This history of Haiti Timeline offers an easy access look at the dates covered in our recent articles and podcasts regarding Haiti.

crisis in haiti history of haiti timeline

1492 – Christopher Columbus claims Haiti for Spain. The island is named Hispaniola. The indigenous population is enslaved.


1697 – Spain cedes the western third of Hispaniola to France.


1791 – A massive slave revolt in Haiti against the French, realigns power in the western Hemisphere.


1804 – Napoleon and France cut their losses in Haiti and return to Europe following the 13 year slave revolt. The former colony becomes Haiti, the second republic in the western hemisphere (after the United States) and the first black-led republic in the world. The US refuses to recognize Haiti’s independence until 1862.


1825 – France threatens to invade and re-enslave the population of Haiti unless the government agrees to pay restitution to the French for the economy lost during the slave revolt of 1791-1804. These restitutions devastate Haiti’s economic future

History of Haiti Timeline

1915 – US President Woodrow Wilson sends US troops to Haiti following the assassination of Haiti’s president. US troops occupy Haiti until 1934.


1957 – Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier becomes Haiti’s president. Duvalier becomes a dictator for life. Papa doc maintains his hold on power by turning the majority black population against the elite mulatto population. Papa Doc’s reign implements massive divides by race and economics throughout Haiti. An infamous secret police force known as Tontons Macoutes terrorizes the country on behalf of the Duvalier family to enforce loyalty to the new ruling family for almost three decades.


1971 – Upon the death of Pap Doc, his son Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier becomes the world’s youngest president of Haiti at age 19.


1986 – Baby Doc Duvalier flees Haiti in the face of a popular uprising in the country. A military junta under General Henri Namphy takes control of the country.


1990 – Following a series of military rulers a popular uprising in Haiti overturns the junta.


1991 – Jean-Bertrand Aristide, democracy activist and former priest is elected president of Haiti. After 7 months Aristide is ousted by a military junta.


1994 – Aristide returns to Haiti with the support of US President Bill Clinton and thousands of American troops.


2004 – Aristide is ousted by an armed rebellion and goes into exile. Aristide described the exile as a “kidnapping,” orchestrated by international actors including the American and French governments.


2010 – A massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastates Haiti. More than $9 billion in humanitarian assistance and an additional $2 billion cheap oil and loans from Venezuela pour into Haiti. The arrival of international peacekeepers from the United Nations set loose a cholera outbreak that killed more than 10,000 Haitians. The UN did not admit responsibility for the outbreak until several years later. Much of the financial aid that arrived to Haiti was lost through mismanagement and widespread corruption.


2017 – Jovenel Moïse, a businessman, becomes president of Haiti after a “redo” election. The first election was allegedly marred by widespread fraud. Moïse did not take office until 14 months after the election due to the fraud allegations.


2020 – The scheduled elections in Haiti are canceled. Moïse says his term does not end for another 17 months because he had to start his term late. The country now has no parliament and president Moïse rules by decree beginning in the middle of 2020. A growing level of instability and violence descends upon the country.


2021 – Gang violence fills the vacuum created by political dysfunction. Prominent gang leaders declare a war against the country’s traditional elites. President Moïse is killed in his home July 7, 2021.

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