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Title: Haiti - Its dawn of progress after years in a night of revolution
Author: Kuser, J. Dryden
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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       *       *       *       *       *



[Illustration: ONE OF THE MAIN STREETS OF PORT-AU-PRINCE]



  HAITI

  ITS DAWN OF PROGRESS AFTER
  YEARS IN A NIGHT OF REVOLUTION

  J. DRYDEN KUSER

  BOSTON
  RICHARD G. BADGER
  THE GORHAM PRESS



  COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY J. DRYDEN KUSER

  All Rights Reserved


  Made in the United States of America

  The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.



  TO MY WIFE

  BROOKE RUSSELL KUSER

  THE SOURCE OF MY ORIGINAL INTEREST IN HAITI
  AND A NEVER-TIRING AID IN THE PRESENT WORK.



INTRODUCTION


Haiti is a country of rapidly changing conditions. Like others,
emerging from revolution and disorder to peace and the pursuits of
peace, it finds its possibilities unlimited. Furthermore, under
the Haitian-American treaty, part of the government is being run
by the Haitians themselves in the three departments: executive,
legislative and judicial; and a portion is controlled by the United
States, including the military. In such a two-party control,
there is naturally friction and this causes frequent and changing
disagreements.

Whereas in January, 1920, the bandit trouble was serious, I have
just found, during a brief November trip, that this has ceased
to be an active danger. In its place there has arisen, not a
military worry, but a political one. Haitian agitators, supported
by ill-advised Americans, have spread propaganda favoring the
withdrawal of the United States from Haiti. Included in this
propaganda have been the absurd accusations against the marines of
cruelty toward the natives.

The question of any cruelty or unnecessary killings has been
conclusively disproven by the findings of a Court of Inquiry sent
to Haiti, and which has recently published its findings. As to the
withdrawal of the United States from Haiti--such a course would be a
menace to the world and a sad neglect of duty by the United States.
Any American acquainted with Haitian conditions will agree that
the marines would scarcely have boarded the American ships before
the entire country would be in a state of civil war, the lives and
property of foreigners endangered, and the possibility of Haiti
paying off her foreign debt would be lost.

As opposed to this prospect of revolution, we have a bright future
for Haiti, if the United States remains. The country is naturally
rich in its products and its soil, and labor is able to work for
cheaper wages than elsewhere. This is a great incentive for American
business to invest its capital, which means that the country will
rapidly become rich again--as it once was in the French days. But
unlike conditions in those days, the Haitian himself will share in
the future development and wealth.

  J. DRYDEN KUSER.
  BERNARDSVILLE, NEW JERSEY.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                   PAGE

  I SARGASSO AND FLYING FISH                  11

  II CACOS                                    20

  III EVERY MAN'S LAND--A BIT OF HISTORY      38

  IV VAUDOUX                                  52

  V PUBLIC EDUCATION AND NORMIL CHARLES       63

  VI THE PRESIDENT                            74

  VII A MORNING HUNT                          77

  VIII PINE NEEDLES                           87

  IX COTTON                                   93

  X Gourdes                                  101



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  ONE OF THE MAIN STREETS OF PORT-AU-PRINCE
                                                 _Frontispiece_

                                                         FACING
                                                           PAGE

  SIFTING COFFEE ALONG A PRINCIPAL STREET                    13

  DESSALINES                                   _Following_   20

  THE "OPEN" MARKET JUST BELOW THE CATHEDRAL   _Following_   20

  ENTRANCE TO THE "CLOSED" MARKET                            28

  MARINE PATROL                                _Following_   36

  HILLS NEAR MIREBALAIS                        _Following_   36

  CIVIL PRISONERS OF PORT-AU-PRINCE MAKING CHAIRS            45

  WOMEN CARRYING IN TO MARKET BASKETS WHICH
  THEY HAVE MADE                               _Following_   52

  THE CATHEDRAL                                _Following_   52

  A SOURCE OF THE GREATEST GOOD--THE ROMAN
  CATHOLIC SISTERS AT ONE OF THE MANY CONVENTS
  ON THE ISLAND                                              60

  THE HEAD NURSE AT THE PUBLIC HOSPITAL WITH
  HER CORPS OF HAITIAN NURSES                                61

  MAGISTRAR'S STAND OF WHICH THERE IS ONE IN
  EVERY TOWN                                   _Following_   68

  THE NEW PRESIDENT'S PALACE                   _Following_   68

  "WHITE WINGS" OF PORT-AU-PRINCE                            76

  MARKET WOMEN LEAVING TOWN ON THEIR
  "BURROS"                                                   77

  TYPICAL "CAILLE" NEAR FURCY                  _Following_   84

  RAILWAY TO LEOGANE                           _Following_   84

  ON THE ST. MARC ROAD AFTER THE HEAVY RAINS                 92

  HAITIAN WOMEN WASHING THEIR CLOTHES IN A
  DITCH                                        _Following_  100

  THE AMERICAN CLUB                            _Following_  100



HAITI



HAITI



I

SARGASSO AND FLYING FISH


For the first two days out of New York harbor flocks of Herring
Gulls followed us and occasionally an odd Robin and a pair of
Goldfinches appeared. But after Hatteras was passed and the sea was
calmer the gulls left us and flying fish took their place. Stationed
at the bow I watched them dart out of the foam and skim, sometimes
a few feet, often many yards. At night I took the same post and
the phosphorescent "stars of the sea" shone very green against the
yellow constellations above.

By the third day ever-increasing quantities of sargasso weed
appeared and floated past. Torn from their beds along tropical
coasts, these bits of weed act as the shelter for multifarious forms
of aquatic life which live as long as the weed lives and die when
it finally decays. And so, although no sign of bird or other life
appeared above the water surface, we were surrounded every moment by
thousands of individuals of dozens of species.

Our ship was the "Advance" of the American government-controlled
Panama R. R. Steamship Company, which operates the service between
New York, Haiti and Panama. Two steamers run to Panama via
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, three are exclusively for Haitian ports,
while the others do not stop at Haiti en route to Panama. Beside the
Panama line there is the Dutch line of boats which runs from New
York to Haiti on regular sailings, but aside from these two there
are no other lines which regularly run ships to Haiti. And so the
quickest way of travelling from Haiti to another of the West Indies
is via Panama.

[Illustration: SIFTING COFFEE ALONG A PRINCIPAL STREET]

Coming south, the first land appeared on the fourth day, when
the lighthouse of San Salvador, re-named Watling's Island by the
British, showed the northern point of land long before the rest
of the flat surface was visible. Bird Rock, the Fortune Islands
and Castle Island were passed during the next twelve hours, and
finally the high mountains of eastern Cuba were twenty miles off
our starboard. Before these were out of sight, the peak of Mole St.
Nicholas, Haiti, arose on the port bow. But we were by no means yet
at Port-au-Prince, our destination, for it is a seven-hour sail from
this point to the harbor in the lower part of the bay. The bay
itself is over 100 miles long, and in the center of it is the Island
of Gonave, 10 by 40 miles, to which all convicts were exiled from
Haiti in the French days, and many of whose present inhabitants are
descendents of these exiles.

After we had passed Gonave, the mountain ranges on both sides became
very close and we could see the smoke of many fires high up on their
slopes. These fires, we later found out, were those of the charcoal
burners, who play an important rôle on the island. The charcoal
is obtained by placing the wood which has been gathered under a
covering of earth in such a way as to eliminate the undesired
gases and leave the charcoal. After sufficient time, the earth is
removed and the charcoal carried for miles into town on the backs
of "burros." Charcoal is used entirely in Haiti for kitchen fuel.
Of the fires we saw in the hills, all were probably not those of
charcoal burners, as it is the common thing for the natives to burn
off a section of the land which they desire to use and to ascribe
the fire to spontaneous combustion.

At last the vari-colored lights of Port-au-Prince peeped forth from
among the foothills on the right and we followed the channel in by
alignment with two huge red range lights, one on the top of the
Cathedral and the other on Fort National. The beauty of coming into
Port-au-Prince is by daylight, when, not unlike Serrento, it shows
a background of 2800 foot mountains rising behind, and with the
pellucid green sea stretching out from the town. A Haitian launch
came alongside for the custom officials to board. Our passports
were taken to be kept for overnight and recorded, and we were then
allowed to proceed to the dock which is at the end of a long pier
jutting out from the land.

As we spun along to the house where we were to visit we went over
streets smoother and wider than all but a few in the United States.
These streets, throughout most of the town, were put down under
contract with an American firm in 1914, before American occupation
of Haiti, and are of excellent quality. From the business district
we came out into the Champ de Mars, a laid-out park with a bronze of
Dessalines, the "Founder of Haitian Independence," in the center;
and at the end a grandstand from which to watch the sports or
national festivities. Next to the Champ de Mars is the new palace
of the President of Haiti. It is now at a stage of near-completion,
and one wing is already occupied by the President and his family.
This building is the fourth palace to be built on the same site, one
of the others having been set on fire and destroyed, and the other
two ruined through explosions. In the latter cases the President
had been unable to trust anyone with the keeping of the national
supply of ammunition and was forced to keep it in his own palace,
so that in both cases the Presidents were killed by means of their
own powder. On the lower side of the palace are the marine barracks
and the gendarme caserne, opposite one another, and above the Champ
de Mars is the marine brigade headquarters.

