Time Line of the History of Haiti

From Christopher Columbus to present day. *

1492 Christopher Columbus lands near today's city of Cap Haitien and claims the island of Hispaniola for Spain. The western third of the island is now Haiti and the rest of the island is the Dominican Republic.

1625 First French settlements on Tortuga Island, off the northwest coast, are established.

mid-1600s French settlements and plantations are established in coastal areas on the western third of the island.

1697 Under the terms of the Treaty of Ryswick, Spain cedes the western third of Hispaniola to France.

1700s The French colony of Saint Domingue is the most lucrative colony in the world, at this time, more lucrative than the 13 Colonies. Its slave-produced tropical crops-sugar, rum, cotton, tobacco, and indigo-generated great wealth. Near the end of the 18th century, 500,000 to 700,000 people, mainly of western African origin, were enslaved by the French.

1791 The Haitian Revolution begins when a group of slaves gather at Bois-Caiman in the northern part of the colony. Jamaican-born Dutty Boukman holds a voodoo ceremony that launches the struggle.

1803 The Haitian blue-and-red flag is adopted at the Congress of Arcahaie. The Battle of Vertieres is the last victory of the Haitians over the French.

1804 Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti independent on January 1, after crushing the French army sent to re-enslave Haiti. Over half the people in Haiti die before the struggle has run its course.

1806 Jean-Jacques Dessalines is assassinated at Pont-Rouge.

1815-1816 Simon Bolivar gets asylum in Haiti twice and also receives military assistance to liberate South America from Spain.

1822 Haiti invades the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo (today's Dominican Republic), and ends slavery there.

1838 France fully and unconditionally recognizes Haiti's independence. It had given Haiti "conditional" recognition in 1825 after Haiti promised to pay 150 million gold francs as "compensation" for its "losses."

1844 The Haitian occupation of Santo Domingo ends.

1862 The United States recognizes Haiti.

1889 Frederick Douglass is appointed as U.S. Minister and Consul general to Haiti.

1915 United States Marines invade Haiti and occupy it. A largely peasantt guerrilla army, known as the cacos, resists the occupiers under the leadership of Charlemagne Peralte, who is betrayed and assassinated by Marines in 1919.

1934 As popular resistance grows stronger, the nineteen-year U.S. occupation ends.

1937 Between 17,000 to 35,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic are massacred by the Dominican armed forces on the orders of President Rafael Trujillo. U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull subsequently declared "President Trujillo is one of the greatest men in Central America and in most of South America."

1957 Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier becomes President of Haiti.

1958-1964 Duvalier attacks his opponents violently, driving many of them into exile.

1964 Papa Doc declares himself "President-for-Life."

1971 Francois Duvalier dies and is succeeded by his son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

1970s-1980s Thousands of Haitians flee poverty and repression in Haiti by boat, often arriving in South Florida.

1982-1984 The U.S. State Department's Agency for International Development and the Organization of American States (CAS) oversee the slaughter of Haiti's "creole pigs," accused of being carriers of African Swine Fever. This is a major blow to the peasant economy.

1986 Widespread protests against repression force Baby Doc to flee Haiti
on February 7th. The U.S. Air Force flies him to exile in France. A military junta, headed by Gens. Henri Namphy and Williams Regala, takes power.

1987 In July, big landowners (grandons) massacre hundreds of peasants demanding land in Jean-Rabel. In November, presidential elections are canceled after Army soldiers and former Tonton Macoutes massacre dozens of would-be voters.

1988 In January Christian Democrat Leslie Manigat is elected in military-run elections boycotted by the Haitian people and most candidates. In June he is overthrown in military coup by Gen. Namphy. In September Namphy is overthrown by Gen. Prosper Avril.

1990 President/General Prosper Avril declares a state of siege in January. Rising protests convince Avril to resign in March. A Provisional Government led by Supreme Court Justice Ertha Pascal- Trouillot is formed. Democratic elections take place on December 16, 1990. Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, well known throughout the country for his support of the poor, is elected president with 67.5% of the counted popular vote. The "U.S. favorite" Marc Bazin finishes a distant second with 14.2% .

1991 In January, a coup by Fonner Tonton Macoutes head Roger Lafontant is foiled after tens of thousands pour into the streets of the capital, surrounding the National Palace. Aristide is sworn in as president February 7. On September 30, a military coup deposes Aristide, who goes into exile first in Venezuela, then in the United States.

1991-1994 Thousands of Haitians flee violence and repression in Haiti by boat. Although most are repatriated to Haiti by the U.S. government, many enter the United States as refugees.

1994 The de facto military government resigns at the request of the United States in September, which then sends in troops to occupy Haiti. This occupation is sanctioned by the United Nations in violation of its own charter. The U.S. returns Aristide as president October 15.

1995 The U.S. nominally hands over military authority to the United Nations but maintains effective control of the occupation. Aristide dissolves the Haitian army. In December, Fonner prime minister Rene Preval is elected president.

1996 Aristide leaves office on February 7th and is succeeded by Rene Preval.

2000 Legislative, municipal and local elections are held in May. The OAS disputes how the sovereign electoral council calculates the runoffs for eight Senate seats. In November, Aristide is reelected for a second five-year term with 92% of the vote in elections boycotted by the opposition. The last UN peacekeeping forces withdraw from Haiti.

2001 Aristide succeeds Preval for a second five-year term.

2001-2003 With Washington's support, Aristide's bourgeois opponents use the OAS challenge to the 2000 elections to increase economic and political instability. Fonner Haitian soldiers carry out guerrilla attacks, primarily along the Dominican border and in the capital.

2004 January 1. Haiti's 200th anniversary of independence.

* Haiti, A Slave Revolution: 2000 years after 1804, edited by Pat Chin, Greg Dunkel, Sara Flounders and Kim Ives, International Action Center , 2004

Top of page


Site Contents: Adjoa Gzifa & Eileen Flanagan.
Site Design: Delwar Sayeed. Center for Teaching and Learning.