Ebenezer Bassett, First Haitian Ambassador, First Black Diplomat In U.S. History

Ebenezer Bassett was the first ever U.S. Ambassador to Haiti and, because there was finally a "Black Republic" to send black Ambassadors to, Ebenezer Bassett became very first Black diplomat in U.S. History.

Ebenezer D. Bassett, First Ambassador to Haiti

February is Black History Month in the United States, so I wanted to share this story with you and with all the Haitian High school kids out there. After all, don't you want to know how Haiti is connected to Black History Month in the United States?

There are 3 things I want to share with you today about the first African-American U.S. Diplomat:

  1. Ebenezer Bassett becomes the First U.S. Ambassador to Haiti
  2. Ebenezer Bassett began service in Haiti 65 years after Haitian independence.
  3. Ebenezer Bassett saved the life of Haitian President Boisrond Canal

It's a long story but I will give you the highlights.

1 - Ebenezer Bassett becomes the First U.S. Ambassador to Haiti in 1869

Actually, in 1869, when Ebenezer Bassett became Ambassador of Haiti, the title "AMBASSADOR" was not in use yet, They started using the word "Ambassador" in 1893. So Ebenezer Bassett's official title was "Minister Resident to Haiti."

As Ambassador/Minister Resident to Haiti, Ebenezer Bassett became one of the highest ranking black members of the U.S. government at that time.

Keep in mind, that was only 4 year after the United States officially abolished slavery.

The 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, formally abolishing slavery in the United States, was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865.

2 - Ebenezer Bassett began service in Haiti 65 years after Haitian independence and only 7 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Why did it take 65 years before the United States sent their first Ambassador to Haiti?

Well that answer is obvious. When Haiti became an independent nation in 1804, not even the pope recognized her impendence and surely not the United States who, at that time, still had slaves and no intention of freeing them.

The United States officially recognized Haiti as a sovereign nation in 1862, the year that President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the year that black people in the United States became free men like us.

Although Lincoln never admited that the Civil war was a war to end slavery in America, some people will argue that it was. Afterall, the southern slave owners of the United States were not really happy about this new Republic called Haiti south of the border.

Finally, in 1869, 65 years after Haiti became a Republic, and only 7 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, U.S. President Ulysses Grant, just one month after his inauguration as the 18th president of the United States on March 4, 1869, appointed Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett as the "First U.S. Negro Diplomat" scheduled to begin service in Haiti on April 16, 1869.

The United States finally decided to establish Diplomatic relations with Haiti in 1869. The very first Haitian head of state who benefited from this diplomacy was Haitian President Boisrond Canal

3 - Ebenezer Bassett saved the life of Haitian President Boisrond Canal

Had it not been for the presence of Ebenezer Basset in Haiti, Pierre Theoma Boisrond Canal would have never been president of Haiti.

About a year before Boisrond Canal became provisional President of Haiti, Boisrond Canal took refuge in the private residence of Ambassador Ebenezer Bassett for nearly 6 months while Haitian president Michel Domingue's army stood watch outside, waiting for him to get out.

Finally, on October 5, 1875, after continuing negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, the United States sent an American-Flagged ship to pick up Boisrond Canal and bring him to safety in Jamaica.

I thought this would be a very interesting topic for Black History month. if you want to read more about it, read about Ebenezer D. Bassett on Wikipedia.

Article by Woodring Saint Preux

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All Comments (4)

Fernande Choisi says...

hi mr Ebenezer Bassett the ambassador, i have one question, please i'm a resident of the united states since 2004 igot my green card but my question is: I have my son he's leaving with my morther in dominican republic, he's 13 years old, I saw him 2 years before i left haiti.THE Process gonna take long, it is possible to give him a visitor visa for me for this vacation on july for one month i can see him please?, thank you and God bless

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V Brown says...

This was an eye opening article.

Something they just don't make note of in the history of contributions to America and Haitian

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Jean-marie Germain says...

Why history said Washington Carver was the first black Ambassador in Haiti
after the civil war in

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The Divine Prince Ty Emmecca says...

Excellent post. I am grateful for the history or Our story, rather.

Divine Blessings and

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