At this point starts the residential section of the town for both
wealthy Haitians and Americans and other foreigners. We rode over
narrow, quaint streets, after passing the marine headquarters, until
we came to Avenue Christophe and our house, of old French style and
with peaked roof, which was at one time used as the Presidential
palace. Most of the houses of Port-au-Prince are of this old French
style and show few traces of the original Spanish. Around all
the better houses there are dense tropical growths with mangoes,
oranges, and guanavena or sour-sap hanging over the porches. Many
of the yards have also one or two royal palms, with their great
white trunks reaching over fifty feet and with leaves clustered at
the top. At the very tip of the tree's trunk is the heart, for which
many trees are cut down, as "heart of palm" is one of the delicacies
of the tropics. In the country districts both the royal and cocoanut
palm are common. The two are somewhat similar but can be easily told
apart by the crooked growth of the latter and also its darker and
rougher trunk.

The first morning after our arrival was cloudy, which was very
unusual, for thruout the year in Port-au-Prince the mornings are
almost invariably clear. So is the remainder of the day for the six
months during the dry season, but in the wet season it regularly
rains a downpour for about two hours late each afternoon. November
is the beginning of the dry season, so for a couple of weeks after
our arrival it would still occasionally rain for a few moments a
day. But we missed having any of the truly tropical rains which
during the summer flood the streets and sweep all before them.

While the winter is for Port-au-Prince and southern Haiti the dry
season, the conditions are exactly reversed in the northern half of
the republic. There the wet season commences in November, to last
for six months until the next summer when all becomes dry again. And
so there is never a time in Haiti when half of the island is not
being well-watered and the fruit and crops in season.



II

CACOS


Although, in the days of the French, Cap Haitien was the capital
of Haiti, to-day Port-au-Prince is the capital as well as the most
important town. It is also the most modern town, being the only one,
for example, to have the paved streets which I have referred to. In
addition it has a good telephone and electric lighting system.

The first morning's tour of the shops in Port-au-Prince made
my former knowledge of fair prices useless. Goods which it was
necessary to import from the United States, such as silks and
American-made cloths, seemed exorbitant; perfumes and French
clothes, imported directly from Paris at a low rate of duty
sold at a considerably reduced rate from the New York price; but
naturally the greatest difference in cost was those of native
goods. Mahogany grows plentifully throughout the interior of Haiti
and hence is easily obtained. Its price is consequently low and I
purchased a solid mahogany small dinner table for $6, which is the
customary price. But compare the price for such a piece in New York!
And then of course the native fruits were either free along the
roads or at a nominal price in the markets. Alligator pears, bought
as a luxury in New York for 75 cents or a dollar apiece, sell in
Port-au-Prince for 5 pears for 2 cents.

[Illustration: DESSALINES

_In the Champs de Mars_]

[Illustration: THE "OPEN" MARKET JUST BELOW THE CATHEDRAL]

In Port-au-Prince there are two markets, the "open" and the
"closed," of which the latter is a roofed and walled structure and
the former held without cover on an open plaza, directly beneath the
wall around the Cathedral. Here, together with alligator pears, are
sold bananas, limes, grapefruit, fish, meats, dry goods and odds and
ends which are found in a department store. Here also "_rapadou_"--a
native candy made from brown sugar and cocoanut--is for sale. This
candy is also peddled along the streets and trays full of it are
carried by the natives on their heads, whilst they continually call
attention to their ware by calling it out at frequent intervals.
Whatever a Haitian has to carry, be it an armchair, a piece of paper
or a trayful of fine glassware, he carries it upon his head. They
have in this way developed the ability to stand great weight and
certainly one beneficial result is the invariably erect carriage of
a Haitian caused through the necessity of always maintaining balance
when he carries his goods.

Up to within a few weeks of our arrival the native shops used to
remain open in the evening. When we arrived, however, they closed
each night at dark. This was because of a scare which they had
recently received when a small band of revolutionary bandits, known
throughout Haiti as "cacos," attempted to make a raid upon the
town. In the old days of unstable government the natives had become
accustomed to the existing government falling every time the cacos
arrived, and they were not easily led to realize last September that
it is no longer possible now that the marines are guarding the town.
And hence for weeks after the attack the shopkeepers regularly shut
themselves up in their houses at dark each night.

For sometime after the Americans occupied Haiti in 1915 there were
no organized uprisings, but within a year various causes have led
the wild tribes of the interior to join together into various bands
and attempt organized raids.

The fighting of these cacos is extremely difficult for three
principal reasons; first, the secret sympathy of some reputable and
prominent Haitians and the consequent impossibility of obtaining
any information from them; second, the nature of the country which
permits the cacos to retreat into the mountainous regions which are
wild and contain many caves and trails unknown to the whites; and
third, the manner in which the bandits fight. Like the Indians they
conduct a warfare of night raids and of sniping, so that only a
sort of guerrilla war can be conducted against them. And then too,
as the cacos are not in uniform, it is impossible to know who is or
who is not a caco, except when they are actually banded together or
carrying their arms.

But results are being slowly accomplished. The towns are protected
and guarded so that when an attack is made it can be repulsed and
patrols sent out to round up as many of the invaders as possible.
In the interior districts where the bandits congregate and make
their rendezvous, expeditions are being continually sent out and
the country honeycombed between the different hill posts. Near
L'Archahai there is a cave which, dating from the earliest records
of Haitian history, has been credited as being a bandit retreat.
Here the cacos are still supposed to meet and go into hiding,
but as the cave is a huge opening on the side of a mountain, and
inaccessible unless a rope ladder be let down from someone already
there, it is quite inaccessible and impossible to attack.

In Haiti there are two different armies, so to speak. The
gendarmerie or national army of Haiti consists of the enlisted men
who are Haitians and of officers in charge of them who are American
marines loaned to the Haitian Government, in accordance with the
provisions of the treaty, to organize and train the Haitian army so
as to make it an efficient fighting police force which is able to
support, and preserve against attack, the existing government.

The gendarmerie have abundantly proven, in many recent cases when
they have been led by American officers, that they are thoroughly
trustworthy and loyal fighters. Nor is there any doubt of their
courage, for they are as brave as any body of troops in the world.
The gendarmerie are used for guarding a town after it has been once
freed from active cacoism, and everywhere in Haiti one sees their
white and red stone headquarters. The gendarmerie are also used,
together with the marines, to go out into the hills on patrols for
routing the cacos and clearing up the country.

The second army is the occupation force of American marines
stationed in Haiti since the intervention of 1915 to preserve order
and protect the nationals and property of Americans and other
foreigners in the country. For those marines who are in search of
real adventure and fighting, even those who were in the world war
might well look with envy upon the men who are doing patrol duty
among the Haitian hills. Alone or in company with the gendarmes,
they have had encounters so filled with adventure that I will tell
of one which occurred shortly before our arrival.

Charlemagne Massena Peralte, a man who came from the Hinche
district, and of natural ability as a leader, was of anti-white
sympathies and early after the American occupation associated
himself with a family named Zamor in the northeast country around
Hinche. One of the Zamor brothers, Oreste Zamor, was formerly a
president of the republic and another was the great leader of the
north and is now in the Port-au-Prince prison as a conspirator.
Charlemagne rose in the caco ranks to the position of chief and
was so successful in his first encounters and attempts as to
make the name of Charlemagne known everywhere as the supreme
caco. Charlemagne was the clever and guiding hand of all the
revolutionary attacks which occurred about this time, so it became
of the greatest importance to capture him. Many attempts to do this
were made by the marines and the gendarmes, but on each occasion his
preparation for scouts and ways of escape made it possible for him
to evade them.

In October, the location of Charlemagne having been reported,
two marines, officers in the gendarmerie, volunteered to capture
Charlemagne. They made very careful preparations to set out
with twenty gendares and disguised themselves by blackened skin
and native clothes. Both of the officers spoke Creole well, but
naturally with some foreign accent and so it was necessary for
them to speak as little as was possible. When near the place where
Charlemagne was reported to be spending the day, they met the first
caco outposts who stopped and questioned them. Claiming they had
an important message to deliver to Charlemagne, giving the password
and claiming such extreme fatigue for the two officers that these
officers could barely answer the questions put to them, the party
succeeded in being passed.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE "CLOSED" MARKET]

A second and a third guard of Charlemagne's were in the same way
fooled and at last the gendarmes came to a clearing. In the center
of the clearing were gathered together a group of bandits around
a fire, and at the side of the fire sat a woman. Behind her there
was a sort of rude throne and here sat the great Charlemagne.
Scarcely had the gendarmes seen the crowd collected here when they
were recognized and a signal given. The woman lept to the fire and
succeeded in brushing and stamping it out. In the darkness which
followed, she and her followers escaped. But hardly had the signal
of detection been given when Charlemagne was the aim for the
gendarme rifles, and when a new fire was lighted he was found to be
dead together with a few of the crowd with him.

