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Frederick Douglass offered keen insights into Haiti's strengths, weaknesses

Black Caribbean Literature (BCL)
Yolette Ibokette (Author)
Newspaper Article
Publication Date:
May 2007
Dorchester, MA
African American Research Center, Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject Term:
Caribbean area, History, International relations, United States, Blacks, Haiti, Developing countries, Least developed countries, Douglass, Frederick,1817?-1895
[Frederick Douglass] lamented the fact that the U.S. continues to shun Haiti although it has enriched American merchants, farmers and the country overall. He acknowledged a common complaint of Americans at the time that Haiti was more friendly to France and other European countries than the U.S. However, he partly blamed the US for not reaching out to Haiti with respect and friendship. He also cited Haiti's many institutional and cultural connections to France - language, literature, laws and government - as reasons for its friendship with France. Still, Douglass asserted that the main reason for the United States' ambiguous attitude towards Haiti was racial. In discussing Haiti's geography, Douglass lavishly praises its climate; lofty mountains; strikingly beautiful valleys, lakes, rivers and plains; blue waters and the exquisite Bay of Portau-Prince and Mole St. Nicolas. Douglass noted that the U.S. wanted the Mole for a naval station in order to dominate the area's commercial market before and after the then anticipated Nicaragua Canal was completed. The U.S. was also considering taking the Mole by force, if necessary. However, Douglass warned them that Haiti would not peacefully give up the harbor and that it would cost too much to take it by force.