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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

Hubert Harrison on U.S. Imperialism in Haiti (1921)

The most dangerous phase of developed capitalism is that of imperialism--when having subjugated its workers and exploited its natural resources at home, it turns with grim determination toward “undeveloped” races and areas to renew the same process there. . . .

The case of Hayti and the present plight of the Haytian people helps us to see the aims of our own American imperialists in the white light of pitiless publicity. A people of African descent, scarcely seven hundred miles from our own shores, with a government of their own, have had their government suppressed and their liberties destroyed by the Navy Department of the United States without even the slightest formality of a declaration of war by the United States Congress as required by the Constitution. In the presidential chair our “cracker” marines have installed a puppet in the person of Monsieur [President Phillipe Sudre] D’Artiguenave to carry out their will; the legislative bodies of the erstwhile republic have been either suppressed or degraded; unoffending black citizens have been wantonly butchered in cold blood, and thousands have been forced into slavery to labor on the military roads without pay. Here is American imperialism in its stark, repulsive nakedness. And what are we going to do about it?

Excerpted from Hubert H. Harrison, “Hands across the Sea,” “Negro World” (September 10, 1921). Reprinted in Jeffrey B. Perry, “A Hubert Harrison Reader” (Wesleyan University Press, 2001).

In this forceful “Negro World” piece (written during the 1915-1934 U.S. invasion and occupation of Haiti) Harrison offers an explanation of how imperialism, the “most dangerous stage of developed capitalism,” turns to “the subjection of black, brown and colored workers.” He also offers concrete suggestions for action in opposition to U.S. imperialism in Haiti.

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