The following list regroups some of the most important dates in Haitian history. Other important instances (such as the complete chronology of the Haitian Revolution) have been omitted to make this list more comprehensible. (Furthermore, this outlined timeline does not go beyond the end of the Duvalierist Regime.) References provided at this end of this page should be used for a fuller analysis of the dates presented. This document ought to be regarded as an introductory tool. Please contact us for precisions or to recommend important dates!
❯ 1492-1500: European arrival to Hispaniola (present day Haiti and Dominican Republic); island inhabited by Taino Arawak population
❯ 1492-1560s: Steady decline of Taino population, + or – 86% of population dies within few decades of contact with Europeans (original population estimate vary from + or – 1 million to 3.77 million in 1492, to a scarce dozens by the 1560s)
❯ 1502: Introduction of first African slaves
❯ 1502: Death of Taino Arawak Cacique (chief) Anacaona
❯ 1521: First slave revolt in the New World (in modern Dominican Republic)
❯ 1600s: Rise of French Flibustiers culture on Spanish territory
❯ 1642: Louis XIII makes slavery legal in French colonies and possessions
❯ 1664: French West Indian Company administers island of Tortuga
❯ 1685: Louis XIV’s Code Noir issued
❯ 1697: Treaty of Ryswick, Spain cedes ⅓ of the Western shore of Hispaniola to France (Saint-Domingue, now Haiti)
❯ 1724-1803: French government directly administers Saint-Domingue as its colony
❯ 1743: Birth on the Bréda plantation of the future revolutionary figure Toussaint Louverture
❯ 1749: Port-au-Prince new capital of Saint-Domingue (instead of Cap-Français)
❯ 1757: “Makandal Conspiracy” led by François Makandal against slave-owners
❯ 1758 (March): François Makandal executed at Le Cap; slaves forced to watch him burnt at the stake
❯ 1770s: Gens de Couleurs Libres’ (Free Coloureds) mobility increasingly restricted in and out of Saint-Domingue
❯ 1777: Free Coloureds can no longer able enter mainland France
❯ 1178: Interracial unions outlawed in France
❯ 1779: French troops (including inhabitants of Saint-Domingue) participate in Battle of Savannah in soon-to-be United States of America
❯ 1785-1790: Peak of colonial era; approximately 30, 000 African slaves imported each year to Saint-Domingue (slave population of about 500, 000 by outbreak of uprising)
❯ 1789: Beginning of the French Revolution; hostilities explode in Saint-Domingue between (and among) whites and the gens de couleurs
❯ 1791 (21August): Bois-Caiman Vodou Ceremony?
❯ 1791 (22 August): Slave uprising begins (first in the North)
❯ 1793: Gradual abolition of slavery in Saint-Domingue via French commissioners Sonthonax and Polverel
❯ 1794 (4 February): Abolition of slavery by National Convention on all French possessions
❯ 1794-1801: Toussaint Louverture rise to power in Saint-Domingue
❯ 1795: Treaty of Basel – Spain cedes Santo-Domingo (modern day Dominican Republic) to France
❯ 1800: War between Toussaint Louverture and mulatto forces led by André Rigaud
❯ 1801 (January): Louverture campaigns to Santo-Domingo (now part of the French Empire)
❯ 1801 (July): Constitution of 1801 by Louverture
❯ 1801 (November): Moïse rebellion against Louverture
❯ 1801 ( 29 November): Execution of Moïse and other conspirers
❯ 1801-1809: American embargo on Saint-Domingue/Haiti; clandestine commerce between Northern merchants and Saint-Domingue/Haiti continues
❯ 1802 (February): Leclerc expedition
❯ 1803 (18 November): French capitulation at Battle of Vertières
❯ 1804 (1 January): Haiti proclaims its independence; Jean-Jacques Dessalines becomes first leader
❯ 1806 (October): Assassination of Dessalines
❯ 1807-1820: Henri Christophe succeeds Dessalines
❯ 1807/11-1820: Haiti secedes between kingdom in the North (governed by Henri Christophe) and Republic in the South/West (presided by Alexandre Pétion)
❯ 1811: Henri Christophe crowns himself Henri 1er; governs the North of Haiti as kingdom until suicide in 1820
