Caribbean Project: The Haitian Earthquake of 1842

Sir Spenser St. John's Hayti, or the Black Republic describes a devastating 1842 earthquake


The following excerpts come from Sir Spenser St. John’s 1886 memoirs, Hayti, or the Black Republic.

Sir Spenser St. John, the British chargé d’affaires and later resident minister in Haiti in the 1860s and 1870s, published what has been described as the most negative book ever written about Haiti.

I first learned of Hayti, or the Black Republic two months ago while reading Laurent DuBois’s Haiti: The Aftershocks of History. I’m planning to review both books and many others for the Caribbean Project.

In 1842, a devastating earthquake struck Le Cap (now Cap-Haïtien) in Haiti’s Northern Province. Le Cap had been the most important city in French St. Domingue.

Spenser St. John describes of the aftermath of the Le Cap earthquake:

“Cap-Haïtien never recovered from the fearful effects of the earthquake of 1842, when several thousands of its inhabitants perished. To this day they talk of that awful event, and never forget to relate how the countrypeople, rushed in to plunder the place, and how none lent a helping hand to aid their half-buried countrymen. Captain Macquire and myself used to wander about the ruins, and we could not but feel how little energy remained in a people who could leave their property in such a state. It was perhaps cheaper to build a trumpery house elsewhere.

One of those who suffered most during that visitation wrote before the earth had ceased trembling, “Against the acts of God Almighty no one complains,” and then proceeded to relate how the dread earthquake shook down or seriously injured almost every house; how two-thirds of the inhabitants were buried underneath the fallen masonry; how the bands of blacks rushed in from the mountains and plain, not to aid in saving their wretched countrymen, whose cries and groans could be heard for two or three days, but to plunder the stores replete with goods; and – what he did complain of – how the officers and men of the garrison, instead of attempting to keep order, joined in plundering the small remnants of what the rest of the inhabitants could save from the tottering ruins. What a people!”

OD readers from way back will remember how Port-au-Prince was looted and taken over by machete wielding gangs in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake. In February, there was photo essay in Newsweek about how Port-au-Prince is still controlled by armed gangs.

“The vexed question as to the position held by the negroes in the great scheme of nature was continually brought before us while I lived in Hayti, and I could not but regret to find the greater my experience the less I thought of the capacity of the negro to hold an independent position. As long as he is influenced by contact with the white man, as in the Southern portion of the United States, he gets on very well. But place him free from all such influence, as in Hayti, and he shows no signs of improvement; on the contrary he is gradually retrograding to the African tribal customs, and without exterior pressure will fall into the state of the inhabitants on the Congo. If this were only my own opinion, I should hesitate to express it so positively, but I have found no dissident voice amongst experienced residents since I first went to Hayti in January 1863.

I now agree with those who deny the negro could ever originate a civilisation, and that with the best of educations he remains an inferior type of man. He has as yet shown himself totally unfitted for self government, and incapable as a people to make any progress whatever. To judge the negroes fairly, one must live a considerable time in their midst, and not be led away by the theory that all races are capable of equal advances in civilisation.”

126 years later, Sir Spenser St. John’s prophetic words about Haiti (now in the 2o8th year of freedom) could have been written yesterday. If anything is true, the blacks of Haiti have retrogaded much further since then in spite of becoming a “Republic of NGOs,” now having reached the point where babies, young children, and elderly women are gang raped in the streets.

Freedom has failed in Haiti. This isn’t a new idea. It is actually a very old idea that is being reasserted because the consequences of unleashing the free negro upon White civilization are becoming unbearable.

Note: These same ideas will be explored in my review of Paul Kersey’s Escape From Detroit. I’m running behind schedule in two book reviews.

About Hunter Wallace 12382 Articles
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  1. Republic of NOGs.

    I just noticed the anagram.

    Which Jolly Japing Jackanape originated the phrase? It’s subtle but it was intentional.

