Haiti and Santo Domingo Today -- I

By Ernest H. Gruening

The Nation 114 (Feb. 8, 1922).

In ten days' diligent inquiry in the Dominican Republic I could not find a single native who did not want the American Occupation to get out, bag and baggage, at the earliest possible moment. In twice that period in Haiti I could not discover a single Haitian who was not profoundly unhappy, disillusioned about all things American, and did not desire the return of Haitian sovereignty and independence.

Among thinking Haitians I found that beneath the universal discontent were varying shades of sentiment. First, there is the group, by far the largest, represented by the Union Patriotique, which sees the American Occupation exactly for what it is -- an illegal and unwarranted assault conceived in wholly selfish motives on the rights and liberty of an independent, small, and always friendly state -- and stands in consequence for unconditional return of unqualified Haitian sovereignty at the earliest moment. A second group, which includes a fair proportion of the small business men, while longing for the withdrawal of the Americans still hopes that some kind of an advantageous situation in the nature of a compromise may be worked out -- it wants Haiti's liberty but still hopes for unselfish American assistance. A third group, insignificant numerically but holding by virtue of the American Occupation all the privileges and perquisites which the latter can bestow, is willing to connive with the Occupation as the best course for its members personally in a situation which they feel rather hopeless. In this group are the President, his council of state of twenty-one members, and a few of the other more important state-appointed functionaries. Their views are in part undoubtedly colored by their positions, by the strenuous efforts of the Occupation to cause a split in Haitian ranks, and in part by the inevitable personalities of such men who after the six and a half years of oppression are the docile and pliant residue from whom have been gradually filtered those who preferred principle to expediency and would not longer assist in riveting the chains on their country. The Occupation propaganda which was visibly absorbed by Senator Pomerene -- I cannot account for his discourteous heckling of M. Georges Sylvain in any other way -- that the Union Patriotique merely represents the political "outs" is amply disproved by the history of those of its members that have had public careers. Virtually everyone of these has been tempted with high office, many in vain, while others having tried it for a time in the hope of rendering some service to their country have found themselves inevitably forced into a position which they believed to be wholly against Haiti's interests.

For the government so-called, in short, the President -- for his council merely executes his orders and the slightest resistance on the part of any of them causes his dismissal -- is a phantom government, a marionette of which the Occupation pulls the strings. Ever since Secretary Daniels's radio (1) ordering Admiral Caperton, one week after the election of Dartiguenave, to seize Haitian custom-houses with the prescription: "Have President Dartiguenave solicit it, but whether President so requests or not, proceed," the Occupation has attempted to follow this ingenious policy. Every act of autocratic tyranny for which President Dartiguenave could be induced to take verbal responsibility has been made to appear to have the sanction of the Haitian Government. And unfortunately for the Haitians, Dartiguenave, the man whose election "the United States prefers," according to Admiral Benson's radio to Admiral Caperton,(2) has been more than pliant. The testimony of Generals Butler, Waller, Cole, and other high marine officers before the Senatorial Commission would indicate that in many instances he exceeded the wishes of the Occupation in demanding repressive measures. Of course the situation is admirably adapted to the game known as "passing the buck," but a psychoanalytical study would go far to explain President Dartiguenave's course. The Eumenides are haunting his waking hours. In not one of the three interviews I had with him privately, nor in the meeting with President Henriquez y Carvejal, at which I was present, could he keep from talking of his enemies and how they were attacking him. As he is amply protected by American bayonets, these fears are but the reflection of his own conscience. I believe not many Haitians would hold up against him his responsibility for the treaty which they now fear has destroyed their birthright -- they all hope, not irretrievably. They realized at the time -- and the whole world now knows since the Navy Department's dispatches have been read into the record -- that he was under every kind of pressure, and that in that grave crisis his course may have seemed the wisest. At least no one could expect that the United States would itself fail -- as it has -- to carry out a single one of its own obligations in the treaty which it had written and imposed. No, not for that would the name of Dartiguenave be anathema in Haiti today, but rather because having turned over the country to the alien invader he used his every effort to defeat the attempt of other Haitians to regain the lost independence. His position of unique security and vantage he used to oppress his own fellow-countrymen, to demand himself the imprisonment of patriotic journalists who were criticizing his actions, and, most ignominious of all, to decorate, to adorn with his own hands, the breasts of marine officers for the exploits against the Haitians who were revolting against the invader. Surely, they say in Haiti, that was a depth to which he need not have sunk.

