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Santo Domingo by Otto Schoenrich

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being taken up with sandbanks, gravel beds, marshy tracts and stagnant
bayous; and so frequently and erratically does the river change its
channels, and to such sudden rises is it subject, that the local
authorities are obliged to keep guides stationed on its banks almost
continuously, in order to direct travelers across.

The rapids and cascades of Dominican streams are pregnant with
possibilities, but up to the present time they have remained in their
pristine condition, nor is their energy utilized to drive a single
piece of machinery. The largest and most beautiful waterfall of the
island is doubtless that of the Jimenoa River, in the mountains some
ten miles south of the city of La Vega, where the Jimenoa rushes over
a precipice one hundred feet in height, producing clouds of spray and
a roar that can sometimes be perceived as far as Jarabacoa, six miles
away. Another beautiful fall is that of the Dajabon River, on the
Haitian frontier, 30 feet in height, and there are notable cascades
also on the Comate River, near Bayaguana, on the great plains; on the
Nigua and Higuero Rivers, not many miles from Santo Domingo City; on
the Inova River, near the town of San José de las Matas; and on the
Guaranas River, on the Haitian frontier in the commune of Neiba.

The only lakes of any size are two which lie in the Neiba Valley, the
larger one, Lake Enriquillo, being comprised entirely within Dominican
territory, while of the smaller one, variously called Etang Saumatre,
or Lake Azuei, or Laguna del Fondo, through which the frontier line
passes, less than one-fourth is under Dominican jurisdiction. They are
both very picturesque, and with the greenish color of their water and
their arid mountain surroundings recall portions of Lake Titicaca in
Bolivia. In stormy weather they become as rough as the ocean. Lake
Enriquillo derives its name from the last Indian cacique of the
Island, the romantic chieftain Enriquillo, who after fiercely
resisting the Spaniards finally in 1533 concluded an honorable peace
with them on the island of Cabras in the center of this lake. The lake
is over 70 miles in circumference, having a length of about 33 miles
and a width ranging from 3 to 9 miles, Cabras Island, 6 miles long by
one in width, is the home of herds of goats. Lake Azuei is but 15
miles in length with a width of from 2 to 7 miles.

Though the two lakes are scarcely five miles apart, Lake Enriquillo is
102 feet below and Lake Azuei 56 feet above sea-level. Both lakes
receive the waters of several small fresh water creeks, yet they
apparently have no outlet and their water is salt, that of Lake Azuei
only slightly, but that of Lake Enriquillo more so than the sea. On
Cabras Island, however, there is a fresh water spring, and three
lagoons to the east and south of Lake Enriquillo also contain fresh
water. Lake Azuei often shows the paradox of going down during the
rainy season and rising during the dry season; the phenomenon is
attributed to the presence of springs at the bottom of the lake, which
are unusually copious at the end of the rainy season. Both lakes have
at least one variety of ocean fish, though the nearest point of the
seacoast is some twenty miles distant; turtles abound in both and
there are many alligators in Lake Enriquillo and a few in Lake Azuei.

The climate of Santo Domingo is that of the torrid zone and is
characterized by heat and humidity. Yet the heat rarely becomes as
intense as it sometimes does in the United States in summer and the
nights are always cool and pleasant. The mean annual temperature of
Santo Domingo City is between 77° and 78° Fahrenheit, and the
variation between the mean temperature of the hottest and coolest
month is hardly more than 6°. The highest temperature recorded in
Santo Domingo City in a period of seven years was 95°. The average
highest temperature in July and August is between 91° and 92°. In the
mountainous regions of the interior there is a noticeable difference
in temperature; it is necessary to sleep under a blanket every night
of the year and the temperature sometimes falls below the freezing
point. The pleasantest months of the year are from December
to February.

The heat of the climate is tempered and rendered bearable by cooling
breezes which are seldom absent. During the day the prevailing breeze
is from the east, but shortly after sunset a breeze sets in from the
interior, blowing out to the ocean, and continues until after sunrise.

The heavy rains also tend to cool the atmosphere. The island is so cut
up by mountain ranges running in different directions that there is no
regular rainy season for the whole country. In the south, the west and
the interior, the rainy season is generally reckoned as lasting from
April to November, while in the eastern section the rainy season is
from May to December. These seasons are not absolute, for at times
there are heavy rains during what should be the dry season, while
occasionally there are many days of drouth during the wet months. The
rains are rarely long-continued drizzles, but instead for several
hours the floodgates of heaven are opened wide, after which the sky
clears and remains serene until the following day. The amount of
rainfall varies in different parts of the country, being lightest in
the arid districts of Monte Cristi, Azua and Barahona.