The belief in Haiti was a common one that Charlemagne was a
supernatural being who was immune from rifle bullets or the weapons
of his adversaries. In fact, he himself boasted that this was true.
And so, upon his death, pictures of him were taken and these the
marines spread broadcast throughout the republic to prove to all
Haitians that the invulnerable Charlemagne was at last killed.

It is this kind of fighting which the marines and gendarmes have to
continually do in combatting the caco trouble. After the death of
Charlemagne, Benôit Batraville, who was formerly a sullen police
chief in the mountain town of Mirebalais, became the caco leader. He
had joined the caco ranks only shortly before Charlemagne's death,
and although not nearly so clever a brigand as the supreme caco was
perhaps the most intelligent and the best leader when Charlemagne
died. Up to the time of my departure in February, all attempts to
capture Benôit had failed but I have since heard of his killing.
It was during a skirmish with the marines in which the latter
penetrated to the leader's rendezvous and although every other
person in the camp escaped, the officer leading the marines had the
good fortune to kill Benôit.

And so another man of fair intelligence has been eliminated from
the bandit forces. This has practically destroyed the caco power
as an offensive force, for it is the few men whom the cacos have
among them of brains which make them at all a dangerous factor. The
bandits are with a few exceptions utterly ignorant and unable to
lead an attack unless inspired and led by someone who has lived in
the towns and developed some intelligence. To illustrate the almost
unbelievable state of mentality possessed by the cacos, I will tell
of the prisoners taken in one raid. After the raid the prisoners
were taken back to the town to be temporarily held there awaiting
trial. When the men reached the house, they were unable to walk up
the stairs, as stairs were new to them. They had never seen a house
of two stories before and did not know what to make of the second
floor.

I have mentioned a caco attempt to raid Port-au-Prince just before
our arrival, in which some of the bandits reached town. By January,
over a month after we arrived, the town had again assumed its
normal state, and fear of another attack was practically eliminated
from the minds of the natives. This was the condition when, on the
morning of January 15th, the telephone rang at 4 a.m. and we heard
that "3,000 cacos are marching into town by the Hasco Road." The
cacos, advancing into town in column and with flags and conch-horns
blowing, divided, a quarter of a mile from town, one column going
along the water front and reaching town by way of the slaughter
house, the other two columns turning farther inland and advancing
around Belleair hill, by the radio station.

When the troops had nearly reached town our marines opened fire
with Brownings and machine guns, but the natives broke ranks and
fired from around corners, and rushing into the houses, fired upon
the marines from the windows. Gradually they were driven back, but
_en route_ they had fired some of the native "_cailles_," in the
poor section of the town and the light from this lit up the entire
surrounding country.

By daybreak many cacos were lying dead along the entrance to the
city, the attack had been completely repulsed and the cacos driven
far from town. Over 150 were captured or killed and but three of the
marines wounded, only one fatally. A large number of caco had been
pressed so hard on their flanks and front that they were forced to
retreat into a closed valley back of Belleair and were there almost
completely wiped out by a volley of machine guns.

All during the day patrols searched the plains and outlying country.
In this way they captured singly or in groups many of the brigands
who were retreating to the hills. One automobile full of townsmen,
arriving from Gonaïves, told of meeting the caco band, or at least
part of it and only escaping by a miracle. The dents and holes made
by the bullets while the car ran the gauntlet between the crowd,
could be seen covering the body of the car when it came into town.

In the afternoon a house-to-house search was made in the district
where the fighting occurred and, asleep in his own house, the police
found and recognized Solomen Janvier. Janvier is a man who formerly
lived in Port-au-Prince in the house where he was found. But he had
always been a revolutionist and for many months previous to the raid
had been out in the hills with the cacos.

Janvier boasted, after he had been taken to prison, that every
attack which had been made upon Port-Au-Prince during recent years
had been led by him; and that in the present raid there had been
three leaders leading the different sections of the caco force, but
that the other two were cowards and had fled before they reached
town, he alone leading the actual attack.

The number of cacos who reached the town is uncertain. First reports
gave the number as 3,000, which was later reduced to 1,500, as
claimed by the men at Hasco, the sugar plant of the American-Haitian
Sugar Company, by which the cacos passed on their way into town.
But, although there were many camp followers who never entered and
engaged in the fighting, it is probable that the number of actual
fighters was about 300. On the morning after the raid, our cook told
me that she had heard in the market places that morning that there
were 2,000,000 cacos who had entered the town and that 1,000,000 had
been killed. This, I think, was the wildest rumor I heard.

On the second day someone spread the rumor that 2,000 more cacos
were coming into Port-au-Prince, and as it took some time to prove
the report false, there was great excitement throughout the town. I
went down beyond the Champ de Mars, and, rushing in every direction,
were the natives, each returning to his respective home. As soon as
they reached there, the windows and doors were boarded and within a
very short time every house was closed and not a person was to be
seen upon the streets. And so another day was lost to business, for
all of the shops had been closed since the raid because of the
great fear that the cacos were going to make a second attack.

[Illustration: MARINE PATROL]

[Illustration: HILLS NEAR MIREBALAIS]

In October, when the raid was made before our arrival, the cacos
escaped with a loss of only a few men, but in January so many of
their number were killed or captured in town and out in the plains
during their retreat that it will certainly make them wary of again
invading the town for a long time to come.

Benôit, himself, was in part of the fighting during the January
raid, but unfortunately was among the bandits who escaped and was
soon back with his followers in the Mirebalais hills, where he was
eventually captured as I have related.



III

EVERY MAN'S LAND--A BIT OF HISTORY


The Republic of Haiti consists of the western part of the island
of Santo Domingo, while the eastern end constitutes the country
of Santo Domingo. The latter, while it has three times the
territory, claims but one-third the population of Haiti, which is
to-day estimated at 2,500,000. Columbus' estimate of the combined
population of what is now Haiti and Santo Domingo was as high as
2,000,000, but during the four intervening centuries the change in
race has been complete. Scarcely a strain of aboriginal blood is
left; and no ancestor of the present natives then even knew of the
"new world." Ownership of Haiti has changed hands four times in this
period, and revolution, crime and barbarism have left indelible
marks on the pages of her history.

The men left in Haiti by Columbus and those who followed the
pioneers from Spain have scant justification for their brutal
treatment of the Indians whom they met, and among the disgraces
committed by white men in their dealings with the aborigines in
America, the acts of the Spaniards in Haiti and Santo Domingo were
among the most deplorable.

Before long, the Spaniards, having wiped out the native Indians,
were obliged to search for labor to till their soil and to search
for gold. All of the metals possessed by the local redskins had been
stolen by the first-comers. Turning naturally to African slaves to
solve the problem of labor, the Spaniards imported the blacks in
ever-increasing numbers.

The Spaniards had not long been settled in this way before they
were themselves forced to contest rule over the island, for French
adventurers had come into the country and by 1697 the latter were so
successful that most of that portion of land now known as Haiti was
recognized by the Spanish to be under French control.

The French continued the practice, commenced by the Spaniards, of
introducing negro slaves and thousands were each year added to
the number already settled. Rapidly Haiti became France's richest
colony and the stories of the magnificent estates and the luxury
in which wealthy planters and French noblemen lived are pitiful in
contrast with what was so soon to follow. Pauline Bonaparte's estate
near "Mon Repos" on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince lies in ruins
and there remains little trace of luxury about the huge pool where
once she held court and receptions at which much of the nobility
of France was present. It is said that the wealthy Parisians used
to send their clothes to be washed in the waters of the streams
of Port-au-Prince regularly every six months because of the
extraordinary bluing quality which was credited to the water.

While Haiti was thus becoming a treasure island for the French,
this wealth was at the expense of the black slaves, whom the French
forced into overwork by extreme punishments. And thus, while the
nobility in France were holding down their peasants to vaunt their
vanity in the effete displays of the court of Louis XV, and thus
foster the seeds of discontent which bore such frightful fruit in
the days of the Guillotine, the French planters were doing the
self-same thing to a worse extent in their treatment of the blacks
in Haiti. Out of their cruel servitude was to come the succession of
revolutions and the hatred of black and white which to this day has
kept Haiti in the rearguard of civilization.

The era of the French revolution gave an opening for the first
negro rebellion, and led by the example of the white planters who
rebelled against their own government, the mulattoes organized to
some extent and a man named Oge attempted to obtain justice in both
Paris and from the local authorities. Failing, he was sought as a
rebel and after armed resistance by himself and his followers he was
captured and executed.

Critical conditions soon led the French Constituent Assembly to send
three Commissioners from France to restore order and also issued a
decree that "every man of color, born of free parents should enjoy
equal political rights with the whites." However, the feeling in
Haiti was so strong against this act that pressure was brought to
bear upon Governor Blanchelande which prevented his executing the
decree and pitched battles took place between the whites and the
blacks.

