Dominican Republic: History to the Twentieth Century

History to the Twentieth Century

The history of the country has been unusually turbulent and has been closely linked with that of the neighboring republic of Haiti. After Spain by the Treaty of Basel (1795) ceded the colony of Santo Domingo to France, the area now known as the Dominican Republic was conquered by Haitians under Toussaint Louverture. Toussaint was defeated by the French, who invaded Haiti under General Leclerc. The resident French commander was able to fend off the attacks of Jean Jacques Dessalines, but in 1808 the people revolted and in 1809, with the aid of an English squadron, ended French control of the city of Santo Domingo. Spanish rule was reestablished.

In 1821 the inhabitants expelled the Spanish governor, but in 1822 they were reconquered by the Haitians under Jean Pierre Boyer. A revolt broke out in 1844, the Haitians were defeated, a constitution was promulgated, and a republic was established under Pedro Santana. Frequent revolts as well as continued Haitian attacks led Santana to make his country a province of Spain in 1861, but opposition under Buenaventura Báez was so severe that Spain withdrew in 1865.

Unable to preserve order, Báez himself negotiated a treaty of annexation with the United States, which the Dominicans approved but which the U.S. Senate failed to ratify. All semblance of order vanished. There were kaleidoscopic changes in the presidency and a long (1882–99), ruthless dictatorship under Ulíses Heureaux, ended by his assassination and followed by more revolutions.

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