Get to know the main figures of the Dominican Restoration

This Monday, August 16, marks the 158th anniversary of an uprising known as the Grito de Capotillo in the Dominican Republic, from which the War of Restoration began.

This war between the Dominicans and the Spanish Colony lasted from 1863 to 1865 and happened because Spain recolonized the Dominican territory only 17 years after liberating the battle against Haiti and leaving the yoke that they kept for 22 years until they conquered their independence in February 1844.

Dominican nationalists did not like to be governed again by a foreign country, so they led a movement to regain their sovereignty. In this work you will learn who were the main figures of the Restoration.

Different popular sectors mobilized behind the leadership of several courageous Dominicans such as Santiago Rodríguez, José Antonio Salcedo, Gaspar Polanco and Gregorio Luperón.

Others such as Ulises Francisco Espaillat, Benigno Filomeno de Rojas, Benito Monción, Federico de Jesús García, José María Cabral, Lucas Evangelista de Peña, Máximo Grullón, Pedro Antonio Pimentel, Pedro Francisco Bonó and Ricardo Curiel also stood out in their struggle. Following are some summaries of their biographies.

Santiago Rodríguez (1809-1879)
Santiago Rodríguez Masagó was a landowner and prominent Dominican military officer born in 1810 in Fort Liberté. There is not much information about him, but we do know of his participation in the War of the Restoration.

He grew up with nationalist ideals, despite the fact that his mother was of Haitian origin and that during his adult life the independence of this nation took place. He held important positions such as constitutional mayor of Sabaneta, during the Spanish annexation, despite not agreeing with what was happening.

It was Santiago who chose the right moment to initiate the struggle and led the first revolt in 1863, which, although unsuccessful, served to carry out the liberation process. Despite initiating the restoration struggle, he was unable to continue it until the end, as he died in 1879.

José Antonio Salcedo (1816-1864)
José Antonio was a politician and military man born in Madrid, Spain in 1816 who occupied the presidency during the war period that succeeded in restoring the Republic to the Dominican island after its annexation to Spain.

Despite being born in Spain, he later resided in Cuba and during his adolescence the family had to move to Puerto Plata, so he lived in the Dominican Republic since he was young. He actively participated against the invading army in 1844 during the war of independence against the Haitian occupation, which earned him the rank of commander.

He was imprisoned after the revolution of 1857 when the popular movement removed Buenaventura Báez from power. He was also judicially persecuted and imprisoned during the annexation period. With the outbreak of the Restoration War, he joined Antonio Polanco’s troops marching towards Guayubín and Santiago.

After being deposed from his position as president, due to alleged weakness in the face of the enemy, he was accused of unpatriotism and ordered to be exiled. Since it was not possible to banish him to Haiti, he had to wait for a judicial process that never arrived. The presidency signed a secret firing squad order that was executed on November 5, 1864.

Gaspar Polanco (1816-1867)
Gaspar Polanco was born in Corral Viejo, in Gauyubín, and never attended school, so he could neither read nor write. He participated in the Dominican independence process, standing out in the battles of Jacuna, Sabana Larga and Talanquera, achieving the rank of cavalry colonel.

During the annexation in 1961, Polanco supported it, but when the restoration broke out, he joined the people to fight the Spaniards. In this war he distinguished himself as one of the main figures, so much so that he led the battle in Puerto Plata and defeated the colonists.

He signed the Act of Independence of September 1863 and occupied the Presidency of the Republic on October 10, 1864, but was overthrown on January 24 of the following year. He is a vilified figure in history, as he was accused of having shot General Pepillo Salcedo in 1864.

Gaspar Polanco y Borbón died in the city of La Vega on November 28, 1867. His remains are in the National Pantheon, where they were taken in 1974.

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