Only once did he resist the encroachments of the Americans: in the summer of 1920 when he opposed the efforts of Mr. McIlhenny, the financial adviser, to put through a loan and was punished by having his salary held up for weeks -- one of scores of gross illegalities practiced by American officials in Haiti. This resistance may have been inspired wholly by patriotic motives. On the other hand the military Occupation has no love for Mr. McIlhenny. President Dartiguenave showed me the carbon of a letter written November 10 last to President Harding in which he demanded McIlhenny's removal and protested against the loan which the latter was negotiating, but he took occasion to devote the second part of this letter dealing supposedly with financial matters to an enthusiastic eulogy of Colonel John H. Russell, the chief of the Occupation, expressing the hope that he would be retained in Haiti whatever else happened. The working alliance between these two has long been obvious.

It is just to record here that I also heard Colonel Russell highly praised by Archbishop Conan of Port au Prince and by Bishop Pichon of Aux Cayes, who spoke to me of the chief of the Occupation as a fine, upstanding man, beloved of all the Haitians. Truth compels me to report that I did not find the view shared by any Haitians (the clergy is French) although in my personal relations with him I found Colonel Russell thoroughly courteous and kind. I tried to ascertain whether his general unpopularity was merely the natural opposition of an oppressed people to the chief agent of the Occupation, but I found the Haitians distinguishing sharply between individuals. Everywhere I heard nothing but the highest praise for certain marine officers who had in the past held responsible posts in Haiti -- General Catlin, Colonel Little, and Lieutenant Colonel Wise -- of whom without exception all who discussed the marine personnel spoke in terms of admiration and even affection. Here were three officers, I was told, who had understood the tragic difficulty of the Haitian position and had been friendly and sympathetic.

The question of personnel is of course tremendously important as long as the Occupation continues, though nobody, be he ever so kindly and human, can wholly transmute a military Occupation into a lawn party; and it should not be forgotten for an instant that the great atrocity in Haiti is that we are there at all -- and the manner of our going in. And this is fundamentally why the present situation is and will continue impossible, even should we substitute a more sympathetic type of marine personnel and replace the civilian "deserving Democrats," the most important of whom Senator McCormick described as "both socially attractive and personally charming, but how otherwise qualified I am not informed." As Haiti has not been permitted under the rigid color line the Occupation has drawn to enjoy their social attractiveness and personal charm, the actual benefit derived is not difficult to calculate. The situation is fundamentally impossible because the Haitians now firmly believe, following the preliminary report of the Senatorial Commission, that faith and honor are not in the United States. They had been hopeful and confident in the belief that the invasion of 1916 was the act of an irresponsible autocracy in Washington, undertaken without the consent of Congress or the knowledge of the American people, as indeed it was. They hoped that when the American people was finally informed, all this would be swept away and that their century-old liberty would be regained. President Harding's campaign declarations on the subject of Haiti naturally fortified their hope.

