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Peculiar interest attaches to the Dominican Republic for the reason that the territory upon which it stands was the first upon which Christian civilization was established this side of the Atlantic. The island of Santo Domingo, called by Columbus, as if by way of distinction, La Isla Española, "The Spanish Island,” discovered on December 6, 1492, thirty-nine days after Cuba and fifty-five after Guanahanee, or San Salvador, was from the beginning, and continued to be for a long time, the metropolis of the vast colonial empire founded by Spain in the New World, a noble and magnificent capital, which resisted for not less than four centuries the inevitable destruction to which all things human are doomed.
In addition to the fact that this island was, as might be said, historically, as well as legally, the foundation upon which that ponderous empire was built, there is another fact which attracts to it most intensely the attention of the student and arouses his sympathies. The history of Santo Domingo will bring him face to face with interesting problems of the philosophy of history, causing him to meditate with more than usual reverence over the ways of Providence, should he endeavor to inquire, in the proper spirit, into the trials and calamities to which the Dominican people have been so long subjected.
During the whole of the sixteenth century and for a considerable part of the seventeenth Spain retained without opposition the undivided control of the island; but in 1630 French adventurers and pirates, afterwards called “buccaneers,” who escaped the persecution of the Spanish fleet commanded by Don FEDERICO ALVAREZ DE TOLEDO, which in those days policed with marked success the waters of the Caribbean Sea, took refuge in the island of Tortuga, where they settled, and from where not long afterwards they sent expeditions, more or less predatory, and more or less irresistible under the circumstances of the times and localities, against the neighboring coast of Santo Domingo.
This Tortuga settlement, and the other settlements, most of them very small, which were established on the above-mentioned coast, became the nucleus of a French colony, which grew little by little in
importance, until attracting the attention of the Governor-General of the French Antilles, who put it under the immediate control of one of his officers, whom he appointed its Governor. This was in 1641.
A period of constant clash between the French invaders and the Spanish settlers of the island was then inaugurated. But in the summer of 1680, under an arrangement entered into between the Spanish Governor of the island (Don FRANCISCO DE SEGURA) and the French Governor of Tortuga (Captain LEVASSEUR), the Rebouc River became the dividing line between the two territories, and peace was established among the inhabitants of the bordering localities. The learned Dominican historian Don José GABRIEL GARCÍA remarks, with reason, that this instrument,a the first one of official character on the subject, implied the acknowledgment of the French sovereignty over the territory on the west side of the dividing line.
Later on, under the new situation created in the world in 1697 by the “ Peace of Riswick,” this French title to the western part of the island became perfect, by virtue of the formal cession of that territory made then by treaty in favor of the King of France by the King of Spain.
Ninety years thereafter, another treaty concluded at Basle on July 22, 1795, between Spain and the French Republic, made the whole island French, and through it Spain ceded to France “the whole of the Spanish part of the island of Santo Domingo in the Antilles.” But the situation thus created was almost ephemeral, because in 1809, when Spain rose in arms against France and allied herself with Great Britain, a combined force of British and Spaniards besieged and captured (July 11) the city of Santo Domingo, and the Spanish rule was reestablished in the ceded territory.
Later, on December 1, 1821, the inhabitants of that territory proclaimed their independence of Spain, and established a provisional Government, republican in form, under a temporary constitution, to which they gave the name of Acta constitutiva del Gobierno provisional del Estado (an Act for the establishment of a State provisional constitutional government), article 4 of which provided that the new State should be annexed to Colombia and become a State of the Union created under this name by Simon BOLIVAR.
As this movement did not meet with favor in the neighboring Republic of Haiti, where the President proclaimed that the existence in the island of two different Governments endangered the preservation of the liberty of both, a period of open hostility was at once inaugurated, which ended in the Haitian occupation of the whole island on February 9, 1822.
Twenty-two years thereafter (February 27, 1844) the people of the eastern part of the island asserted again their independence and established the Dominican Republic. A constitutional convention (Soberano Congreso Constituyente) met at San Cristobal on September 21 of the same year, and framed a Constitution, which was promulgated on November 6,1814. From that date to the present time the two political divisions of the island have been maintained.
Subsequent to the promulgation of the Constitution of November 6, 1844, and during the period intervening between this date and March 18, 1861, at which time the Dominican Republic ceased to exist and became again a Spanish colony, three different Constitutions were promulgated, namely:
a Compendio de la Historia de Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo, 1896, vol. 1, p. 173
1. The Constitution of February 27, 1854. 2. The Constitution of December 23, 1854. 3. The Constitution of February 19, 1858.
