France formally recognizes Haiti’s independence

On this day in Caribbean history, June 9, 1838, the Treaty of 1838 was signed which established France as formally recognizing Haiti’s independence.

This independence had been recognized by Great Britain in May, 1826, having appointed a Consul-General at Port-au-Prince and Consuls and Vice-Consuls in the various ports open to foreign trade. Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark were also in official relations with the young Republic. Negotiations were being carried on with the Holy See with a view to the settlement of religious matters. In January, 1834, John England, Bishop of Charleston, was sent to Port-au-Prince. The Pope wanted to control the church of Haiti without any interference from secular Power appointing a Vicar Apostolic for Haiti. The Haitian Government claimed the right to appoint the Archbishops and Bishops, reserving to the Pope the right of conferring the canonical investiture.

Unable to come to an understanding, Bishop England left Haiti, but returned in May, 1836, and signed a Concordat, which he took with him to Rome, hoping to have it ratified. Pope Gregory XII refused to approve this treaty, and in May, 1837, Bishop England arrived at Port-au-Prince with the title of “Vicar Apostolic, Administrator of the Church of Haiti.” On the refusal of President Boyer to receive the Pope’s agent in such a capacity, Bishop England returned to Charleston, where he died soon after.

After seven years of untiring efforts Haiti succeeded in reaching an agreement satisfactory to all concerned. Baron E. de Las Cases and C. Baudin, a captain in the French Navy, arrived at Port-au-Prince on the 28th of January, 1838; they were commissioned by Louis Philippe to settle the disagreements existing between France and Haiti. On the 31st of January the parleys with the Haitian plenipotentiaries were begun, and on the 12th of February, 1838 a treaty, which was entirely satisfactory to the national amour-propre of Haiti, was signed. France followed suit four months later.

 

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