History Files
 

 

The Americas

Central American Colonial Settlements

 

 

 

Hispaniola / Kiskeya
AD 1492 - 1691

The name Hispaniola comes from the Spanish 'La Espanola' ('the Spanish island'). Hispaniola was home to the first permanent European settlements in the Americas. Cuba, lying to the west, while not technically a part of Hispaniola, was closely linked to it, and was used as a launch pad for the conquest of Mexico. While it formed the springboard for Spanish conquests on the American mainland, once those conquests had been made, interest in Hispaniola noticeably waned.

Today Hispaniola is an island within the Antilles, the most populous and the second-largest, with Puerto Rico lying to the east. Politically, the island is divided between Haiti (the western third of the island) and the Dominican Republic (in the east).

c.AD 600?

The seafaring Taino people, a division of the Arawak group of American natives, probably arrive on the island around this date, possibly displacing earlier inhabitants. They name the island Kiskeya or Quisqueya, 'mother of the earth', and survive through a mixture of hunting, fishing, and farming.

1490

On the eve of the arrival of the first Europeans, the Taino people have a settled society which is divided into five chiefdoms.

Taino native peoples
The Taino natives lived on Hispaniola, plus Cuba and Puerto Rica, for over nine hundred years before the coming of the Spanish colonists

1492

Christopher Columbus first lands in the Bahamas on 12 October in a three-ship expedition from Spain. He is initially credited with being the first European to reach the Americas, although he uses a route that sailors have been aware of for at least a generation. Later, the Icelandic Viking, Leif Ericson, is credited with the discovery in around 1003. (The undocumented voyage of Prince Madog of Gwynedd is placed at 1170, making him the second discoverer of the Americas.) By 5 December, Columbus arrives at western Hispaniola, where he founds the colony of La Navidad. Then he sails to eastern Cuba.

1492 - 1499

Christopher Columbus

First Spanish viceroy or governor of the Indies.

pre-1492 - 1500?

Chief Guacanagari

Taino chief in west (Haiti). Refused to support Taino revolts.

1493

On his second voyage, Christopher Columbus lands in eastern Hispaniola. La Navidad's inhabitants having been massacred and the settlement abandoned, he founds the first permanent Spanish colony of La Isabela. After initial friendliness from the Xaragua chiefdom, the Taino revolt against the newcomers, and these revolts are put down one by one:

pre-1496 - ?

Chief Behechio of Xaragua

Chief in south-west (Haiti).

pre-1496 - 1504

Chief Anacaona of Xaragua

Sister, equal, and successor. Executed in front of her people.

1499 - 1502

Francisco de Bobadilla

Spanish governor of the Indies. Killed at sea.

1500

Columbus is stripped of the titles and privileges he had been granted for his explorations, following accusations of tyrannical governorship, and is replaced as governor of the Indies. At the age of 53 he is chained and shipped back to Spain where he and his two brothers are cleared and restored. Columbus is never again allowed a command in the Indies, although he is allowed to sail again, skirting the coast of Nicaragua and claiming Panama for Spain in 1502.

fl c.1500

Chief Caonabo of Maguana

Husband of Anacaona. Chief in centre & south (Haiti).

Chief (or cacique) Caonabo is captured by the Spanish for an attack and is shipped off to Spain. Along the way the ship is wrecked and Caonabo is lost. Soon after, while a feast is underway in honour of Anacaona, the Spanish set fire to the meeting house. Anacaona and other Taino nobles are arrested and executed, with the queen being hanged in front of her people at the age of 29.

Chief Guama

Taino rebel chief. Possibly the same as in Cuba?

1502 - 1509

Nicolas de Ovando y Caceres

Spanish governor of the Indies.

1502 - 1503

In 1502 the new Spanish governor, Nicolas de Ovando y Caceres, arrives at Hispaniola on a fleet of thirty ships which carries 2,500 colonists. With him is conquistador Francisco Pizarro. The following year another conquistador, Hernan, or Hernando, Cortes, also arrives from Spain.

