Day 6: “Against the Yankees”: Happy Black History Month from Charlemagne M. Péralte (Haiti)
“Charlemagne M. Péralte, Lettre, 1919
Contrary to the principles generally agreed to by civilized nations and to the rules of intentional law, the American government, taking advantage of the great European war, has intervened in the affairs of the small Republic of Haiti by imposing a convention whose ratification in the National Assembly was assured by a military occupation. In spite of the threats to our autonomy and our dignity as a free and independent people, we were disposed to accept this convention and execute our obligations as we were directed to. However, the false promises made by the Yankees on disembarking on our territory are being realized, after only four years have passed, by perpetual antagonisms, outrageous crimes, murders, thefts and acts of barbarism of which only the American, in the whole world, is capable.
Today our patience is at an end and we demand our rights, unrecognized and flouted by the unscrupulous Americans who, by destroying our institutions, deprive the Haitian people of all their resources and thrive on our name and our blood. With cruelty and injustice, the Yankees, have for four years cast ruin and desolation on our territory. In this day when, at the conference for peace among civilized nations, they have sworn, before the entire world, to respect the rights and sovereignty of small nations, we demand the liberation of our territory and the right of free independent states, as recognized by international law.
We ask you, consequently, to observe that we have been struggling for ten months with only this end in view, and that our weapons until now victorious, permit us to ask you to recognize our right to violence. We are prepared to make any sacrifice to liberate Haitian territory and create respect for the principles adopted by President Wilson himself, concerning the rights and sovereignty of small nations. Please note, Sir, that the American troops, by virtue of their own laws have no right to wage war against us.
Charlemagne M. Péralte, Commander-in-chief of the Revolution, and 100 other signatories”
Source: “Against the Yankees” by Charlemagne M. Péralte, translated from French by David Nicholls, In Libète. A Haitian Anthology, edited by Charles Arthur and Michael Dash (Ian Randle Publishers, 1999).