Shortly after winning its independence in 1804, Haiti's leaders realizedthat if their nation was to survive, it needed to build strong diplomatic bondswith other nations. Haiti's first leaders looked especially hard at the UnitedStates, which had a sizeable free black population that included vocalchampions of black emigration and colonization. In the 1820s, PresidentJean-Pierre Boyer helped facilitate a migration of thousands of black Americansto Haiti with promises of ample land, rich commercial prospects, and mostimportantly, a black state. His ideas struck a chord with both blacks andwhites in America. Journalists and black community leaders advertised emigrationto Haiti as a way for African Americans to resist discrimination and show theworld that the black race could be an equal on the world stage, whileantislavery whites sought to support a nation founded by liberated slaves. Black and white businessmen were excited by trade potential, and racist whitesviewed Haiti has a way to export the race problem that plagued America. By the end of the decade, black Americans migration to Haiti began to ebb asemigrants realized that the Caribbean republic wasn't the black Eden they'danticipated. Caribbean Crossingdocuments the rise and fall of the campaign for black emigration to Haiti,drawing on a variety of archival sources to share the rich voices of theemigrants themselves. Using letters, diary accounts, travelers' reports,newspaper articles, and American, British, and French consulate records, SaraFanning profiles the emigrants and analyzes the diverse motivations that fueledthis unique early moment in both American and Haitian history.
African Americans and the Haitian Emigration Movement