The United States Weather Bureau maintained a station at Santo Domingo
City for a number of years and from the observations made the
following data are compiled:


Highest Lowest Mean Average
Mean temperature temperature relative Average number
temperature recorded recorded humidity rainfall of days
°F °F °F per cl. inches with rain

January 74 86 61 85 2.01 11
February 74 88 60 82 .96 8
March 75 87 59 79 2.15 9
April 76 91 59 80 6.86 14
May 78 88 67 83 6.29 13
June 78 90 67 86 7.42 18
July 79 92 67 86 8.34 18
August 80 95 68 84 6.77 17
September 79 93 69 85 7.63 16
October 79 92 67 86 9.63 15
November 78 91 64 85 2.76 11
December 76 89 61 87 2.09 11
Annual 77 95 59 84 62.91 161

Santo Domingo has at intervals felt the violence of the destructive
hurricanes which occasionally ravage the West Indies. They often
combine the features of a tornado and a cloudburst, and while the
furious whirlwind wrecks houses, uproots trees and strips forests bare
of leaves, the accompanying severe rains swell the streams to abnormal
height and cause extensive inundations. The hurricane season is
reckoned as beginning in July and ending in October and when during
this period a sudden fall of the barometer announces the proximity of
unusual atmospheric disturbances all shipping keeps to the harbors and
the dwellers on shore take measures to guard against the devastating
rage of the wind.

The first West Indian hurricane of which we have any record was that
of 1502 which destroyed the first city of Santo Domingo and sank a
Spanish fleet. More recent storms felt in Santo Domingo were those of
1834, 1865, 1876 and 1883. That of September 6, 1883, desolated the
southwestern provinces of the Republic, and the rise of the Ozama
River swept away the bridge connecting the capital with the opposite
shore. The hurricane of 1899 which laid waste the nearby island of
Porto Rico was scarcely felt in Santo Domingo. The latest unusually
heavy storm was that which swept over the Republic during the first
week of November, 1909, and caused much damage, especially in the
Cibao. A sudden storm in the afternoon of August 29, 1916, accompanied
by a kind of tidal wave, surprised the American 14,500 ton armored
cruiser "Memphis" at anchor in the roadstead of Santo Domingo City and
wrecked it against the rocky shore.

With regard to health conditions, the Dominican Republic has been
maligned because of the fevers that decimated the English and French
armies in the Haitian wars of a century ago. It must be remembered,
however, that the French part of the island being shut out from the
eastern breezes by high mountain ranges is hotter than the Spanish
part, and that the European troops, improperly clad and fed, underwent
great hardships and were ignorant of sanitary precautions. Among
travelers it is the concensus of opinion that climatic conditions in
the Dominican Republic are as favorable as in any other tropical
country. Far from presenting dangers to health there are few districts
in the Republic which with proper hotel accommodations would not
offer delightful refuge to invalids seeking to escape the rigors of
the northern winter. The salubrity of the climate is reflected in the
sturdy character of the peasantry, and exemplified by numerous cases
of unusual longevity. In the towns the death-rate is somewhat higher
than in the country regions; but the very fact that in spite of
uncleaned streets, reeking garbage heaps, and defiance of sanitary
precepts by the majority of the inhabitants, there has been so
comparatively little sickness, bears strong witness to the
healthfulness of the country. By a law of 1912 boards of health were
established, and under American impulse more attention is now being
given to sanitation.

As no census of the Republic has ever been taken and data relative to
births and deaths have not been collected regularly, it is not
possible to compile statistics as to the death rate in the various
provinces. The data so far available seem to indicate that the
healthiest province is Puerto Plata, followed by Santiago, Azua and
Monte Cristi, after which come Santo Domingo, La Vega, Espaillat,
Pacificador, Samana and Barahona. The mortality rate is highest in the
province of Macoris where the annual number of deaths is reported to
average about thirty per thousand.

