The Dominican Territory Belongs to the Haitians Myth

Satellite image of the island of Hispaniola. (NASA)

In recent years a myth has been created and gained popularity among a small group of people that claim the Dominican territory actually belongs to Haiti and Haitians. The premise of this belief is that since Haiti dominated Dominicans from 1822 to 1844, what occured in 1844 was a mere separation of the Dominicans from the Haitians and not an independence. As a consequence, it’s the duty for Haitians to recover their “stolen” territory which is the Dominican Republic in its entirety. This is a very incorrect notion that glosses over and omits historical realities that contradicts this myth. Here we will expose the nature of this manipulation and bring forth certain aspects of historical reality that they ignore.

Before we delve more into this topic, lets be clear that this article is not about whether Haitians can be in the Dominican Republic or not. Anyone that migrate legally is welcomed in the Dominican Republic and their right to be in the Dominican Republic, live, work, etc is to be defended at all times. Plus, as long that Haiti exist and is the closest neighbor to the Dominican Republic, there will be Haitians in the Dominican Republic. What this article is about is the myth that contemplates the Dominican Republic belongs to Haiti and Haitians only.

Now lets recount certain historical aspects that have happen in the Dominican Republic starting in the late XVIII century to the middle of the XX century, because it appears those that hold on to the myth already mention assume none of this happened and thus, reach their incorrect conclusion.

The Treaty of Aranjuez in 1777

The official border established by the Treaty of Aranjuez in 1777. This was the official border from 1777 – 1801, 1802 – 1822, and 1844 – 1929. (Ramón L Sandoval)

The border between Spain and France on the island of Hispaniola wasn’t immediately settled once Spain recognized the presence of the French on the western coast of the island in the Treaty of Nimega on August 20, 1678. This was a treaty of peace between Spain and France that had repercussions on Hispaniola. It wasn’t until a century later with the Treaty of Aranjuez of June 3, 1777 that Spain and France agreed to establish the border as shown in the map above. The established border of 1777 is the same terrestial limits of the Dominican Republic once it proclaims its independence in 1844, since Dominicans inherited the entire territory that was Spanish while the Haitians ruled over the territory of the French, which was also the territory where the Haitians settled during colonial times.

It should be noted that in 1680 a border settlement was proclaimed in Cap Français (Cap Haitien) alleging the northern border extended east to the Rebuc River (Guayubin River), but that agreenent was among the French only with no participation of the Spanish. As such, it never had any validity. Border agreements should always be made between the two parties that make up both sides of the border.

The Treaty of Basle in 1795

The flags of Spain and France.

On July 22, 1795 was agreed the Treaty of Basle between Spain and France. In this agreement Spain cedes to France the two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola that made up the Spanish part, now the Dominican Republic. This was a unilateral decision as the Spanish Monarchy never held any poll or plebiscite asking the inhabitants of the Spanish part if they were willing to give the territory to France. From the start, this agreement wasn’t fully accepted by the inhabitants of the Spanish part of Hispaniola, the ancestors of the Dominicans.

Despite this agreement existed on paper since 1795, Napoleon Bonaparte decided not to enact it until the French part of the island was pacified as it was in a state of revolt since 1791. The inhabitants of the Spanish part were not inconvenienced by this fact and a general belief spread that implied the Treaty of Basle regarding ceding the territory to France was never going to take effect. Until 1801 the Spanish part of Hispaniola was still governed by Joaquin Garcia, the Spanish governor in the name of Spain. The unathorized invasion by Toussaint Loverture in 1801 caused Napoleon Bonaparte to expedite the invasion of the French because he didn’t trust that Toussaint Loverture was acting in France’s best interests with this invasion. The fact he didn’t ask for permission from Paris to do the invasion is what put in doubt his true intentions. The French effectively took over the Spanish part of Hispaniola in 1802, starting what is known as the Era of France in Santo Domingo. Hispaniola was split into two sides, the former Spanish part which was tranquil under French rule and the former French part which was in a state of revolt in need to be pacified by the French.

The Invasion of Toussaint Loverture in 1801

Toussaint Loverture circa 1802. (New York Public Library)

Toussaint Loverture invaded the Spanish part in 1801 and ended during the following 1802. Despite he claimed to invade in the name of France and the French flag replaced the Spanish flag in the Spanish part, he did it without authorization from Napoleon Bonaparte in Paris. This created doubts about what were his true intention. Napoleon Bonaparte sent his authentic French troops from France and they effectively austed the Haitians from power in the eastern part of the island in 1802. Ironically, Toussaint Loverture reacted negatively to the arrival of the French troops, despite his invasion was in the name of France. In reality, that appear was lip service as the invasion was in fact the first Haitian invasion of Santo Domingo and it’s believed the plan was to declare the entire island independent of France. As part of his anger, Toussaint Loverture ordered the massacre of Spanish soldiers and their wives he had taken from Santo Domingo to Haiti when he culminated the invasion. Not a single one survived that assault.

