Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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HAYTI. This island, one of the four great Antilles, is situated between 17° 43' and 19° 58' of north latitude, and 70° 45' and 76° 55' of west longitude. Its length is 600 kilometres from east to west, and its width varies from 27 to 238 kilometres from north to south. Hayti was discovered by Christopher Columbus, Dec. 6, 1492, two months after the little island of Guanahani (now San Salvador) had first realized the dream of his genius. The name Hayti, in the language of the aborigines, signifies mountainous country. Columbus called it Hispaniola; the French and English called it San Domingo, from the name of the city founded in 1495 by Bartholomew Columbus, and which became the capital of the first Spanish settlement. Four great chains of mountains extend from east to west, and numerous rivers flow down from them. The peak of Cibas rises 2,400 metres above the sea, it is in the centre of the gold region which first of all excited the cupidity of the Spaniards. Copper, lead, silver, mercury, rock salt, sulphur and marble are also found. The existence of coal is indicated in several places. But it is not the working of these different minerals which at present constitutes the resources of Hayti. Its real wealth is dye and cabinet woods, and its tropical productions, coffee, sugar, cocoa and cotton, to which must be added cattle, hogs and sheep. To these advantages are added those of climate. Though very warm its climate is tempered by the trade winds, abundant rains and the almost equal length of day and night. If the climate in the valleys is a little unhealthy owing to the moisture, that of the plateaus is, on the contrary, very salubrious. Hurricanes and earth-quakes sometimes produce ravages; but they are the only scourges to be feared, for there are no dangerous animals, the importunity of the musquitos being the only inconvenience to be met, or rather to be avoided.


—The painful phases of the history of San Domingo are known. In the sixteenth century the Spaniards worked the mines so actively that they sacrificed the Indians of the five states into which the country was divided at the arrival of Columbus, and according to one historian not 150 individuals were left at the end of that same century. The conquerors, themselves decimated by maladies and their own struggles, replaced them. In 1586 Drake ravaged the still feeble colony; later appeared the buccaneers, who from their little island la Tortue, attacked Hayti from time to time and established themselves in the west. This gave occasion to the occupation, in 1664, by France, who came to regulate the colony founded by the forlorn hope of her civilization, and who, in 1697, at the peace of Ryswick, had her right of possession sanctioned. This new colony prospered, but though less cruel than the Spaniards, the French, too, managed the country harshly by means of slavery. An insurrection of negroes, which took place in 1722, was soon repressed. At last the French national assembly, March 28, 1790, decreed that in the colonies mulattoes and free blacks were called to the rank of citizens and to equality with the whites. San Domingo was then deeply disturbed; the colonies wished to be freed from colonial dependence, and to win their administrative freedom, but they did not wish to share their advantages with men of mixed blood any more than they wished to free the blacks. The former revolted, the slaves joined their enterprise and the island was soon in a flame.


—In 1793 the agents of France abolished slavery, and the following year (1794) the convention ratified this act. The colonists then called the English and Spanish to their aid, and took possession of a part of the territory. But Toussaint-Louverture, a negro chieftain, the most energetic, perhaps, but not the most intelligent, in the war of independence, repulsed the foreign troops and ended by making himself master of the part of the island which Spain had possessed up to that time and which she had just ceded to France by the treaty of Basle (April 2, 1795). He easily acquired the life title of governor general of the colony of San Domingo, as it was termed by the constitution of May 9, 1801, elaborated by a central assembly, that he himself had formed, of ten members, three mulattoes and seven whites, which constitution he submitted to the vote of deputies of the departments; but the consular government would not sanction the act. Therefore the first consul in 1801-2 sent his brother-in-law, Gen. Leclerc, with 20,000 men, to reconquer Hayti and re-establish affairs on a former footing. Leclerc seized Toussaint-Louverture by surprise and sent him to France, where he died April 27. 1803. The arrest and captivity of their chief exasperated the native population and they rose up under the command of two other leaders, Petion and Dessalines. The French then lost the advantages previously gained, and were driven back to the Cape. Rochambeau, the successor of Leclerc who had perished in the expedition, was forced to evacuate the French part of San Domingo at the end of the year 1803. The French maintained themselves only in the part ceded by Spain. The victorious insurgents then proclaimed their independence, and, as if recognizing themselves as avengers of the former population, they restored the ancient name of the island, Hayti. But these slaves who desired liberty, knew it not, and ranged themselves under the sceptre of Dessalines, proclaimed emperor under the name of James I. while Petion, in the south, founded a republican state.


