The Republic of Haiti (République d’Haïti) is a sovereign state located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti is 10,714 square miles (27,750 square kilometers) in size and has an estimated 10.6 million people, making it the most populous country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the second-most populous country in the Caribbean as a whole. It is the third largest country in the Caribbean behind Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The capital and largest city is Port-au-Prince.
The name Haïti (or Hayti) comes from the indigenous Taíno language which was the native name given to the entire island of Hispaniola to mean, “land of high mountains.” The h is silent in French and the ï in Haïti is a diacritical mark used to show that the second vowel is pronounced separately, as in the word naïve In English; this rule for the pronunciation is often disregarded, thus the spelling Haiti is used and pronounced as “Hay-ti“. The name Haïti was restored by Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines as the official name of independent Saint-Domingue, as a tribute to the Amerindian predecessors. In French, Haiti’s nickname is the Pearl of the Antilles (La Perle des Antilles) because of both its natural beauty, and the amount of wealth it accumulated for the Kingdom of France, as it was considered the richest colony owned by any of the European powers at the time.
At the time of European encounter, the island of Hispaniola was one of many Caribbean islands inhabited by the Taíno Indians, speakers of an Arawakan language called Taino, which has been preserved in the Haitian Creole language. The Taíno name for the entire island was Haiti. The people had migrated over centuries into the Caribbean islands from South America. Genetic studies show they were related to the Yanomami of the Amazon Basin. They also originated in Central and South America. After migrating to Caribbean islands, in the fifteenth century, the Taíno were pushed into the northeast Caribbean islands by the Caribs.
In the Taíno societies of the Caribbean islands, the largest unit of political organization was led by a cacique, or chief, as the Europeans understood them. The island of Haiti was divided among five Caciquats: the Magua in the north east, the Marien in the north west, the Xaragua in the south west, the Maguana in the center region of Cibao and the Higuey in the south east. The caciquedoms were tributary kingdoms, with payment consisting of harvests.
Taíno cultural artifacts include cave paintings in several locations in the country. These have become national symbols of Haiti and tourist attractions. Modern-day Léogane started as a French colonial town in the southwest, is beside the former capital of the caciquedom of Xaragua.
Christopher Columbus landed in Haiti on December 4, 1492, in an area that he named Môle Saint-Nicolas, and claimed the island for the Crown of Castile. Nineteen days later, his ship the Santa María ran aground near the present site of Cap-Haïtien. Columbus left 39 men on the island, who founded the settlement of La Navidad. The sailors carried endemic Eurasian infectious diseases. The natives lacked immunity to these new diseases and died in great numbers in epidemics. The first recorded smallpox epidemic in the Americas erupted on Hispaniola in 1507. The encomienda system forced natives to work in gold mines and plantations.
The Spanish passed the Laws of Burgos, 1512–13, which forbade the maltreatment of natives, endorsed their conversion to Catholicism, and gave legal framework to encomiendas. The natives were brought to these sites to work in specific plantations or industries.
As a gateway to the Caribbean, Hispaniola became a haven for pirates during the early colonial period. The western part of the island was settled by French buccaneers. Among them was Bertrand d’Ogeron, who succeeded in growing tobacco. He recruited many French colonial families from Martinique and Guadeloupe. European nations were competing for control in the New World, in the Caribbean as well as in North America. France and Spain settled their hostilities on the island, by way of the Treaty of Ryswick of 1697, and divided Hispaniola between them. France received the western third and subsequently named it Saint-Domingue, the French equivalent of Santo Domingo, the Spanish colony of Hispaniola and the name of its patron saint, Saint Dominic.
To develop it into sugarcane plantations, the French imported thousands of slaves from Africa. Sugar was a lucrative commodity crop throughout the eighteenth century. By 1789, approximately 40,000 white colonists lived in Saint-Domingue. In contrast, by 1763 the white population of French Canada, a vast territory, had numbered 65,000. The whites were vastly outnumbered by the tens of thousands of African slaves they had imported to work on their plantations, which were primarily devoted to the production of sugarcane. In the north of the island, slaves were able to retain many ties to African cultures, religion and language; these ties were continually being renewed by newly imported Africans. Blacks outnumbered whites by about ten to one.
