Hayti a name sometimes given to the second largest island in the West Indies. The more usual name is San Domingo, under which head all that is common to the whole island will be treated. Hayti proper is the western and French-speaking part of the island, which in 1808 was organized as a separate commonwealth under president Christophe, who in 1811 had himself crowned as hereditary emperor under the name of Henry I. In 1822 the French and the Spanish portions of the island were again united into one republic under general Boyer. This union lasted until 1844, when not only the Spanish portion became again an independent state, but the French part split into two, which were harassed by almost uninterrupted conflicts between the blacks and the mulattoes. The brief and beneficent administration of general Richer (1846-47) was followed by that of general Faustin Soulouque, who undertook an unfortunate campaign against the Dominicans, and in August 1849, proclaimed himself emperor, under the name of Faustin I. He was in 1858 overthrown by general Geffrard, who, as president, introduced many reforms, and was, in turn, overthrown in February, 1867, by Salnave, under whose administration the country was disturbed by uninterrupted civil wars, until his overthrow and execution, January, 1870.
The area of the republic is estimated at 10,205 square miles, the population at about 570,000. Nominally nearly the entire population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church; but, even according to Roman Catholic writers, many of the population are even today more pagan than Christian. The frightful religious and moral condition of the people is attributed by Roman Catholic writers to the habit of the French government of not establishing regular bishoprics, but of leaving the administration of ecclesiastical affairs in the hands of apostolical prefects, who had neither the influence nor the power of bishops, were more dependent upon the colonial government, and could not defend the interests of the Church and of religion against the secular power and the planters, who were chiefly intent on making the most out of slave labor. The care of the parishes was, before the beginning of the French rule, almost exclusively in the hands of the Capuchins and Dominicans. In 1703 the Capuchins left their parishes, and were succeeded by the Jesuits, who took charge of the districts from Samana to the Atrabonite, while the Dominicans assumed the administration of those from the Atrabonite to Cape Tiburon. Secular priests were left only hi the churches of Vache Island. When the Jesuits were expelled in 1768 they were again followed by the Capuchins. During the war of independence nearly all the churches were closed, and the celebration of divine service was almost wholly suspended; but, the war being ended, the Constitution of 1807 declared the Catholic Church the only form of religion recognized by the government, and Christophe, by a decree issued in 1811, announced the establishment of one archbishopric and three bishoprics. The pope was asked to sanction this arrangement, but, owing to the death of Christophe, which occurred soon after, and to other causes, the plan was never carried out. In 1822, when the whole island was under one government, the archbishop of San Domingo appointed for the western part two vicars general, of whom the one resided at Cape Hayti, and the other at Port-au- Prince. In 1827 Pope Leo XII again conferred upon the archbishop of San Domingo the jurisdiction over the whole island; but the religious condition of the people grew worse and worse. There was an almost absolute want of priests, and the few who were to be found were mostly worthless characters, who had for immoral conduct been expelled from other dioceses. In 1842, bishop Rosati, of St. Louis, was commissioned by pope Gregory XVI to visit Hayti, and, as apostolical delegate, to conclude a Concordat with president Boyer; but this step also was thwarted by the overthrow of his administration (1843). The emperor Soulouque protected and endowed the Roman Catholic Church, but at the same time introduced religious toleration, and thus enabled Protestant missionaries to organize a few missions. In 1852 pope Pius IX sent bishop Spaccapietra to Hayti to make another effort to conclude a Concordat. The mission was again unsuccessful; and in an allocution of Dec. 19, 1853, the pope complained that the emperor and his government had a false idea concerning the Church, and that, as a great portion of the clergy were unwilling to adopt a strict rule of life, the bishop was compelled to leave the country. Negotiations with president Geffrard were more successful, and on Sept. 16, 1861, a Concordat was promulgated. According to it, one archbishopric (Port-au-Prince) and four bishoprics (Les Cayes, Cape Hayti, Gonaives, and Port de Paix) were established in 1862; the archbishop (a Frenchman, Testard du Cosquer) was appointed in 1863, but none of the four episcopal sees had been filled up to January, 1870. The number of parishes is 49. For public education very little has as yet been done. There were in 1868 about 150 public schools, with about 13,000 pupils.
The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States sustained in 1889 a bishop at Port-au-Prince, and 15 clergymen, filling 17 mission stations, with a total of 382 communicants, 189-day scholars, and 124 Sunday school scholars. The contributions for the year were $317.55.
The English Wesleyans, who were the first Protestant body to establish a Protestant mission in Hayti, had in 1868 6 circuits, 6 chapels, 4 other preaching places, 210 members, and about 890 regular attendants, but in 1889 only 4 preachers. — Neher, Kirchl. Geogr. und Statistik, vol. 3:1869. (A. J. S.)