One of the few benefits that Toussaint Loverture’s invasion had was the abolishment of slavery in Santo Domingo. Contrary to most of the Caribbean where most of the population were slaves, in the Spanish part of Santo Domingo this affected from 10% to 15% of the population which were slaves. For 85% to 90% of the inhabitants of the Spanish part the day before the liberating of the slaves and the day after liberating the slaves were the same. It should be noted that most of the people of color in the Spanish part of Santo Domingo were free prior to Toussaint Loverture prohibiting slavery.

The Era of France (1802 – 1809)

Jean-Louis Ferrand was sent in the French expedition to Hispaniola that began to rule to eastern part of the island for France in 1802. Once Charles Victoire Emmanuel Leclerc died from Yellow Fever, Ferrand rose to power and ruled Santo Domingo during much of the Era of France until 1809.

The French army sent by Napoleon Bonaparte from Paris was headed by Charles Victoire Emmanuel Leclerc (some of the others that accompanied him was Jean-Louis Ferrand and Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau). In 1802 they had ousted the Haitian authorities governing the Spanish part of Hispaniola, initiating the Era of France in Santo Domingo. Shortly after taking over the Spanish side, Charles Victoire Emmanuel Leclerc contracted yellow fever and died with the taking of his place by Jean-Louis Ferrand. He would rule the rest of the Era of France in Santo Domingo until 1809. Although there were attempts that included French invasions of the French part to pacify that part of the island, the revolt of their slaves was so generalized that it evolved into the Haitian Revolution and culminated on January 1, 1804 with the declaration of independence of Haiti. From that point forward Hispaniola was split into two countries again, this time the then new country of Haiti on the western coast consisting of the original French part of the island and of France which continued to rule the former Spanish part despite most of the inhabitants were the Spanish/Dominican population, didn’t speak or understand French, and desired the return of Spain to that part of Hispaniola.

Jean-Louis Ferrand rule of the former Spanish part intended to ameliorate the dislike of the population towards the French and increase sympathies with the French government. With this respect were adopted measures such as the French government requiring that all laws and decrees in Santo Domingo must be bilingual (French/Spanish). The effects of all the French laws established in Santo Domingo didn’t have benign repercussions on the population, who were the ancestors of the Dominicans.

After Haiti was declared an independent country, during the same 1804 Jean Jacques Dessalines, who had declared himself emperor for life, ordered the massacre of all white men in Haiti except those with certain professions such as medical doctors, those that were part of the Polish soldiers sent to fight the Haitians during the Haitian Revolution for being ignorants of everything about the country, and a handful of men that by orders of Dessalines were spared. A few months later, Dessalines declared all white women and children to be massacred in Haiti, the exception were the white women married to Haitian military generals. Although this wasn’t contemplated in the order of the massacre, a lot of the white women and girls were subjected to all sorts of sexual violence prior to being killed, many tortured to death. The news of the general massacre in Haiti spread like wildfire across the former Spanish part. The result of this was indignation on the part of the French that ruled the former Spanish part and lead Jean-Louis Ferrand to declare the re-establishment of slavery in the former Spanish part. To add more wood to the fire, the people subjected to slavery were not going to be the people of color of the country, including those that benefited from the liberation of the slaves in 1801, but exclusively of Haitian children and teenagers captured in the border region. When news about this French decree reached the ears of Jean Jacques Dessalines in Haiti, he bagan to prepare for the Campaign of the East or the Haitian invasion of 1805.

The Era of France ended in 1809 with the Reconquest War. Several Dominicans that had fled to Puerto Rico during this time, headed by Juan Sánchez Ramírez and included many Dominican and Puerto Rican soldiers with the support of the Spanish governor of Puerto Rico Toribio Monte, invaded the former Spanish part. This further encourage more Dominicans to join in this new revolt against the French. It culminated in two parts. First with Jean-Louis Ferrand committing suicide in Palo Hincado, a rural community near El Seibo, upon realizing his forces were losing to the Dominicans. Second, once Jean-Louis Ferrand was dead and the French army destroyed, they headed to Santo Domingo where with the help of the English forced the French authorities to capitulate and give the key to the city to the English. Afterwards, the English gave the control to the Dominicans and they returned the territory to Spain.

