The Dominican Republic has a long and storied history. Juan Pablo Duarte is one of the country’s heroes, and he is considered one of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic was founded on February 27, 1844.
The Dominican Republic’s history predates Christopher Columbus by nearly 5,000 years. The entire island, which is now divided between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, was once populated by the Taíno Indians. In 1492, Columbus claimed the entire island of Hispaniola for Spain. By 1697, part of the island, the colony of Saint Domingue, was ceded to the French. The French colonists proceeded to transform the colony into one of the richest colonies in the world, thanks to its large sugar cane plantations worked by African and Caribbean slaves.
France continued to rule the island from Europe without commotion and with profits from the sugar. However, a slave revolt in 1791 led by a black Frenchman named Toussaint L’Ouverture strengthened local control of the island. Back in Europe, the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte was displeased with the fact that a black man was in control of France's richest colony. Bonaparte sent his brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc, to conquer the island, but he failed miserably. With this failed attempt, the local army declared its independence from France and established the Republic of Haiti on the western third of the island. The French retained control of the eastern part of the island. Then, in 1809, France returned the land to Spain, which, in turn, reestablished slavery on the island and began slave raids into independent Haiti.
In order to stop the slave raids into their independent country, Haitian troops entered the eastern side of the island and occupied the Spanish area for twenty-two years. The local Spaniards resented the occupation. In 1830, the underground resistance group La Trinitaria was organized by Juan Pablo Duarte to help undermine Haitian control. In 1843, a revolution against the Haitians failed, and Duarte and his fellow dissidents were forced into exile. It is believed that during this time Duarte wrote the Dominican Republic’s constitution. The following year, another revolution was successfully staged. Duarte then returned to the newly formed Dominican Republic to help establish the new government.
Duarte was nominated to run for the presidency but lost and was forced out of the country by the victor. He only returned once more during the Dominican Restoration War against Spain in 1864. He participated in the war, which ended with the reestablishment of the Dominican Republic. After the war, Duarte was sent once again into exile and died in Venezuela at the age of 63.
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