Black and Mixed Race Dominicans were Victims of Dessalines Invasion (1805)


Black and mixed race Dominicans directly descend from people that lived through situations that are unimaginable.

One of the most dramatic and bloody Haitian invasions was headed by Jean Jacques Dessalines in 1805. How destructive this was for Dominicans is well known. This is a focus on the Dominican victims that were black and mixed race or, as they are called by some, “Afro-Dominicans” or in part or full descendants of black Africans. To have African blood had no effect in saving them from the Haitian wrath. Jean Jacques Dessalines, himself born in Africa, and the rest of the Haitian military generals and troops killed many black and mixed race Dominicans, torture them, made them suffer and punish them in the worst manner.

Due to consequence, it’s obvious that if these horrible things didn’t happen to these people, many more hundreds of thousands of modern Dominicans would be their direct descendants.

Map of the Haitian Invasion in 1805

Map of the Haitian Invasion of 1805. The Haitian invasion of 1805 included two columns of the Haitian army, one through the Dominican south and another through the Dominican north and both united outside Santo Domingo. They submitted a seige on the capital city, but were never able to enter and commit a massacre due to the wall that surrounded the town built in the XVI century (many large parts still exist). Also noted on the map are the marching routes in return to Haiti by the Haitian army, also breaking into two columns. The Dominican towns shown with a star are some that were subject to a massacre by the Haitians, followed by widespread looting and lastly putting them on fire until all that was left was ashes and human bones. Many of the few Dominicans that survived were taken as prisoners with all the women and girls raped by the Haitian troops as they marched back to Haiti. The same was done to all Dominican countryfolks they encounter along the trajectories of their marches back to Haiti. The map doesn’t includes all the Dominican towns destroyed by the Haitians. Some of these were Baní, Azua, Bánica, Las Matas de Farfán, Las Caobas and others in the southern side, while in the Cibao included towns such as Sabaneta, Dajabón and other places. Dessalines = Jean Jacques Dessalines, Cristóbal = Henri Christophe and Petión = Alexandre Petion.
Puerta del Conde, Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo was the only Dominican town attacked by the Haitian army in the Haitian invasion of 1805, but the Haitians weren’t able to enter and subject the Dominican inhabitants to a massacre, pillage the town and then destroy it. This was due to one thing only, the surrounding wall built in the XVI century and all the gates remained closed. Puerta del Conde, seen in the photo, is the principal door and entrance of the wall of Santo Domingo.

Jean-Price Mars Describes the Horrible Haitian Invasion of 1805

The most admired and respected Haitian historian of the XX century was Jean-Price Mars. In his two volume book “La République D’Haïti et la République Dominicaine” (also translated to Spanish) describes this horrible and bloody Haitian invasion of 1805 (or as its known among Haitian historians and at the time by the Haitian army “The Campaign of the East”). He says the following among a very long chapter about this event.

TRANSLATION: “The return to Haiti of the Haitian army was one of the most dramatic and bloody episodes of a dramatic and bloody history. Places put on fire, destruction of livestocks, firing of prisoners, capture of women and children, the horrible forced marches of the captured to Haiti. Nothing was left of such sad situation of senseless horrors by the Haitian army.”

Black and Mixed Race Dominicans were Killed by Dessalines

Dominicans playing dominos in the Dominican Republic.

During the unfortunate Haitian invasion of 1805, white Dominicans were not the only massacred. The Haitian historian Jean-Price Mars recognized that the victims included blacks and mixed race too. What fault the black and mixed race Dominicans had that they were treated with a much favorable treatment than the French treated their fellow people of color or the English their slaves? What fault the “Afro-Dominicans” had that slaves were a small minority of the population and, as a consequence, most Dominican whites, mixed and blacks were free? What fault did they have of not suffering from racial resentments towards white Dominican because these never mistreated them to the degree blacks and the mixed race tended to be mistreated in the Americas? None of that mattered to Dessalines. Death to all whether they were “Afro-Dominicans” or blacks just as the Haitians. Death and suffering to all Dominicans.

TRANSLATION: “With the most evil joy Dessalines ordered the extermination of the whites and those that were considered as such not by their color, but because of their compassion whether they were black or mixed race.”

Dessalines was Proud of Making Dominicans Suffer and Killing Them

Dominican baseball athletes for the Washington National team in the United States.

One of the most hurtful parts for us Dominicans is what appears in the next words. It could be thought that someone couldn’t be this cruel, this inhumaine, this evil. Not happy with killing Dominicans all over the Cibao Valley and in the Northwest along with destroying all the towns, but included massacring even the countryside people. This “man” didn’t know limits to his cruelty and more so to the Dominican people that has never done any harm to him. Much worse than the horrible acts, the suffering and the killings of our people; upon reaching Haiti he boasted with pride of the suffering, the pain and the deaths he forced upon the Dominicans regardless of race, colors, sex and social class.

TRANSLATION: “Dessalines boasted of the pride he had that he ordered the Haitian troops to destroy everything and everyone through the Dominican territory as marched on their way back to Haiti.”