—After the death of Dessalines and that of a second slave, a king also, Christopher, otherwise Henry I., Boyer, successor of Petion, united the two states, and added, in 1822, the eastern part from which the French had been finally expelled. Three years later, in 1825, the French recognized the independence of Hayti, at the same time stipulating for the former colonists an indemnity of 150,000,000 francs, which the debtors themselves were the first to recognize as just, in principle at least. At the same time Hayti contracted in France a loan of 30,000,000 francs, at 6 per cent. But the amount of the indemnity was found exorbitant by the Haytians; they declared themselves unable ever to pay this sum, and lengthy discussions arose on this subject which were finally terminated in 1838 by a treaty of commerce and friendship between France and the republic of Hayti, (Feb. 12 in Hayti, and promulgated in France May 30). A consequence of this treaty was a financial arrangement by which the debt, reduced to 60,000,000 francs, and released from interest, was to be paid from 1838 to 1867 inclusive. This term of thirty years was divided into six periods of five years each, with the obligation of paying each year of the first period, 1,500,000 francs; of the second, 1,600,000; of the third, 1,700,000; of the fourth, 1,800,000; of the fifth, 2,400,000; and of the sixth, 3,000,000. Said sums to be paid in French money during the first half of each year in Paris, into the Caisse des dépóts et consignations. The 1,500,000 francs for the first year (1838) were brought on the ship in which the French commissioners, Baron Lascases and Capt. Baudin, arrived, as well as the two Haytian commissioners, Messrs. Séguy-Villevaleix and B. Ardouin, afterward minister resident of Hayti in France, both intrusted with making this first payment. Besides, the interest on the loan was reduced from 6 to 3 per cent.*22 Thus President Boyer had the bonor of sealing the independence of his country by closing an affair which was the last mark of the former enslavement of Hayti to the foreigner. Unfortunately for him, accused of having halted in his course, and of being incapable of all initiative, he was excluded from power and replaced in 1843 by Gen. Herard-Riviére, who was excluded in turn the following year by Guerier. In 1845 Piérrot, in 1846 Riché, and in 1847 Soulouque, succeeded to power.


—Under Herard the eastern part of the island separated again and formed the Dominican republic, with Santanna as president, when the latter triumphed over the negro general, Soulouque, and a Dominican pretender, Ximenes. This new state was recognized in 1848 by France and England. But it did not last under the republican form; in 1862 it yielded to Spain, after profound misunderstandings among the citizens. This part of the country is the most extensive, comprising alone two-thirds of the former San Domingo; but it is the worst cultivated, though the soil is fertile, and the least inhabited since it does not contain 100,000 inhabitants. (See, for further details, Etudes sur l'histoire d'Haïti of M. B. Ardouin, minister resident of Hayti, Paris, Dezobry, 1856, 11 vols. in 8vo.)


—The republic of Hayti has in its turn suffered great vicissitudes. In 1849 its president, Soulouque, changed it into an empire, and was anointed April 18, 1852, under the name of Faustin I. His reign was not lasting, but still long enough to inflict much harm. He was obliged to leave Hayti Jan. 15, 1859, and Gen. Fabre Geffrard proclaimed the republic, and was chosen president. The republic has existed under nine constitutions, from that of May 28, 1790, to that which has been in force since 1867. They are not all absolutely different from each other, nor equally adapted to democratic government: the first two, those of 1790 and 1801, bear the marks of the colonial system; the last one, voted in 1863, was the same as that of 1806, developed in 1816, revised in 1846, and re-established by Geffrard, in 1859, with some essential modifications. The constitution of June 14, 1867, introduced into it more profound changes.


—The territory is divided into four departments, called departments of the south, of the west, of Artibonite, and of the north. These are subdivided into districts, which in their turn are partitioned into communes. The capital is Port-au-Prince, in the north. The extent of the republic is from 25,000 to 26,000 square kilometres. The population of Hayti is estimated at 850,000, but it appears not to exceed 570,000. More than four-fifths of the population are negroes; the rest are mulattoes. Port-au-Prince has 27,000 inhabitants.