The Invasion of Dessalines in 1805

During the Haitian invasión of 1805 headed by Jean Jacques Dessalines, the murder in cold blood of the ancestors of Dominican civilians all over the Spanish part and without distinction of age, sex, color, etc was widespread. (Hilario R.)

In 1805 Jean Jacques Dessalines invaded the former Spanish part. The purpose was two: one, the victory against the French government installed in Santo Domingo and, two, the destruction of all the towns and the murdering of all the inhabitants including those of color that were free. The victory over the French in Santo Domingo was not accomplished after subjecting the city to a siege. While everything was in favor for the eventual victory of the Haitians, an maneuvir by French boats off the coast of Santo Domingo gave Jean Jacques Dessalines the impression that they were heading west to attack the defenseless Haitian towns. This was an error on his part, but caused the sudden abandonment of the siege on Santo Domingo and the return of the Haitian army to Haiti.

The retreat of the Haitian army is one of the most hurtful events in Dominican history. According to Haitian historian Jean-Price Mars in his two volume books “La República Haitiana y la República Dominicana” describe this episode in the following ways.

Jean Price-Mars; “La República Haitiana y la República Dominicana“; p 97.

“The retiring of the Haitian army was one of the most dramatic and bloody episodes in a dramatic and bloody history. Towns set on fire, destruction of the livestock, murder of the captives, kidnappings of the women and children, and the brutal forced marches of the to the Haitian part. Nothing was spared behind the Haitian troops of such a horrible mistreatment and useless horrors.”

Jean Jacques Dessalines himself boasted in his Campaign of the East diary of the devastation he caused in the former Spanish part.

Jean Jacques Dessalines; “Alocución del Emperador al pueblo a su regreso del sitio de Santo Domingo“; Imperial Court at Laville, April 12 of 1805.

“There is no other truth that will not admit the following: where there are no rural settlements there are no cities. From this principle I imposed in the inland of Santo Domingo fire and blood, the rest of the inhabitants and animals were torn from their native soil and transferred to our country. This created the advantage that the plan of the enemy if hot destroyed the reduced to its minimal expression…”

Not only was Jean Jacques Dessalines devastation very extensive in the eastern part of the island, but even mixed and black people were not spared from being murdered by the Haitian troops.

Jean Price-Mars; “La República Haitiana y la República Dominicana“; p 98.

“With such happiness Dessalibes ordered the extermination of the whites and those considered as such if not by their color, then by their feelings whether they were blacks or mulattoes.”
Gaspar Arredondo Pichardo; “A mi salida de Santo Domingo el 28 de abril de 1805“.

“…Those left alive including the people of color were forced to march to Guarico (Cap Haitien), many dying from hunger and thirst along the trails they were forced with their bare feets to the French part (Haiti)…”
Jean-Louis Ferrand; “Siege of Santo Domingo Report” published in “The Enquire” on October 20, 1805: page 2.

He informed me also that their (Haitians) projects, had the town (Santo Domingo) capitulated, was to grant without reserve all the articles demanded. Once admitted within the walls, to massacre the whole of the inhabitants without distinction. Their army was afterwards to quit the place, except the men necessary for the demolition of the town (Santo Domingo), for the massacre of the white and free Spaniards (ancestors of modern Dominicans) in the country; and to carry away into the French part (Haiti) the remainder of the slaves and animals.  

Mr Gailard detailed to me all the cruelties the brigands (Haitians) had exercised in the country

This was the case during Jean Jacques Dessalines invasion of 1805 despite most people never owned slaves and the destruction included the mixeds and the blacks who were free, which at the time was most of the people of color in the former Spanish part.

The First Constitution of Spain of 1812

A sample of the first Constitution of Spain of 1812 conserved at the Senate in Madrid, Spain. (Barcex)

An interesting detail is how the former Spanish part of the island return to Spain between 1809 and 1814. While the territory once under the control of the Dominicans after winning the Reconquest War in 1809 return to Spain in the same year, this was true in the acts. It wasn’t until the Treaty of Paris of 1814 that France officially gave Spain the former Spanish part of Hispaniola. Basically, what was done in 1814 was putting on paper what existed in the acts since 1809. This further makes much more interesting what is evident in Spain’s first constitution in 1812, three years after the former Spanish part of Hispaniola was return to Spain in the acts but two years before the territory was officially given by France to Spain. In Spain’s first constitution when it mentions the territory there is the following:

CHAPTER I
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. 

