On this day in 1822, Haiti became the first country to recognize Greece’s independence from the Ottoman Empire and the Greek people’s right to self-determination.
Haiti’s recognition was made through a powerful letter by President Jean-Pierre Boyer to renowned Greek scholar Adamantios Korais, dated 15 January 1822.
It was preceded by a letter from Korais and other prominent Greeks in Paris asking for help with the Revolution, following recommendations from the famous French general Lafayette and Bishop Gregory of Vlaise, who had visited the area.
Haiti, a poor Caribbean country, could not send aid to Greece, but its president responded with the following letter, which was marked by warm feelings for the Greek uprising:
“Before I received your letter from Paris, dated last August 20, the news about the revolution of your co-citizens against the despotism which lasted for about three centuries had already arrived here. With great enthusiasm we learned that Hellas was finally forced to take up arms in order to gain her freedom and the position that she once held among the nations of the world. Such a beautiful and just case, most importantly, the first successes which have accompanied it, cannot leave Haitians indifferent, for we, like the Hellenes, were for a long time subjected to a dishonorable slavery and finally, with our own chains, broke the head of tyranny.
Wishing to Heavens to protect the descendants of Leonidas, we thought to assist these brave warriors, if not with military forces and ammunition, at least with money, which will be useful for acquisition of guns, which you need. But events that have occurred and imposed financial restrictions onto our country absorbed the entire budget, including the part that could be disposed by our administration. Moreover, at present, the revolution which triumphs on the eastern portion of our island is creating a new obstacle in carrying out our aim; in fact, this portion, which was incorporated into the Republic I preside over, is in extreme poverty and thus justifies immense expenditures of our budget. If the circumstances, as we wish, improve again, then we shall honorably assist you, the sons of Hellas, to the best of our abilities.
Citizens! Convey to your co-patriots the warm wishes that the people of Haiti send on the behalf of your liberation. The descendants of ancient Hellenes look forward, in the reawakening of their history, to trophies worthy of Salamis. May they prove to be like their ancestors and guided by the commands of Miltiades, and be able, in the fields of new Marathon, to achieve the triumph of the holy affair that they have undertaken on behalf of their rights, religion and motherland. May it be, at last, through their wise decisions, that they will be commemorated by history as the heirs of the endurance and virtues of their ancestors.
In the 15th of January 1822 and the 19th year of Independence
Haiti, achieved its own independence from French colonial rule in 1804.
Despite the success of the Haitian Revolution, France ensured that the newly independent country could never succeed by imposing crippling debt repayments to compensate French slave owners.
Haiti was hit by a strong earthquake on January 12, 2010, causing a humanitarian catastrophe.
The death toll reached 316,000 and 1.6 million Haitians became homeless.
Greece, recognizing its debt to the country for being the first to recognise the rights of its struggle in 1821, was one of the first to send aid.
In fact, on January 24, Greek and French rescuers pulled alive a 24-year-old from the ruins of a hotel, twelve days after the catastrophic earthquake that was 7 Richter.