Donald Trump’s obscene comment about Haiti reflect a deep fear of that independent island nation present in American white supremacists since 1791. In August of that year, the black majority in the country began a bloody revolt against the white minority that owned all the land. Haiti (the western half of the island of St. Domingue) was a French colony and the blacks had been watching the French Revolution which erupted in 1789. The black population sought to obtain the same rights granted to citizens in the new French Republic.
The white sugar plantation owners opposed the black workers’ demands and hundreds of them were killed as the black workers battled for control. The victory of the black revolutionaries in Haiti sent fear into the slaveholding states in the U.S.
Despite the fact that the Southern states wanted more slaves, they held back on importing them, afraid they might be infected with “freedom fever.”
When Napolean became ruler of France in 1800, he sent troops to subdue the blacks and bring it back under white control. Yellow fever and a bitter defense by black rebels defeated his army. The defeat in Haiti was a key reason he decided to sell the French possession of Louisiana to the new United States government.
After the Louisiana Purchase, northern, anti-slavery senators sought to prevent slavery in the new territory (e.g. Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri), but that idea was defeated by slaveholder interests. President Thomas Jefferson did support the ending of slave importation from Africa in 1808. Since England had abolished its slave trade in 1807, this seriously curtailed the terrible traffic in humans.