What is behind the seizure of Haiti and Santo Domingo? How much is commercial and financial, how much military, and how much just plain blundering? One of the earliest impressions I received, even en route to Haiti, was the way in which marine officers took the Caribbean for granted as a field of activity; being detailed to Costa Rica to keep the Panamanians in their place, or getting "action" in Nicaragua appeared to be all in the day's work; and Haiti and Santo Domingo, while apparently viewed as United States domains, furnished splendid military opportunities, The Caribbean, indeed, is already a great Marine Corps "proving" ground, and the subconscious effect on the attitude of the average marine officer is evident. The corps is not a large body, and its proportion of officers to men is larger than in army or navy. Marines now hold Haiti and Santo Domingo; they have been in Nicaragua since 1912; detachments are in Cuba,(3) Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Canal Zone, Panama, and for all any ordinary citizen of our democracy is permitted to know, in other Central American republics. It would perhaps need but one more "Occupation" to necessitate an increase in the size of the Marine Corps -- and that means more officers and more rapid promotion. Moreover the opportunities for the individual officer are obviously far greater under conditions of military rule than they would be at some dull post in the United States, as indeed they always are in the field. In Santo Domingo a formerly obscure paymaster, Lieutenant Commander Mayo, the man who floated the notorious 14 percent loan, became the financial mogul of that republic. In Haiti American officers live infinitely better than they could at home. A lieutenant can afford a large house and several servants, and as an officer in the Gendarmerie d'Haiti (or Guardia Nacional in Santo Domingo) he gets an automobile at the expense of the Haitians or Dominicans, and other perquisites.

As for the chiefs of the respective Occupations, they are not only civil and military dictators but the supreme social arbiters of the foreign colony as well. N every sense they are monarchs of all they survey. No one who incurs the royal displeasure in Haiti is received at the American Club or at other social American functions. The business man, American and foreign, soon finds that it is not merely to his advantage but essential to his well-being to keep on good terms with them. One American business man who complained to me bitterly that the methods employed by the Americans in Haiti had destroyed the prestige and good name of the United States and that such a policy was bound to work to our commercial disadvantage, shuddered at the suggestion of relating these facts to the Senatorial Commission. In answer to my inquiry, he said, "Frankly, because I have a wife and children, and I want to stay in Haiti." I asked him whether he really felt that giving such information to the Commission would endanger his safety "I would certainly be put out of business," he said. "As far as my life is concerned, all I can say is that most everyone here knows what happened to Lifschütz." Lifschütz was the one American civilian who dared openly to criticize the Occupation and he happens also to have been the only American civilian ever killed in Haiti.

Senator McCormick, who long before the Commission was created recorded himself publicly in favor of our retention for twenty years of the Civil Occupation of Haiti, but now accepts the military view completely, told me in conversation that his interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine gave us "militant rights down to the Orinoco Basin." This, I take it, means that we can according to our needs more or less gobble up everything in and around the Caribbean. South of the Orinoco, Senator McCormick is "wiring that the united States should pursue a noli me tangere policy." Mr. McCormick's successor may substitute the Amazon for the Orinoco, and Senator Some-one-else may feel that our sphere of militancy should not stop short of the Straits of Magellan. But the fruits of this policy are already visible in our actual, partial, potential, and rapidly increasing domination of the weaker states of the Caribbean.

Of course all this proceeds under the guise of be benevolence -- a pretension solemnly maintained with evident sincerity by a great number of persons and with a tongue in cheek by others. Colonel Russell told me that it was the two million Haitian country people that he wanted to help, and that he was very fond of them but against the "three hundred agitators in Port au Prince," and this view was echoed by other officers. The Occupation's affection for the Haitian proletariat is truly touching. Obviously if the intellectual crowd, which for better or worse has made Haiti for a century or more, is eliminated, the most docile and cheapest labor supply that a concessionaire ever dreamed of will be easily available. Twenty cents a day is the current Haitian wage. But if this was Colonel Russell's view, it was not that of his friend H. P. Davis, vice-president and general manager of the United West Indies Corporation, the American civilian who is generally referred to as the spokesman of the Occupation. To me, at least, he was engagingly frank. "There has been a lot of bunk about helping the Haitians," he said in answer to my inquiry. "I am not here to help the Haitians. I am here to make money out of Haiti for myself and my friends. I am an expert in developing and discovering new territories for development for banks. It is true that in helping myself I have helped some Haitians, but I have helped them incidentally and for purely selfish reasons." It is generally rumored in Haiti that Mr. Davis has ambitions to succeed Mr. McIlhenny as financial adviser should we remain in Haiti. I fail to see why he is not eminently eligible. But nowhere is the situation more lucidly pictured than in the verses which begin:

If you see an island shore
Which has not been grabbed before
Lying in the track of trade as islands should,
With the simple native quite
Unprepared to make a fight,
Oh, you just drop in and take it for his good.