❯ 1807-1818: Alexandre Pétion becomes president of South/West Haiti until death in 1818
❯ 1818-1843: Jean-Pierre Boyer accedes to presidency following death of Pétion
1820: Boyer reunites the two Haitis following Henri Christophe’s death; annexes the Dominican Republic
❯ 1825: Indemnity to France for recognition of independence, originally 150M Francs (settlements made at 1789 values); debt almost impossible to pay for newly founded Haiti
❯ 1826: Boyer’s (particularly unpopular) Rural Code
❯ 1838: Indemnity reduced to 90M, advantage tariffs for French commerce maintained
❯ 1843: “Liberal” Revolt against Boyer
❯ 1844: Dominican Republic declares independence from Haiti (and in1864 from Spain)
❯ 1844: Piquet Rebellion
❯ 1844-1915: With few notable exceptions, beginning of a period of political instability
❯ 1849-1859: Faustin Soulouque becomes president and crowns himself emperor of Haiti
❯ 1860: Concordat with the Vatican; Haiti recognized by the Holy See and attributed first archbishop in 1863
❯ 1862: United States recognition of Haitian independence
❯ 1869: Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett appointed minister to Haiti, becomes first African American to hold such diplomatic position
❯ 1874 (November): African American James Theodore Holly ordained first bishop of Haitian Episcopal Church
❯ 1875: Haitian recognition of Dominican independence
❯ 1879-1888: Presidency of Lysius Salomon
❯ 1888-1891: African American former abolitionist and public figure Frederick Douglass serves as minister to Haiti
❯ 1885: Haitian intellectual and politician Anténor Firmin publishes De l’égalité des races humaines to rebute Arthur de Gobineau’s pseudoscientific Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines (1855)
❯ 1891: U.S. American efforts to pressure Haitian government into ceding Môle Saint-Nicholas; no success but “useful” diplomatic negotiating instrument
❯ 1890s-1915: Greatest period of political instability; sovereignty undermined; decline in numbers of Haitian-owned businesses; social classes tighten; “color question” intensify
❯ 1890s-1910s: increase in American imperialist activities in Latin America (and in the Pacific)
❯ 1914: Opening of the Panama Canal
❯ 1915 (28 July): Beginning of U.S. Marine Occupation of Haiti (formally until 1934)
❯ 1915 (September): Haitian-American treaty; Haitian subordination to the United States
❯ 1916-1924: (First) U.S. Marine Occupation of the Dominican Republic
❯ 1917-1920: Cacos Wars against U.S. Marine occupation forces; wars waged in different phases
❯ 1919: Death of cacos leader Charlemagne Peralte; photo of dead body paraded to discourage further resistance
❯ 1920 (1 January): Haiti joins the League of Nations (founding member until 1942)
❯ 1920s: Emergence of the Haitian Indigéniste movement
❯ 1920s: Haitian army (Garde Nationale d’Haïti and later the Force Armée d’Haïti) modernized with American military techniques
❯ 1920 (March-May): African-American field secretary of the N.A.A.C.P. James Weldon Johnson in Haiti to investigate Marine presence
❯ 1927: Haitian journal La revue indigène co-founded by Jacques Roumain and Émile Roumer
❯ 1928: Haitian intellectual Jean Price-Mars publishes Ainsi Parla L’Oncle and strongly criticizes the Haitian elite for its lack of social usefulness; while re-interpreting Price-Mars’ ideas, books become foundational for the future Noiristes
❯ 1930s: “Color question” intensify further; Marine occupation seen as an humiliation
❯ 1930s: Noirisme movement “grows out” of Indigénisme
❯ 1934: Creation of the feminist organ La Ligue Feminine d’Action Sociale (LFAS)
❯ 1934: Creation of the Haitian Communist Party with members such as Jacques Roumain
❯ 1934 (15 August): Official departure of U.S. Marines; U.S. continues to hold control of Haitian bank
❯ 1941-2: Anti-superstition campaign (largely against Vodou) led by Haitian Catholic Church with blessing of President Élie Lescot?
