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Wed, 07.28.1915

American Troops Occupy Haiti

*The United States' occupation of Haiti began on this date in 1915.  This intervention occurred following the murder of dictator President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam by insurgents angered by his political murders of elite opposition.  

That day, 330 US Marines landed at Port-au-Prince, Haiti, under the authority of US President Woodrow Wilson. The first invasion forces disembarked from USS Montana on January 27, 1914.  Between 1911 and 1915, Haiti was politically unstable: a series of political assassinations and forced exiles resulted in six presidents holding office during this period.  Various revolutionary armies carried out the coups. A peasant militia formed each from the mountains of the north or invaded along the porous Dominican border. They were enlisted by rival political factions under the promises of money, which would be paid after a successful revolution, and the opportunity to plunder.   

In the aftermath of the Berlin Conference, the United States was particularly uneasy about the roles played by Imperial Germany in the Western hemisphere. Controlling Tortuga, it had intervened in Haiti and other Caribbean nations several times during the previous few decades to exert its influence as a rival power. Germany was increasingly hostile to the United States' domination of the region under its claimed Monroe Doctrine. In the lead-up to World War I, the strategic importance of the island of Hispaniola, with its manpower, material wealth, and port facilities, was understood by almost all navies operating in the Caribbean, including Germany and the still-neutral United States.

Germany had invested in military and intelligence gathering across Hispaniola as part of a wider network of German interest in Latin America and the Caribbean during the 1890s through the 1910s.  The occupation ended on August 1, 1934, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt reaffirmed an August 1933 disengagement agreement. The last contingent of US Marines departed on August 15, 1934, after a formal transfer of authority to the Garde d'Haïti.  

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