And yet -- despite all this there are Americans in Hati who have broken through the iron pressure of their environmental opinion -- and know better. There must be others -- like one clear-eyed officer of no mean rank who said to me: "We've no business here. The fact is that the fellows who stood up against us and were shot down were patriots. These people have as much right to their independence as we have." And another told me simply that the "job is impossible. We don't understand them and they don't understand us. We can't change their natures, and that is what we'd have to do to make them do things our way. It's not the Marine Corps' work anyway."

And they are right -- but it is not the prevailing or the official opinion, nor one that these officers could express openly with impunity. We have no business there and our being there benefits no one unless it be a few investors. It will not help the Haitians -- although we may build them a few roads; you do not need an Occupation for that. It's no job for young rosy-cheeked boys of yesteryear -- who return to the States, burned out by the tropical sun, soaked with rum, often irremediably diseased as well. And above all it never will help the United States -- unless we consider the lining of the pockets of a handful a help to our country, to be weighed against the dislike and bitter resentment of a formerly friendly people and the distrust and fear of a dozen others who dread the day when their turn will come. And even for the capitalists -- Haiti so far has been a graveyard of high hopes. Eight millions have been sunk in the Haitian-American Sugar Company and a receiver is in charge; the National City Bank's venture has not been profitable despite its special advantages; the largest American cotton-growing venture was a flat failure; the West Indies Trading Company literally went up in smoke when I was in Port au Prince -- all this despite the Occupation and the Franklin Roosevelt constitution. Maybe there's a fatality about it; Roger L. Farnham of the National City Bank told the Commission of acres of American cotton that withered while Haitian cotton planted adjacently flourished -- the Mamaloi's curse, it might be called in fiction.

The really important thing to salvage from Haiti is American honor. It can still be retrieved. Admiral Caperton's revealing we - are - getting - this - treaty - through - thanks - to - military - pressure cable(4) and Josephus Daniels's infamous message(5) ordering the admiral on - your - own - authority - to - tell - the - Haitians - that - unless - they - sign - the - Occupation - will - be - permanent can hardly be formally voted into the American archives of famous documents. Will the Senate of the United States care to enshrine them with the Declaration of Independence, Patrick Henry's invocation, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Gettysburg address? For it is doubtful whether a single Senator knew when he voted to ratify the Haitian treaty in 1916 by what methods it had been imposed. If there be one, let him stand up!

Yet is it more moral to condone an offense because it has occurred? Senator McCormick had no hesitancy in condemning to me in unsparing terms the crime committed against Haiti by Woodrow Wilson and Josephus Daniels. Yet his preliminary report, which gives no inkling that the United States had illegally seized two republics and held them since against the will of their inhabitants, condones this crime. Senator McCormick knows better; he is intelligent enough to know that what we did in Haiti in 1915 and in Santo Domingo in 1916 was dishonest, indecent, and rotten. Senator King's bill calling for withdrawal and abrogation of the treaty fortunately shows the way out.


1. August 19, 1915.

2. August 10, 1915.

3. Three hundred and seventy-five marines were ordered withdrawn from Camaguey, Cuba, on January 26 by Secretary Denby and transferred to Guantanamo.

4. September 8, 1915.

5. November 10, 1915.

Haiti and Santo Domingo Today -- II

By Ernest H. Gruening

The Nation 114 (Feb. 15, 1922).

In the Dominican Republic the situation is simpler than in Haiti. Where the Haitians suffered from the betrayal at the hands of Sudre Dartiguenave, the Dominicans were fortunate in having as their President Dr. Henriquez y Carvajal, a man of rare integrity, statesmanship, and patriotism. Moreover, the Dominicans had had in May, 1916, when the Americans invaded their country, the advantage of six months' observation of the execution of America's promise to Haiti of "no aim except to insure, establish, and help maintain Haitian independence."(1) In consequence, though America tried precisely as in Haiti to force a humiliating and enslaving treaty upon the Dominicans, they refused to sign.(2) Where in Haiti today a dummy government carries out the Occupation's wishes, a constant potential wedge to split the Haitians, in Santo Domingo absolute unity exists.

