150 Years of Haitian-American Relations

WASHINGTON, DC – On July 12th, the United States and Haiti commemorate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. As the two oldest republics in the Western Hemisphere—the United States declared independence in 1776, followed by Haiti in 1804—Haiti and the United States share historical ties and a deep political, economic and diplomatic relationship.

Both the Haitian and United States governments recognize the importance of enhancing this long-standing relationship. This was exemplified by the committed response of the United States government, and its generous citizens, to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Our relations have deepened and become more strategically aligned through our joint efforts to attract international and local investment opportunities that will bring jobs and help improve Haiti’s economy.

Nearly a million Haitians have made the United States their adopted home. These Haitians, including many serving in the United States armed forces, contribute to the social, cultural and economic fabric of both countries. Likewise, the multitude of Americans living and working in Haiti, contributing to the post-earthquake rebuilding efforts, has strengthened the partnership and cooperation between our countries.

“As we chart a new path forward in Haiti, we hope to continue strengthening bilateral relations with the United States. We recognize and are grateful that the United States stands by us as an equal partner for our prosperity,” said Paul Altidor, the Haitian Ambassador to the United States.

“We have come a long way together, Haitians and Americans. As the first two independent republics in this hemisphere it is clear that our love for freedom and justice is something that both our peoples hold dear,” added Kenneth H. Merten, the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti.

The establishment of diplomatic relations was marked by President Abraham Lincoln’s formal recognition of Haiti’s independence on July 12, 1862, and his appointment of Benjamin F. Whidden to serve as the United States government’s first Commissioner and Consul-General for Haiti. In turn, Haiti’s first Consul-General and Charge d’ Affaires in the United States, Colonel Ernest Roumain, took up his post in Washington, DC in February 1863.

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