haitian Pavilion is featured in the Chicago World's Fair. The fair is the site of a speech by Frederick Douglass, celebrating the achievement of the Haitian people and their 90 years of independence.

—1915 U.S. Marines enter Haiti, ostensibly to protect U.S. citizens from violence during political turmoil. They fight and defeat a resistance movement and establish military rule that lasts 19 years.

—1917 Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State, Williams Jennings Bryan, sharing his newly acquired knowledge of Haiti, declares: "Imagine that! Niggers speaking French!"


—1920 Haiti is one of the original members of the League of Nation, the ill-fated predecessor of the United Nations organized by Woodrow Wilson.

—1927 Sociologist Jean Price-Mars writes Ainsi Parla l'Oncle (Thus Spoke the Uncle), one of the first serious analyses of African influence in New World culture. It inspires black nationalists in the United States and anti-colonialists in Africa including Léon Damas and Leopold Senghor.

—1933 John Houston Craig, a former Marine officer who served in Haiti, writes the best-selling Cannibal Cousins, recycling the old libel that voodoo practitioners engage in cannibalism.


—1934 U.S. Marines withdraw from Haiti after 19 years and return the country to civilian rule.

—1957 Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier is elected president of Haiti; his government becomes a bloody dictatorship. The United States supports him because of his anti-Communist stance.

—1971 Duvalier dies; his son Jean-Claude, known as Baby Doc, takes over and becomes president-for-life.


—1973   The Reagan administration rejects economic refugee status for Haitians who flee to Florida, a policy that the two Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton will continue.

—1981 Between 1981 and 1990, 22,940 Haitians are interdicted at sea. Only 11 qualified for asylum.

—1986 Jean Claude Duvalier is ousted by popular uprising. The United States provides transportation out of the country.


—1991 Jean-Bertrand Aristide, elected president of Haiti in the most democratic election in the country's history, is ousted in a coup after seven months in office. He goes to the United States in exile.

—1994 Backed by a U.N. resolution, the Clinton administration uses military force to restore Aristide to power. His term ends in 1995, and he is succeeded by René Preval.

—2004 Aristide, elected again in 2000, leaves under pressure of an armed rebellion; he claims the United States kidnapped him and shipped him to Africa.


—2010 Jan. 12, U.S. takes the lead in vast rescue operation from the earthquake that leaves 250,000 dead and an estimated $11.5 billion in damages.

—2010 March 25, President Obama asks Congress for a $2.8 billion special appropriation to pay for rescue costs and to help rebuild Haiti.

2010 November 28, Haiti holds general elections to select a new president, 10 senators and 99 lower-house deputies. The process is immediately challenged as fraudulent, setting off violence and widespread protests. 


Joel Dreyfuss is managing editor of The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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