The Haitian constitution was relatively very odd when compared to American constitution we are familiar with. What about its few articles was so off-putting, though?
The United States of America is a nation built upon a democratic republic and stimulated by its laissez-faire economy. This makes a land where power is more evenly spread. With this, it is often considered a place of freedom where opportunity sits everywhere. All one has to do is try. They may fail again and again, but they can always try. No matter what happens, an American has basic rights as an American that cannot be stripped. This is reflected in the constitution. The Imperial Constitution of Haiti portrays quite the contrary.
For starters, a Haitian who experiences bankruptcy will have their citizen suspend, per Article 8. Bankruptcy is a common affair in the competitive American market. While it is quite detrimental, it in no way makes a citizen un-American. Additionally, the Emperor directly selects his successor, per Article 26. The power dynamics of this constitution strongly contrast that of our own. The rest of their articles follow these trends.
The Haitian were on a different page.
One thought on “The Imperial Constitution of Haiti was Strange”
Catchy title for your post! I am wondering whether applying a more rigorously historical reading might enhance or challenge your comparative analysis here. You speak of the U.S. Constitution in the present tense, which makes good sense because of course it still has legal currency! On the other hand, at the time that the Haitian Constitution was written, freedom and citizenship were much more circumscribed: the very population that the Haitian Constitution singles out as enjoying the privileges of citizenship (that is, Black people including formerly enslaved people) could *not* claim those same privileges in the U.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how the specific pressures on the drafters of the Haitian text might have shaped even the articles that don’t seem to have much to do, explicitly, with slavery and colonialism, such as the stuff about bankruptcy.