Teaching about Haiti in World History: An Introduction

"Haiti lies only six hundred miles from Florida. . . .Considering its neighborhood, its strategic location, and its unique character as the only self-constituted negro republic in the world, it is remarkable that the land and its people should be so little known to Americans. Although Haitian history has been closely related to that of the United States for more than two centuries, to the American mind Haiti remains a land of foreboding and mystery—terra incognita." —Ludwell Lee Montague, Haiti and the United States, 1714–1938 (1940) These words, penned seven decades ago, could almost have been written today. Despite Haiti's centrality to many key themes of modern world history, Haiti barely registers in the historical consciousness of most foreigners (including Americans, despite Haiti's proximity and the two countries' long and entangled history of relations).