Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
SAN DOMINGO. The republic of San Domingo (Republica Dominicana), founded in 1844, is governed under a constitution bearing date Nov. 18, 1844, reproclaimed, with changes, Nov. 14, 1865, after a revolution which expelled the troops of Spain, who held possession of the country for the two previous years. By the terms of the constitution, the legislative power of the republic is vested in a national congress of two houses, called the consejo conservador, and the tribunado, the first consisting of twelve, and the second of fifteen members. The members of both houses are chosen in indirect election, with restricted suffrage, for the term of four years. But the powers of the national congress only embrace the general affairs of the republic; and the individual states, five in number, have separate legislatures.
—The executive authority is vested in a president, chosen in indirect election for the term of four years. Constant insurrections have allowed very few presidents to serve the full term of office. The administrative affairs of the republic are in charge of a ministry appointed by the president, with the approval of the consejo conservador. The ministry is composed of the heads of the departments of the interior and police, finance, justice, war and marine, and foreign affairs.
—The financial estimates of the republic for the year 1882 set down the revenue as $1,500,000, or £300,000, with an expenditure to the same amount. The branches of expenditure were as follows:
The revenue for 1883 is estimated at $1,750,000, mainly derived from customs duties, which average 40 per cent., while a large part of the annual expenditure is for the maintenance of a standing army. Besides a large internal debt, of unknown amount, San Domingo has a foreign debt, contracted at the London stock exchange in 1869. The debt, to the nominal amount of £757,700 at 6 per cent., was issued at the price of 80; but it was stated officially that the government had actually received only between $190,000 and $250,000 from the contractors for the loan. ("Report of the Select Committee on Loans to Foreign States," 1875.) It is officially stated that the government is now (January, 1883) engaged in ascertaining the amount of the debt, and a commission has been appointed for the purpose.
—The area of San Domingo, which embraces the eastern portion of the island of Hayti (the western division forming the republic of Hayti), is estimated at 18,045 English square miles, with a population, in 1880, of 300,000 inhabitants, or sixteen to the square mile.
—The republic is divided into the five provinces, or states, mutually independent, of San Domingo, Azna de Compostela, Santa Cruz del Seybo, Santiago de los Caballeros, and Concepcion de la Vega, besides four maritime districts. The population, like that of the neighboring Hayti, is composed mainly of negroes and mulattoes, but the whites, or European-descended inhabitants, are comparatively numerous, and, owing to their influence, the Spanish language is the prevailing dialect. The capital of the republic is the city of San Domingo, founded in 1494, at the mouth of the river Ozama, with 10,000 inhabitants.
—The commerce of the republic is small, owing in part to customs duties of a prohibitory character. The principal articles of export are lignum vitæ, logwood, coffee and sugar. Cocoa is also cultivated. In 1881 the value of the imports amounted to £352,263, and of the exports to £338,215, the foreign commerce being shared by the ports of San Domingo and Puerta Plata. The commerce of the republic is mainly with the United States and Great Britain.
—The country is stated to be making rapid progress. A railway is being constructed between Samaná and Santiago, embracing the whole of the rich provinces in the northern portion of the republic, and another line will soon be made between Barahona and the salt mountain of "Cerro de Sal." Large sugar plantations and factories are stated to be now in full work in the southern and western parts of the republic, and a large factory for concrete owned by an English company.
—The bay of Samaná, on the northeast coast of San Domingo, one of the greatest natural harbors in the world, thirty miles long and ten miles broad, was ceded, with the surrounding country, to a company formed in the United States, by a treaty signed by the president of the republic, Jan. 10, 1873. Under another decree, passed March 25, 1874, the rights of the company were confiscated, on the ground of non-payment of a stipulated annual rent.
—BIBLIOGRAPHY. Samuel Hazard, Santo Domingo, Past and Present: with a glance at Haiti, London, 1873; W. Jordan, Geschichte der Insel Haiti, Leipzig, 1849; D. B. Randolph Keim, Santo Domingo: Pen Pictures and Leaves of Travel, Philadelphia, 1871; Antonio Monte y Tejada, Historia de Santo Domingo, desde su Descubrimiento hasta nuestros dias, Habana, 1853.
—In 1869 a movement took shape for the annexation of San Domingo to the United States. Much of the impelling force of the movement undoubtedly lay in the selfish interests of various American citizens in San Domingo, in their loans to the republic, their claims against it, and their unproductive grants from it; but a further incentive was the naval importance of the bay of Samaná, as a coaling station for United States vessels, and a commanding position for the Mona passage, the eastern avenue to the gulf of Mexico. In July, 1869, Gen. Babcock was sent to San Domingo by President Grant; and, on his favorable report, a treaty for the annexation of the republic was made, Nov. 29, 1869, with a convention for the lease of the bay and peninsula of Samaná to the United States. The treaty was ratified by popular vote in San Domingo; but in the United States it met instant opposition. A new article was added to the treaty, May 14, 1870, in order to remove some of the reasons for opposition, and President Grant, in a special message of May 31, urged the ratification of the whole treaty. He believed that it would maintain the Monroe doctrine, prevent the acquisition of Samaná by a European power, build up our lost merchant marine, abolish slavery at once in Cuba and Porto Rico, and ultimately in Brazil, support a population of 10,000,000 in luxury, and pay off the foreign debt of the United States. Nevertheless, the senate rejected the treaty, June 30.
—In his annual message of Dec. 5, 1870, President Grant proposed that congress should authorize a commission to negotiate an annexation treaty with San Domingo, and reiterated his former arguments in favor of the project. Congress went with the president far enough to pass a resolution, Jan. 12, 1871, authorizing the appointment of a commission to examine into the condition of San Domingo, but added the proviso "that nothing in these resolutions contained shall be held, understood or construed as committing congress to the policy of annexing the territory of the said republic of Dominica." The commissioners, B. F. Wade, Andrew D. White and S. G. Howe, visited San Domingo in January-March, 1871, and made an exhaustive and rather favorable report. They specially reported that they could find no trace of the corrupt grants of land to United States officials which had been declared by common report to be the real moving cause of the treaty. But the "San Domingo scheme," with its accompanying charges of fraud, corruption, bargain and jobbery, had by this time become highly unpopular, and the president, in a special message of April 5, 1871, abandoned the question to congress, appealing to the candor and intelligence of the people for a justification of his own action. No further action was taken in the matter. President Baez, of San Domingo, had been the most efficient agent of the proposed annexation; and his government was completely overthrown by a successful revolution, 1872-3.
—One of the most active opponents of annexation was Senator Charles Sumner (see his name). The controversy between him and the president became personal and angry, and in 1871 he was removed from his place of chairman of the senate committee on foreign relations, at the request of the president, by vote of the other republican senators. From that time he was in opposition to the administration until his death, in 1874.
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