1504 - 1508

Following his arrival in the Americas in 1493 and a possible return to Spain, in 1504, Juan Ponce de Leon is made governor of part of eastern Hispaniola. Between 1506-1508, lured by reports of fertile land and rivers of gold, he explores Puerto Rico and is made its first governor by the Spanish crown.

1506

Cortes takes part in the Spanish conquest of Hispaniola and Cuba, receiving a large estate as his reward.

1509 - 1518

Diego Columbus

Son of Christopher. Spanish governor of the Indies (viceroy 1511).

fl c.1510

Chief Hatuey

Fled to Cuba to help fight the Spanish settlers there.

1510

Cortes supports Diego Velazquez de Cuellar, aide to the governor of Hispaniola, in completing the conquest of Cuba. Manoeuvring himself out of the viceroy's control, Diego Velazquez is made the first governor of Cuba.

1513

Vasco Nunez de Balboa (governor of Panama) and Francisco Pizarro (later governor of Peru) cross the Isthmus of Panama, leading the first European expedition to see the Pacific from the west coast of the New World. Once there, Balboa claims the Pacific Ocean and all the lands adjoining it for Spain.

1513 - 1514

An expedition to discover rumoured lands to the north under Juan Ponce de Leon gets underway on 4 March 1513. On 2 April land is sighted which is named Florida. Eventually Ponce de Leon makes landfall on the western coast, probably in the vicinity of Charlotte Harbour or Tampa Bay. After returning briefly to Puerto Rico and then Spain, Ponce de Leon is confirmed as governor of Florida.

1517 - 1521

Two expeditions are sent by Diego Velazquez into the Aztec empire in 1517. In 1519 Panama City is founded on the mainland and within two years the focus of Spanish attentions passes to the west and New Spain is born. By now the number of Taino natives on Hispaniola has been drastically cut to a little under six per cent of their original number due to the import of European disease and Spanish mistreatment. The labour shortage caused by this prompts the colonists to begin to import slaves from Africa.

1518 - 1524

Diego Velazquez de Cuellar

Former governor-general of Cuba.

1519 - 1533

Chief Enriquillo

Nephew of Anacaona and probably her successor.

1521 - 1535

Cuba experiences an exodus of settlers as they flood into New Spain's mainland territories. By 1535 a political reorganisation of the Indies places Cuba under the direct administration of New Spain, ending the governorship of the Indies. Cortes himself is the first governor of the conquered Aztec city of Tenochtitlan.

1522 - 1533

After being orphaned by the Spanish during the attack which had killed his father and which had led to the execution of his aunt, Anacaona, in about 1504, Taino chief Enriquillo is raised in a monastery. As a rebel chief, he fights the Spanish in the Baoruco Mountain Range and is moderately successful. The Taino there remain free for some time.

1606

The Spanish king orders the population to move towards the capital, Santo Domingo, in an attempt to avoid their interaction with the ever-increasing number of Caribbean pirates. In fact, this leaves much of the island empty for Dutch, English, and French pirates to establish new bases.

1627 - 1634

Diego de Acuna

Former captain general of Guatemala (1627-1634).

1665

King Louis XIV officially recognises French colonies on the island. From 1691, French governors control the colony of Saint-Dominigue which is ceded to France by Spain in 1697 under the terms of the Treaty of Ryswick.

French Saint-Dominigue
AD 1691 - 1803

Hispaniola had left the door open for non-Spanish colonists from 1606, when it withdrew its citizens from the countryside. In 1665, the French King Louis XIV officially recognised newly established French colonies on the island, and from 1691, French governors controlled the colony of Saint-Dominigue. It was officially ceded to France by Spain in 1697 under the terms of the Treaty of Ryswick, and this section of the island quickly became the richest and most prosperous, under the nickname, 'Pearl of the Antilles'. It also set the division of the island in stone, with those divisions remaining in place today as Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

1691 - 1700

Jean-Baptiste Ducasse

First French governor.