It’s interesting to note that Spain already put in writing its ownership of the Spanish part of Hispaniola before France officially return the territory to Spain.

The Notion that Haiti Inherited the Entire Island in 1804

Map of Haiti. (US Library of Congress)

What occurred regarding the Reconquest War, the Constitution of Spain of 1812, and the Treaty of Paris in 1814 had implications regarding the notion that Haiti inherited the entire island at the time of its independence on January 1, 1804. According to the first Haitian constitution, the borders of Haiti were those assigned by nature with the seas on all sides and the adjacent islands such as Tortue, Saona, and others. In reality, Haiti inherited the French part which consisted of the western coasts of Hispaniola and its adjacent islands only including the San Nicolas Peninsula in the north and the Tiburon Peninsula in the south.

France officially gained ownership of the Spanish part in the Treaty of Basle in 1795, but it didn’t put the treaty into effect regarding this point precisely because the French part was under revolt. In 1801 Toussaint Loverture invades the Spanish part under the pretence of enacting the points of the Treaty of Basle regarding Spain ceding the Spanish part of Hispaniola to France. However, by 1802 an actual French army arrived on the island and took over the former Spanish part but never was able to govern the French part. The island was basically split between a peaceful former Spanish part under French rule and a revolting French part that was not under the control of the French but rather the Haitians. It was under these conditions that Haiti’s independence was proclaimed in 1804. In the mean time, the French continued to rule the former Spanish part until 1809, the year the Spanish began to rule the Spanish part again. Since 1802 the Haitians never had control of the entire island until the invasion of Jean Pierre Boyer in 1822.

There is another point that further puts Haiti’s claim to the Spanish part in limbo. Aside from the fact that the Haitians didn’t originally inhabited the Spanish part at the time of its independence, no country in the world recognized Haiti as an independent state until France in the Royal Ordinance of 1825 agrees to recognize Haiti. As far as the entire world was concerned, not only was the claim of Haiti of the territory of the Dominicans illegitimate given its unrecognized status, but Haiti itself was still French territory in revolt. Unlike Haiti, France was recognized by almost all the governments of the world.

As if that wasn’t enough, we have a French copy of the Royal Ordinance of 1825 between France and Haiti. It clearly states “the French part of Santo Domingo” and not the “island of Santo Domingo.” That meant that at no time did the agreeing parties of France and Haiti considered the former Spanish part of Santo Domingo as an integral part of Haiti nor considered the Dominicans as Haitians, despite the Haitian Domination started in 1822 until 1844.

The translations to English are limited to what is highlighted in red.

“The ports in the French part of Santo Domingo…”

“The current inhabitants of the French part of Santo Domingo…”

“…The sum of 150 million francs…”

“… The current inhabitants of the French part of Santo Domingo will be recognized their full independence from the French government.”

Lastly, the Treaty of Basle of 1795 was not an agreement between Haiti and France or Haiti and Spain, but rather between Spain and France. Since France didn’t recognized Haiti until 1825, this was the reason why France in the Treaty of Paris of 1814 formally cedes the former Spanish part of Santo Domingo to Spain. It didn’t, however, ceded to Spain or any other power the French part of the island. Despite this part was in revolt from the point of view of the French, until 1825 it was still officially French territory. The only one capable of doing anything with the eastern part of Hispaniola was the owner of that part and the Haitians were not in that position.

The Ephemeral Independence of 1821

The Santo Domingo native Mr José Núñez de Cáceres was the leader in the declaration of independence from Spain in 1821 and creator of Haití Español. It should be noted that he descended from Spaniards.

On December 1, 1821 a lawyer from Santo Domingo, Mr José Núñez de Cáceres, declares the independence of Haití Español (Spanish Haiti) from Spain. Haiti was not just the name of the republic in the western coasts of the island, but rather it was one of the names the Taino indians had for the island at the time of its discovery on December 5, 1492 by Christopher Columbus. As expected, Haití Español was to not be confused with Haití “francés” or French Haiti which was none other than Haiti the republic. The entire territory of the Spanish part of the island and the entire inhabitants in this part was the territory and people of Haití Español. This declaration of independence from Spain was without bloodshed and/or commotions as Spain never made a war against Haití Español. It was to be a transitional state planned to be admitted into the Gran Colombia of South America, but the Haitians lead by Jean Pierre Boyer invaded Haití Español before it could materialize the union with the Gran Colombia.