The French Government, largely through incapable Commissioners
whom they had sent, was losing her grip on the control of Haitian
affairs, and at the same time there arose two contending forces
to control affairs there. In the north the negros had succeeded
in becoming the stronger factor and a slave, named Toussaint
L'Overture, though at first faithful to his master, soon saw the
inevitable trend of affairs and joined the rebels. He very quickly
proved his ability for leadership and was soon chosen their chief.

In the meanwhile the English had, with a ridiculously small force,
taken St. Marc and afterwards Port-au-Prince. After Toussaint had
firmly established himself in the north, he marched southward to
essay the attacking of the English. Time after time he attempted
to force them to surrender, but each effort was repulsed. Soon,
however, the English realized the impossibility of conquering Haiti,
and decided to evacuate. They treated with Toussaint and left St.
Marc and Port-au-Prince to him and his party of the north.

At this point Toussaint showed his discerning insight into the
entire black versus white situation at that time by allowing
all foreigners who sided with him to remain undisturbed in the
newly-acquired territory. But this action did not meet with favor
from all, and, chiefly through the influence of Hedouville, many
whites were murdered contrary to the order of Toussaint.

Rigoud, in control of the south, now opposed Toussaint but was
forced to make peace with him when the French sent a commission
and supported Toussaint's claim to rule. Among the generals of
Toussaint was Dessalines who commanded his troops in the north while
Toussaint was himself in the vicinity of Port-au-Prince. Dessalines,
like Hedouville, was radically opposed to the equality policy of
Toussaint and while the latter was away he was intolerant of the
mulattos and murdered thousands of them.

[Illustration: CIVIL PRISONERS AT PORT-AU-PRINCE MAKING CHAIRS]

Toussaint, in spite of these disagreements and violations of his
orders, was nevertheless supreme in Haiti. He now aspired to the
throne of Santo Domingo as well. Therefore, all preparations
completed, he set out upon his new march of conquest and, not
meeting a single reverse, Toussaint, upon his return, claimed
possession of the entire island.

But here Toussaint made his fatal step. Instead of declaring the
independence of Haiti he ruled it as a French colony with himself
as the self-appointed governor and with his creed based upon
equality for white, black and mulatto. The result of this policy
was that when France was again at peace, Bonaparte was able to make
an attempt to again bring Haiti back to the condition of slavery.
By false trickery the French General Leclerc captured Toussaint
and exiled him to the Alps, where he soon died. Toussaint, the
conqueror, thus lost his chance of becoming Toussaint, the founder
of the republic.

War was now declared between France and England and opportunity
again arose for the French to be driven from Haiti. Dessalines
with many of Toussaint's former generals accomplished this
task and declared the country independent. Dessalines was made
Governor-General and declared the "Founder of Haitian Independence."
He is known everywhere under this title to-day, and is far more
revered than Toussaint as the great national hero. Inspired by the
crowning of Bonaparte in 1804, Dessalines declared himself the first
emperor of Haiti and from that time on until his death he continued
to rule a one-man power of terrorism and brutality.

Upon the death of Dessalines, rival claims were made by the various
sectional chiefs for the crown of the new Haitian Empire. Out
of these leaders Christophe arose in the north as the strongest
contender and after proclaiming himself King Henry I of Haiti, he
succeeded in practically eliminating all other leaders except Petion
who was very powerful in the south. But these two rivals were forced
to unite their forces and strength in common cause against the
French who made a new but unfruitful effort to regain possession of
the island.

Petion and Christophe were opposite types. Petion was rather
easy-going and it was this which held his followers to him rather
than any show of force. But Christophe, second only to Dessalines
as a national hero, was even more despotic than that emperor in the
treatment of his own people.

It was Christophe who built the great citadel at Cap Haitien and
who, taking his architect up to show him the view from the cliff,
pitched him into eternity lest he might disclose his knowledge of
the secret passages which he had designed. In building the Citadel,
the ascent was so steep as to make almost beyond the limits of
human endurance the carrying up of heavy building materials. It is
said that the 5000 men assigned to do this work refused, and, upon
hearing of this, Christophe had the men lined up and every other man
killed. He then commanded the remaining 2500 to complete the task or
they should receive the same fate as the others.

But this iron rule of Christophe proved to be a boomerang for him
and a man named Boyer, who was by this time the leader in the south,
marched northward and declared Haiti a republic and himself its
first president. The north was tired of Christophe and willingly
joined in with the cause of Boyer. Under Boyer, Santo Domingo
declared herself independent and in allegiance to President Boyer
of Haiti, who thus became chief of the entire island.

The next event was the demand by France for indemnity and Boyer
acceded to this demand on condition that France sign a treaty
acknowledging the independence of Haiti. This was agreed to and two
treaties were signed, but the indemnity always remained practically
unpaid, for revolution after revolution made a collection of the
indemnity through a blockade impossible.

After the death of Boyer, strong rule was lacking for a long time
and the government was ever-changing, being overthrown by each
succeeding revolution. This was largely due to the fact that
there was no ruler who was acceptable to both the blacks and the
mulattoes, who were now the two constantly opposed factors. It is
said that the Haitian flag of red and blue was formed from the
French by eliminating the white even as the white race had been
eliminated from the island, and leaving only the blue for the blacks
and the red for the mullatoes. Nevertheless it is certain that these
two remaining colors could not live in harmony together. No rule
was long stable and frequent and serious uprisings which resulted
in interference with the foreigners in Haiti caused the diplomatic
corps many a critical problem. Law and order were unknown and few
were the presidents of that period who died a natural death.

Finally, in 1915, the climax came. President Sam was driven from his
palace by the mob, and chased by them through the streets. Finally
they followed him when he sought refuge in the French territory of
the legation and he was there massacred and cut to shreds before the
eyes of the wife and children of the French minister. Intervention
by the French was naturally imminent, but in order to preserve
the integrity of the Monroe Doctrine, America took the lead and
forced the existing government of Haiti to accept a treaty which
temporarily allows America a sufficiently free hand in Haiti to
maintain law and order and to help the Haitians build up a civilized
and stable government.

And so it is that we are to-day visiting Haiti and that it is now
possible to travel in a country which was previously in the throes
of continual unrest. Whereas before the Occupation, practically no
administration was able to complete its term of office, foreign
business was unable to hazard investments and personal safety was
uncertain; protection is now afforded to the foreigner who comes to
Haiti, and equality of treatment in public for all colors is the
rule.



IV

VAUDOUX


Haiti is one of the few countries where State and Church still
remain united, and to-day the Catholic clergy are under government
pay. Roman Catholicism first became the Haitian religion when, in
1836, the Pope was declared its head and given the authority to
appoint its bishops. The priests are almost uniformly upright men
who are working along beneficial lines among the natives and are one
of the leading forces for good in the country.

The masses in Haiti, however, do not believe in straight Catholicism
but in Vaudouxism. This creed is of African origin and was
introduced into Haiti when the black slaves were brought over by
the Spanish and French. To these original beliefs they have
slowly accumulated a few Indian superstitions and very many of the
ceremonies and attributes of Christianity, so that Vaudouxism as it
exists in Haiti to-day is a unique religion.

[Illustration: WOMEN CARRYING IN TO MARKET BASKETS WHICH THEY HAVE
MADE. LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE THEY ARE CARRIED ON THEIR HEADS]

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL]

Vaudoux is the deity of the Vaudouxists and is represented as a
venomless serpent. The human leader of the creed is a high priest
selected by the followers of Vaudoux from among themselves and is
known as Papaloi, and he in turn selects a high priestess who is
called Mamanloi (corruptions of the words Papa Roi and Maman Roi).
In these two personages is supposed to be the divine spark. But,
mixed with this pure Vaudouxism, there is much Christian ceremony,
such as the inclusion of the worship of the Virgin Mary and the
observance of Easter Day.

Like all primitive religious cults, the Vaudouxists include in
their rites sacrifices and self-inflicted punishments. Animals of
various kinds are sacrificed at each meeting of Vaudouxists and
the highest offering is the snow-white sacred goat. To the rhythm
of Vaudoux drums or tom-toms, the worshippers dance themselves into
excited passions for hour after hour, until the chief dancers, who
alone remain, finally fall from utter exhaustion. During this dance
the men eat pieces of glass and, dancing upon red-hot coals, they
place burning pieces of charcoal in their mouth. And we read of the
asceticism of the Middle Ages and think of it as a bygone phrase!

Often at the Vaudoux meetings the participants become maddened by
the liquor and revel, and debauchery finally prevails in its lowest
forms, until the meeting breaks up at dawn. But the endurance of the
chief dancers who continue for five, six and seven hours without
ceasing for a moment, is truly marvelous.

So great is the fear of Vaudoux inbred in the Haitian that even
with those who are civilized and cultured, many remain in awe of
Vaudoux or are restrained from exerting their influence against it
through fear of poisoning, for the Haitians are arch-poisoners. And
thus, though many Haitians of the upper classes are nominally good
Catholics, they are still to a more or less extent subservient to
Vaudoux superstitions and avoid openly opposing the demonstrations
of it by their countrymen.

