On this day in history, August 15, 1934, the last contingent of American troops left Haiti. The occupation officially which lasted 19 years and four days ended on August 1, 1934. This came after President Franklin D. Roosevelt reaffirmed an August 1933 disengagement agreement and on the 15th, a formal transfer of authority to the Garde d’haiti, the power to take over control of the government, allowed Haiti to again become an independent nation.
In 1930, Sténio Vincent, a long-time critic of the occupation, was elected President. By 1930, President Hoover had become concerned about the effects of the occupation, particularly after the December 1929 incident in Les Cayes. Hoover appointed a commission to study the situation, with William Cameron Forbes as the chair.
The Forbes Commission praised the material improvements that the U.S. administration had achieved, but it criticized the continued exclusion of Haitian nationals from positions of real authority in the government and the constabulary, which had come to be known as the Garde d’Haïti. The commission asserted that “the social forces that created [instability] still remain – poverty, ignorance, and the lack of a tradition or desire for orderly free government.”
The Hoover administration did not fully implement the recommendations of the Forbes Commission; but United States withdrawal was under way by 1932, when Hoover lost the presidency to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a proponent of the “Good Neighbor policy” for the US role in the Caribbean and Latin America. On a visit to Cap-Haïtien in July 1934, Roosevelt reaffirmed an August 1933 disengagement agreement. The U.S. retained influence on Haiti’s external finances until 1947.
The occupation by the United States had several significant effects on Haiti. An early period of unrest culminated in a 1918 rebellion by up to 40,000 former cacos and other members of the opposition. The scale of the uprising overwhelmed the Gendarmerie, but US Marine reinforcements helped put down the revolt. An estimated 2,000 Haitians were killed in the fighting. The positive effects the the occupation held on the nation was helping Port-au-Prince to become the first Caribbean city to have a phone service with automatic dialing. Agricultural education was organized, with a central school of agriculture and 69 farms in the country.