1697

As part of the Treaty of Ryswick, Spain formally cedes the western third of the island to France. The French rule it as Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti), and it prospers far more than the eastern section of the island which the Spanish retain under the name of Santo Domingo (modern Dominican Republic).

Jean-Baptiste Ducasse

Jean-Baptiste Ducasse, the first French governor of Saint-Domingue in 1691

1700 - 1703

Joseph d'Honon de Gallifet

Acting governor.

1703 - 1705

Charles Auger

1705 - 1707

Jean-Pierre de Charritte

Acting governor.

1707 - 1710

François Joseph

1710 - 1711

Jean-Pierre de Charritte

Second term of office.

1711

Laurent de Valernod

1711 - 1712

Nicolas de Gabaret

1712 - 1713

Paul François de La Grange

1713 - 1714

Louis de Courbon

1714 - 1717

Louis de Courbon

First French governor-general.

1717 - 1719

Charles Joubert de la Bastide

1719 - 1723

Léon, marquis de Sorel

1723 - 1731

Gaspard Charles de Goussé

1731 - 1732

Antoine Gabriel

1732

Étienne Cochard de Chastenoy

Acting governor.

1732 - 1737

Pierre, marquis de Fayet

1737

Étienne Cochard de Chastenoy

Second term of office as acting governor.

1737 - 1746

Charles de Brunier

1746 - 1748

Étienne Cochard de Chastenoy

Third term of office as acting governor.

1748 - 1751

Hubert de Brienne

1751 - 1753

Emmanuel Auguste de Cahideux du Bois

1753 - 1757

Joseph Hyacinthe de Rigaud

1757 - 1762

Philippe François Bart

1762 - 1763

Gabriel de Bory de Saint-Vincent

1763

Armand, vicomte de Belzunce

1763 - 1764

Pierre André de Gohin

Acting governor.

1764 - 1766

Charles Henri

1766 - 1769

Louis Armand Constantin de Rohan

1769 - 1772

Pierre Gédéon

1772

De la Ferronays

Acting governor.

1772 - 1775

Louis Florent

1775

Jean-François, comte de Reynaud

Acting governor.

1775 - 1776

Victor Thérèse Charpentier

1776 - 1777

Jean-Baptiste de Taste de Lilancour

Acting governor.

1777 - 1780

Robert, comte d'Argout

1780

Jean-Baptiste de Taste de Lilancour

Second term of office as acting governor.

1780 - 1781

Jean-François

Second term of office.

1781 - 1782

Jean-Baptiste de Taste de Lilancour

Third term of office as acting governor.

1782 - 1785

Guillaume de Bellecombe

1785 - 1786

Gui Pierre de Coustard

1786 - 1787

César Henri

1787 - 1788

Alexandre de Vincent de Mazade

1788 - 1789

Marie Charles

1789

Alexandre de Vincent de Mazade

Second term of office as acting governor.

1789 - 1790

Louis Antoine Thomassin

1790 - 1792

Philibert F Rouxel de Blanchelande

1792

Adrien Nicolas

1792

Jean Jacques P d'Esparbès de Lussan

1792 - 1793

Donatien M Joseph de Vimeur

1793

Léger Félicité Sonthonax

Commissioner.

1793

François Galbaud du Fort

1793 - 1796

Étienne Maynaud Bizefranc

1793

Britain occupies areas of the island as part of its war efforts against Revolutionary France. The commanders in charge of the island are shown here in red. However, they faced constant armed opposition from former slaves led by Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and Henri Christophe. By 1798, the British have been forced to withdraw and Toussaint Louverture is virtual master of the island.

1793 - 1795

John Whitelocke

1795 - 1796

Adam Williamson

1795

Spain is forced to cede the entire island to revolutionary France under the terms of the Treaty of Basel. By now, slaves under the command of Toussaint Louverture are in revolt against their French masters.

1796 - 1797

Gordon Forbes

1796 - 1797

Léger Félicité Sonthonax

Second term of office as commissioner.