Gaspar Arredondo Pichardo: He Mentions that Blacks and Mixed Race were Killed

A beautiful young Dominican.

Gaspar Arredondo Pichardo witnessed the events in Santiago de los Caballeros. After experiencing this bloody and evil odessey, he decides to abandon the land in which he was born and settled in the neighboring island of Cuba. The specific Cuban town where he settled was Camagüey (then called Puerto Príncipe). He left Hispaniola on April 28, 1805 through the port in Puerto Plata. It was the last last place that he stepped on Dominican soil.

He explains, without hidding anything of what he witnessed, that the cruelty of the Haitians didn’t exempt Dominicans of color.

TRANSLATION: “The Dominicans that the Haitian army left alive were forced to march to Cap Haitien. This included the people of color that didn’t want to take part in the destruction of the Dominican territory. Through the routes they were forced to march to Haiti, many Dominicans died of hunger and thirst.”

The Haitians didn’t Allow Black and Mixed Race Dominicans to Leave the Island

A Dominican woman and her two children about to enter a store in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Black and mixed race Dominicans were not allowed by the Haitians to leave the island when they wanted to. Anyone could think that at the very least black Dominicans, who were as Afro as the Haitians, would receive a level of respect and admiration from the Haitians, even if it was due to their color only. Having African blood running through their veins and a very dark skin color meant nothing to the Haitians.

TRANSLATION: “The Haitians didn’t allow free Dominicans of color that wanted to emigrate or wanted to not separate themselves from people with whom they knew and were friends since childhood to leave the island. This was strictly prohibited by the Haitians with the death penalty. Everything was to find motives to harass.”

The Fury of the Haitian Troops as they Invaded a Town to Commit Massacre

The following is explained based on what he witnessed when the Haitian troops invaded Santiago with the sole intention to kill all Dominicans.

TRANSLATION: “The blacks (Haitians) entered the city with a vengeance, everywhere running over Dominicans and spilling their blood. The suffering of Dominicans was everywhere. The goodwill, the modesty, the decency of Dominicans was all lifeless in the streets and in the plazas by 10 am. Even in the churches, product of the greatest evilness that has ever been seen. All the attempts of countryside Dominicans to give their help to their fellow countrymen in town were killed by the black (Haitian) army.”

The case of Fernando Pimentel, A Mixed Race Person

The mixed race Fernando Pimentel was one to be mentioned by name in his writings. The Haitians killed him by the main entrance to the Main Church of Santiago (today the Santiago Apóstol Cathedral).

TRANSLATION: “A Dominican man without being able to swallow the Holy Sacrament (41) was killed with a bayonet (similar to a modern rifle) and his lifeless body was left by the main door of the church.”
TRANSLATION: “He was the known by all of us, the mixed race tailor Fernando Pimentel.”

What the Haitians did in the Main Church of Santiago (Now Santiago Apóstol Cathedral)

The current Santiago Apóstol Cathedral stands on the same spot where the Main Chuch of Santiago stood in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.

Arredondo describes what occured in the Main Church of Santiago. In that time all Dominican churches were Catholic. Within the masses searching for help in the house of God were many blacks and mixed race. All were massacred inside the church by the Haitians.

The cathedral that stands in its place is from the final decades of the XIX century. The Santiago Apóstol Church that was there before this one was built was destroyed by an earthquake in that same century. At the beginning of the XIX century was the Main Church (all churches there from the founding of Santiago officially were named after Santiago Apóstol or Saint James The Apostle). That was the one that was there during the Haitian invasion of 1805. After the Haitians killed everyone inside the church, itself was destroyed as they intentionally created a fire that included the corpse of the Dominicans killed, and the priest, as part of its fuel. To have African blood didn’t save their lives by the Haitians, who themselves were of African ancestry.

TRANSLATION: “With firearms on hand, the Haitians entered the church killing everyone. As they were assassinating every Dominican, whom they surrounded the priest in search of swallowing the last Holy Bread of their lives. Nothing stopped the Haitians, they made a horrible scene staining the floors of the house of God with the blood of the Dominican victims.”

Santiago People of Color were Among the to be Killed by the Haitians

A Dominican couple shopping in the Dominican Republic.

Santiago was one of the whitests towns on Hispaniola. That didn’t mean there were no blacks and mixed race Dominicans sharing the joys and sadness of the other santiagueros. Nowhere in this section of the report people’s color is mentioned. However, everything changes with the arrival of the mixed race Campos Tavàrez, who at this time was a general in the Haitian army. The Haitians forced the Dominicans to stand with their backs facing the Yaque del Norte River (the main river that passes through Santiago), they were condomned to death when suddenly arrived this general. It’s at this moment that we realize that the group of Dominicans about to be killed in the worst manner by the Haitians, included many Dominicans of color. Once again, having African blood and in part descend from Africans was not enough motives for the Haitians to exclude them from the massacre about to occur.