The Haitian Domination (1822 – 1844)

Jean-Pierre Boyer and his accopanying Haitian troops to the tune of 10,000 in Santo Domingo during the third Haitian invasion of the Dominican part that gave rise to the Haitian Domination from 1822 to 1844. (Ramón L Sandoval)

The Haitian Domination started on February 9, 1822 and lasted until February 27, 1844. The invasion by Jean Pierre Boyer to Haití Español put an end to this independence movement of the Dominicans a mere two months after its declaration. This is why it’s called the ephemeral independence. The invasion consisted of a Haitian army of about 10,000 armed men to a Haití Español that still lacked sufficient weapons and ammunition forits defense, uniforms for its army, even money was non-exitent among other things due to the short amount of time of its creation. Although Jean Pierre Boyer claimed that it wasn’t an invasion but rather that he arrived as a brother invited by the Dominicans, the fact he arrived with 10,000 armed men to a country that basically didn’t have an army and any shape or form of defending itself doesn’t bodes well to arriving as a “brother.” The Dominicans had no choice but to do what the Haitians said since they were the ones with the guns and the Dominicans would had been the recepients of the bullets fired from those guns had they revolted at the moment of the invasion.

However, once the Haitian Domination was started and the true nature of the Haitian government became aware, the Dominicans couldn’t wait until the Haitian yoke was ended. On September 22, 1822; a mere 7 months plus or minus since the Haitian Domination had started, a letter was published in neighboring Puerto Rico regarding a report presented by the Dominican deputy in the Cortes for the province of Santo Domingo, Mr. Francisco Brenes, concerning the discontent among the Dominicans.

Heading concerning the letter of the political leader of Puerto Rico, Mr Francisco González de Linares, concerning the report of the Dominican deputy in the Cortes for the province of Santo Domingo, Mr Francisco Brenes. In the heading it mentions the general discontent among the Spaniards oppressed by the Haitian government. As will become evident in the following extracts of the letter, with Spaniards it’s referring to are the Dominicans. It later mentions the discontents among the entire Dominican population including the whites, the mixeds, and the blacks. Another point to notice is that Dominicans already were not happy with the Haitians before the Haitian Domination had its first year.
The parts highlighted in yellow are the only ones to be translated to English.

“…The peaceful character of the Spaniards of that island [Hispaniola]…”

“…The ones awaiting the benefits from the Haitian government are seeing their fields in idle, their haciendas destroyed, their urban properties taken away from them, their religion greatly insulted, and the liberated united with the Haitian troops insulting them all the time? How can they get used to a government that has proven to be so arbitrary when they are seeing their wives and daughters raped or killed for resisting being raped?”

“…Seeing the Haitians buddies becoming the owners of their cows, horses, sheeps, and pigs…”

“…They can’t find not even something to eat…”

“…Every Dominican wishes with all his might the moment of ending the Haitian Domination that has proven to be so harsh and abominable…”
“…The Haitian troops began to enforce sexual liberties to a very religious population, the different cultures, the different language, and the momentary transition from Spanish laws to Haitian laws caused great dislike among the white, black, and mixed inhabitants of the [former Spanish part of the] island…”

There is no question that from the earliest moments of the Haitian Domination, the Dominicans were not happy as a response to how the Haitian government was ruling over them and the mistreatments often subjected to by the Haitian army. Although there were many revolts by the Dominicans to end the Haitian Domination, on each occasion the Haitian authorities were successful in capturing the people involved in each revolt and killing all of them. The situation was such that a large segment of the population found itself forced to emigrate to Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Venezuela. This came to an end with the rise of the secret society of La Trinitaria which culminated with the independence of the Dominican Republic on February 27, 1844. It should be noted that while on December 1, 1821 was created Haití Español, it wasn’t the re-establishment of Haití Español in 1844 but rather the establishment of a new government named the Dominican Republic. When in 1865 the Restoration War was ended, it restored the Dominican Republic which had existed from 1844 to 1861 and not created a new state.

The Notion Dominicans as a People Began with the Creation of the Dominican Republic in 1844

Title of the official declaration of independencd in 1821 of the emphemeral independence. Notice it says “the Dominican people” despite the new country had the name “Haití Español” and it would not be for another 23 years of the creation of the Dominican Republic.