—All Haytians are equal before the law, and enjoy all civil and political rights. All Africans and Indians or their descendants may become Haytians; but the constitution provides that no white man, of whatever nationality, can acquire this character or own real estate in the republic. The constitution of 1863 re-established a house of representatives, president and senate. The president was appointed for life by the senate, and had to be thirty-five years of age, a Haytian, and a property owner; he received a salary of 130,000 francs, and his powers, as well as those of the representatives and senators, are nearly the same as those granted by the democratic constitutions of modern Europe. His prerogatives are the right of pardon and amnesty of sovereigns; a body guard, governed, however, by the military laws in force; and a species of veto for cases in which his explained opposition to a law is not regarded by the house of representatives. The members of the house were fifty-six in number, with as many substitutes. The age required was twenty-five years. The other conditions, for them as well as the senators, were the same as for the president. Elections were to take place every five years from Feb. 1 to 10; the annual session was for three months beginning on the first Monday of April. Members received a salary of 400 francs a month during the session, and one piastre or five francs thirty-three centimes for each league from their domicile to the capital. The electoral colleges were formed, according to a rather complicated system, of citizens twenty-five years old, and electors chosen by citizens from twenty-one to twenty-five years, constituted in a primary assembly. The senate was composed of thirty-six members elected for nine years by the house of representatives, from a list drawn up by the president of Hayti, and containing three candidates for each senatorial seat. Senators were to be thirty years old, and to receive a yearly salary of 5,000 francs. They were the guardians of the constitution, in session all the year, or, if they adjourned, they were obliged to delegate to a committee the power of watching in their stead, and summoning them if necessary. To the senate belonged the nomination of the president of the republic, made in secret by a majority of two-thirds of the members present.


—The constitution of 1867 gave the house of representatives the title of house of commons. The representatives are elected for three years directly by the primary assemblies. The senate is appointed by the house of commons from a list of candidates furnished by the electoral colleges. The senate is renewed every two years. The meeting of both houses constitutes the national assembly. This assembly alone has the right to declare war, of which the president has merely the direction. It adopts or rejects treaties of peace, of commerce, etc., drawn up by the president. It may impeach the president and depose him. The president is elected for four years. There are five secretaries of state, one for each of the following departments: finance and commerce; foreign affairs; war and the navy; the interior and agriculture; public instruction, justice and worship. They are appointed by the president, and are responsible like all other functionaries. There is an incompatibility between the functions of the legislature and those of the state. Before 1867 the tribunals were at once civil, correctional and criminal. There was no tribunal of appeal. The only resort was to the court of cassation established for the whole republic. The constitution of 1867 created courts of appeal. Every extraordinary commission and court martial is prohibited. The French codes, with some necessary modifications of time, place and persons, form the Haytian codes, and the magistracy of the island bears the impress of French judicial organization. Justices of the peace may be removed, but other judges can not. Both are appointed by the president.


—The municipal organization began to share in the general system of liberty in Hayti only since the new constitution. The common councils appointed by the chief of the state had very restricted powers. The magistrate sanctioned marriages and had a general supervision of registry; but the management of the greater part of affairs was taken from him, he had no initiative, and it might be said that the Haytian communes were in a certain sense under the guardianship of the president. Since 1867 the common councils are elective and in possession of their natural attributes.


—The army was increased to 40,000 men; but since the time of Boyer, who commenced its reduction, it is considerably diminished. It contains scarcely 7,000 men at present. Formerly men were taken from eighteen to forty approximately. At present, when a regiment has to be filled, the commander of the district summons the young men who have least to do, those without profession or occupation necessary to the country, and finally those whose families can most easily dispense with them. He thus forms the required contingent. The term of service is twelve years. The national guard is formed of the remaining citizens. There are a few epaulettes too many in Hayti.


—The navy is composed of two steamers and a number of small vessels. A line of commercial steamers was established in June, 1863, along the 350 leagues of Haytian coast; it touches at fourteen ports, from Port-au-Prince to Cayes and back, and from Port-au-Prince to Cape Haytien and back.


—President Geffrard turned his attention especially to agriculture and public instruction. As property is much divided there is a large number of agriculturists to whom a little more enlightenment would be of great service. Negro immigrants, profiting by grants of land voted in 1860, came from the United States in search of liberty and well-being, and in payment brought good methods of cultivating valuable grains, especially better kinds of cotton. The law on public instruction provides punishment for parents who neglect the instruction of their children. There are 235 schools, attended by 15,000 children. Higher instruction, given in several colleges, principally in that of Port-au-Prince, is very flourishing. But it is wisely intended to form institutions on the model of the college Chaptal in Paris, in order to educate men who by avoiding Greek and Latin will be the earlier and better prepared for various duties, for commerce, industry and industrial arts.