    Why must the white man save that (Haiti) which God slated for destruction, time and time again? They should be forced to hand over land to whites to settle properly and make flourish.

  2. ‘As long as he is influenced by contact with the white man, as in the Southern portion of the United States, he gets on very well. But place him free from all such influence, as in Hayti, and he shows no signs of improvement; on the contrary he is gradually retrograding to the African tribal customs….’

    This is a very interesting observation.

  3. Hunter, I can only say once again…THANK YOU for putting all these splendid, time-consuming, aggravating articles together. I am (and so are many others) grateful for your work in O.D.
    I can’t write articles, but I sure can share!

  4. The Southern negro is now well on the way to retrograding now that our civilization has been demonized and our hands have been tied by the federal government. Every day produces a new example.

    See the Violent Crime section in the forum for the latest example in Georgia.

  5. Hi Hunter, are you planning a book similar to OD linking the past to the present? If so, I’m looking forward to it.

  6. No one is denying the crime rates in black neighborhoods, they are overrepresented and that`s the way it`s been for decades. But the perspectives of the far right are always limited to pure exposure of these criminals but lack any constructive focus on creative solutions. It`s a little similar to the GOP`s healthcare plan, they offer no alternatives or any plans of their own, but instead are eager to criticize what the Dems are proposing.

  7. There is no solution in Haiti that is acceptable to the Left because that would mean abandoning their whole paradigm.

    The Left assumes that all men are created equal when the facts show that just the opposite is true. The Left believes that all men have a “right” to liberty. This is what Haiti, the world’s oldest black republic, is like after 208 years of freedom.

    Does Haiti have to be this way? When Haiti was Saint-Domingue under slavery, it was the richest colony in the world. It was worth more to France than all the American colonies combined were to Britain.

  8. Haitians are Raw Afreakans, distilled.

    The only solution is a REALLY REALLY REALLY large tsunami.

    Sharks do not have any natural diseases. Sharks are the ocean’s roving garbage disposal corps…….

    DNA Uber Alles.

  9. Trine,


    Holy crap, the only way that place could be turned around is wholesale replacement of population.

    The blacks are literally unfit to control that place.

  10. What does any of this have to do with the GOP Dem thing?

    The two parties are simply kleptocratic enablers. The sooner America as it is defined by current borders is over, the better.

  11. “lack any constructive focus on creative solutions”

    There ARE no “creative solutions,” squidg’ms.

    The African is what he is. Evolution has made him so.

    Now, to be sure, there are effective *solutions* that the Right has worked out.

    And there are *creative* ideas that the Left has tried.

    Sadly, the effective solutions of the Right have been made verboten by the Left and the creative ideas of the Left do not work.

    The Venn diagrams of “creative” and “solution” do not overlap.

    When you fully understand this reality, WN is all that’s left.

  12. Well said Barb.

    Sorry trine, your time is up. The ‘solution’ is coming through whether the ‘left’ like it or not.

    Yours is a corrupt ideology based on lies and deceit to its very core. You are nothing but a pawn. A fool. A ‘useful idiot’, in your masters own words.

    Neo-totalitarianism is dead. Freedom will prevail.

    You’re just caught on the wrong side of history trine. Shit happens.

  13. So welfare and free education isn’t enough to lift blacks out of there criminal patterns?

    How much is there left for us to do for negros? White taxpayers already pay for negros “free” schooling, provide living expenses through welfare, food-stamps, housing assistance; assistance for utility bills, we provide for medical bills, defray the cost of transportation by tax payer funded buses and the like.

    Literally, what’s left for White people to provide to negros? The tax burden is so high we can no longer afford to have our own large families and even when negros are not actually killing us, they are reducing out numbers

    trine or tranny she-boon etc or whoever you are, you are pure evil and advocate the death of my people and our way of life. you are the enemy. your attempts at soft words and the like don’t change the fact you would have my people be reduce in numbers and and become slaves in our own land.

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