Many of the presidents of Haiti were themselves Vaudoux priests
and but two among them took any active measures toward repressing
it. These two were Geffrard and Boisson-Canal and the act meant
their downfall, for Vaudouxism is habitually aided or winked at by
the Government. Toussaint L'Overture was an out-and-out Catholic
and took definite measures against Vaudouxism, but in his day the
beliefs were not so strong and it was much easier to repress its
practice.

It is now impossible for the Vaudouxists to openly hold their
meetings near the towns and they are forced to find some rendezvous
among the hills. But in the towns the natives still hold their
dances, where they dance the weird "bambeula" to the beat of the
tom-tom very much as they do at the real Vaudoux meetings. The
tom-toms are made out of a hollow log and two skins which are
made taut over each end of the log. The tom-tom beater is skilled
and as particular about his instrument and how it is tuned up (by
tightening or loosening the bindings of the skins) as any violinist.
The tom-tom beater knows many different native tunes.

And so Vaudouxism still prevails the driving religious force of
most Haitians. The most uncivilized are out-and-out worshippers and
regularly attend the Vaudoux rendezvous, but the higher classes are
ashamed to confess their subservience to Vaudouxism to foreigners
and consequently many pose as Catholics although sometimes they are
themselves Papalois. And then there are those Haitians who are truly
Catholics, and these are in most cases those who have been educated
abroad. They are usually of the younger generation. But as I have
shown they dislike intensely to come out openly against the practice
of Vaudouxism by other Haitians.

The elimination of Vaudouxism, in fact, rests almost entirely upon
the shoulders of the Americans. And this elimination is imperative
for Vaudouxism is, not so much a religious evil, but an unmoral
and uncivilizing factor. It is Vaudouxism, too, which makes more
difficult the fighting of the cacos; for Vaudoux priests have,
through their hold upon the religious fear of the Vaudouxists,
tremendous power over all their doings. Upon the sounding of a
Vaudoux drum the priest can very often do about what he wants with
his followers. Probably all of the caco chiefs are Vaudoux priests
and thus hold together bands which, freed from religious scruples,
would abandon their purpose of brigandry. For example, in the
January raid, many of the cacos who had been wounded, admitted that
they had gone into the attack only because of their belief that the
Vaudoux charms which they wore made them invulnerable.

One Sunday while I was waiting at the Gendarme headquarters at
Leogane there was being held there the weekly meeting of the
"Communale" and the Gendarme officer told me that the chief of
this force was one of the natives who had always joined in every
revolution which had reached that part of the country and the third
chief was formerly an ally of the great caco leader, Charlemagne. A
strange band, certainly, to be the guardians of law and order. But
it was, after all, reasonable. These men were the most intelligent
in their neighborhood and then of course it was infinitely better
to have such men in a place where their salaries would keep them
law-abiding than to have them outside the law and inciting trouble
against a less capable government force.

It is very difficult to establish any sort of efficient and just
civil force because of the ignorance of the vast majority of the
Haitian population. The number of intelligent, or partly intelligent
men in a country district is small, and it is the intelligent men
in these sections who are usually in league with the cacos, either
openly or secretly. And with the magistrates there is another
obstacle which prevents the execution of justice. Ever since the
beginnings of Haitian history, graft has been so natural and
accepted a thing with government officials that it is inborn in the
present generation and time alone will ever wipe it out.

At present with a large number of the magistrates impartial judgment
is unknown and the local law verdict goes to the highest bidder.
First one side buys up the judge and then the other until finally
one party is forced to give in through lack of resources. The chief
drawback in attempting to eliminate such graft is the ridiculously
low pay given to a magistrar. It is but natural for a judge to seek
outside gains in order that he may earn a living. When a Haitian
dies, and some of the more prosperous of them have accumulated
fortunes of over a hundred thousand dollars, the heirs or even
outsiders who are on the spot loot his wealth and leave nothing for
any absent members of the family. The latter are unable to obtain
justice later because the first-comers have carefully bought up the
local officials with a portion of their new gains.

This unfair state of local government can be remedied only
slowly and by the gradual elimination of the idea of graft as an
expected right of a government official. But as I have pointed
out the raising of the magistrate's salary is a prerequisite. The
low salary now paid is of course due to the lack of funds which
hinders the development of the country at every turn.

[Illustration: A SOURCE OF THE GREATEST GOOD--THE ROMAN CATHOLIC
SISTERS AT ONE OF THE MANY CONVENTS ON THE ISLAND]

[Illustration: THE HEAD NURSE AT THE PUBLIC HOSPITAL WITH HER CORPS
OF HAITIAN NURSES]

Under the provisions of the American treaty with Haiti, the entire
financial situation was placed, during the duration of the treaty,
in the hands of a financial advisor, who, having been nominated by
the President of the United States, is appointed by the President
of Haiti. Addison P. Ruan was the first appointee and served in
Haiti for two years until he was transferred to take the same post
in Panama. Following Mr. Ruan, John A. McIlhenny came to Haiti and,
realizing like his predecessor the urgent need for money with which
to develop the country, he has been steadily at work to put through
a Haitian loan in the United States. This is of course at present
impossible due to the abnormal financial situation in this country.

The financial advisor in Haiti has the authority to make all
appropriations of the state money and his word is final as to their
expenditure. In this respect Haiti is being run, during the treaty
period, in very much the same way as India is governed by England,
except that no treasurer is needed in Haiti, as the Haitian National
Bank serves that purpose.



V

PUBLIC EDUCATION AND NORMIL CHARLES


M. Dantes Bellegarde, Minister of Public Instruction, had told
us that he would be glad to show us through the schools of
Port-au-Prince. We therefore arranged a date and set out one morning
to make the tour. With us went also the American Advisor to the
department, Mr. Bourgeois.

At the time the treaty was made between Haiti and the United States,
no provision was arranged for the Department of Education, as
was done with the Sanitary and Engineering Departments. Thus the
development made possible through the more direct assistance from
Washington has been unattainable in the school work, and although
the work we saw being carried on was a remarkably inspiring
demonstration of accomplishments, yet the small proportion which is
being done of what could be done if greater means were available is
quite discouraging. It is the same cry as one raises on every hand:
If only they had the means!

Two years ago, three years after the treaty was signed, Mr.
Bourgeois came to Haiti, but only in the capacity of an Advisor
responsible to the Haitian Government alone and not as a league
official. His force is largely restricted to negative powers.

It is indeed fortunate that a mind of remarkable keenness and
a power for practical work exists in the person of the present
Minister, M. Bellegarde. But should a man of lesser force take his
place, as has happened within recent years, the result would be
deplorable. Also, M. Bellegarde could carry his work much further if
he had the proper financial and other material aid of the United
States Educational Department.

Although compulsory educations is legally a fact, there is, in
reality, a force of teachers and equipment for but 18,000 of the
200,000 children of the proper age. Many of these children are in
the country districts where good teachers, who even in the city are
at a premium, are almost an unknown factor. This feature is being
remedied as far as practicable, all the time, and the teachers in
the rural schools are being carefully examined. Some of these have
been found to be utterly unable to correct their pupils' simple
exercises and these teachers are being dropped. But, though it is
thus very simple to drop an incompetent teacher, it is a manifold
more difficult task to replace him. The pay for teachers is $6
per month and so, even low as wages are in Haiti, the position of
teacher is not so lucrative as to have very many applicants.

The salaries cannot be raised. It is the old story of lack of money.
Nearly half of the annual appropriation for public instruction is
being swallowed up by the present salaries of the present number of
teachers. The remainder is naturally barely sufficient to maintain
the existing schools. No new advances are possible.

Fortunately, besides the public schools of Haiti, there are numerous
privately run ones, nearly always under religious or parti-religious
supervision. The Catholics are the most frequent benefactors and are
doing by far the greater part of the work. Originally, before the
present public school system was created, these schools, missions,
or convents were in part supported by the state; but gradually this
assistance is being necessarily taken away.

Our first visit was to a school run by Belgian Sisters. It was
a school for girls only and was still supported in part by the
Government. For the younger children the work consists mostly
of such studies as would be taught in a primary school in the
States, great stress being laid upon the speaking of good French.
This is particularly important because the natural tongue of the
lower classes of natives is Creole, which in Haiti consists of an
ungrammatical and corrupted language drawn principally from the
French, but also with traces of English, Spanish and early Indian
words. Some Creole words seem to defy a tracing of their origin.
Although the natives may understand you if you speak French to them,
it is impossible for you to make out what they say, though you may
know French perfectly.

"Vini non" is a Creole expression used continually to mean "come
here!" Its derivation is certainly obscure. Nor is Creole the same
all over the republic. Each section has its own dialect which is
distinct.

After the children learn the first elements of grammar school work,
they begin to work a part of the day at embroidery, sewing and
knitting. Thus the vocational work is gradually increased and before
the girls graduate they are given training which fits them to be
efficient servants. Vocational schools of this type are just what
Haiti needs most of all. They serve the double purpose of training
the natives to obtain a good living and they also furnish a means by
which the better-off may secure good servants and workers.