—The commerce of Hayti consists of the commission business, wholesale and retail. According to article seven of the constitution foreigners can only carry on a commission business with permission of the chief of the state. The collection of customs on exports and imports produces the largest net and the largest gross revenue of the country, the other taxes being few and small. The best hopes of income are founded especially on the exportation of coffee, and as the production of this article, as well as that of sugar and cotton, increases, and finally, as the movement of exports and imports tends visibly to increase, everything promises a satisfactory financial future for Hayti. Still it is not yet out of difficulty, for, besides its debt and loan in France, it has to provide for the issue of paper money, amounting, in 1859, to only 50 million gourdes (13 gourdes equal 1 piastre), but in 1870 to 600 million gourdes, with no other guarantee than this same exportation of coffee, and the redemption of which must be continued without fail. It is very difficult to reduce these figures to European standards. The value of the piastre (5 fr. 33 cent) varied during the single year 1871, from 350 to 170 gourdes. In 1859 the receipts were 9,291,460 and the expenditures 5,180,760 francs, which leaves a surplus of 4,110,700 francs. The budget presented in 1864 by the minister of finance was composed as follows, estimated receipts of customs, 33,843,000 g.; various imposts, 1,483,500 g.; total, 35,326,500 g.; or, in francs, 14,483,864 fr. 59 c. The expenditures were estimated at 37,331,811 g. 28 c.; or, in francs, 15,206,042 fr. 20 c. The minister proposed an additional tax of 10 per cent. on the customs, and insisted on the necessity of redeeming a million of paper annually until more could be done. The expenditures are classed as follows: finances and commerce, 4,066,583 g. 06 c.; foreign affairs, 10,309,699 g.; army and navy, 8,301,664 g. 60 c.; minister of interior and agriculture, 10,301,504 g. 44 c.; public instruction, 2,689,542 g. 06 c.; justice and worship, 1,662,818 g. 12 c.


—The condition of the public debt, indemnity and loans to April 1, 1870, was 24,393,264 piastres, divided as follows: arrears, capital, 9,615,445 p.; interest, 3,365,405 p.; payments to date, 4,899,770 p.; loan, payable in 1883, 4,712,790 p.; current year, 1,799,852 p.


—The commercial operations of Hayti during the year 1859 are classed as follows:

Table.  Click to enlarge in new window.


During 1860, 60,000,000 pounds of coffee were exported. It was an exceptional year for this product, it is true, but the exportation is maintained near this considerable amount, for 1862 furnished 54,529,059 pounds. In 1859 the figures were 41,712,106 pounds. Cocoa appears for 1,743,853 pounds, in 1862; cotton, for 1,473,853 pounds; logwood, 167,005,650 pounds; mahogany, 2,441,887 feet. Indigo will soon be added to the list of exports. According to the Handelsarchir, the value of imports in 1866 was 8,423,585 thalers, and that of exports 11,813,732 thalers. The principal articles of export are always coffee, of which 55,090,000 pounds were exported in 1866, and 43,360,000 pounds in 1871; logwood, which furnished commerce in 1870 with 124,000,000 pounds; and cocoa, 1,820,000 pounds.


—Navigation is concentrated in three ports: Port-au-Prince, les Cayes, and Cape Haytien. The movement at these ports was, in 1864, 879 incoming ships, carrying 135,488 tons, and 875 outgoing ships, with 145,454 tons.*23


—BIBLIOGRAPHY. Ardouin, Etudes sur l'histoire de Haiti, 10 vols., Paris, 1853-61. Bonnéan, Haïti, ses progrès, son avenir, Paris, 1862; Jordan, Geschichte der Insel Haïti. Leipzig, 1846; Handelmann, Geschichte von Haïti, Kiel, 1856; Madiou, Histoire de Haiti, 3 vols., Port-au-Prince, 1847; Nau, Histoire des Caziques de Haïti, Port au-Prince, 1855; Hazard, Santo Domingo, Past and Present, with a Glance at Hayti, London, 1873; La Selve, Histoire de la littérature haïtienns depuis ses origines jusqu' à nos jours, Versailles, 1876.


Notes for this chapter

The first five annuities were paid; but after Boyer, President Herard was only able to pay the first annuity of the second series, and the payment of the debt was interrupted from 1844 to 1848 inclusive. These five years were added to the arrears by a convention of May 15, 1849, between Soulouque and the French consul, Levasecur. The payments have since been regularly made, and in October, 1861, Hayti owed no more than 38,909,000 francs. That year the minister resident of Hayti, in paying the stipulated annuity, paid besides 800,000 more as interest on the loan and for the redemption of 350 bonds of 1,000 francs, by drawing, as is done every year in the month of June.
The revenue and expenditure of Hayti are known only by estimates. The total public revenue is calculated to have amounted in recent years to about $4,500,000, and the expenditure to $7,000,000. There is a large floating debt, and also a foreign debt of $6,409,970. No interest has been paid for years on this debt. But still the government in 1875 issued with partial success a new foreign loan of $16,690,600, in order to extinguish the old debt, home and foreign, and to employ the remainder in building two lines of railways. The total annual imports of Hayti averaged, in the years 1875 to 1877, $5,900,000, and the exports, $6,560,000.

Footnotes for HISTORY

End of Notes

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