In the Hispanic Republic, where there is no vestige of national government and the Occupation derives its only sanction from brute force, where, further, the archbishop and all the priests are Dominicans, the church is strongly patriotic. In Haiti, on the other hand, a Concordat with the Vatican established in 1860 provides that the church must sustain the Haitian Government (as indeed it is the church's policy to sustain constituted authority everywhere) and that the government must support in turn the church. A special clause provides for the blessing of the Haitian president by name after every high mass. Whatever, therefore, may be the original force and fraud upon which the present Haitian Government rests, it is for the time being the legally constituted authority. Moreover, the Haitian clergy is not national. Archbishops, bishops, and a great majority of the priests are French and their interest in Haiti's nationalism is quite naturally less keen than if they were natives. Nevertheless, the Occupation was at first not viewed with favor by the clergy, as indeed it is not today by many of the priests. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Williams testified before the Senatorial Commission that he believed some of the Haitian countrymen were inspired by the priests to make complaints of brutal treatment, and that the relations between the American officers and the priests were officially unsatisfactory. This feeling he believed was largely due to the influence of the bishop of North Haiti, Monseigneur Kersuzan. Bishop Kersuzan a few months ago celebrated his fiftieth anniversary as a priest in Haiti. The Occupation has, however, made valiant efforts, especially since attention was first called to Haitian conditions a year and a half ago, to capture the clergy. Whereas, previously, the church had suffered directly from the Occupation,(3) every attempt was now made to conciliate it. Priests' salaries were raised. The sacristan of the cathedral at Port au Prince told me personally that the Occupation had promised to put a new roof on that edifice, the present roof leaking badly after the severe tropical storms. This he said would be done without expense to the church "by the Occupation," which means, of course, at the expense of the Haitian people. And today, while the church does not and will not officially and openly run counter to the prevailing national sentiment by indorsing the Occupation, it cannot and will not, as the church in Santo Domingo, oppose it.

The Dominicans also profit by their membership in a great Hispanic-American family of nations. Protests against the treatment of Santo Domingo and its citizens have come from Spain and from virtually all South American countries which are bound to Santo Domingo by ties of race, culture, and language. Hispanic America sees in both Haiti and Santo Domingo an augury of a possible fate. But its encouragement and sympathy have naturally gone to the country which speaks the same language. The Dominican morale has thus received constant sustenance and is also better, no doubt, because of the gestures of withdrawal that Washington has made. In their last days in office the Democrats had made overtures looking toward retiring the Occupation. Last May the "Harding plan," as it is called by the Dominicans, was presented with a flourish. As it turned out to be merely a device to legalize the situation and under the guise of withdrawal to make Santo Domingo virtually a subject state, the Dominicans refused to touch it. Their cooperation to the extent of holding elections was essential. Today the attitude of the Dominicans is unchanged. "We will sign nothing," is their watchword. "If necessary we will remain in slavery a hundred years, but never will we sign away our birthright."

At present, however, largely because withdrawal has been in the wind, conditions are better than in Haiti. The sense of oppression so evident in Port au Prince is lacking in Santo Domingo. I cannot speak for the interior, which I did not visit and where, I was told, the rigors of martial law still fall heavily upon some of the inhabitants. But in the capital I witnessed an easy banter between the provost marshal, Captain Fay, who is highly esteemed by the Dominicans, and the editors of the Listin Diario, which has valiantly upheld the national cause. In an affair at the private house of a Dominican which I attended the orchestra was composed of marines. Both these situations would be unthinkable in Haiti. Moreover, I found among Dominicans a friendly attitude toward the military governor, Admiral S. S. Robison, of whom I heard only kind words -- a good impression which I looked forward with pleasure to reporting, but which unfortunately was marred by an eleventh-hour incident I witnessed.