It should be noted that while it wasn’t until 1844 that the Dominican Republic was created, the Dominican people predate that event by at least two centuries. Since the XVII century or the 1600’s there is documentation using the Dominican demonym to refer to the inhabitants of the Spanish part of Hispaniola. This was in accordance with the Spanish tradition of using demonyms to refer to the inhabitants of its different regions and provinces. In Europe there are (to this day) the Andalusians for natives of Andalusia, Catalans for Catalunya, Galicians for natives of Galicia, etc despite all are Spaniards. In the Spanish Empire the same situation was applied regarding the Spanish provinces. Natives of Puerto Rico were called the Puerto Ricans, those of Cuba were the Cubans, natives of Peru were the Peruvians, native of Chile were the Chileans, natives of the Spanish province of Venezuela were known as the Venezuelans, natives of Guatemala were the Guatemalans, etc. In the same token, natives of the Spanish part of Santo Domingo were the Dominicans, a demonym that derives from the word “Domingo.”

Another example of how the people of the Dominican Republic were referring to themselves as Dominicans well before the creation of the Dominican Republic is the creation of Haití Español. The declaration of independence has the following title: “Declaration of Independence of the Dominican People.” Notice it doesn’t say the Haitian Spanish people, but rather the Dominican people. This was the case despite the Dominican Republic was not created for another 22 years, almost a generation later or almost a quarter of a century.

The case of the Dominicans contrast with the case of the Haitians. No one was called Haitian until the French part of Hispaniola declares its independence in 1804 and names itself Haiti. Not even the indians of Hispaniola were called Haitians in their times, despite one of the names they had for the island was Haiti.The natives of the western coasts of Hispaniola were the Haitians. Prior to the independence of Haiti there was no demonym for the slaves who were property and not free men, but even the free population were known simply as the French. During the time of great wealth creation in Saint-Domingue a very popular saying spread in Europe and said “as rich as a Santo Domingan” to refer to those from the French part of Hispaniola. It didn’t mention Dominicans which by that time referred to the people of the Spanish part and were also known as “Spaniards” regardless if it was a white or a person of color or black. Simply Santo Domingan for those from the French part. But in essence there was no demonym for those of the French part of the island except “the French.”

The Dominican-Haitian War (1844 – 1856)

The Dominican-Haitian War (1844 – 1856) consisted of 14 battles against the Haitian army invading the Dominican Republic. The Dominicans were victorious in all in part because losing to the Haitians implied they submitting the entire Dominican population including civilians to a general massacre. All wars between Dominicans and Haitians were fought in Dominican territory as a response to the multiple invasions of the Haitian army. While Dominicans never violated the right for Haitians to organize as an independent country, the Haitians didn’t honor that right to the Dominicans.

The Dominican-Haitian War took place over a period of 12 years and essentially was the longest war of independence in the Western Hemisphere. All the battles took place in the Dominican side as they corresponded to at least 8 major Haitian invasions of the Dominican territory and many other skirmishes. The mass massacre of the Dominican population would had taken place had the Dominicans lost just one battle, particularly the Haitian invasions by Faustin Soulouque. Everything was simply Dominicans fighting to preserve their independence, their territory, and their existence as a people and Haiti wanting to deny them that. Dominicans never invaded Haiti with the intention of ending the Haitian independence. The Haitian-Dominican War started when the Haitians began to invade the Dominicans and ended when the Haitians cease to invade the Dominicans. It was never the other way around, in fact if it was up to the Dominicans there would never be the Dominican-Haitian War.

The Restoration War (1863 – 1865)

The Puerto Plata native Gregorio Luperón was the leader in the Restoration War (1863 – 1865).

The Restoration War headed by Gregorio Luperón began in 1863 and ended in 1865. It arose from the Dominican Republic having been reincorporated into Spain in 1861. The Dominican population was caught offguard regarding the Spanish annexation as the population wasn’t consulted similar to what happened in the Treaty of Basle in 1795. To add more salt to injury, many of the Spanish governors and soldiers tended to mistreat the Dominican population since they considered themselves to be superiors to Dominicans.

Racism also played a part as many of the Spanish soldiers were from Puerto Rico and Cuba, which were still part of Spain and slavery was still legal. For many of the Spaniards they couldn’t accept that there were people of color and blacks in positions of power higher or equal footing than them, and that the color population was entirely free. Unlike in Cuba or Puerto Rico, in Santo Domingo the people on the equal footings of the Spaniards were not just white leaders, but also mixed and black leaders.