The French-enacted Code Noir (“Black Code”), prepared by Jean-Baptiste Colbert and ratified by Louis XIV, had established rules on slave treatment and permissible freedoms. Saint-Domingue has been described as one of the most brutally efficient slave colonies; one-third of newly imported Africans died within a few years. Many slaves died from diseases such as smallpox and typhoid fever. They had low birth rates, and there is evidence that some women aborted fetuses rather than give birth to children within the bonds of slavery.
As in its Louisiana colony, the French colonial government allowed some rights to free people of color: the mixed-race descendants of white male colonists and black female slaves (and later, mixed-race women). Over time, many were released from slavery. They established a separate social class. White French Creole fathers frequently sent their mixed-race sons to France for their education. Some men of color were admitted into the military. More of the free people of color lived in the south of the island, near Port-au-Prince, and many intermarried within their community. They frequently worked as artisans and tradesmen, and began to own some property. Some became slave holders. The free people of color petitioned the colonial government to expand their rights.
Inspired by the French Revolution of 1789 and principles of the rights of man, free people of color and slaves in Saint-Domingue and the French West Indies pressed for freedom and more civil rights. Most important was the revolution of the slaves in Saint-Domingue, starting in the northern plains in 1791, where Africans greatly outnumbered the whites.
In 1792, the French government sent three commissioners with troops to re-establish control. To build an alliance with the gens de couleur and slaves, the French commissioners Sonthonax and Polverel abolished slavery in the colony. Six months later, the National Convention, led by Robespierre and the Jacobins, endorsed abolition and extended it to all the French colonies. Political leaders in the United States, which was a new republic itself, reacted with ambivalence, at times providing aid to enable planters to put down the revolt. Later in the revolution, the U.S. provided support to black Haitian military forces, with the goal of reducing French influence in North America and the Caribbean.
Toussaint Louverture, a former slave and leader in the slave revolt, drove out the Spanish (from Santo Domingo) and the British invaders who threatened the colony. In the uncertain years of revolution, the United States played both sides off against each other, with its traders supplying both the French and the rebels. The struggle within Haiti between the free people of color led by André Rigaud and the black Haitians led by Louverture devolved into the War of the Knives in 1799 and 1800. Many surviving free people of color left the island as refugees.
After Louverture created a separatist constitution, Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802 sent an expedition of 20,000 soldiers and as many sailors under the command of his brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc, to retake the island. The French achieved some victories, but within a few months, most of the French had died from yellow fever. More than 50,000 French troops died in an attempt to retake the colony, including 18 generals. The French captured Louverture, transporting him to France for trial. He was imprisoned at Fort de Joux, where he died in 1803 of exposure and possibly tuberculosis.
The slaves, along with free gens de couleur and allies, continued their fight for independence. Jean-Jacques Dessalines defeated French troops at the Battle of Vertières on November 18, 1803, leading the first ever successful slave army revolution. In late 1803, France withdrew its remaining 7,000 troops from the island and Napoleon gave up his idea of re-establishing a North American empire. With the war going badly, he sold Louisiana (New France) to the United States, in the Louisiana Purchase.
The independence of Saint-Domingue was proclaimed by Dessalines on January 1, 1804. The exact number of deaths due to the Haitian revolution is unknown. Slaves that made it to Haiti from the trans-Atlantic journey and slaves born in Haiti were first documented in Haiti’s archives and transferred to France’s Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As of 2015, these records are in The National Archives of France. According to the 1788 Census, Haiti’s population consisted of nearly 25,000 whites, 22,000 free coloreds and 700,000 slaves.
Dessalines was proclaimed “Emperor for Life” by his troops. Dessalines at first offered protection to the white planters and others. Once in power, he ordered the massacre of most whites. Without regard to age or gender, those who did not swear allegiance to him were slain. In the continuing competition for power, he was assassinated by rivals on October 17, 1806.
Only three categories of white people were selected out as exceptions and spared: the Polish soldiers, the majority of whom deserted from the French army and fought alongside the Haitian rebels; the little group of German colonists invited to Nord-Ouest (North-West) Haiti before the revolution; and a group of medical doctors and professionals. Reportedly, people with connections to officers in the Haitian army were also spared, as well as the women who agreed to marry non-white men.
Fearful of the influence of the slaves’ revolution, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson refused to recognize the new republic, as did most European nations. The United States did not officially recognize Haiti for decades until after the American Civil War. Haiti’s new government was not supported by other republics.
The revolution led to a wave of emigration. In 1809, nearly 10,000 refugees from Saint-Domingue settled en masse in New Orleans. They doubled the city’s population. In addition, the newly arrived slaves added to the city’s African population.