The period of Spanish rule lasted from March 18, 1861, to May 1, 1865, when the Queen of Spain approved the law passed by the Spanish Cortes, by which all former laws authorizing the reincorporation of the territory of the Dominican Republic to the Spanish Monarchy were repealed. But this “abandonment” of Santo Domingo was not made until two years after the Dominican people had started at Capotillo (August 16, 1863) the revolution which ended in the restoration of the Republic. Hence the Dominicans celebrate the day of their “independence” (February 27, 1844) and the day of the “restoration" (August 16, 1863).
The Constitution now in force was promulgated on June 20, 1896.
(Promulgated June 20, 1896.)
El Congreso Nacional, en nom- The National Congress, in the bre de la República, bajo la invo- name of the Republic, after incación del Supremo Autor y Le- voking the assistance of the Sugislador del Universo, declara en preme Author and Legislator of su fuerza y vigor la actual Consti- the Universe, declares the present tución Política de la República Political Constitution of the DoDominicana, revisada en la Legis- minican Republic, revised by the latura de 1896.
Legislature of 1896, to be in full force.
ARTÍCULO 1. La Nación domini- ARTICLE 1. The Dominican Nacana es la reunión de todos los do- tion is the reunion of all Dominiminicanos asociados bajo un mismo cans associated under one and the pacto político.
same political compact. ART. 2. Su Gobierno es esen- ART. 2. The Dominican Governcialmente civil, republicano, demo- ment is essentially civil, republicrático, representativo, alterna- can, democratic, representative, tivo y responsable; y para su alternative, and responsible. Its ejercicio se divide en Poder Legis- administration shall be divided lativo, Ejecutivo y Judicial. Es- into three powers, namely, legistos poderes son independientes, y lative, executive, and judicial. sus encargados no pueden salir de These powers are independent los límites que les fija la Constitu- of each other, and the employees ción.
thereof can not go beyond the limits established by the Constition.
ART. 3. El territorio de la Re- ART. 3. The territory of the pública es y será inajenable. Sus Republic is and shall be inalienlímites, que comprenden todo lo able. Its limits, comprising all que antes se denominaba Parte es. that anciently constituted the pañola de la isla de Santo Domingo Spanish part of the island of Santo y sus islas adyacentes, son, por Domingo and the islands adjacent tanto, los mismos que en virtud thereto, are, therefore, the same del Tratado de Aranjuez de 1777, which under the provisions of the la dividían en 1793 de la Parte Treaty of Aranjuez of 1777 sepafrancesa, por el lado de occidente; rated it in 1793 from the French y no podrán sufrir otras modifica- part on the western side, and they ciones sino las autorizadas por el can not be changed, except as plebiscito del 1° y 2 de junio de agreed upon by the plebiscite of the 1895 y que se deriven de la Con- first and second of June, eighteen vención de Arbitraje Domínico- hundred and ninety-five, or as may Haitiano del 3 de julio de 1895. be hereafter determined by the
arbitration under the DominicanHaitian Convention of Arbitration of July third, eighteen hundred
and ninety-five. ART. 4. Para su mejor adminis- ART. 4. For the better administración, el territorio de la Repú- tration of the Government of the blica Dominicana se divide en Pro- Dominican Republic, its territory vincias y Distritos.
shall be divided into Provinces and
Districts. Las primeras son: Santo Do- The Provinces are: Santo Domingo, Azua, Seybo, Santiago, La mingo, Azua, Seybo, Santiago, La Vega y Espaillat.
Vega, and Espaillat. Los Distritos son: Puerto Plata, The Districts are: Puerto Plata, Samaná, Monte Cristy, Barahona, Samaná, Monte Cristi, Barahona, San Pedro de Macorís y Pacifica- San Pedro de Macorís, and Pacifidor.
cador. Podrán erigirse nuevas Provin- New Provinces and Districts cias y Distritos.
may be created. ART. 5. Una ley determinará ART. 5. The limits of the Provlos límites de las Provincias y Dis- inces and Districts, and the divitritos, así como también su divi- sion of the latter into communes sión en Comunes y Cantones. and cantons shall be determined
by law. ART. 6. La ciudad de Santo Do- ART. 6. The city of Santo Domingo es la Capital de la Repú- mingo is the capital of the Repubblica y el asiento del Gobierno. lic and the seat of Government.
DE LOS DOMINICANOS.
ART. 7. Son dominicanos:
ART. 7. Dominicans are: 1o. Todas las personas que hayan 1. All persons born, or who nacido ó nacieren en el territorio should hereafter be born, within de la República, cualquiera que the territory of the Republic, irsea la nacionalidad de sus padres. respective of the nationality of
their parents. 2o. Los hijos de padres ó madres 2. All persons born abroad of dominicanos que hayan nacido en Dominican fathers or mothers, if otro territorio, si vinieren al país they come to the country and y se domiciliaren en él.
acquire a domicile in the same. 3o. Todos los hijos de las Re- 3. All persons born in any of the públicas Hispano-americanas, y Spanish-American Republics, or sos de las vecinas Antillas españo- the neighboring Spanish West In