There was also an issue with taxation as the Spanish authorities levied many new taxes on the Dominican population. Dominicans saw the new taxes are a sort of robbery as they didn’t see things as improved roads, construction of bridges, etc. Plus, Dominicans were used to carry merchandise from one town to the next never paying any taxes and then overnight come these people from outside the island exacting that money that must be paid every time merchandise is carried from one town to the next. It goes without saying that paying taxes is not a much loved activity around the world to this very day, but Dominicans really disliked that in part because they used to paying no taxes.

The Dominican-Haitian Border Disputes (1844 – 1929)

Modificacion to the original border since 1777 were made in 1929 and again in 1935. In both instances Haiti gained territory at the expense of the Dominican Republic. The agreements were meant to put an end to the border disputes, invasions, and wars between the Dominican Republic defending its territorial integrity and Haiti wanting to gain Dominican territory. This has been the official border since 1935 to today, 87 years. (VOX)

The moment the Dominican Republic was created in 1844, the Dominicans claimed the entire former Spanish part as their territory leaving the former French part to Haiti. This was also the case when the Haitian Domination started in 1822. This proposition was not an accepted by the Haitans who claimed a territory with a border further east, essentially including land that was never part of the former French part. This created a border dispute from 1844 to 1929. Many times these disputes created very intense tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti with border battles taking place from time to time. In the very early years of the 20th century, the border issue had reached such heights that the Dominican government solicited US$1 million to banks in the United States to finance a war against Haiti. The diplomatic intervention of the United States eventually convinced Dominicans and Haitians to remain calm and dissuade from starting a new war on Hispaniola.

In an attempt to putting an end to the border disputes, the Dominican president Horacio Vásquez ceded to Haití 4,572 KM2 or 8% of the Dominican territory. At that time, Haiti was under the military intervention of the United States. In 1936, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo ceded another 1,628 KM2 or 1% of the Dominican territory. From that revision forward the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti has been the current one.

Jean Price-Mars False Belief Racism Created the Dominican Republic

Jean Price-Mars (CIDIHCA, D.R)

Haiti’s greatest historian in the XX century was Jean Price-Mars. In addition to his intellectual capacity and bring a physician, he was also a Haitian diplomat and for a time was Haiti’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic. He was one of the contributors of the Noirisme movement that sprung in Haiti with the purpose of increasing the pride of the blacks and today would be considered afrocentric. He published many books that influenced Haiti’s intellectual class and no other work influenced the Haitian intelligentsia about the Dominican Republic than the two volumes “La República Haitiana y la República Dominicana” in 1953.

In this book he mentions that racism is what created the Dominican Republic and as long that Dominicans remain racists, the Dominican Republic will exist and the entire island will not be one country ruled by the Haitians. At least that is what he implies. There are many examples within the book that point towards this, but due to space and time we will cite a few.

Jean Price-Mars; “La República Haitiana y la República Dominicana,” 1953; page 175.

Here is a part of Jean Price-Mars citing Manuel Arturo Peña Batlle a speech he made in Elías Piña on November 8, 1942.

“Let us not forget that this nation of Spaniards, Christian and Catholic was created by us the Dominicans. It evolved from a purity and homogeniety with a geographic union of the island and that was conserved until our days without getting contaminated by the graft. From the primitive origin to the XVII century and that it was contaminated by its own sap, and agents contrary to the principle of our creation on Hispaniola.”
Jean Price-Mars; “La República Haitiana y la República Dominicana,” 1953; page 180.

“It could be confirmed that from the anthropological point of view the Dominican Republic nor Haiti can consider one as a homogenous group of Spaniards -if such a thing exist in some place- and the other one of a French group…”
Jean Price-Mars; “La República Haitiana y la República Dominicana,” 1953; page 185.

“An exhaustive review of the problem reduces to zero such racist doctrine. In our opinion, this is the maximum kevek of a nationalist egocentrism that dangerousle exalts the Dominican pride and loses all common sense on all those that suffer from such wrong.”

As can be seen in the three previous example with the first Jean Price-Mars is citing Manuel Arturo Peña Batlle, he makes an attempt to equate that Spaniards are only the whites. However, there is historical evidence that with Spaniards the reference isn’t the whites only, but rather the entire population including the mixed and the blacks that are originals to the now Dominican Republic. The following examples were most likely unknown to Jean Price-Mars and this particular ignorance probably helped in interpreting “Spaniards” in a racial sense to mean exclusively whites from Spain.

The first Constitution of Spain in 1812. Chapter 2, article 5 defines who are the Spaniards. Notice it never mentions skin color or race or say the non-whites aren’t Spaniards.To see what is the territory of Spain, see the section The First Constitution of Spain 1812 further above.

