1844 – 1849
Dominican victory, Expulsion of Haitian government, Dominican Independence
The Dominican War of Independence was a 12-year war between Dominican independentists and the Republic of Haiti. The war broke out on February 27, 1844 and lasted until a ceasefire in January 1856; although, Haiti would recognize the Independence of the Dominican Republic decades later, on November 9, 1874.
- Dominican War of Independence
- First Independence
- Unification of Hispaniola 1822 1844
- War of Independence
Before the war, the island of Hispaniola had been united under the Haitian government for a period of 22 years when the newly independent nation, then known as the Republic of Spanish Haiti, was invaded by Haiti in 1822. By using guerrilla warfare and caudillos, the Dominican insurgents defeated Haiti's superior military.
Dominican War of Independence
At the beginning of the 1800s, the colony of Santo Domingo, which had once been the headquarters of Spanish power in the New World was in its worst decline. Spain during this time was embroiled in the Peninsular War in Europe, and other various wars to maintain control of the Americas. With Spain's resources spread among its global interest, Santo Domingo became neglected. This period is referred to as the España Boba era.
The population of the Spanish colony stood at approximately 80,000 with the vast majority being European descendants and free people of color. Santo Domingo's plantation economy never truly flourished, because of this the black slave population had been significantly lower than that of the neighboring Saint-Domingue, which was nearing a million slaves before the Haitian Revolution.
During this period in time the Spanish crown wielded little to no influence in the colony of Santo Domingo. Some wealthy cattle ranchers had become leaders, and sought to bring control and order in the southeast of the colony where the "law of machete" ruled the land. On November 9, 1821 the former Captain general in charge of the colony, José Núñez de Cáceres, influenced by all the Revolutions that were going on around him, finally decided to overthrow the Spanish government and declared independence from Spanish rule, this would usher in an Ephemeral Independence, as the nation would be united with Haiti shortly after.
Unification of Hispaniola (1822-1844)
A group of Dominican politicians and military officers had expressed interest in uniting the entire island, while they sought for political stability and support under Haiti, which at the time was still seen as having a great deal of wealth and power. Haiti had been by far the richest colony in the western hemisphere and was known as the Pearl of the Antilles.
Haiti's president, Jean-Pierre Boyer, conducted the third military campaign of the Dominican, this one was met with resistance, partly due to the previous invasion experiences, and because of Haiti's overpowering military strength at the time. The population of Haiti had a ratio of 8:1 compared to the Dominican population of 1822.
On February 9, 1822, Boyer formally entered the capital city, Santo Domingo, where he was met and received by Núñez who handed to him the keys of the Palace. Boyer then proclaimed: "I have not come into this city as a conqueror but by the will of its inhabitants". The island was thus united from "Cape Tiburon to Cape Samana in possession of one government."
Eventually the Haitian government became extremely unpopular throughout the country. The Dominican population grew increasingly impatient with Haiti's poor management and perceived incompetence, and the heavy taxation that was imposed on their side. The country was hit with a severe economic crisis after having been forced to pay a huge indemnity to France. A debt was accrued by Haiti in order to pay for their own independence from the European nation; this would give rise to many anti-Haitian plots.
In 1838 Juan Pablo Duarte, an educated nationalist, founded a resistance movement called La Trinitaria ("The Trinity") along with Matías Ramón Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez. It was so named because its original nine members had organized themselves into cells of three. The cells went on to recruit as separate organizations, maintaining strict secrecy, with little or no direct contact among themselves, in order to minimize the possibility of detection by the Haitian authorities. Many recruits quickly came to the group, but it was discovered and forced to change its name to La Filantrópica ("The Philanthropic"), and continued agitating against the Haitians.
In 1843 the revolution made a breakthrough: they worked with a liberal Haitian party that overthrew President Jean-Pierre Boyer. However, the Trinitarios work in the overthrow gained the attention of Boyer's replacement, Charles Rivière-Hérard. Rivière-Hérard imprisoned some Trinitarios and forced Duarte to leave the island. While gone, Duarte searched for support in Colombia and Venezuela, but was unsuccessful.
In December 1843 the rebels told Duarte to return since they had to act quickly because they were afraid the Haitians had learned of their insurrection plans. When Duarte had not returned by February, because of illness, the rebels decided to take action anyway with the leadership of Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, Ramón Matías Mella, and by Pedro Santana, a wealthy cattle-rancher from El Seibo who commanded a private army of peons who worked on his estates.
War of Independence
On February 27, 1844 the rebel forces took control of the main fortress in the capital city of Santo Domingo. After only two days of fighting, the rebels controlled the capital. Mella headed the provisional governing junta of the new Dominican Republic. On March 14, Duarte finally returned after recovering from his illness and was greeted in celebration. Haitian advances were stopped in Azua, Santiago de los Caballeros, Neiba, Comendador (Elías Piña), and Capotillo. In retaliation, Dominican warships bombarded important Haitian coastal cities. In early July 1844, Duarte was urged by his followers to take the title of President of the Republic. Duarte agreed, but only if free elections were arranged. However, Santana's forces took Santo Domingo on July 12, 1844, and they declared Santana ruler of the Dominican Republic. Santana then put Mella, Duarte, and Sánchez in jail.
On November 6, 1844 a constituent assembly drafted a constitution, based on the United States model, which established separation of powers and legislative checks on the executive. However, Santana included in it Article 210, which granted him unlimited power during the current war against Haiti. The Dominicans gained on the Haitians, too. With the fall of the Haitian fort called l'Invincible, the Dominicans removed the moats in a gesture of reconquest. Santana remained as President until 1848, when he lost the election, only to seize power by a coup d'état the year after, when the Haitian President Faustin Soulouque attacked and was defeated at El Número and at Las Carreras.
Key: (D) – Dominican Victory; (H) – Haitian Victory