The most frequent endemic diseases are malaria which is to be feared
near marshes and stagnant waters, pulmonary consumption, which,
however, is not more common than in the United States, and diseases of
the digestive organs. Yellow fever is unknown and the sporadic cases
which have occurred were due to the importation of the disease from
other countries. The only epidemic in recent years occurred in Puerto
Plata in 1901 when ten deaths were recorded.

The hookworm disease is very prevalent, but its ravages are not so
apparent as in certain other tropical countries. Venereal diseases are
exceedingly common. Evidences of the presence of leprosy and
elephantiasis are occasionally seen. The measures taken for the
segregation of lepers are far from thorough; the lepers' asylum of
Santo Domingo City is situated inside the city walls and is surrounded
by habitations of the poor. Cases of typhoid fever are sometimes
registered during the hot spell, from July to October, but the victims
are usually foreigners who have been careless of climatic
requirements. The foreigner who will observe temperance and prudence
in all things, who will be careful of what he eats and drinks, who
will avoid exposure to rain showers, or to drafts when in
perspiration, will easily become acclimated. Realizing that many
tropical disorders originate in a foul stomach, the natives upon the
slightest provocation have recourse to a purgative, and the custom is
one which the stranger should not hesitate to adopt.



Rock formation.--Mineral
stone.--Petroleum.--Mineral springs.--Earthquakes.

The geological formation and the mineral wealth of the Dominican
Republic have never been thoroughly studied, in part because of the
physical difficulties and in part as a result of the civil
dissensions. The government has never had money to spare for such
objects, and private investigators have suffered much hardship and
lost many days in opening paths through tangled underbrush, and in
crossing rugged mountain ranges in uninhabited regions. The physical
obstacles and the necessarily superficial examination consequent
thereon may explain the contradictions of detail in different reports.
About the middle of the nineteenth century several studies were
published, and three scientists who accompanied the American
Commission of Inquiry in the year 1871 made a report on geological

From such studies as have been published it appears that the rock
formations of Santo Domingo correspond to the secondary, the lower and
middle tertiary and the quaternary epoch. The most ancient part of the
island is the central mountain range, also a series of protuberances
in the Samana peninsula, the nucleus of the Baboruco mountains and a
single point in the northern coast range near Puerto Plata. The
tertiary lands are those forming the entire northern part of the
island from the central range to the sea, portions of the Samana
peninsula between the older rocks, a large area to the southwest of
the Zamba hills, smaller tracts between the Jaina and Nizao rivers,
and the region between the salt lakes on the Haitian frontier and
between Barahona and Neiba. The modern lands are the coast plains and
the small terraces on the south of the central range and on the south
of the Baboruco mountains, the Maguana, Azua and Neiba valleys, small
areas on the north coast at the foot of the mountains, and the marshes
and Yuna River delta at the head of Samana Bay.

In the central mountain range is found a nucleus of eruptive rocks
which have raised and twisted sedimentary strata, covering them and
forcing them aside. This nucleus is not a regular feature of the whole
length of the chain, but is an irregular mass beginning about at the
middle, in the region of the Jaina River, and extending in a series of
parallel lines obliquely across the backbone of the range to the
border of the Republic and on into Haiti. Among these rocks and bent
and broken by them are the slates, conglomerates and calcareous rocks
which are found in the mountains and over the whole surface of the
island. The character of the central range and the inclination of the
strata of cretaceous rocks make it probable that the island emerged
from the sea in the eocene period, its area being then confined to the
extent of the central mountain chain, with a few small islands to the
south, one or more islets to the northeast, comprising the older peaks
of the Samana range, and a small archipelago to the southeast, where
the hills of Seibo now are. During the miocene period these islands
became surrounded with coral reefs, the vestiges of which remain in
strips of calcareous rock found in the same position in which they
were deposited. Towards the end of the tertiary period, after a time
of quiet, there was a new rise of the land. While the hills to the
south of Samana Bay and the bed of the Cibao Valley from Samana Bay to
Monte Cristi rose slowly, there was an upheaval further to the north,
and the Monte Cristi Range was formed. Before this period it had been
a bar at sea-level, covered with a clayey sediment of chalk. At a
later geological period the great plains to the north and east of
Santo Domingo City were formed.

Traces of valuable minerals are so general in the Republic that it is
said there is hardly a commune where a more or less abundant mineral
deposit is not found. The exceptions are the lands of recent coralline
formation, such as the municipality of San Pedro de Macoris and the
southern portion of the commune of Higuey.

