Juan Pablo Duarte helped found Dominican Republic

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He had a vision for a liberal democratic government—as Frank Daniels III writes in this article for The Tennessean.

The chafe of colonial rule in the New World was not felt only in the American colonies.

Eight years after the peace treaty between Great Britain and its former colonies in America was signed, slaves in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, on the western side of the island of Hispaniola, revolted.

The Haitian Revolution was eventually successful, though with little help from the United States, as we were reluctant to support the island against our major ally, France.

The toll of the revolution in one of its most profitable colonies was partially responsible for France’s willingness to reach agreement with the U.S. on the sale of its territory in North America. The Louisiana Purchase freed French troops and provided needed money to support their efforts to suppress the revolution. However, it was too little, too late, and on Dec. 4, 1803, French troops surrendered.

The Haitian Revolution is the only known instance of a slave rebellion resulting in the establishment of an independent nation.

The Haitian Republic was formed on Jan. 1, 1804.

The eastern side of the island, the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo, which was founded by Christopher Columbus’ brother Bartholomew in 1496, had been ceded to France in 1795, and the French remained in control until ceding it back to the Spanish in 1808.

Santo Domingo declared independence in November 1821, but it was short-lived as the Haitians, under President Jean-Pierre Boyer, invaded in February 1822.

The Haitians abolished slavery, nationalized the plantations and most other private property, seized much of the church’s property and seized all of the Spanish crown’s property. Boyer also shut down the university in Santo Domingo and most other schools. He did promote rapid growth in the production of coffee, tobacco and sugar, but primarily to increase tax revenues flowing to his government.

The high taxes and restrictions of property ownership resulted in a series of ill-fated rebellions.

Gradually, even the former slaves began to rebel against Boyer, but it was not until 1838, when Juan Pablo Duarte and his friends formed the secret society La Trinitaria, that opposition to Haitian rule became effective. La Trinitaria formed more public societies, La Filantrópica and La Dramática, which spread the idea of rebellion through plays and public events.

Duarte was born on Jan. 26, 1813, in Santo Domingo. He was educated in Spain but returned to Santo Domingo soon after.

In 1843, Duarte led an insurrection against the Haitians that failed. He fled to Venezuela, but the rebellion continued. On Feb. 27, 1844, Santo Domingo declared independence, and Duarte returned to a hero’s welcome and election to a provisional government.

Duarte had a vision for a liberal democratic government, but the victorious leader of the rebellion, Pedro Santana, wanted a return to a colonial structure of ownership and governance.

Duarte was exiled to Caracas, Venezuela. Santana returned the country to Spanish colonial rule.

When Santana died in 1864, Duarte returned to Santo Domingo and helped his countrymen win the War of Restoration. The Dominican Republic was restored in 1865.

For the original report go to http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130126/OPINION04/301260050/Duarte-helped-found-Dominican-Republic

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