❯ 1941: Dr Pierre Mabille acts as French cultural attaché to Haiti and becomes influential among young Marxist intellectuals in the capital
❯ 1944: Aimé Césaire visits Haiti
❯ 1945: Haiti joins the United Nations; Émile Saint-Lot then ambassador
❯ 1945: Noirist Daniel Fignolé and students form the Mouvement Ouvrier Paysan (MOP)
❯ 1945 (December): French Surelalist poet and writer André Breton visits Haiti on invitation by Pierre Mabille to give a series of lectures; witnesses the “January Revolution” of 1946
❯ 1945 (7 December): Young (mostly Marxist) Haitian radicals in Port-au-Prince re-lunch the journal La Ruche;editorial board includes René Depestre, Jacques Stéphen Alexis and Gérard Chenet
❯ 1946 (11 January): Lescot ousted; “Revolution of 1946”
❯ 1946 (January-August): Haitian Gardes form the CEM (Conseil Exécutif Militaire) and rule in the absence of a president
❯ 1946 (8 April): The United States recognizes the CEM
❯ 1948 ( 30 April): Creation of the Organization of American States
❯ 1946: Election of Dumarsais Estimé; victory of Noirisme movement
❯ 1949-1950: Estimé’s lunches lavish Exposition internationale du bicentenaire de Port-au-Prince
❯ 1950 (10 May): Coup against Estimé led by military generals including Paul Eugène Magloire
❯ 1950-1956: Presidency of Paul Eugène Magloire
❯ 1956 (September): First international Congrès des écrivains et artistes noirs held in Paris; Haiti’s Jean Price-Mars serves as President while René Depestre and Jacques Stéphen Alexis are among the attendees
❯ 1956 (December): Ousting of Paul Eugène Magloire
❯ 1956-1957: Period of political instability; Joseph Nemours Pierre-Louis, Franck Sylvain, Léon Cantave, Léon Cantave, Daniel Fignolé and Antonio Thrasybule Kébreau all “elected” presidents for short moments
❯ 1957 (22 September): François Duvalier “elected” president
❯ 1957-1986: Duvalier Dictatorship
❯ 1958: Creation of violent paramilitary force Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale (VSN) known as the Tontons Macoutes following coup attempt against François Duvalier
❯ 1959 (30 December): Creation of the Inter-American Development Ban
❯ 1960: Upper-class Haitians gradually leave Haiti to flee Duvalier’s dictatorship
❯ 1961: Jacques Stephen Alexis’ failed Communist coup against Duvalier; Alexis is tortured than murdered
❯ 1962: François Duvalier’s Rural Code
❯ 1963 (September): First reported Haitian “boat people” arrive to South Florida and demand political asylum
❯ 1964: François Duvalier named president for life
❯ 1971: Death of François Duvalier
❯ 1971-1986: Jean-Claude Duvalier succeeds his father and continues dictatorship
❯ 1980: Jean-Claude Duvalier marries “light-skinned” Michèle Bennett member of élite “mulatto” circles; alliance puts into re-consideration François Duvalier noiriste ideology
❯ 1982: Jean-Bertrand Aristide (at the time an obscure priest) makes sermons in which he openly criticizes the horrors of the Duvalier dictatorship
❯ 1984: Food riots against poverty soon turn into riots more directly aimed at the government
❯ 1985 ( 27 November): Students killed in Gonaïves sparks major demonstrations across country; anger directed to the government
❯ 1986 (7 February): Jean-Claude Duvalier flees Haiti for France with an estimated $120 million. End of Duvalier dictatorship. Military fractions and neo-Duvalierist fractions seize power. Beginning of period of political confusion. Failure of democratic transition.
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Monographs and Articles
Fick, Carolyn E. The Making of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below. Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1990.
Fischer, Sibylle. Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution. Duke University Press, 2004.
Frostin, Charles. Les révoltes blanches à Saint-Domingue aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Haïti avant 1789). Ecole, 1975.
Geggus, David Patrick. Haitian Revolutionary Studies. Indiana University Press, 2002.
Hoffmann, Léon-François. Histoire littéraire de la francophonie: littérature d’Haïti. Chicoutimi: J.-M. Tremblay, 2013. http://classiques.uqac.ca/contemporains/hoffmann_leon_francois/litterature_dHaiti/litterature_dHaiti.html.
———. “Les Etats-Unis et les Américains dans les lettres haïtiennes.” Études littéraires 13, no. 2 (1980): 289.
James, C. L. R. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. Penguin Books Limited, 2001.
Landers, Jane, and Barry Robinson. Slaves, Subjects, and Subversives: Blacks in Colonial Latin America. UNM Press, 2006.
Leyburn, James G. The Haitian People. Yale University Press, 1948.
Oliver, Jose R. Caciques and Cemi Idols: The Web Spun by Taino Rulers Between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. University of Alabama Press, 2009.
Smith, Matthew J. Red and Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934-1957: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934-1957. University of North Carolina Press, 2009.
Sprague, Jeb. Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2012.
Stone, Erin Woodruff. “America’s First Slave Revolt: Indians and African Slaves in Española, 1500–1534.” Ethnohistory 60, no. 2 (March 20, 2013): 195–217.
Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Haiti, State Against Nation: The Origins and Legacy of Duvalierism. Monthly Review Press, 1990.
Wilson, Samuel M. Hispaniola: Caribbean Chiefdoms in the Age of Columbus. University of Alabama Press, 1990.
Haiti-Reference. “Calendrier Fêtes.” Accessed October 26, 2014. http://www.haiti-reference.com/histoire/calendrier-fetes.php.
Perspective Monde. “Haïti: Chronologie depuis 1945.” Accessed October 26, 2014. http://perspective.usherbrooke.ca/bilan/servlet/BMHistoriquePays?codePays=HTI&langue=fr.