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Today, the Dominican Republic celebrates its 171 years of Independence! The Dominican Republic, is a country which has, from the beginning fought for its freedom – having been colonised by Spain as well as been invaded by French and Haitian troops, so here we bring you the fascinating history of the Dominican Republic, Dominican Independence Day, as well as Dominican cultures and traditions celebrated on this very special day.

This article was contributed by Rony Joubert, a Casa de Campo villa owner and

History of the Dominican Independence by Rony Joubert

With the 1795 Treaty of Basel the eastern part of the Santo Domingo island became the property of France, something they had done with the west side, Haiti, about a hundred years before with the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697.

Interestingly, and by a supreme command of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Creole and Spanish inhabitants of the east side of the island were allowed to maintain their lifestyle and their customs, this was not in the case for the western part of the island (Haiti). In Haiti, the social movement generated by the French Revolution of 1789 provoked a series of riots started in 1790 by the mulatto Vincent Oge, which continued and were capitalized years later by a black slave, Toussaint Louverture, who finally took the government in 1801.

Louverture rebelled against the Metropolis, and Bonaparte sent an expedition led by his brother in law, Victor Emmanuel Leclerc, to take him prisoner and normalize the situation. Thus it was, after several months Toussaint was be captured and sent to France where he died in the castle of Joux. However, while the eastern part of the island was controlled by France for a few years, until 1808, the revolutionary movement in Haiti was followed by one of the lieutenants of Toussaint, JC Dessalines, who declared Haiti independent in January of 1804.

Leclerc installed Juan Luis Ferrand as commander of the Montecristi Plaza, who later took his troops to Santo Domingo and made a prisoner of the French head of the Santo Domingo plaza, Kerverseau and shipped him to France, thus taking control of the eastern part of the island in what is known as the “France Age.” Haiti invades and again. In 1805 a major invasion led by the same Emperor Jacques I (Dessalines) arrived to Santo Domingo city, but they do not take it. On their way back to Haiti, the haitian army destroyed cities, burned villages and killed soldiers, civilians and children. In Moca, the Haitian Captain Joubert was responsible for the beheading of dozens of children in the church of the city.

The following year, in 1806, the two subordinates of Dessalines conspired to get rid of him and succeeded. Henri Christophe and Petion divided Haiti into two kingdoms, the north led by Henri Christophe and the South led by Petion. The power of both extended to the end of the second decade of the nineteenth century. Meanwhile the Spaniards and Creoles were conspiring against the French rulers on the east side of the island. In November 1808 Juan Sanchez Ramirez faces Ferrand in the historic Battle of Palo Hincado, and this victory marks the end of the France Age. Although this territory now passed into the possession of Spain, they were not very interested in it, as the island economy declined and the rest of Latin America began to confront the Metropolis, this generated a serious problem for the “Motherland”.

This lack of interest from Spain is why this period in time is known as “España Boba”, Foolish Spain. So in that way the eastern territory of the island remained property of Spain, without much activity, until in 1821 the intellectual and assistant of Juan Sánchez Ramírez, José Núñez de Cáceres, declared our freedom and independence, but did not receive the required assistance, so that the revolutionary movement do not progress, this was known as “Independencia Efímera”, Ephemeral Independence.

Economic constraints, political uncertainty, social instability and other factors allowed an easy invasion of Jean Pierre Boyer, Haitian leader who had unified the former two kingdoms of his country. Boyer triumphantly entered Santo Domingo and imposed some laws, which pleased the inhabitants on this side of the island. He eliminated slavery, minimized and repealed the taxes, dynamized the economy, and initially allowed people to live according to their established customs.

A few years later Boyer began to change all that, even to expropriating possessions from the Catholic Church and confronting the Archbishop Valera directly. That, along with a prohibition on commercializing national products, started some insurgent movements in our territory.

By 1838 some Dominican nationalists who had had some experience abroad with liberal political systems, began to conspire against the foreign rule. Thus was born the secret society La Trinitaria led by Juan Pablo Duarte. With the aim of not being discovered and having a wide safety net, cells of three members were created, from which came the name, La Trinitaria (The Trinity). Later due to some subsequent tactical mistakes this group was discovered and renamed La Filantropica (the Philanthropic). However their conspiracy grew and six years later everything was ready for the final insurrection.

On the evening of February 27th, 1844, Duarte having been deported from the country by the Boyer substitute, Charles Herard, the Trinitarios (Trinitarians) rose up. Francisco del Rosario Sánchez took the Ozama fortress with a group of patriots, and Mella in the Puerta de la Misericordia fired the trabucazo declaring independence. From there they moved to the Puerta del Conde and raised the first national flag. Then began the long journey to independence, which lasted 12 years, until Haiti finally recognized the independence of this side of the island.

