In 1899, this British author was the first white man to cross the interior of the black island republic since 1803, the year before Haitian independence was declared. Much of what he says could describe Haiti in the present day—from the ramshackle slum cities, never rebuilt since the 1842 earthquake, the hilarious “army” and its hundreds of “generals,” the Voodoo cult and witchdoctors whose superstition rules the island—and the extreme backwardness of the society in general—it is all there in sometimes amusing, and often horrifying detail.
This book, originally titled “Where Black Rules White: A Journey Across and About Hayti,” reveals that, after nearly 100 years of independence, the black rulers of Haiti had turned this once-prosperous white-ruled colony into an unimaginable hell. The last chapter of the book is called “Can the Negro Rule Himself?” Prichard answered this question as follows:
“The present condition of Hayti gives the best possible answer to the question, and, considering the experiment has lasted for a century, perhaps also a conclusive one. For a century the answer has been working itself out there in flesh and blood. The negro has had his chance, a fair field and no favour. He has had the most fertile and beautiful of the Carribbees for his own; he has had the advantage of excellent French laws; he inherited a made country, with Cap Haytien for its Paris, ‘Little Paris,’ as it was called. Here was a wide land sown with prosperity, a land of wood, water, towns, and plantations, and in the midst of it the Black Man was turned loose to work out his own salvation.
“Up to date he certainly has not succeeded in giving any convincing proof of capability, has not indeed come within measurable distance of success. I think we may go a full step beyond the non-proven. We may say that, considered in the mass at any rate, he has shown no signs whatever which could fairly entitle him to the benefit of the doubt that has for so long hung about the question.”
New edition, reformatted, all original illustrations, index.
I. First Impressions of the Black Republic
II. The High Road of Hayti
III. The Haytian General
IV. Vaudoux Worship and Sacrifice
V. The Haytian Navy
VI. Across Hayti
VII. Into San Domingo
VIII. Haytian Police, Prisons and Hospitals
IX. A Living City within a Dead One
X. The Citadel of the Black Napoleon
XI. Justice and the Status of the White Where He Is Ruled by the Negro
XII. The Haytian Press
XIII. The Haytian People as I Knew Them
XIV. Hayti, the Puff-Ball
XV. Can the Negro Rule Himself?
About the author: Major Hesketh Vernon Prichard, (1876–1922) was an explorer, adventurer, big-game hunter and marksman who made a significant contribution to sniping practice within the British Army during the First World War. During his lifetime, he also explored territory never seen before by white man, played cricket at first-class level, including on overseas tours, wrote short stories and novels (one of which was turned into a Douglas Fairbanks film) and was a successful newspaper correspondent and travel writer.