Causes of the Invasion of Haiti in 1915

The 1915 U.S. invasion of Haiti had many causes.
... Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

The United States had an interest in Haiti long before occupying the country in 1915. Among other things, it was seen as a potential location for a U.S. naval base. The U.S. invasion was largely a move on behalf of President Woodrow Wilson to establish some stability in the country and lessen foreign influence. The U.S. would attempt, at times unsuccessfully, to exert a great deal of influence over Haitian policies from this time until it withdrew from Haiti in 1934.

1 Foreign Ties

Before the invasion, the United States had many concerns about foreign influence in Haiti. France, a previous colonizer of the country, maintained significant influence as a creditor to the young nation. German traders also started to gain a strong foothold in Haiti's economy by establishing branches on the island and acquiring Haitian land through marriages to local women.

2 Political Turmoil

Between 1911 and 1915, seven Haitian presidents were overthrown or killed. In response to the instability, the United States sent Marines to secure $500,000 from Haiti's national bank. Shortly thereafter, the current Haitian president was assassinated. This prompted President Wilson to send U.S. military to take control of the island until a new president could be elected with greater U.S. influence, forcing the election of a pro-American president and creating a joint American-Haitian military force that could intervene in the country whenever desired.