Duarte returned to the country on March 14, 1844, and Tomas Bobadilla was named president of the provisional governing board. Then he was replaced by Pedro Santana who remained as president until 1848.

During the Dominican independence occurred fourteen battles or confrontations between national independants and Haitians. Six in 1844 and eight more spread over the next 12 years.

After the declaration of the Dominican independence by the Trinitarians, the President Charles Herard organized three columns with about 20,000 Haitian soldiers. To the north would enter a column from Cap Haitien led by General Juan Luis Pierrot, and the south would come both. One would come by Neyba led by Augusto Souffront and the other commanded by the same general and president Herard seeking to take San Juan de la Maguana and Azua.

The first two confrontations were the Battle of Fuente del Rodeo and Cabeza de las Marías on March 13 and 18. The first encounter in the vicinity of Bahoruco was between General Fernando Taveras and Haitian President and General Herard. In the second between General Manuel de la Regla Mota and the commander Souffront. Regla Mota was forced to retreat to Azua.

Then came the famous battle of the “19 de Marzo” 19th of March, where Pedro Santana and his group defeated Souffront in the historic battle of Azua.

Days later, occurred the battle of Santiago, the battle of the “30 de Marzo” (30th of March), where Haitian leaders Pierrot and Saint Louis were defeated by the general Jose Maria Imbert, Fernando Valerio and Jose Lopez in the vicinity of the fort “Dios, Patria y Libertad”. The war was a bloodbath, historians estimate more than 600 deaths in Haiti in a single afternoon, and only some Dominican deaths.

Two weeks later Antonio Duvergé and his soldiers defeated the Haitian colonel Pierre Paul in the battle of Mesimo near Azua, and two days later, on April 15, the founder of the Dominican navy Juan Bautista Cambiaso, and the commanders Juan Batista Maggiolo and Juan J. Acosta in the National Separation schooners, Chica María and San José defeated the Haitian fleet in the Azua bay in the famous battle of Puerto Tortuguero.

Although the independence war lasted for many years, undoubtedly the battles of the 19th and 30th of March marked the victory of the Dominican Republic over Haiti, and outlined the final separation of our people from our neighbors.

Some months passed and the bouts were reactivated at the border close to Elías Piña with the battle of Cachimán, where Antonio Duvergé formed a three columns army led by Felipe Alfau and Francisco Pimentel. There in mid 1945 the Dominicans defeated Haitians commanded by Pierrot, Serafin and Denis.

Three months later, in September 1845, in the area known today as Elias Piña, the commander José Joaquín Puello helped by the Colonels Valentín Alcántara and Bernardino Perez defeated the invaders in the battle of the Estrelleta.

On October 27 a group of dominicans led by Francisco Salcedo, Pedro Eugenio Pelletier, José María Imbert, (these two participated on March 30th in Santiago), José Mayol, José María Bido among others faced the Haitians in the Beller Hill in Dajabón, a short and raw combat, where the Dominican army was victorious. This was the last battle of 1845.

Things were quiet in the coming years until April 1849, when emperor Faustino Soulouque sent a contingent led by Juan Francisco Jeannot, who was defeated by Antonio Duvergé at the Battle of Numero in Azua, and days later the same Soulouque faced the General Pedro Santana facing the same fate in the famous battle of the Carreras in the vicinity of Bani.

At the end of 1855 the Cambronal battle in Neiba and Santome close to San Juan de la Maguana was fought. In January 1856 the last confrontation took place in Sabana Larga, Dajabón, where Juan Luis Franco Bido definitively defeated the Haitian emperor Faustino I (Souluque). This last battle marked the end of the fighting with Haiti.

But the country was not socially or economically stabilized between the years 1956 and 1960, so Santana, with the idea of staying in the power, took advantage Felipe Alfau who was in Europe, to propose the annexation of our territory to Spain. So, the republic was annexed to the Spanish Kingdom in 1861, and in 1863 a group of patriots took up arms and proclaimed the restoration of the Republic. The Restoration War lasted two years, and with the war in April 1965, represents the two bloodiest periods in our history.

While practically all Latin America became independent from Spain in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, we fell under the yoke of Haiti for 22 years, to become independent of Haiti in 1844, and restore independence from Spain in 1865…

Article contributed by:

Dr. Rony Joubert

Rehabilitacion Bucal e Implantologia