Dominican War of Independence
The Dominican Independence War gave the Dominican Republic independence from Haiti in 1844. Before the war, the whole island of Hispaniola had been under Haitian rule for 22 years when Haiti occupied the newly independent state of Haití Español in 1822.
Juan Pablo Duarte was young, educated, a genuine nationalist, and the man that helped lead and inspire the Dominican War of Independence of 1844. Duarte, along with Matías Ramón Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, founded a resistance movement in 1838 called La Trinitaria ("The Trinity"). It was so named because its original nine members had organized themselves into cells of three. The cells went on to recruit as separate organizations, maintaining strict secrecy, with little or no direct contact among themselves, in order to minimize the possibility of detection by the Haitian authorities. Many recruits quickly came to the group, but it was discovered and forced to change its name to La Filantrópica (literally "The Philanthropic", in Spanish), and continued agitating against the Haitians.
In 1843 the revolution made a breakthrough: they worked with a liberal Haitian party that overthrew President Jean Pierre Boyer. However, the Trinitarios' work in the overthrow gained the attention of Boyer's replacement, Charles Riviere-Hérard. Rivière-Hérard imprisoned some Trinitarios and forced Duarte to leave the island. While gone, Duarte searched for support in Colombia and Venezuela, but was unsuccessful. In December 1843, the rebels told Duarte to return since they had to act quickly because they were afraid the Haitians had learned of their insurrection plans. When Duarte had not returned by February (because of illness), the rebels decided to take action anyway with the leadership of Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, Ramón Matías Mella, and by Pedro Santana, a wealthy cattle-rancher from El Seibo who commanded a private army of peons who worked on his estates.
Fortaleza Ozama, Santo Domingo was seized by Dominican rebels on February 27, 1844.
On February 27, 1844, thereafter celebrated as Dominican Independence Day, the rebels seized the Ozama Fortress in the capital. The Haitian garrison, taken by surprise and apparently betrayed by at least one of its sentries, retired in disarray. Within two days, all Haitian officials had left Santo Domingo. Mella headed the provisional governing junta of the new Dominican Republic. On March 14, Duarte finally returned after recovering from his illness and was greeted in celebration.
For years, Santana's military forces continued to defend the Republic against all the Haitian attacks, defeating them in the battles of March 19, March 30, El Memiso, and at Puerto Tortuguero. In early July 1844, Duarte was urged by his followers to take the title of President of the Republic. Duarte agreed, but only if free elections were arranged. However, Santana's forces took Santo Domingo on July 12, 1844, and they declared Santana ruler of the Dominican Republic. Santana then put Mella, Duarte, and Sánchez in jail.
On November 6, 1844 a constituent assembly drafted a constitution, based on the Haitian and United States models, which established separation of powers and legislative checks on the executive. However, Santana included in it Article 210, which granted him unlimited power during the current war against Haiti. The war continued throughout September and November 1845 being the Haitians defeated at Estrelleta and Beler. Santana remained as President until 1848, when he lost the election, only to seize power by a coup d'état the year after, when the Haitian President Faustin Soulouque attacked and was defeated at El Número and at Las Carreras.
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