H-Diplo (repost): "State of the Field Essay: Haiti’s Revolution and the Early American Republic" by Wendy Wong-Schirmer
State of the Field Essay: Haiti’s Revolution and the Early American Republic
Essay by Wendy Wong-Schirmer, McNeil Center for Early American Studies
To say that relations between the United States and Haiti are often uneasy is an understatement. Even though Haitian independence became a reality in 1804, the United States did not formally recognize Haiti until 1862. Literary scholars and historians like Michael Dash and Mary Renda have noted the fraught nature of U.S.-Haitian relations that continued into the twentieth century and beyond. Others such as Philippe Girard have further argued that any ongoing instability has its historical origins in the political strife of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) and Haiti’s own war for independence. Building on Girard’s observation, the seemingly distant past is important for the study of more contemporary U.S. foreign relations. Foreign relations between the then former French colony of St. Domingue and the early United States are a study in how foreign relations can occur without formal recognition. They also constitute an important site for examining the promises of revolution and the dynamics of modernity and progress.