Saint-Domingue was divided between the Kingdom of Haiti in the north, directed by Henri Christophe, who declared himself Henri I, and a republic in the south, directed by Alexandre Pétion, an homme de couleur. Henri Christophe established a semi-feudal corvée system, with a rigid education and economic code.
President Pétion gave military and financial assistance to the revolutionary leader Simón Bolívar, which were critical in enabling him to liberate the Viceroyalty of New Granada. He was instrumental in aiding countries in South America achieve independence from Spain.
Beginning in 1821, President Jean-Pierre Boyer, also an homme de couleur and successor to Pétion, reunified the two parts of Haiti and extended control over the entire western portion of the island. In addition, after Santo Domingo declared its independence from Spain on November 30, 1821, Boyer sent forces in to take control. Boyer ruled the entire island with iron rule, ending slavery in Santo Domingo. After Santo Domingo achieved independence from Haiti, it established a separate national identity.
Struggling to revive the agricultural economy to produce commodity crops, Boyer passed the Code Rural, which denied peasant laborers the right to leave the land, enter the towns, or start farms or shops of their own. Following the Revolution, many peasants wanted to have their own farms rather than work on plantations.
The American Colonization Society (ACS) encouraged free blacks in the United States to emigrate to Haiti. Starting in September 1824, more than 6,000 African Americans migrated to Haiti, with transportation paid by the ACS. Many found the conditions too harsh and returned to the United States.
In July 1825, King Charles X of France, during a period of “restoration” for the monarchy, sent a fleet to reconquer the island. Under pressure, President Boyer agreed to a treaty by which France formally recognized the independence of the nation in exchange for a payment of 150 million francs (reduced to 90 million in 1838). The Haitian president would have little choice as the country, unknowingly to him, was barricaded by French ships if the exchange did not go the French way. After losing the support of Haiti’s elite, Boyer was ousted in 1843. A long succession of coups followed his departure to exile.
The enforced payment to France reduced Haiti’s economy for years. Western nations did not give Haiti formal diplomatic recognition. Both of these problems kept the Haitian economy and society isolated. Expatriates bankrolled and armed opposing groups. In 1892, the German government supported suppression of the reform movement of Anténor Firmin and in 1897 the Germans used gun boat diplomacy to intimidate and then humiliate the Haitian government during the Luders Affair.
In the first decades of the twentieth century, Haiti experienced great political instability and was heavily in debt to France, Germany and the United States. Fearing possible foreign intervention, President Woodrow Wilson sent U.S. Marines into Haiti in December 1914, just after the outbreak of World War I. They removed $500,000 from the Haitian National Bank for “safe-keeping” in New York, thus giving the United States control of the bank.
In an expression of the Theodore Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, the United States occupied the island in July 1915 after the assassination of Haiti’s president, Vilbrun Guillaume Sam. The pro-American President had been dragged from the French legation and killed in the street by local insurgents after he had ordered 167 political prisoners killed. USS Washington, under Rear Admiral Caperton, arrived in Port-au-Prince to try to restore order and protect American interests. This began a nearly 20-year occupation by U.S. forces. Within days, the Marines had taken control of the capital city and its banks and customs house which controlled all the finances of the island nation. The Marines declared martial law and severely censored the press. Within weeks a new pro-American President, Philippe Sudré Dartiguenave, had been installed and a new constitution written that was favorable to the interests of the United States. The new constitution included a clause that allowed, for the first time, foreign ownership of land in Haiti which was bitterly opposed by the Haitian legislature and citizenry.
The next five years witnessed numerous cases of intimidation, arson, torture and murder of the Haitian population by U.S. Marines and their local enforcers, the Gendarmerie d’Haiti. It has been estimated that up to 15,000 Haitians lost their lives at the hands of the occupying forces either through armed opposition or through the corvée system of forced labor. This system allowed the occupying forces to take people from their homes and farms, at gunpoint if necessary, to build roads, bridges, etc. Many resisted and were killed on the spot while others died working or due to disease and malnutrition while living in squalid work camps.
This chapter in the two nations’ histories reflects the oppressive foreign policy of the United States towards its neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean that is often characterized as ‘gun-boat diplomacy” or one of many “The Banana Wars” that plagued the region in the early twentieth century. U.S. Marines were stationed in the country until 1934, a period of nineteen years and were finally ordered from the island by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a demonstration of his “Good-Neighbor Policy”. However, the United States controlled the economy of the island and heavily influenced elections in Haiti up through the 1980s.
