Privileges that Spain Gave to Santo Domingo

One of the myths that have become popular regarding the Dominican-Spanish relationship in colonial times is the belief that Santo Domingo was completely ignored by Spain. There is a difference between decisions that were not successful and a real ignorance. A detailed analysis of the Dominican-Spanish relationship brings forth evidences that points in the opposite direction of the myth. Following are some examples of decisions made by the Spanish government in favor of Santo Domingo.

Spain Did Everything Possible to Keep Santo Domingo 

Spain treated Santo Domingo in relation to its own possibilities and circumstances in each era.

  • In the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick Spain recognizes the French presence on the western coast of the island instead of ceding the entire island to France.
  • In the 1776 Treaty of Atalaya and the 1777 Treaty of Aranjuez Spain fixes the border between its territory and the French territory on the island. In this process, Spain guaratees that most of the island remains as Spanish territory.
  • In the 1795 Treaty of Basel Sapin ceded the Spanish part of the island of Santo Domingo to France. This decision came about from Napoleon Bonapart invading the Catalunya region of northwestern Spain. Afterwards, the French proposed that they would return Catalunya if Spain cedes its part of the island of Santo Domingo. In essence, Spain was placed between a wall and a spade.
  • After the success of the 1809 War of Reconquest, when the Dominicans put an end to French rule on their part of the island, Spain reincorporates its former territory without any obstacles.
  • The Spanish Constitution of 1812, Spain’s first constitution, explicitly states that the Spanish part of the island of Santo Domingo was an integral part of the Kingdom of Spain. It is important to note that despite France losing the War of Reconquest in 1809, it continue to claim Spanish Santo Domingo as its own until the 1814 Treaty of Paris is signed between Spain and France. Spain, in essence, was anxious to reclaim its territory to the degree that it placed it in its own constitution two years before it was internationally official.

These events demonstrate that Spain made its decisions depeding on what was possible in each circumstances. When Spain was not able to conserve Spanish Santo Domingo, it was due to circumstances that were beyond its control and not necessarily an expression of its true desire. As soon as Spanish Santo Domingo returns to Spain by its own decision, Spain welcomes her with no excuses and no obstacles. These are not actions of a country that doesn’t want one of its own territories.

The Restitutions of The Royal Audience of Santo Domingo

Another clear evidence that Spanish Santo Domingo was not an ignored territory of Spain is in the restitutions of The Royal Audience of Santo Domingo (also known as The Royal Audience of La Española). This royal audience, the first of America, moved to Camagüey, Cuba after the 1795 Treaty of Basel was put into practice.

  • After the Dominican victory of the 1809 War of Reconquest and Spanish Santo Domingo returns to the Spanish motherland, Spain decides to re-establish The Royal Audience of Santo Domingo for the sole reason that it was the first royal audience of America.
  • In 1861 the Dominican Republic was annexed by Spain by petition of the Dominican government. Again, Spain decides to re-establish the Royal Audience of Santo Domingo.

Spain restituted The Royal Audience of Santo Domingo in every situation when Spanish Santo Domingo return to its dominions. Spain made these decisions despite the fact that the official protocol dictated that a Spanish province in the conditions that Spanish Santo Domingo was in had to be subjugated to the closest royal audience and not have its previous royal audience re-established. As far as Spain was concerned, Spanish Santo Domingo was worthy of getting a privileged treatment.

The Privilege that Santo Domingo had in Spain’s First Constitution

In the 1812 Constitution of Cádiz, Spain’s first constitution, arises another example of the special treatment Spanish Santo Domingo received from the Spanish Monarchy.

First, we must not ignore the following important details.

  • The 1812 Constitution of Cádiz was the very first constitution of Spain. That Santo Domingo was privileged in such an important Magna Carta shows the true desires that Spain had for the Dominican territory.
  •  As previously stated, the first constitution of Spain was promulgated in 1812. Despite that, it included the Spanish part of the island of Santo Domingo as an integral part of Spain, despite that France officially transfer the sovereignty of Spanish Santo Domingo to Spain in the 1814 Treaty of Paris.

Below is cited the relevant parts of the 1812 Constitution of Cádiz, but the article that truly pertains to this case is article 33. There it appears beyond a reasonable doubt the privilege that Spain gave to Santo Domingo. This privilege was to be able to send a deputy to the Cortes de Cádiz (equivalent to congress) regardless of its population size. The rest of Spain’s provinces, both in the Iberian peninsula as in America, with a population below 60,000 were obligated to subject themselves to the closest province and the deputy of that close by province would represent both territories in the Cortes de Cádiz. This obviously made less important the needs of the subjugated province compared to the province the deputy originally represented, because the deputy would present with greater urgency the issues affecting his original province and not the subjugated province.

In the case of Santo Domingo, the implications was that it would had to be subjugated to the province of Puerto Rico and be represented by the Puerto Rican deputy. The fact that Santo Domingo was the Primate of America gave it a distinction above any other province, including provinces in the Iberian peninsula. Santo Domingo was honored with its own deputy, a distinguished treatment that Spain didn’t gave to any other Spanish province in Europe or America.

The Relevant Articles in the 1812 Constitution of Cádiz

Of the Spaniards.
ART 5.
Spaniards are:
First: All free men born and living in the domains of Spain, and their sons. 
Second: Foreigners that received naturalization from The Córtes. 
Third: Foreigners that lack the naturalization, but lived for 10 years, obtained according to the law of any town in the monarchy.
Fourth: The freedmen from the moment they are granted their liberty anywhere in Spain. 

Of the Territory of Spain
ART 10.
The Spanish territory is comprised on the peninsula and its possesions and adjacent islands: Aragon, Asturias, Castilla La Vieja, Castilla La Nueva, Catalunya, Córdoba, 

Extremadura, Galicia, Granada, Jaen, Leon, Molina, Murcia, Navarra, Basque Country, Seville and Valencia, Baleares Islands, and Canary Islands with the rest of the possessions in Africa. 

In North America: New Spain with New Galicia and the Yucatan peninsula, Guatemala, Eastern Provinces, Western Provinces, Cuba and Florida, the Spanish part of the island of Santo Domingo, and Puerto Rico with the adjacent islands to all of these and to the continent in both seas. 

In South America: Nueva Granada, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Rio de la Plata, and adjacent islands in the Pacific Ocean. 

In Asia: The Phillippines and all the islands that depend on its government. 

ART 33.
If there was a province with a population that doesn’t reach seventy thousand souls, but is

not below sixty thousand, it will choose a deputy. If it is below this number, it will be subjugated to the closest province to complete the required seventy thousand. The Spanish part of the island of Santo Domingo is exempt from this rule, it will choose a deputy regardless what is its population.