"A New Direction" by Joseph Medill McCormick (1877-1925)

An excerpt from McCormick’s report to the United States Congress on the occupation in Haiti. McCormick was an Illinois senator who was asked to evaluate the occupation when Marines had to suppress the revolution led by Péralte. McCormick wanted to radically alter United States policy in Haiti. He wanted to rely less on violence and repression and, instead, improve education.

It is impossible to determine the exact figures the number of Haitians killed in this 18 months’ guerrilla campaign. A fair estimate is about 1,500. The figure includes many reports based on guesses made during combat and not on actual count. The casualties, whatever they were, undoubtedly included some non-combatants. The bandits were found resting in settlements where they were surrounded by their women and children, or in villages where they camped and were tolerated by the inhabitants through fear or friendship. When encountered they had to be instantly attacked. These conditions largely account for the deaths of the bystanders. Such casualties are to be deplored.

They were unhappy consequences of the irregular operations. Your committee is convinced that the suppression of the bandits by patrols was the only method which would have been effective.

Nevertheless your committee submits that the American people will not consider their duty under the [1915] treaty discharged if, in addition to what has been accomplished, there are not placed within the reach of the Haitian masses, justice, schools, and agricultural instruction. The treaty itself makes no provision to consummate these things, necessary to be done for progress in Haiti. There ought to be appointed a legal advisor to the High Commissioner. It would be an act of statesmanship and of comity on the part of our Government if it would send to Haiti a commission comprising a commercial advisor, an expert in tropical agriculture, and an educator of the standing and special experience of Doctor Moton of Tuskegee [Institute].

Your committee submits that such an increase in wealth, commerce, and revenue is necessary to the social and political progress of the Haitian people. There ought to be a survey of the need and opportunity for industrial and especially of agricultural instruction and development in a country which depends upon agriculture as its sole source of wealth.

As wealth and revenues increase, schools, trails, and highways may be extended and as they are extended, in turn, the revenues will be further enhanced and so enable the further development of the public services. At the same time the buying power and the well-being of the people will increase as under American guidance or control they have so marvelously increased in Cuba and Porto Rico [under United States occupation] during the last generation. It is for this reason that your committee attaches importance to the dispatch of a commission such as suggested.