CHAPTER II
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 Cortes. 

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. 
Section of the article in Jean-Louis Ferrand report on the Siege of Santo Domingo in 1805 published on October 29, 1805 in “The Enquire” of Richmond, Virginia, USA. Notice in the part highlighted in yellow it says “the massacre of the white and free Spaniards in the country” with “white and free Spaniards” referring to the white ancestors of Dominicans and the mixed and black ancestors of Dominicans that were free, which was the overwhelmig majority of the population in the former Spanish part of Hispaniola.

The other influences is what existed on Hispaniola before the creation of Haiti and how France installed racism as a form of police in the French part while Spain did the complete opposite in the Spanish part of Hispaniola where everything was done to encourage racial mixture. The resulting societies of the Dominican Republic on one side and Haiti on the other inherited these differences placed by Spain and France respectively on Hispaniola. This probably explain many other differences between the two countries such as while in the Dominican Republic there has never been a political party based on race or skin color, in Haiti race-based political parties have existed and in fact, for many years there was a party for the mulattoes or mixed race and a party for the blacks. Other things would be that in the Dominican Republic no racial group has been excluded, massacred or expelled. Meanwhile Haiti was very anti-white at its beginning going as far as prohibiting whites from becoming Haitians and the massacre of the almost entire white population of Haiti in 1804.

The Haitian Constitution of 1805. Contrary to all the constitutions of the Dominican Republic, several Haitian constitutions mention skin color and race, and excludes the whites. In article 14 it says that all Haitians are black regardless of their skin color, in essence including the often light skin mixed race.
Title of an article published in “The Ostega Herald” of Cooperstown, NY on June 21, 1804. It’s about the massacre of the whites in Haiti in 1804. Though it was applied everywhere in Haiti, this one focuses on Haiti’s northern city of Cape François, now Cap Haitien. This is one more evidence of how race and color has given birth to and been a feature of Haiti from the very beginning of its existence.
Gustave D’aulaux; “Soulouque and His Empire,” 1861; page 296.

Here = Haiti, there = Dominican Republic, and prejudice of color = racism.
Charles Mackenzie, “Notes on Haiti” Vol 1, 1830; page 26.

Describing what the author met with in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Unlike the Dominican flag, the origin of the Haitian flag itself has a racial component, perhaps testament to having inherited racism from its colonial era when it was a colony of France. It’s based on the French flag which consist of white, blue, and red bands. The French flag was placed on its side, the white band ripped out to signify the exclusion of the whites in Haiti. The blue band represents the mulattoes or mixed and the red band the blacks of Haiti, again taking a racial meaning,

Jean-Price Mars, we repeat was one of the main contributors to the Noirisme movement and today would be considered an afrocentric, had this racial point of view. Haitians in general were the absorbant of racism on the account that on Hispaniola it was a policy and widespread on the French part only. Is it any wonder that any study he would make of the Dominican Republic and Dominicans were going to be seen through a racial prism?

The problem with Jean Price-Mars and his use of a racialist point of view on Dominican matters also had another purpose: denying or not recognizing that there are elements of language, customs, etc that differentiate one country from another on Hispaniola. In addition, he never recognized the mistreatment of Haiti to the Dominicans and its desire, or at least of several Haitian leaders and presidents, to massacre the entire Dominican population from the beginnings of the XIX century to 1856. Furthermore, he never recognized the mistreatment of Dominicans by Haiti during the Haitian Domination of the former Spanish part of Hispaniola from 1822 to 1844. For much of the XIX century Haiti was a bully to Dominicans effecting multiple invasions of the territory that belong to the Dominicans. Recognizing this fact would mean two things: 1) the benign notion of Haiti and making the Dominicans appear as the belligerent party comes crumbling to the ground as the complete opposite is true and, 2) Dominican reluctance to join Haiti had nothing to do with race or color.

Conclusion

Heroes of the Restoration of the Republic Monument in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.

As we have seen, there are many aspects of the history of Hispaniola that is glossed over or ignored in order to manipulate and make it seem the Dominican territory belongs to Haiti. Recognizing that Haiti has had a racist element since colonial times, that Haiti bullied the Dominicans and threaten with their entire destruction in more than one time, the multiple armed Haitian invasions of the Dominicans, etc is the first step in being honest with yourself. From the start Haiti has desired to take over the territory of the Dominican Republic and put an end to the independence of the Dominicans, yet the Dominicans always respected the right Haitians have of forming their own country and being an independent nation on the island of Hispaniola.