Military Wiki
United States occupation of the Dominican Republic
Part of the Banana Wars
American marines during the occupation.
Date1916 - 1924
LocationDominican Republic, Hispaniola
Result United States victory, Dominican Republic occupied.
 United States Dominican Republic Dominican Rebels
Commanders and leaders
Naval jack of the United States (1896–1908).svg William B. Caperton
Naval jack of the United States (1896–1908).svg Harry Shepard Knapp
Dominican Republic Desiderio Arias
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
Dominican Army

The United States occupation of the Dominican Republic occurred from 1916 to 1924. It was one of the many interventions in Latin America undertaken by American military forces. On May 13, 1916,[1] Rear Admiral William B. Caperton forced the Dominican Republic's Secretary of War Desiderio Arias, who had seized power from Juan Isidro Jimenes Pereyra, to leave Santo Domingo by threatening the city with naval bombardment.[1]


Three days after Arias left the country,[1] United States Marines landed and took control of the country within two months,[1] and in November the United States imposed a military government under Rear Admiral Harry Shepard Knapp.[1] The marines restored order throughout most of the republic, with the exception of the eastern region; the country's budget was balanced, its debt was diminished, and economic growth resumed; infrastructure projects produced new roads that linked all the country's regions for the first time in its history; a professional military organization, the Dominican Constabulary Guard, replaced the partisan forces that had waged a seemingly endless struggle for power.[2]

Most Dominicans, however, greatly resented the loss of their sovereignty to foreigners, few of whom spoke Spanish or displayed much real concern for the welfare of the republic. A guerrilla movement, known as the gavilleros,[1] leaders such as General Ramon Natera, enjoyed considerable support from the population in the eastern provinces of El Seibo and San Pedro de Macorís.[1] Having knowledge of the local terrain, they fought against the United States occupation from 1917 to 1921.[3] American naval forces maintained order during a period of chronic and threatened insurrection.[RL30172] [3] In 1921, the gavilleros were crushed due to scorched earth tactics, superior air power, firepower and counterinsurgency methods of the United States military.[1]


After World War I, public opinion in the United States began to run against the occupation.[1] Warren G. Harding, who succeeded Wilson in March 1921, had campaigned against the occupations of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.[1] In June 1921, United States representatives presented a withdrawal proposal, known as the Harding Plan, which called for Dominican ratification of all acts of the military government, approval of a loan of US$2.5 million for public works and other expenses, the acceptance of United States officers for the constabulary—now known as the National Guard (Guardia Nacional)—and the holding of elections under United States supervision. Popular reaction to the plan was overwhelmingly negative.[1] Moderate Dominican leaders, however, used the plan as the basis for further negotiations that resulted in an agreement between U.S. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes and Dominican Ambassador to the United States Francisco J. Peynado on June 30, 1922,[4] allowing for the selection of a provisional president to rule until elections could be organized.[1] Under the supervision of High Commissioner Sumner Welles, Juan Bautista Vicini Burgos assumed the provisional presidency on October 21, 1922.[1] In the presidential election of March 15, 1924, Horacio Vásquez Lajara, an American ally who cooperated with the United States government, handily defeated Peynado. Vásquez's Alliance Party (Partido Alianza) also won a comfortable majority in both houses of Congress.[1] With his inauguration on July 13, control of the republic returned to Dominican hands.[1]


Despite the withdrawal, there were still concerns regarding the collection and application of the country's custom revenues. To address this problem, representatives of the United States and the Dominican Republic governments met at a convention and signed a treaty, on December 27, 1924, which gave the United States control over the country's custom revenues.[5] In 1941, the treaty was officially repealed and control over the country's custom revenues was again returned to Dominican Republic government.[5] However this treaty created lasting resentment of the United States among the people of the Dominican Republic.[6]

The Dominican Campaign Medal was an authorized U.S. service medal for those military members who had participated in the conflict.


See also[]


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