Downstairs in the school building are the school and work
rooms--upstairs the dormitory. The dormitory consists of one large
room covering the entire top of the house and filled with cots for
every boarder. For every two cots there is also provided a washstand
which contains places where they may keep their personal articles.
The entire effect was of an establishment thoroughly modern and
scrupulously clean. Besides these girls who come from the
country districts and board, the school has also a great many day
pupils who live at their homes in town.

[Illustration: MAGISTRAR'S STAND--OF WHICH THERE IS ONE IN EVERY
TOWN]

[Illustration: THE NEW PRESIDENT'S PALACE]

The next school we went to was a non-vocational one under the
direction of an order of French Brothers. It was solely for boys,
just as the first was only a girls' school, for the morals of the
country do not permit the adoption of co-education, even though the
pupils are of the earliest ages.

The priests who conduct this institution are certainly as fine a
type of self-sacrificing men who are aiding a truly worthy cause as
I can imagine. They see the tremendous possibilities and without
limiting their efforts to what they could accomplish with a normal
amount of work they undertake almost superhuman attempts. Of the
Brothers who come to Haiti, their average length of life after
arriving is but 12 years, so killing is their work. The normal
amount of work for a professor in the United States is about 18
hours a week, but the Brothers in Haiti teach for 8 hours every
single day. And every effort which they put into it is unwasted and
has a telling effect in the result.

There are 11 grades of scholars taught by the Brothers, from the
earliest kindergarten to the graduation class who would correspond
to high school students. The boys are given work in geography,
history, spelling, French, mathematics and other things which would
be taught in any American school. I looked over the copy books
of the younger boys and the neatness and excellent penmanship of
even children of six was amazing. All of the children seemed to be
naturally gifted at freehand drawing. One little boy of eight, when
asked what his favorite subject was, replied: "My national emblem."
He drew therewith a fine representation of a palm tree.

Although the order of Brothers is French, not all of them are
Frenchmen. Several are Americans, a few Canadians and Portuguese,
and one, a Haitian Brother.

Our third and last visit was to the Ecôle Normale d'lndustrie. The
graduating pupils here act as teachers of the younger ones. This
school is one of the public schools and as we went through it, M.
Bellegarde proudly pointed to a particularly fine-looking little
boy. "That is my son." We went through many classrooms full of
scholars of different ages studying in very much the same way as
children study in America. It seemed a cause for hope to look at
this public school through which the Haitian children were being
made to see the advantages of education and the opportunity to rise.
When every Haitian child will be able to have such instruction and
training then his generation will be able to throw off the yoke of
past superstitions and dispel the ignorance which has been holding
back the masses.

Following this tour of the few schools which time allowed us to
visit, M. Bellegarde took us to the studio of Normil Charles. M.
Charles is a Haitian sculptor who has remarkable genius and is one
of the leading sculptors of the world. He studied in Paris for a
number of years, and has received many decorations and honors. As
we entered his studio, in front of us we saw a huge bronze which he
is doing for the Government and which is to be placed in the Champ
de Mars. It is called "The Benefactor" and is the statue of a great
public-spirited man. At his feet kneels a peasant woman, with babe
in arms, mourning his death. The piece would certainly be a work of
the first class anywhere and the country may well be proud that one
of its citizens is its author.

In the studio, too, was the bust of Dessalines, done by Charles,
and which I had seen six months before in the Pan-American Building
in Washington, where it remained for some time.

M. Charles, himself, is a delightful man, well-mannered and
interesting. But he is indeed a strange product of a country
which for so many years has been kept down by revolution with the
resulting isolation and lack of opportunity to devote time to the
pursuits of peace.



VI

THE PRESIDENT


From the studio of M. Charles, M. Bellegarde took us to see the new
palace. It is a huge structure, quite like a palace in appearance,
and made of white stucco. It is more than twice the size of our
White House and is shaped like the letter E, with the three wings
running back from the front. In the main hall huge columns rise to
the ceiling and at each side a staircase winds up to the second
floor.

While we were starting to go through the palace the guard had
apprised President Dartiguenave of our presence and we were
surprised and delighted to have him send word that he would be glad
to receive us. Although the left wing of the building is to be the
President's private suite, it is as yet uncompleted and he is at
present occupying the opposite end. We entered the President's
office, where he rose from his desk to meet us, and to usher us
through to the Cabinet room. This room is large, like all the
rooms--perhaps 40 feet square--and with a long table in the center
surrounded by chairs. Here the President meets his Cabinet.

The President is a man of medium height and has the bearing of an
aristocrat. His hair and beard are gray which contribute to his good
appearance. He is rather light in color and, indeed, is the first
president for a long time who has not been a black. The President
does not speak English but understands and speaks French perfectly.
Altogether he is a delightful, cultured man and a suitable head for
the Republic.

From the balcony of the palace there is an excellent view,
overlooking the entire town and the harbor beyond. The next room to
visit was the "Salle Diplomatique" where all official receptions are
held. This had just been decorated but was as yet unfinished. The
President personally escorted us to it and afterwards to his future
private suite. He then showed us downstairs and out to the car,
where we left both the President and M. Bellegarde.

[Illustration: "WHITE WINGS" OF PORT-AU-PRINCE]

[Illustration: MARKET WOMEN LEAVING TOWN ON THEIR "BURROS"]



VII

A MORNING HUNT


As I left the house one morning at two, the yard boys next door
were already at work and in town the "white wings"--an American
institution--were about. Three of us joggled along for 22 miles for
an early duck shoot and talked of many things, among them concerning
a proposed map of Haiti. The existing one is grossly inaccurate as
is easily shown by an airplane flight or a ship attempting to follow
many of the channels. There is no triangulation point in Haiti and
so the present coast line on the maps is the result of a certain
number of bearings from off shore, with the remainder a matter of
freehand filling-in. The use of airplanes in heretofore untried ways
will be employed to aid in the exact location of towns and be a
means of a great saving of tedious traverse work.

In town, life was already stirring, as I have shown. This is nothing
unusual for it is the customary hour for the Haitian to begin
his day. By 6 the "gentlemen about town" are in the streets with
their canes and Stetsons, debating the fall of the cabinet or the
latest development in the gourde situation. But out in the country
everything was still dark and the market women had barely started
to bring their load into town. So we met no one--except twice the
marine patrol car on its route.

Just outside the portals marking the limits of Port-au-Prince on
which are inscribed the words: "Peace, Justice, Work," is the
historic Pont Rouge. This is the spot where revolutionary troops
coming down from the mountains and across the plains would first
meet the forces of the existing government of Port-au-Prince.
Here the great Dessalines, coming into town at the head of his
troops, met what he believed to be a guard of his own troops. His
own general was leading them, but had betrayed Dessalines, and the
President was soon left wounded in the roadway to die. It had been
Dessalines who, it is said, sported himself by pulling out the eyes
of his prisoners with corkscrews.

The streets in Port-au-Prince are wide asphalt pavements and
would be adapted for speeding but for the presence in the center
and sides promiscuously of unruly "burros," naked babies playing
in the dirt, odd Haitian pigs looking like some new species of
animal, and pedestrians of strange sorts. This is true, also, for
some distance out on the Hasco road, over which we went. But after
a few miles we came out upon one of the new roads which has been
put down throughout the island by the Haitian Government under the
supervision of the Gendarmerie and of an engineering force loaned
to them by the United States. In all, about 500 miles of excellent
roadways have been put down since the American intervention.

In this work the budget system is now used and as every payment is
actually handed out by one of the American engineers himself, the
graft which was formerly rampant has been eliminated. In the days of
pre-American intervention a sum of, let us assume, $50,000 was voted
to build a road. $5,000 of this regularly went to the President
and $500 to each Senator who would vote for the appropriation.
This left, generally, about $10,000, or one-fifth, for actual road
building work.

The Haitians have proven to be good engineers and except for the
pay roll, large pieces of work are often carried on by them without
assistance from the Americans.

The first part of the road which we struck was excellent but after
branching off the main road to Pont Beudet we came to the new part.
Roads of this type, which is the one generally used, are macadam
with good foundation of different sized stones and 20 feet in width.
The top dressing is a good binding gravel which can be found within
short distances along almost all of the roads which they are now
building. A temporary track is run from each gravel pit along the
side of the road until a mile or so on another pit is dug and the
rails taken up and laid down from the new pit on. The gravel is thus
carried to where it is needed by a small engine and a few cars.
There is in this way no long-distance hauling.

Finally we turned off the new road to a clearing through a cactus
desert at the edge of Lake Troucaiman. Above either shore two
mountain ranges run parallel for miles, far above the lake. The lake
itself is open water in the central portion but by far the greater
part is filled with a mass of lily, mangrove and reed growth. Often
it is so dense as to be entirely impenetrable.

When we arrived at Troucaiman it was not yet daylight and only the
candles in the few "cailles" along the road could be seen. Upon the
approach of the car, five or six natives appeared, knowing from
past experience what we had come for, and with our French and their
Creole, interspersed by numerous gestures, we made our plans. Each
of us started out, alone in his own tiny dugout of about a foot wide
and four feet long and with his own native in the back to pole him
about. The guides had taken off the few rags which they wore and one
by one we were shoved off. Part of the time we were poled, part of
the time the craft stuck and the native had to wade along beside to
keep us going.