It was the day of the Senatorial Commission's departue. The sub-chaser carrying the Senators and their wives had just flipped away from the dock bound for the transport Argonne lying under steam in the harbor. A second boat-load containing newspaper correspondents and other personnel of the Commission was about to follow. Mr. Horace G. Knowles, counsel for the Dominicans, came hurrying to the wharf. He was formerly American minister to Bolivia, to Serbia, and to the Dominican Republic, a Roosevelt appointee. He had come with the Commission but was staying behind a few days to collect additional evidence. How the Occupation hated Knowles! He had committed the unpardonable crime of criticizing it and of taking the part of the Dominicans. (How little they understood that he had really been taking the part of America!) As he leaned over the boat to hand the official stenographer a letter for Senator McCormick he was, according to his account, pushed aside by the Commission's liaison officer, Captain Day, U.S.N., and told he could not send it. A lieutenant commander who was present told me later that Knowles's conversation had delayed the boat and that he had been politely requested to remove himself. But when he attempted to remonstrate Admiral Robison stepped up from behind and in thundering tones overheard by not less than fifty people shouted: "Get out of this; get the hell off this wharf!" Knowles withdrew and the Admiral proceeded to tell his entourage: "We've seen enough of that man around here; I've got no use for him. Any man that will make the charges he has, has no right here." Later in the day, Mr. Knowles told me subsequently, he was summoned by the governor to headquarters. On telling the provost marshal who conveyed the order that in the circumstances he did not care to call on the Admiral but would be at his hotel should the Admiral desire to call upon him, he was informed that he had better come; that otherwise the provost marshal's orders were to take him to the palace by force. Mr. Knowles went. It is regrettable that he did so. It would have been interesting to find out just what rights an American citizen has in a country where our alleged justification for conquest is "to protect American interests," and how far our militarism can stage its own Zabern with impunity. Moreover, a couple of days previously the Admiral had told Captain Angell, who accompanied the Commission, that but for the fact that Mr. Knowles was there by Senatorial courtesy he would have deported him.

This episode was more illuminating than pages of testimony. Occurring to a man of Mr. Knowles's position in the presence of Americans, particularly of newspaper men bound for home, with the Senators barely out of earshot, it furnishes a clue to the fate of those who incur the displeasure of the military Occupation. What happens to the poor devils of natives who are voiceless, helpless, and without means of redress can well be imagined. As a matter of fact, Admiral Robison's proposed treatment of an American citizen is in line with Occupation policy. Americans have been deported unceremoniously. Needless to say if questions are asked they are generally slandered and labeled undesirable citizens; but the reason for their deportation is almost invariably antagonism to the Occupation. An American woman resident in Santo Domingo told me that, burning with shame over the acts of certain individuals in the Occupation, and profoundly unhappy over the oppression practiced in the name of the American people, she had repeatedly resolved to write to various persons and to newspapers in the United States, but had invariably been deterred by the fear of deportation. Her husband was in business in the country and she did not feel justified in jeopardizing his safety and future as well. While I was in Port au Prince an American marine, a former gendarmerie officer, was ordered deported. Ha had been detailed to the prison at Port au Prince and announced that he had intended to testify about some of the cruelties practiced there. Just before the Commission's arrival his deportation order, which had been published in Le Moniteur, the official organ, was held up. When I saw him again he said he knew neither why he had been ordered deported nor why the order had been suspended, that he did not intend to testify, and that I had misunderstood him when he said he would.

Of course what goes on behind the scenes the four Senators neither learned nor cared to learn. Their minds were obviously closed. I do not want to imply the slightest doubt of the sincerity of any of them; but the absurd anomaly of having one of the parties to a controversy act as jury, judge, yes, and executioner, must be self-evident. The only proper or possible way to have the case of Haiti or of Santo Domingo vs. the United States justly settled is to have some disinterested third party -- Denmark, Belgium, Uruguay, the A.B.C. Powers, or the Irish Free State -- act as arbitrator. The same fallacy on a smaller scale was subscribed to by the Senators themselves when they solemnly urged all those whom they had not time to hear to report their grievances to the respective heads of the Occupations. As for the Senatorial astigmatism it is also true that the investigation has been foreshadowed for a year and a half and that conditions had been pretty well cleaned up in both republics, where relative quiet exists today. Testimony was general that The Nation's campaign of exposure had brought about a decided lessening of many abuses which had existed.