1797

John Graves Simcoe

1797 - 1798

John Whyte

1798

Thomas Maitland

1797 - 1802

Toussaint-Louverture

1798

Gabriel M Théodore-Joseph Hédouville

Commissioner.

1801 - 1804

Toussaint Louverture captures Santo Domingo from the French and takes control of all of Hispaniola. An army is sent by Napoleon Bonaparte to regain the island, and Louverture is sent back a prisoner. His successors, aided by the ever-present threat of yellow fever, regain the west of the island in 1804. The French are expelled and the independence of Haiti is declared. The French manage to recover Santo Domingo in the east.

1802

Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc

1802 - 1803

Donatien Marie Joseph de Vimeur

Second term of office.

1803

Jean-Jacques Dessalines

Became first governor-general of Haiti.

1808 - 1810

Following the French invasion of Spain, the people of Santo Domingo revolt against French rule, and manage to restore Spanish control with help from Britain and Haiti.

1810 - 1822

Jose Nunez de Caceres

Governor of Spanish Santo Domingo.

1821 - 1822

Various plots to make Spanish Santo Domingo independent have already failed when on 30 November 1821 Jose Nunez de Caceres declares the colony to be independent as the state of Spanish Haiti (Haiti Espanol). Nine weeks later, Haitian forces invade and annexe the colony, bringing to an end over 300 years of mostly Spanish rule.

Modern Haiti
AD 1804 - Present Day

An extremely poor republic occupying the western third of the island of Hispaniola, the name 'Haiti' was originally used by the Taino natives who occupied the island before the arrival of Christopher Columbus (Ayti meaning 'mountain land' and referring to the entire island). It was they who put up the strongest resistance to Spanish conquest, and the name was revived by the Haitian revolutionary, Jean-Jacques Dessalines. French occupation of Haiti was finally thrown off in 1804 and Haiti was declared independent. The people of Haiti still revere Anacaona of Xaragua, one of the best-known Taino chiefs.

1804 - 1806

African-descended revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines is the successor to Toussaint Louverture (captured by the French). He declares the independence of French Saint-Domingue on 1 January and restores the country's original Taino name of Haiti. Dessalines is proclaimed governor for life by his troops, but after ruling as a despot he is assassinated on 17 October 1806. The country is divided into a kingdom in the north and a republic in the south, but is quickly reunited under the new president, Jean-Pierre Boyer.

1804

Jean-Jacques Dessalines

North: Governor-general, Jan-Sep.

1804 - 1806

Jacques I

North: Emperor

1806 - 1807

Henry Christophe

North: Provisional Chief of the Haitian Government

1807 - 1811

Henry Christophe

North: President

1811 - 1820

Henry I

North: King

1820

The northern Haitian state is extinguished with the death of King Henry, and is reabsorbed into the rest of Haiti.

1822

Haitian forces led by Jean-Pierre Boyer (second president of the republic) invade Santo Domingo in the east when it declares independence from Spanish rule. The state of Haiti now covers the entire island of Hispaniola.

1825

France sends a fleet to recapture the island, and the president is forced to buy Haiti's continued independence with a treaty and money by which means France recognises that independence. A long series of coups follows the end of Boyer's presidency.

1844

The Dominican Republic is formed to the east when two-thirds of the island revolt and gain independence from Haiti under a Dominican rebel movement called La Trinitaria. Frequent Haitian invasions in the 1840s and 1850s fail to re-conquer it.

1863 - 1865

Opponents to the return of Spanish rule in the Dominican Republic launch the Restoration War. Haiti, fearful of the return of the Spanish, gives aid to the revolutionaries.

1915 - 1934

The USA occupies Haiti in an attempt to stabilise it and impose a lasting government.

Palace of Justice in Haiti
The US occupation of Haiti in 1912 included taking the Palace of Justice

1937

President Trujillo of the Dominican Republic has his army massacre all Haitians living there, between 17,000-35,000 of them. As a result, Haiti is paid compensation.

