1844: Celebrating the Dominican Republic's Independence

Pyerse Dandridge

The Dominican Republic sits on the island of Hispaniola.  While the Dominican Republic is its own sovereign state, it shares the island with Haiti, its neighbor to the west. The country has a very storied and colorful history, rich in culture and tradition.  Today, the island is famous as a tourist destination and vacation spot.


Pre-European Settlers

Before European settlers sailed for new lands, the Taino people moved into the island.  They came from what is now known as South America and were hunters and gatherers and farmed and fished.


When the Europeans first arrived on the island, the relationship between them and the Taino people was friendly.  But as the Europeans began to initiate control, the Taino resisted, and relations soured.  The new arrivals brought more than just their intentions to take over; smallpox and other diseases caused outbreaks killing a good portion of the population.


European Colonization

During his first voyage to the New World in 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived on the island and claimed it for Spain.  Further voyages resulted in the building of Santo Domingo as the first permanent settlement established by the new colonizers.


In those early days, gold was discovered on the island, and mining became a significant source of income for the Crown.  The island natives were forced to work in the mines in deplorable conditions and that, along with all the other diseases brought with the Europeans, wiped most of the population out.


French Rule

The French made their way to the island in the 17th century and settled onto the western side, which is now Haiti.  Spain eventually ceded its portion of the island to France but only for a few years before Spain takes back control.  What follows is an uprising against the Spanish resulting in the French once again stake their claim on the island.


Dominican Republic Independence

In 1838, three men came together and founded a secret resistance organization named La Trinitaria to fight for independence.  On February 27, 1844, La Trinitaria drove the Haitian army out of Santo Domingo and back over to the western side of the island.  Later that year, the Dominican Republic's first constitution was adopted, and the independent nation was formed.


For the next few years, the Haitians continued to threaten the nation's independence with several land and sea invasions.  Following independence, there was much unrest.  Economic difficulties, frequent government changes, and political disruption plagued the new nation for decades after declaring its independence.


Celebrating Independence

Today, the people of the Dominican Republic love to look back and celebrate their independence.  The entire month of February is a celebration culminating on February 27 with the largest festivities.  Such festivities include a parade with vibrant costumes from across the country based on traditions.  Each town dresses in the same color or style to represent their region.  It's a time of joy, celebration, culture, and tradition. 


The day is used to honor the three brave men that formed the La Trinitaria and paved the way for the country's independence.  For the sacrifices they made, the people of the Dominican Republic remember.  In addition to the colorful garb and festivities, the president also makes a speech to honor the men who fought and gained their beloved country's independence.


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