TRANSLATION: “Moca’s church sacristan told me about the Haitian Henri Christophe meeting with the priest from Santiago. This was after the Haitian put him in the front of a group of Dominican men and women with their backs towards the Yaque River (this is the main river that passes through the city). All were given the fate of death and they were to be killed by the Haitian army with a sign from the Haitian military general. They were blamed by the Haitian military general for the origin of the resistence in which died many of his troops. He had a sword on hand while he continue to verbally insult the Dominicans with the most horrible bad words and unjustifiable blame. Everything changed when Campos Tavárez (by this time a general of the Haitian army) unexpectively arrives at the scene. He managed that the Dominicans of color were freed from the group destined to be killed and for the priest (that later met with Henri Christophe) to be arrested and jailed.”

The Sad Case of the Black Julián de Medina and His Family (The Moca Massacre was known by Two of His Granddaughters)

The black and mixed race Dominicans that suffered, that were tortured and killed in the most inhumaine manner by the Haitians were not a few. Here is the case of the black Julián de Medina and his wife. They were of the Santiago natives taken as prisoners by the Haitians and then forced to march to Cap Haitien (Dominicans then called it El Guarico) without shoes, with a strong tropical sun and without hats that would alleviate a little their heat. Dust everywhere, generalized hunger, unbereable biting of mosquitos, psychological tortures by the Haitian army and, as if this wasn’t enough, all the women and young girls were raped on the banks of the Esperanza River (close to the town of Mao).

Today, the Moca Massacre is known in detail because of two of his granddaughters, Maria and Nicolasa. They were the only survivors of the massacre that included all the women and their children in the Moca church and another 40 children that had been butchered to death and their remains were found in a room of the same church. These two girls were saved from the Moca Massacre by mere chance. They were in the church and when the Haitians started to kill them all, the lifeless and bloody body of their aunt fell on top of them. The blood coming out of their aunt’s body covered them and they pretended to be dead. Truly a horrific scene. To be in part descendants of Africans was of little importance to the invading Haitians.

TRANSLATION: “Julián de Medina, a notable Dominican black, his elderly wife and they were parents…”
TRANSLATION: “… of Felipa and her daughters Zeferina, Florentina, Gregoria; her sisters Maria and Nicolasa, all were killed. The last two actually were back in Santiago as the only survivors of the massacre the Haitians committed in nearby Moca. Through them it was known the cruel end of so many unfortunate Dominicans.”


A Dominican woman in a very patriotic bikini.

To conclude, what has been cited is a very small amount of the unfortunate events that Dominicans of all types had to live at the hands of the Haitians, but in particular those of black and mixed race Dominicans. In the same manner suffered other Dominicans for whom their horrible encounters were never recorded on paper; white, black and mixed race Dominicans all over the current Dominican Republic. These are our ancestors. They suffered the worst of the treatments. That the sufferings and injustices lived by the people from whom we descend as Dominicans should never be forgotten. Through the establishment and defense of our country, we are honoring the language, the traditions and the beliefs of these unfortunate people destroyed in their own land by an invading army. The greatest respect to their memory is respecting the existence of our country, our identity and the defense of our beloved Dominican Republic for as long that is necessary and through all the mediums possible

We finish citing this part found at the foot of Gaspar Arredondo Pichardo eyewitness account and was written by Eugenio Deschamps.

TRANSLATION: “Regarding the famous Moca Massacre, the following was written by Mr Eugenio Deschamps (1861 – 1919): ‘There are in the Dominican South the towns of San Juan [de la Maguana], Las Matas [de Farfán], Las Caobas; in the Dominican North [Cibao] the towns of Monteplata, Cotuí, San Francisco de Macorís, Moca, La Vega, Santiago de los Caballeros and Montecristi. All ancient towns conserving in their traditions the horrors commited by the Haitians.

Those incredible scenes can’t be explained in their entirety.

Imagine a people possesed by others who breathe vengeance, crime and pushes them. A people that by tradition, by independence, by love of its own Dominican people and culture, were hated by the invading Haitian army with an indestructible force.

The invading Haitian army was involved in the sinister steps that involved ransacks, killings and fires.

All the Dominican towns mentioned above were ransacked and burned by the Haitian army.

The most distinguished Dominicans and the multiple Dominican families were treated in the most cruel way.

Five priests were killed in Santiago de los Caballeros and, according to history, Dessalines himself set the fire that burned down this illustrous town.

Before, the Haitian invaders had committed the bloody Moca Massacre, of which no Dominican mention without horrors. The Moca inhabitants fled to the surrounding countryside as the Haitian army approached, but with false promises regarding their safety, the Haitians managed to convince many of them to return to town. The perfect scene to increase to spill of new Dominican blood? Of anywhere in town, the perfect place to put them was the church. There the Haitians make the innocent Dominicans go to give thanks to God for their change of heart. Then a signal from the Haitian general to his troops, the doors of the church were quickly closed and the Haitian troops commit the most horrible spectacle. The evilness didn’t stop when the innocent Dominican children also were killed with the bayonets of the Haitians. The evilness didn’t end with the priest either, who was killed and his blood stained the altar…”