Sisal was introduced to Haiti, and sugarcane and cotton became significant exports. Haitian traditionalists, based in rural areas, were highly resistant to American-backed changes, while the urban elites wanted more control. Together they helped secure an end to the occupation in 1934. The debts were still outstanding and the American financial advisor-general receiver handled the budget until 1941.
Recognition of the distinctive traditionalism of the Haitian people had an influence on United States writers, including Eugene O’Neill, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Orson Welles.
After U.S. forces left in 1934, Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo used anti-Haitian sentiment as a nationalist tool. In an event that became known as the Parsley Massacre, he ordered his Army to kill Haitians living on the Dominican side of the border. Between 10,000 and 20,000 Haitians were killed. One-quarter Haitian, Trujillo continued policies against the neighboring population for some time.
American and European tourists started to visit Haiti in the 1950s. The waterfront area of Port-au-Prince was redeveloped to allow cruise ship passengers to walk from the docks to cultural attractions. Among these attractions were the Moorish-styled Iron Market, where fine Haitian art and mahogany were sold. In the evenings entrepreneurs provided dancing, casino gambling and Voodoo shows. Truman Capote and Noël Coward visited the Hotel Oloffson, a nineteenth-century Gothic gingerbread mansion set in a tropical garden, which was even portrayed in the Graham Greene novel, The Comedians.
After a period of disorder, in September 1957 Dr. François Duvalier was elected President of Haiti. Known as “Papa Doc” and initially popular, Duvalier was President until his death in 1971. He advanced black interests in the public sector, where over time people of color had predominated as the educated urban elite. He stayed in power by enlisting an organization known as Tontons Macoutes (“Bogeymen”), which maintained order by terrorizing the populace and political opponents.
Haiti’s brief tourism boom was wiped out by the rule of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his unstable government. When his son Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier succeeded him as President for Life, tourism returned in the 1970s. Vive la différence has long been Haiti’s national tourism slogan and its proximity to the United States, made Haiti a hot attraction until the Duvalier regime was ousted in 1986.
Jean-Claude Duvalier led the country from 1971 until his ouster in 1986, when protests led him to seek exile in France. Army leader General Henri Namphy headed a new National Governing Council. General elections in November were aborted after dozens of inhabitants were shot in the capital by soldiers and Tontons Macoutes. Fraudulent elections followed. The elected President, Leslie Manigat, was overthrown some months later in the June 1988 Haitian coup d’état. The September 1988 Haitian coup d’état, which followed the St Jean Bosco massacre, revealed the increasing prominence of former Tontons Macoutes. General Prosper Avril led a military regime until March 1990.
In December 1990, a former Catholic priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected President in the Haitian general election. In September of the following year, Aristide was overthrown by the military in the 1991 Haitian coup d’état. In 1994, an American team negotiated the departure of Haiti’s military leaders and the peaceful entry of U.S. forces under Operation Uphold Democracy. This enabled the restoration of the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president. In October 1994, Aristide returned to Haiti to complete his term in office. Aristide vacated the presidency in February 1996. In the 1995 election, René Préval was elected as president for a five-year term, winning 88% of the popular vote.
In November 1994, Hurricane Gordon brushed Haiti, dumping heavy rain and creating flash flooding that triggered mudslides. Gordon killed an estimated 1,122 people, although some estimates go as high as 2,200.
The November 2000 election returned Aristide to the presidency with 92% of the vote. The election had been boycotted by the opposition, then organized into the Convergence Démocratique, over a dispute in the May legislative elections. In subsequent years, there was increasing violence and human rights abuses. Aristide supporters attacked the opposition. Aristide spent years negotiating with the Convergence Démocratique on new elections, but the Convergence‘s inability to develop a sufficient electoral base made elections unattractive.
In 2004, a revolt began in northern Haiti. The rebellion eventually reached the capital, and Aristide was forced into exile, after that the United Nations stationed peacekeepers in Haiti. Some including Aristide and his bodyguard, Franz Gabriel, stated that he was the victim of a “new coup d’état or modern kidnapping” by U.S. forces. Mrs. Aristide stated that the kidnappers wore U.S. Special Forces uniforms, but changed into civilian clothes upon boarding the aircraft that was used to remove Aristide from Haiti. The United Nations Stabilisation Mission (MINUSTAH) was establishing after the 2004 coup d’état and remains in the country to the present day. Boniface Alexandre assumed interim authority. René Préval was elected President in February 2006, following elections marked by uncertainties and popular demonstrations.
