February 27: The Most Dominican Date

February 27 in 1805 and 1844 are deciding days in the survival and independence of Dominicans. (Pngtree)

The Dominican Republic became an independent country on February 27, 1844. That alone would be reason enough for this day to hold a special meaning to Dominicans and in fact it does. The day is a major national holiday with widespread business and institutions closing, parades in many towns, and generally a festive and/or relaxing atmosphere. The importance of this day is also manifested with nationwide streets, avenues, and public places named «27 de Febrero». The importance of this date is evident to all, but what may not be known to all is that February 27 isn’t only the day the Dominicans became independent.

On February 27, 1805 (39 years before independence) another ocurrence happened in Santo Domingo that impacted the existence of Dominicans from that date forward. That was the day that Jean Jacques Dessalines during his Santo Domingo Seige halted that event and marched back to Haiti along with the Haitian army. That was the day that Dessalines witnessed the maneuvors of French boats off the coast of Santo Domingo and that caused him to think an error, that the French were headed west to attack the coastal towns of Haiti, at that moment completely unprotected due that the entire Haitian army was encamped around the outsides of Santo Domingo doing the seige and the planned captured of the Dominican capital.

One of the main east-west thoroughfares in Santo Domingo is avenida 27 de Febrero (February 27 Avenue). Despite officially it’s an avenue, in reality it’s a hybrid between an expressway of its central four lanes (two in each direction) with several overpasses, underpasses and tunnels effectively skips all traffic lights and the remaining lanes on each side are more of an avenue subjected to traffic lights and intersections at grade.

Although the marched back of the Haitian army via the Cibao and the South was marked with atrocities and horrors committed against the ancestors of the Dominicans, civilians including countryside people; the looting and burning of Dominican towns, etc. The plan the Haitian army had of subjecting all the ancestors of Dominicans to a general massacre wasn’t completed precisely because the capitulation of Santo Domingo wasn’t possible. This capitulation wasn’t possible thanks to the French and the maneuvers of French boats off the coast of Santo Domingo on February 27, 1805.

February 27 is not just the day of independence of the Dominican Repúblic and the Dominicans when they reasserted their right to speak Spanish and be free to decide their destiny as a people. It’s also the day Dominicans were given a second chance to exist as a people, as a culture, and as human beings. All Dominicans today must hold February 27 to the highest regard since in more than once that day is one of the main reasons they exist.

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

On February 27, against all probabilities, a Frencn division composed of five war boats, three frigates, two bergantines, etc arrived to reinforce the French troops and supply more foodstuff and ammunitions. That reinforcement based on several estimates of 4,000 men, insufficient to prevent the goal of my Haitian troops, would had not been able to do except prolong for two more months the capture of Santo Domingo. The salvation of the city was in that delay and thr circumstances were such that this unforseen event was the deciding factorin the success of this campaign.

As painful as it was to cease the siege on a city that we had all the probabilities to take, regardless of the desperation of my troops to get their hands on the French troops, thinking about the unexpected appearance of this situation, knowing of the secret destination two further French war embarkments
…”
Jean Jacques Dessalines; “Alocución del Emperador al pueblo a su regreso del sitio de Santo Domingo“; Imperial Court at Laville, April 12 of 1805. 

As you can see that a military invasion started in the most positive expectation was not able to be completed with success. The only thing we have is the hope that the city of Santo Domingo, the only town that still exist to the disasters I was albe to make within a considerable distancd in the former Spanish part of the island, it can’t be a refuge to our enemy nor achieve the goals of their projects.”
Jean-Louis Ferrand; “Siege of Santo Domingo Report” published in “The Enquire” on October 20, 1805: page 2.