We went on and on in the blackness until finally one could
distinguish black shapes arising from the water or whirring past. It
came at last--the gray dawn for which we had been waiting. A teal
went overhead with its characteristic rapid flight. A slower-flying
redhead and later a scaup passed. And all around were hundreds upon
hundreds of Egrets, great white forms which flappingly arose when we
approached too near.

To the natives there are four kinds of ducks: "gens-gens," which
is a species of tree duck; "cécele" or blue-winged teal; "cucurem"
or ruddy duck; and any other duck is known as "canard generale."
All of the first three species are abundant, as are also the scaup,
baldpate, redhead and Bahaman pintail.

We met at nine on the shore, which by daylight looked very different
than when we had left it, and after some refreshments and comparing
of our respective bags, we started home. There are no game laws in
Haiti, so that your bag is only limited by your lack of skill. Half
way in to Port-au-Prince is the spot where two months before three
Haitian engineers had been murdered in the "caille" where they were
spending the night. The men were working on the road I have spoken
of, but as the caco trouble had been active in that district just
before the men were murdered, these men had been duly forewarned not
to spend the night.

Frequently I used to go out on these shooting trips, but not always
to Troucaiman. Two other spots were alternated, Miragôane in the
west and the salt lakes beyond Troucaiman. These salt lakes are
two decidedly brackish bodies of water which lie on the border of
Haiti and Santo Domingo. They are at the end of the Plain of the
Cul-de-Sac, and a few miles beyond the town of Thomaseau. The water
is as clear as a crystal and the scenery amid these wonderful lakes
and the mountains above them is splendid.

In the opposite direction, and 70 miles west of Port-au-Prince,
is Lake Miragôane. It is just beyond Petit Gôave. The lake
is large, being about eight miles long. In a part of the lake we
had particularly good teal shooting and by moonlight thousands of
"gens-gens" would come in to feed in the shallows overnight. Long
before dawn they had vanished again.

[Illustration: TYPICAL "CAILLE" NEAR FURCY

_A few banana and coffee trees (on the left) are all that each one
has_]

[Illustration: RAILWAY TO LEOGANE]

It is a difficult lake to shoot upon, however. The mud flats from
the shore are long and reach far out into the lake so that it is
practically impossible to use a dugout for some distance. Thus it
was necessary to walk out in shallow water and deep mud. The water,
very unlike the salt lake water, was thick, filthy and always gave
one an itching sensation for hours after having been in it.

Beside the duck shooting at Miragôane, there is excellent snipe
shooting during certain seasons and good guinea shooting also. It is
a strange thing to have guineas in Haiti. The guinea is a native of
Africa which only reached the new world in a domesticated state.
The present birds are descendants of the domesticated ones left by
the French planters during the revolution and which have reverted to
the wild state in the intervening generations. Doves, as everywhere
in Haiti are also abundant, and form a good shoot and a good meal.



VIII

PINE NEEDLES


The mountains had changed from green to violet and from violet
to black and the new moon silhouetted the peaks from 10,000 foot
summits to the sea. From Furcy, the next range to the east seemed
within hands' reach across the valleys and hills as its mountains
rose ten miles or ten hours by trail away. Our sweaters and blankets
felt barely enough as the wind howled around us. With closed eyes we
knew from its tell-tale sound that pine trees surrounded us and that
the winds were blowing stronger and stronger through their needles.

We climbed the hill with difficulty over the slippery matting of
pine needles to pick bananas along the road. And we were in the
tropics, with pine cones, palm and bananas growing side by side.
Thanking Providence that I am alive while such country still exists,
untouched by man's civilization, I gazed for dozens of miles over
several mountain ranges with their valleys and hills overlapping to
the sea on two sides of the island. These bits of water looked far
away indeed.

With only a rough, mountain-stream bed winding for miles to the
nearest town, we were apart by so much from white man--but in point
of effect upon the country as far as before Columbus saw the first
redskin when he landed on the north shore of the island.

Tucked away in the valleys we could see the lights of many native
"cailles" and we knew that there were many more unseen. With
plaster and sticks for walls they are roofed by thatching of straw
overhanging the walls and sloping up to a peak. In every part of
Haiti they are there, each the same with its 2 or 3 coffee trees,
its few bananas and that is about all. Along the road are the market
women. Every so often, perhaps once a week, they take their bananas
or coffee to town, a walk for some of 18 hours' steady going, to
sell it at the Port-au-Prince market for about 50 cents gold.

And the natives are satisfied--in fact they do not want things to
be any different. They have enough to live on and have no desires
which more energy would gratify. For amusement they have their cock
fights, when all the neighborhood gathers and each man brings his
trained rooster. And in the evenings they have their native dances
with tom-tom music and native rum, _taffia_, _clairin_ and _rum_,
the first entirely unrefined, the second somewhat refined, and the
third refined, though very often not of an excellent grade. But some
Haitian rum can be easily obtained which is excellent and of just
about as good quality as Jamaica rum.

And then, of course, besides the bananas and coffee which they sell,
the natives in the hills burn charcoal and carry this, whenever they
need money, to town for 60 cts. a donkey load.

We had left Port-au-Prince in the morning by car to Petionville,
1200 feet above the sea, and from there had changed to horseback.
With our pack-mules and gendarme guides we left Petionville at noon
and started the winding trail up the first mountain range. The
going was slow as the trail is mostly steep and in places merely a
stream-bed filled with loose rocks. Within the first hour we were
far up and could look upon Petionville just below us and beyond it
the broad plain of the Cul-de-Sac with its many squares of bright
green sugar cane cut in the brown-gray cactus land. As a background
for this flat valley rose the mountains of Mirebalais continuing
beyond the ends of the plain to the sea and to the salt lakes. Just
this side of the salt lakes was a mass of water and reeds, looking
very insignificant, which was the familiar Troucaiman. It was like
an aërial photograph of this entire section of the country but with
perspective and magnificently varied coloration.

And so we went on over the second range to get our first glimpse of
Kenskoff--a tiny mountain village half-way up the third mountain
slope. We climbed up the winding trails which sometimes consisted
of cuts through the mountains, but generally paths cut in the
mountainside, with the crest high above us and the base far below.
At Kenskoff is a tiny white chapel with the Pope's flag of white and
yellow marking it from a long distance. This outpost of Christianity
is visited perhaps once a month by the priest of the neighborhood
on his rounds.

After watering our horses and having a few eggs and sandwiches, we
left Kenskoff and the mountains became more barren. A red-tailed
hawk soared in the valley below us and from the roadside we flushed
flocks of mourning dove at every curve. And then we reached Furcy,
and around the side of the mountain we suddenly came upon the entire
panorama of each succeeding range rolling up from the distant ones,
which were in Santo Domingo, to drop from 10,000 feet to the valley
below us and rise again to our pathway of about one mile high.

It was a clear night with a new moon, so only a few tiny clouds
floated below us in the valleys and above only the black and gold of
a starlit night.

[Illustration: ON THE ST. MARC ROAD AFTER THE HEAVY RAINS]



IX

COTTON


The week before Christmas we started off on a motor trip as the
guests of Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Davis. Mr. Davis is the Vice-President
of the United West Indies Corporation, an American concern which is
engaged in developing the resources of Haiti. Although operating
throughout the Republic, the largest plantation of the company is
near St. Michel in the north-central portion, where for miles the
country is a vast fertile plain and thus peculiarly valuable as
agricultural land. The soil is virgin--untouched and unused except
in the early Spanish days, centuries ago, for cattle grazing. That
part of Haiti near and to the westward of St. Michel was never in
the possession of the French as was the rest of the Republic, but
was held by the Spanish until driven back to the present Dominican
border by the Haitians themselves.

The first day's ride of about seven hours brought us to St. Michel.
The route from Port-au-Prince for two-thirds of the way is along
the bay to Gonaïves. From there the road goes directly inland. The
country through which one passes during these hours contains many
changes, for from the fertile plains outside of Port-au-Prince,
where castor bean and sugar cane are growing, there is suddenly
a cessation of verdant growth beyond St. Marc, and for miles a
near-desert stretches out. The road is merely a clearing of the
cactus growth which closes in on either side and consists of
queer-looking species of cacti. The soil is sandy, the air humid,
and the thorny mass on every side impenetrable. Every now and then
we would pass partly wild mules kicking down the trunk of a cactus
to drink the water it contained; and as we passed, some of the
natives would rush madly into the bushes from fright. It is not so
long since they saw their first motor and they are still filled with
fear when one appears.

From the plains of Dessalines, a few miles south of Gonaïves, there
is an excellent view of the three old Haitian forts in the mountains
back of the plain. Here the Haitiens retreated to wait until the
forces should come across the plains to attack them. It is easy to
see how difficult it was for any force to attempt to attack the
Haitians when once intrenched in their forts, situated on cliffs and
with hidden trails leading to them.