In 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne skimmed the north coast of Haiti, leaving 3,006 people dead in flooding and mudslides, mostly in the city of Gonaïves. In 2008, Haiti was again struck by tropical storms; Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike all produced heavy winds and rain. There were 331 dead and about 800,000 in need of humanitarian aid. The state of affairs produced by these storms was intensified by already high food and fuel prices that had caused a food crisis and political unrest in April 2008.
On January 12, 2010, at 4:53 pm local time, Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. This was the country’s most severe earthquake in over 200 years. The 2010 Haiti earthquake was reported to have left up to 316,000 people dead and 1.6 million homeless, though later reports found these numbers to have been grossly inflated, and put the death toll between 46,000 and 85,000. The country has yet to recover from the 2010 earthquake and a subsequent and massive Haiti cholera outbreak that was triggered when cholera-infected waste from a MINUSTAH peacekeeping station contaminated the country’s main river, the Artibonite.
General elections had been planned for January 2010 but were postponed due to the earthquake. The elections were held on November 28, 2010, for the senate, the parliament and the first round of the presidential elections. The run-off between Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat took place on March 20, 2011, and preliminary results, released on April 4, named Michel Martelly the winner. On February 7, 2016, Michel Martelly stepped down as president without a successor, but only after a deal was reached for a provisional government and leaving Prime Minister Evans Paul in power “until an interim president is chosen by both chambers of Parliament.”
In 2013, Haiti called for European nations to pay reparations for slavery and establish an official commission for the settlement of past wrong-doings. The Economist wrote, “Any assistance to the region should be carefully targeted; and should surely stem from today’s needs, not the wrongs of the past.” The topic, however, has more than a passing reference to a country that, as Lord Anthony Gifford wrote, “was forced to pay compensation to the government of France.”
On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall near Les Anglais, making it the worst hurricane to strike the nation since Hurricane Cleo in 1964. The storm brought deadly winds and rain which left Haiti with a large amount of damage to be repaired. With all of the resources in the country destroyed, Haiti received aid from the United Nations of around U.S, $120 million. The death total was approximately 3,000. Thousands of people were displaced due to damage to infrastructure. With additional flooding after the storm, cholera continued to spread beyond on the control of officials.
Scott #C34 was issued on February 4, 1946, part of a pair of Air Mail stamps released by Haiti in memoriam of Franklin D. Roosevelt (the “stamp collecting president”) who had died suddenly on April 12, 1945. The 60-centime black stamp is unwatermarked and perforated 12.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, commonly known as FDR, served as the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 until his death. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and emerged as central figure in world events during the mid-twentieth century. He directed the United States government during most of the Great Depression and World War II. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, realigning American politics into the Fifth Party System and defining American liberalism throughout the middle third of the twentieth century. He is often rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. Presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, in the Hudson Valley town of Hyde Park, New York, to businessman James Roosevelt I and Sara Ann Delano. His parents were sixth cousins and both were from wealthy old New York families. He attended the elite educational institutions of Groton School, Harvard College, and Columbia Law School. At age 23 in 1905, he married Eleanor Roosevelt, and the couple went on to have six children. He entered politics in 1910, serving in the New York State Senate, and then as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson. In 1920, Roosevelt was presidential candidate James M. Cox’s running mate, but the Cox/Roosevelt ticket lost to the Republican ticket of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.
Roosevelt was stricken with debilitating polio in 1921, which cost him the use of his legs and put his future political career in jeopardy, but he attempted to recover from the illness, and founded the treatment center for people with polio in Warm Springs, Georgia. After returning to political life by placing Alfred E. Smith’s name into nomination at the 1924 Democratic National Convention, Roosevelt, at Smith’s behest, successfully ran for Governor of New York in 1928. He was in office from 1929 to 1933 and served as a reform governor, promoting the enactment of programs to combat the depression besetting the United States at the time.
In the 1932 presidential election, Roosevelt defeated incumbent Republican president Herbert Hoover in a landslide to win the presidency. Roosevelt took office while in the United States was in the midst of the worst economic crisis in its history. Energized by his personal victory over polio, FDR relied on his persistent optimism and activism to renew the national spirit. During his first 100 days in office, Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented federal legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal — a variety of programs designed to produce relief (government jobs for the unemployed), recovery (economic growth), and reform (through regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation). He created numerous programs to support the unemployed and farmers, and to encourage labor union growth while more closely regulating business and high finance.
