Dominican Republic Independence Day

It was on this day back in 1844 that the Dominican Republic announced its  independence from Haiti. 

Pedro Santana

Pedro Santana

The movement for independence began in 1838 when Juan Pablo Duarte, an educated nationalist, founded a resistance movement called La Trinitaria ("The Trinity") along with Ramón Matías Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez. It was so named because its original nine members had organized themselves into three different cells. The cells went on to recruit as separate organizations, maintaining strict secrecy, with little or no direct contact among themselves, they did this to avoid the possibility of detection by the ruling Haitian government.

The battle for independence began on the morning of February 24th 1844. Members of La Trinitaria quietly organized inside the old city walls of what is now Santo Domingo. A canon shot fired by Mella on the 27th of February 1844 at the “Puerta del Conde” was the official declaration of the Dominican Independence. The movement was supported by Pedro Santana (who became the Dominican Republic’s first President) along with hundreds of his workers and residents from Santo Domingo. To cries of “Dios, Patria y Libertad” (God, Homeland and Freedom), the Dominican flag was raised for the first time at the “Puerta del Conde” and the Haitian forces were confronted. After three days of fighting the Dominicans finally seized control of the El Conte fortress.  As the Haitian troops withdrew to the west side of the island, they pillaged and burned much of the Dominican countryside. 

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Haitian Commander, Charles Rivière-Hérard, sent three columns totaling 30,000 men to crush the Dominican uprising. The southern part of the country was successfully defended by an under-equipped Dominican army under the command of the wealthy rancher Gen. Pedro Santana.  The northern part of the attack was repelled by General Jean-Louis Pierrot. 15,000 Haitians were later sent to attack Santiago and they were repelled by a much smaller force commanded by José María Imbert. Naval action also began between the two rivals, a Dominican squadron captured 3 small Haitian warships and 149 seamen off Puerto Plata on December 21. The Dominican schooners Maria Chica (3 guns), commanded by Juan Bautista Maggiolo, and the Separación Dominicana (5 guns), commanded by Juan Bautista Cambiaso, defeated a Haitian brigantine Pandora plus schooners Le signifie and La Mouche off Tortuguero on April 15

Juan Pablo Duarte

Juan Pablo Duarte

Juan Pablo Duarte had left the island in an attempt to get political and military support from other Caribbean nations. During his travels he fell ill and was unable to return. After receiving news of the revolution the still ill Duarte made his way back to the island, arriving on March 14 1844 he was greeted in celebration. Mella urged him to take control of the newly formed government. Duarte never giving up on the principles of democracy and fairness by which he lived, would only accept it if he was voted in by a majority of the Dominican people. He drafted a draft constitution that clearly states that the Dominican flag can shelter all races, without excluding or giving predominance to any. His efforts were thwarted by those favoring Spanish sovereignty as protection from the Haitians.  Pedro Santana eventually took over control. He exiled Duarte and the entire Duarte family. Santana turned the country back into a colony of Spain in 1861, was awarded the hereditary title of Marquess of Las Carreras by the Spanish Queen Isabella II.