Stopping for a moment in the plains, we saw a woman coming up to
the car. We found out that she wished to sell her baby if she could
get a few gourdes (20-cent pieces of our money but corresponding in
Haiti to a dollar) for it. Again at Gonaïves a small boy begged
us to take him home and keep him, in exchange for which he would
do any work we might wish. This sort of temporary slavery which
many children enter into or are sold into by their parents lasts
generally until they are of age, during which time they do any work
which you may assign them to. It is a common custom.

From Gonaïves the road to St. Michel passes through Ennery and it
was on the outskirts of this town that we stopped for luncheon. The
spot was a clearing in a forest with huge ancient trees and little
coffee bushes surrounding. In the clearing were the stone pillars,
some still erect, some fallen, of what was once the palace of
Toussaint L'Overture.

Beyond Ennery there is a stiff climb for a number of miles until
finally one comes out on the plateau which constitutes the plains of
St. Michel. Passing through the town, which is at the southern end
of the plain of Atalaye, we went a short distance before arriving
at the headquarters of the plantation. Here we spent the night. The
main building is a very attractive structure, all the rooms of which
except the kitchen and office being on the second floor. All around
is a second-story veranda supported by wooden posts from below.
We sat late watching the headlights of the tractors moving about
ceaselessly over the plains.

The next day was spent in looking over the plantation and seeing the
new long staple cotton which they are growing in large quantities.
Also, in the afternoon we had a long ride across the plains and
afterward a guinea and dove shoot.

At 6 on the morning of the second day we started out in our car for
Cap Haitien. After passing Ennery the road begins to climb up and
up, gaining the steep ascent only by curving and recurving along
the side of each mountain slope. The range was the Puilboreaux
Mountains which climatically divide the island into the north and
south. In Port-au-Prince and all of southern Haiti we were in the
middle of the dry season, as I have said. But after we were over the
summit of Puilboreaux all was changed. The foliage, which on the
southern slope was dry, was now verdant and profuse, the road muddy
instead of dusty and everywhere flowers of all kinds flourished.
Each woods had the orchids out in bloom.

Once over the top of Puilboreau, the view is wonderful. Mountains
miles away look very near and just below it seems, though it is
really far, lies the valley of Plaisance with the little white
buildings of the town tucked away in the center.

Before reaching the Cap, as Cap Haitian is called throughout Haiti,
it is necessary to ford the Limbé River. Normally this is very
simple and a motor will cross over without any trouble. Sometimes,
however, in the floods of the rainy season it becomes impassable and
crossing is impossible for days at a time. When we arrived it was
doubtful, but we were informed that with the aid of the prisoners in
the gendarme prison there, it would be possible. We started, pulled
by a rope, pushed by forty black figures with rags to indicate the
prison cloth, out into midstream under the direction of a gendarme.
But half way out we stuck, the car filled with water to the seats
and only after everyone was up to his neck in water beside the car
helping to push it, did we finally arrive on the other side.

Cap Haitien is to-day not a very important town, compared to
Port-au-Prince, but it was the capital in the French days, and the
center of a large amount of commerce. It shows, unlike other towns,
decided traces of the Spanish architecture. The harbor is beautiful
and along the side there runs a drive to the eastward.

The great sight of the north I did not see. It is the Citadel and
Sans Souci, the palace of Christophe. In the mountains far above
the Cap the Citadel lay surrounded by mist except for a few minutes
early the next morning, when the clouds were swept away and we got
one glimpse of the Citadel. But we were unable to take the trail
which winds up to the palace and the Citadel because of the heavy
rains which at that time flooded the region.

[Illustration: HAITIAN WOMEN WASHING THEIR CLOTHES IN A DITCH]

[Illustration: THE AMERICAN CLUB]



X

GOURDES


The blood of the present-day Haitian is largely a mixture of French
and black. The Indian aborigines were totally eliminated from Haiti
by the Spaniard, so that unlike the most of Latin America, the
Indians or their descendants form no part of the population. The
Spaniard, in turn, was driven from Haiti by the French before he
had left much of an imprint and his blood forms a negligible factor
to-day. The English, although in Haiti, were there so short a time
as to leave no strain of British blood. And so the French blood is
predominant.

Also, all the closest connections of Haiti are still with France,
or were up to the time of the American Occupation. Creole is based
more fundamentally upon French than any other language and the
conversation of the higher classes is pure French. Many Haitians
go each year to Paris to study or to visit, and many of the most
prominent are educated there.

When the Americans took the leading rôle in Haiti there naturally
arose with greater force the race question. The feeling between
black and white is so much stronger between most Americans and the
black races than it is in the case of Europeans, that it becomes a
serious problem. It is foolishly intolerant of the American who goes
to Haiti to assume an attitude of mental or social superiority over
the Haitian because he is a black. It would be equally absurd for
the Haitian to attempt to break through the walls of prejudice and
to expect all Americans and Haitians to mix with ease. Although it
is most certainly true that America has an infinitely more thorough
knowledge and is more capable of government than is Haiti, yet the
Haitians have what many Americans of even the upper classes often
lack, a knowledge of culture and excellent manners.

There is only one sane social attitude to take in the dealings of
Haitian and American. The American must remember, as he should when
he travels anywhere, that he is dealing with foreigners. He must
value them according to their own standards and live his own life
according to the standards of America. Let the American in Haiti, if
he does not care to mix with the Haitians, not do so, but when he
meets them treat them as their education and culture entitles them
to be treated.

The Haitians understand well the attitude of the Americans. They saw
the failure of the attempts in the early days to mix freely. They
now are anxious to meet the American men but wait for the Americans
to take any initiative in a social way.

In Port-au-Prince there is the American Club, whose membership
is limited to Americans. It is situated on Tourgeau Street,
one of the main residential streets, and has a most attractive
clubhouse. Beside it there are two excellent clay tennis courts,
where each afternoon the men play and are later joined for bridge
or conversation by the ladies. Opportunity there is, too, for rum
punches and cocktails, for Haiti is one of the "wet islands."

Every other Saturday night and in between time upon the arrival of
a foreign warship or some occasion of this kind, dances are held
at the Club at which either the Gendarmerie band or a small native
string orchestra play.

The foreign personnel in Haiti consists chiefly of the Marine
officers and treaty officials and their families. This is
supplemented by members of the diplomatic corps and business men who
are either engaged in business in Haiti or who are there looking
over the country in view of future investments. And so there is a
good-sized foreign colony, mostly American, in Port-au-Prince, which
has a social life all of its own.

There are two chief Haitian clubs--the Cercle Bellevue and the
Port-au-Prince. The latter is a young men's club and is located on
the Champ de Mars next to Brigade Headquarters. The Cercle Bellevue
is the more representative and has a beautiful building in the
upper part of town. Its members number as well as the Haitians,
certain Americans who have been invited to join. Frequent dances are
given by the Cercle Bellevue and they are, like all Latin American
parties, far gayer and more elaborate than the American ones. Rarely
does a party break up before 5 a.m.

Nowhere in the world could more elaborate and yet correct
entertainments be given than the Haitians have. During my visit the
Argentine warship "Nuevo de Julio" came into Port-au-Prince and
was the occasion for many entertainments, among them a luncheon to
the American officers which was held on board and to which I was
invited. It was one of the most delightful luncheons to which I have
ever been. That night a state dinner was given by the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, M. Barau, to the Argentine Officers, and to which
the American Commanding Officer and the Officer of the Gendarmerie
were also asked. Mme. Barau is French while her husband is of course
a Haitian. No dinner anywhere, I was told, could have been given
which would have been more appropriate or more delightful.

The national standard coin of Haiti is a gourde, which is worth 20
cents in American money. It is made in the form of our American
dollar, and means to the Haitian about what a dollar means to an
American. About two years ago there was a scarcity of gourdes. An
attempt was made to have others printed, but as the printing is
done in Washington and at that time the printers' strike was in
full swing, it was impossible to get the gourdes for a long time.
This led to great hoarding of the gourdes, which resulted in their
becoming even scarcer and finally in their depreciation to below 4
for a dollar. New gourdes were being given out when I arrived and
they were back at their normal value of 5.

The shops in Port-au-Prince are mostly Haitian. The West Indies
Trading Company, an American concern, it is true, has two large
stores at which much that is in American department stores can be
purchased. But the rest are mostly native-owned. Simon Vieux is
the leading grocery, and knick-knacks and odds-and-ends of every
description can be gotten at "Le Paradis des Dames," "Aux Cents
Mille Artiles," and "L'Ange Gardien."

It was indeed with tremendous regret that I finally left Haiti the
first week in February. Haiti, as I have shown, has a wonderful
past in the commerce and cultivation of the French days and in the
accomplishments of the heroes who made and kept her independent.
But these records are only a preface to what a marvellous future
she should have. Haiti is essentially a land of the future and of
possibilities of which to-day we see only the barest vision. The
curtain has already begun to rise upon Haiti as an agricultural land
of the first class and more and more it will be opened up and become
again the rich country which it once was. And in the future the
Haitians and foreigners together will reap the benefit and they will
be of great mutual aid to one another.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Minor typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected
without note. Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have
been retained as printed.





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