Roosevelt’s support for the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 added to his popularity, helping him win re-election by a landslide in 1936. The economy improved rapidly from 1933–37, but then relapsed into a deep recession in 1937–38. The bipartisan Conservative Coalition that formed in 1937 prevented his packing the Supreme Court, and blocked almost all proposals for major liberal legislation (except the minimum wage, which did pass). When the war began and unemployment ended, conservatives in Congress repealed the two major relief programs, the WPA and CCC. However, they kept most of the regulations on business. Along with several smaller programs, major surviving programs include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Wagner Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Social Security.
With World War II looming after 1938 with the Japanese invasion of China and the aggression of Nazi Germany, Roosevelt gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China and the United Kingdom, while remaining officially neutral. His goal was to make America the “Arsenal of Democracy”, which would supply munitions to the Allies. In March 1941, Roosevelt, with Congressional approval, provided Lend-Lease aid to Britain and China.
Following the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which he famously called “a date which will live in infamy”, Roosevelt sought and obtained the quick approval on the following day for Congress to declare war on Japan and, a few days later, on Germany. Assisted by his top aide Harry Hopkins, and with very strong national support, he worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in leading the Allies against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan in World War II.
FDR supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the war effort, and also ordered the internment of 100,000 Japanese American civilians. As an active military leader, Roosevelt implemented a war strategy on two fronts that ended in the defeat of the Axis Powers and initiate the development of the world’s first atomic bomb. His work also influenced the later creation of the United Nations and Bretton Woods. Roosevelt’s physical health seriously declined during the war years, and he died 11 weeks into his fourth term.
On March 29, 1945, Roosevelt went to the Little White House at Warm Springs, Georgia, to rest before his anticipated appearance at the founding conference of the United Nations. On the afternoon of April 12, Roosevelt said, “I have a terrific pain in the back of my head.” He then slumped forward in his chair, unconscious, and was carried into his bedroom. The president’s attending cardiologist, Dr. Howard Bruenn, diagnosed the medical emergency as a massive cerebral hemorrhage. At 3:35 p.m. that day, Roosevelt died. As Allen Drury later said, “so ended an era, and so began another.” After Roosevelt’s death, an editorial by The New York Times declared, “Men will thank God on their knees a hundred years from now that Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House”.
At the time he collapsed, Roosevelt had been sitting for a portrait painting by the artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff; the painting would later become known as the famous Unfinished Portrait of FDR.
On the morning of April 13, Roosevelt’s body was placed in a flag-draped coffin and loaded onto the presidential train for the trip back to Washington. Along the route, thousands flocked to the tracks to pay their respects. After a White House funeral on April 14, Roosevelt was transported by train from Washington, D.C. to his place of birth at Hyde Park. As was his wish, Roosevelt was buried on April 15 in the Rose Garden of the Springwood estate, the Roosevelt family home in Hyde Park. Eleanor would be interred next to him when she died seventeen years later in November 1962.
Roosevelt’s declining physical health had been kept secret from the general public. His death was met with shock and grief across the U.S. and around the world.
The war in Europe ended on May 8, less than a month after his death. New President Harry S. Truman dedicated Victory in Europe Day and its celebrations to Roosevelt’s memory, and kept the flags across the U.S. at half-staff for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period, saying that his only wish was “that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day.”
Roosevelt was a devoted stamp collector from the age of ten, spending some time almost every day with his collection of 1.25 million stamps. As president, government agencies sent Roosevelt unusual stamps they received in the mail, and the hobby gave him an unusually thorough knowledge of world geography which benefited him during the war. After his death, the collection was sold for $250,000. Among the items was a group of envelopes Roosevelt saved that he received as president; those with compliments were addressed “To the Greatest Man in the World” and “God’s Gift to the U.S.A.”, while less favorable letters arrived in envelopes labeled “F.D. Russianvelt, President of U.S.A., C.I.O.”, “Benedict Arnold 2nd”, and “Rattlesnake Roosevelt”.
FDR has been honored on numerous postage stamps issued by the United States and many other countries, beginning with a 3-cent U.S. stamp released on June 27, 1945 which portrayed Roosevelt with an image of the White House in the background.