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The French acquisition of Santo Domingo occurred in 1795 when France came to own the whole island when by the Treaty of Basel Spain ceded Santo Domingo as a consequence of the French Revolutionary Wars. At the time, slaves led by Toussaint Louverture in Saint-Domingue were in revolt against France. In 1801, Toussaint Louverture arrived in Santo Domingo, proclaiming the abolition of slavery on behalf of the French Republic and then captured Santo Domingo from the French and took control of the entire island. Shortly afterwards, Napoleon dispatched an army to subdue the island. Even after their defeat by the Haitians, a small French garrison remained in the former Spanish colony. Slavery was reestablished and many of the émigré Spanish colonists returned. In 1802 an army sent by Napoleon under the command of Charles Leclerc, captured Toussaint Louverture and sent him to France as prisoner. His successors and yellow fever succeeded in expelling the French again from Saint-Domingue. The nation declared independence as Haiti in 1804. France went on to recover Spanish Santo Domingo.

In 1805, after crowning himself Emperor, Jean-Jacques Dessalines invaded, reaching Santo Domingo before retreating in the face of a French naval squadron. In their retreat through the Cibao, the Haitians sacked the towns of Santiago de los Caballeros and Moca, slaughtering most of their residents and helping to lay the foundation for two centuries of animosity between the two countries.

The French held on in the eastern part of the island, until defeated by the Spanish inhabitants at the Battle of Palo Hincado on November 7, 1808 and the final capitulation after the siege of Santo Domingo, on July 11, 1809, with help from the English Royal Navy.

The first battle took place in Palo Hincado on November 7, 1808, when Gen. Juan Sánchez Ramírez, leading an army of local and Puerto Rican soldiers, attacked by surprise and a garrison of the French Army under the command of Governor Gen. Louis Ferrand, who later committed suicide. The news was heard by Gen. Dubarquier who garrisoned 2000 soldiers in Santo Domingo. The Spanish laid siege to the city on November 27, 1808, with the aid of 6 frigates from the Royal Navy, and troops under the command of General Hugh Lyle Carmichael. Santo Domingo was returned to Spanish control by 9 July 1809.




  • 1801-1802 Toussaint Louverture
  • 1802-1803 Antoine Nicolas Kerverseau
  • 1803-1808 Louis Marie Ferrand
  • 1808-1809 L. Dubarquier

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