In January 1917, Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to Haiti. With the Marine Corps in control of Haiti, the occupation was part of Roosevelt’s portfolio as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. While running for Vice President in 1920, Roosevelt would even boast that he had personally written Haiti’s constitution, though the occupation forces had already drafted it by the time of Roosevelt’s visit.
As historian Hans Schmidt puts it, while in Haiti “Roosevelt did little more than give an unqualified endorsement to marine activities, engage in ceremonial functions, and investigate possibilities of investment in Haiti for his own personal enrichment” (108). Roosevelt was seeking to set up a plantation along with John McIlhenny, the highest ranking U.S. civilian official in Haiti, and Major Henry L. Roosevelt, a distant cousin who was at the time a marine stationed in Haiti and would later become assistant secretary of the navy during FDR’s presidency. FDR spent his visit looking for potential sites for the plantation, in anticipation of the new constitution that would legalize foreign land ownership.
McIlhenny became financial adviser to Haiti (putting him for practical purposes in charge of all decisions about Haitian finances) and the conflict of interest made him unable to pursue the investment deal; he wrote to Roosevelt assuring him that he would resign from his post in order to proceed, but was unable to resign and the plan fell through.
Roosevelt would eventually inherit full control of the occupation when elected president more than a decade later, and would oversee the long winding down of the occupation by 1934.
See Hans Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1995. pp. 108-111.