I have in my possession a copy of a confidential order issued from "Headquarters" at Santo Domingo City on September 10, 1920, which reads in part as follows:

Officers of discretion will be instructed to spread a bit of propaganda here and there in a very careful and discreet manner so that it may not appear that it is being done officially. Present and past conditions may be compared along many lines, the aims and ambitions of the government explained. A few specially chosen officers might sound some of the people on the question of annexation, merely by conversation telling the people that in 1876 the majority of Dominicans desired annexation and asked for it, but that our Congress refused it because we did not know the country and the Dominicans as well at that time. Certain people who seem to be receptive could be induced to spread the idea by showing them how much better situated they would be today had they been part of the United States for the past forty years. Conditions in Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and even Cuba could be cited as examples.

The order is signed by Colonel George C. Reid, U.S.M.C., commanding officer of the Guardia Nacional. I showed it to Senator Pomerene just after he had finished addressing with much sound and wind a great patriotic gathering of Dominicans. He had told them that he had learned of a few misguided persons who believed that the United States had annexationist designs on their country but that there was no basis whatever for such belief and that he had never heard the subject mentioned in Washington. I supposed that since he was there to investigate he would be interested in learning about this order issued by the third highest officer in the island, the highest American military official in direct contact with the Dominicans. But he merely replied that it was the act of an individual and had nothing whatever to do with American policy. Senator Pomerene is back from his flying trip and is probably thinking more of his campaign in Ohio next fall than of the Dominicans. But the Occupation which issued the order "in a very careful and discreet manner, so that it may not appear it is being done officially" stays on. It stays to perpetuate the six years of martial law upon an always friendly and inoffensive people, and it will stay on according to the verdict of the McCormick-Pomerene Commission until Santo Domingo comes to terms and signs on the dotted line. For less than a week after its return the chairman of the Commission gave out an interview that the status quo would continue in Santo Domingo until the proposals of last spring were acceded to.

Meanwhile three great American banking houses are "negotiating" for a loan with the Haitian "government." Each of these loans is based on the convention of 1915 and further hog-ties the Haitian Republic for a period of thirty years. Negotiations were already under way before the Commission went to the Caribbean. Senator McCormick was in favor of that loan from the beginning and insists upon it now. The Haitians neither want nor need the loan. But the Occupation wants it, and American high finance needs it. Once it is consummated and only the thin resistance of Dartiguenave the Docile stands in the way, needless to say we shall have to stay in further to protect "American interests," the interests of the National City Bank of New York, of the Sugar Trust, of King Cotton, of the horde of carpet-bagging concessionaires that are the camp-followers of America militaristic imperialism.


1. From Navy Department radio on August 7, 1915, signed "Benson Acting."

2. The sequence of dates is significant. The Haitians finally yielded to military pressure and signed the treaty on November 11. A virtually identical treaty was handed to the Dominican Government on November 18.

3. Under the Concordat, church accessories were admitted duty free. The Occupation abolished this exemption and replied to the protest by saying that the United States admits no distinction between religions!

Ernest Gruening (1887-1974) was an editor at The Nation and a member of the advisory committees of the Haiti-Santo Domingo Independence Society (1921) and the American Fund for Public Service Committee on American Imperialism (1924). He became a leading authority on Latin America and the Caribbean. Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him governor of Alaska and he was later elected to the U.S. Senate from that state. In 1964 he was one of only two senators to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and he spent the next ten years writing and speaking out against that war.

The U.S. Occupation of Haiti (1915-1934)

  • The Conquest of Haiti, by Herbert J. Seligmann, July 1920.

  • The American Occupation, by James Weldon Johnson, Aug. - Sep. 1920.

  • Hearing the Truth About Haiti, by Helena Hill Weed, Nov. 1921.

  • Haiti and Santo Domingo Today, by Ernest H. Gruening, Feb. 1922.

  • Haiti Under American Occupation, by Ernest H. Gruening, April 1922.