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Pacification of Haiti and the Dominican Republic

1915 - 1918
  • Between the War for Independence and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the armed forces of the United States have participated in twenty-one principal wars and in numerous smaller conflicts and operations. In each of these American men and women have paid a high price for the nation's freedom, selflessly sacrificing life or limb for an honorable cause.

    Principal sources of information for the figures, explanatory text and illustrations appearing below include the National Archives and Records Administration; U.S. Navy Historical Center; Department of Defense; Department of Veterans Affairs; and The Oxford Companion to American Military History, from which all quotations are taken.

    Pacification of Haiti and the Dominican Republic (1915 - 1918)

    Before the end of the 19th century, American businessmen provided half of all goods imported by Haiti, the nation that occupied one half of the Caribbean island off Hispaniola, and dominated its banks and railroads. In the wake of an anti-government uprising in 1915 that claimed the life of Haitian president Guillaume Sam, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sent the sailors and Marines of the USS Washington—along with a further brigade of Marines—to protect American lives and property there.  Instead of pulling back into the mountainous interior the rebel bandits actively resisted the American occupation and de facto control of the country.  “The Marines quelled sporadic violence for over a year.  In 1916-1918, U.S. occupation forces attempted to win over the peasantry and implement construction programs, but they remained unpopular.”  The resident U.S. naval commander attempted to restructure the Haitian government, first by dissolving the Haitian Congress and then by dictating a new constitution.  Although a special commission created by President Herbert Hoover determined that the occupation had failed solve Haiti’s problems, it wasn’t until 1934 that President Franklin finally ordered the marines home.

    During much of the same period, U.S. naval and Marine personnel occupied the Dominican Republic on other half of Hispaniola.  Here too, American business interests controlled much of the country’s sugar industry as well as dominating its general overseas trade.  Having sent armed incursions in 1904, 1905 1912, and 1914, the Marines arrived again in 1916, this time to counter “growing U.S. fears of germany’s influence in the Caribbean.”  This time, a “military government headed by U.S. Navy and Marine officers, backed by several thousand Marines, displaced the constitutional Dominican government in 1916.”  Limited initial resistance soon turned into a five-year long guerilla war (1917-1922) against the American occupation, from which the Americans finally withdrew in 1924.

     

    American Casualties, Pacification of Haiti, 1915 – 1917

    Branch of Service

    Killed in Action

    Non-mortal Wounds

    Navy

    2

     

    Marines

    7

    49

     

    American Casualties, Pacification of Dominican Republic, 1916 – 1924

    Branch of Service

    Killed in Action

    Non-mortal Wounds

    Marines

    17

    50