The long, interwoven history of Haiti and the United States
began on the last day of 1698, when French explorer Sieur d'Iberville set
out from the island of Saint Domingue (present-day Haiti) to establish a settlement at Biloxi,
on the Gulf Coast of France's Louisiana possession.
For most of the eighteenth century,
however, only a few black migrants settled there. But between the 1790s and
1809, large numbers of Haitians of African descent migrated to Louisiana.
By 1791 the Haitian Revolution was under way. It would continue for thirteen
years, result in the independence of the first black republic in the Western
Hemisphere, and reverberate throughout the Atlantic world. Its impact would
be particularly felt in Louisiana, the destination of thousands of refugees
from the island's turmoil. Their activism had profound repercussions on the
politics, the culture, the religion, and the racial climate of the state.