1957 - 1986

Following the resignation of President Magliore, the Duvalier family rule the country as dictators under a series of provisional governments. The Duvaliers are overthrown by a popular uprising in 1986.

1957 - 1971

François Duvalier / Papa Doc

'President for life' from 1964.

1971 - 1986

Jean-Claude Duvalier / Baby Doc

Son.

1990 - 1994

Former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide wins the elections, taking power on 7 February 1991. A no-confidence vote sees him resign and fly off into exile while the country is left in chaos. In 1994, a US mission helps restore Aristide until 1995.

2000 - 2004

Aristide is re-elected in a vote which appears to be the result of massive fraud. He flies into exile for a second time in 2004. Two years later, after a period of interim authority, a new president is elected.

2008

Haiti, with nearly the same population figure as the Dominican Republic but half the land space, bears the unenviable reputation of being the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Modern Dominican Republic
AD 1844 - Present Day

The Dominican Republic has the very first permanently-settled European capital city in the Americas. It achieved independence from Haiti on 27 February 1844 and now occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola. Together with Haiti, the island forms part of the Greater Antilles chain, with Cuba and Jamaica to the west and Puerto Rico to the east. While independence brought initial optimism and a constitution modelled on that of the USA, peace wasn't long-lasting, and the country's people suffered under frequently tyrannical governments until very recently. Most of the state's population bears Taino ancestry in mixed form.

1861

The republic becomes the only ex-colonial country in South or Central America to voluntarily revert to being a colony. The country's leader, Pedro Santana, a wealthy cattle-rancher, signs a pact with Spain to hand the territory back.

1863 - 1865

Opponents to the return of Spanish rule launch the Restoration War, aided in part by Haiti. After two years of fighting, Spain abandons the island. During the war, in 1864, the last account of the existence of Taino natives is made when a Spanish soldier records them firing at him. Internal strife follows in the country, with rule by warlords and military revolts being common.

1869

Buenaventura Baez is a former rival and fellow revolutionary of Santana, and is co-ruler or president of the country in various periods between 1849 and 1878. In this year he makes one of many bids to join his country to another. With the support of the US president, he plans to have the republic annexed to the USA, but the bid is derailed by the American Senate, by just one vote.

1902 - 1906

Following a period of relative peace and even some prosperity over the previous twenty years, instability returns to the country with many short-lived governments taking control. In 1906, as part of action to keep the European powers out of the area, the USA enters into a fifty year treaty which transfers the country's customs administration. The proceeds from this help to pay off some of the country's massive debt.

1916 - 1924

The USA has already occupied Haiti in an attempt to stabilise it and impose a lasting government. It also threatens an equally unstable Santo Domingo. US Marines land on 19 May 1916 and within three months they secure effective control of the country. In November the USA proclaims a military government. Between 1917-1921 the marines have to fight a determined guerrilla action in the east of the country, led by Vicente Evangelista. Eventually the guerrillas yield. In 1921-1922, the Harding Plan effects a gradual withdrawal of US forces and a return to local control. The 1924 elections see Dominicans fully in control once again of a country that is stable and prosperous.

1930

Violence returns to the republic during new elections, and Rafael Trujillo's regime of tight control and profiteering takes over. There is still economic growth, however.

1930 - 1961

Rafael Trujillo

Dictator of one of the bloodiest regimes of the century.

1937

Trujillo has the army massacre all Haitians living in the republic, between 17,000-35,000 of them. As a result, Haiti is paid compensation.

Rafael Trujillo
Rafael Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic

1961 - 1966

After a career spent eliminating his political opponents and murdering border Haitians, Trujillo is assassinated on 30 May 1961. Two years later a democratically-elected government takes charge before being overthrown in a military coup. A revolt breaks out in 1965 and it takes a landing by US marines and occupation by them and other states from the Americas to bring about a free and fair election in 1966.

1978 - 2000

This period is one of generally improving civil rights and stable governments. Elections are generally fair (except in 1994 when national and international opinion forces a re-election in 1996).