Dominican Republic Independence Days – Uncommon History
There are many singularly unique and interesting facts to know about the Dominican Republic. Not the least of these is the summit of Pico Duarte, the tallest peak in the Caribbean, pictured here. Also pictured, the DomRep flag is also one-of-a-kind. Did you know that it’s the only national flag in the world featuring an image of The Bible? La Bandera Nacional also doubles as a very hearty meal in the Dominican Republic…sort of… (More on that another day.) As a history buff, though, my favorite DomRep fact surrounds the two formative periods ahead of it becoming a sovereign nation. Periods marked by the two Dominican Republic Independence Days.
That’s right, the DomRep is one of a select group of countries that fought for and won its independence twice!
The first of the two Dominican Republic Independence Days saw Dominicanos depose the Spanish back in 1821. That first taste of independence, though, didn’t last long.
Hispaniola was obviously a very turbulent place in the early 1800s. The landmark revolution successfully carried out by formerly enslaved Africans in Haiti ended French control over the western third of the island in 1804. In the course of building the world’s first free and fully independent black nation, new Afro-Caribbean leaders in Haiti also supported/spurred independence movements elsewhere in the region. This occurred most notably in the Dominican Republic, then known as Santo Domingo.
In February 1822, 50,000 Haitian troops invaded their neighbor to the east under the leadership of Jean-Pierre Boyer. They faced very little resistance, though. The DomRep population was small, and there was support in some political and military corners for the Haitian takeover.
To be sure, though, Hispaniola’s unification period was not all wine and roses. Haiti’s onerous debts to France were agreed upon and started to become due at this time. The crippling financial position they and other failed policies had on the Haitian economy contributed to progressively weaken Boyer’s power.
In the end, though, the Haitian President did keep all of Hispaniola united for 21 years. His flight from office to Jamaica in 1843, and eventual exile in France, of all places, set in motion the two-state Hispaniola we know today.
Dominicanos won the second of the two Dominican Republic Independence Days on February 27, 1844. That’s the one the country still celebrates today.
*Photo credit: Patrick Bennett