The magnet which attracted the Spaniards at the time of the conquest
was the island's mineral wealth, especially the gold deposits. It is a
historical fact that large quantities of gold in dust and nuggets were
collected during the first years of Spanish colonization. According to
the Spanish writers, from 1502 to 1530 placer gold was produced to the
value of from $200,000 to $1,000,000 per annum. The fleet which set
out in 1502 and was wrecked by a hurricane before leaving the coast
waters of Santo Domingo was laden with gold mined in the island. A
tribute of a small amount of gold each year was imposed on half the
Indians of the country. Much of the gold came from the mountains
behind Santiago and La Vega, from the gold-bearing sands of the Jaina
River, around Buenaventura, and from the vicinity of Cotui, then
called "Las Minas." Ancient pits are still to be found in all these
places. At La Vega a mint was established for coining gold and silver.
A nugget of extraordinary size was found by an Indian woman in a
brook near the Jaina River; her Spanish masters in their exultation
had a roast suckling pig served on it, boasting that never had the
king of Spain dined from so valuable a table. The Indian received no
part of the gold: "she was lucky if they gave her a piece of the pig,"
remarks Father Las Casas. This nugget was purchased by Bobadilla to
send to Spain, and went down with the 1502 treasure fleet.

The gold deposits found by the Spaniards were the surface
accumulations of centuries. When these were exhausted and the supply of
cheap labor fell off owing to the dying out of the Indians, the
mineral production waned. In 1502 labor difficulties caused a
temporary cessation in mining. In 1511 many mines were definitely
closed because of the scarcity of laborers and because the cultivation
of sugar-cane offered surer profits. Then came the discovery of mines
of fabulous wealth in Mexico and Peru, and the interest they aroused,
as well as the lack of labor in Santo Domingo, caused the mines of the
island to be completely neglected. Finally, in 1543, mining work
ceased and by a royal decree all mines were ordered closed.
Prospecting and desultory mining, especially placer mining, have been
kept up, however, until the present day.

The prospecting has generally been confined to the more accessible
regions and nothing is known of the mountain valleys in the interior.
The mineral deposits discovered have been of sufficient richness to
cause the formation of mining companies for their development or
further investigation. I do not, however, know of a single case where
prospectors or mining companies have ever made expenses. The cause of
failure has most frequently been the lack of transportation facilities
in the island, on account of which the cost of carrying the ore to a
place where it might be reduced became prohibitive. Sometimes
enterprises failed because the deposit turned out to be too small,
sometimes because the ore did not keep up to the standard, and not
infrequently mining companies fell by the wayside because of bad
management. Enough evidence of mineral wealth has been found to
justify the belief that workable deposits do exist, and to warrant
careful further investigation, especially as the means of
communication are extended.

The metals most frequently found are gold, copper and iron. Veins of
auriferous quartz are found throughout the central chain, the richest
lodes being encountered in metamorphic rocks near crystalline
formations. The metal is most abundant in placers formed in the river
beds. Such placers are common in the Jaina River and its tributaries
in the province of Santo Domingo; in Bonao creek in Seibo province;
and in the Verde River, the streams of Sabaneta and a number of other
streams of the Cibao. On the upper Jaina and on the Verde River there
are still persons who make their living by washing gold from the river
sands. Hydraulic mining was attempted in Santiago province, but after
the construction of an expensive canal the project was abandoned.
Under the liberal mining law mining privileges have in recent years
been granted for gold mines reported at numerous places in the
communes of San Jose de las Matas, San Cristobal, Janico, San Juan de
la Maguana, Sabaneta and others. Prof. William P. Black, one of the
scientists accompanying the United States Commission of Inquiry in
1871, reported:

"There is a very considerable extent of gold-bearing country in the
interior and gold is washed from the rivers at various points. It is
found along the Jaina, upon the Verde, and upon the Yaque and its
tributaries, and doubtless upon the large rivers of the interior.
Some portions of the gold fields were worked anciently by the
Spaniards and Indians. There are doubtless many gold deposits, not
only along the bed of rivers, but on the hills, which have never been
worked, and there probably is considerable gold remaining among the
old workings. The appearance of the soil and rocks is such as to
justify the labor and expense of carefully prospecting the
gold region."

Copper is next to gold in frequency of occurrence. Some of the best
deposits have been found in the commune of San Cristobal, province of
Santo Domingo. A company working lodes at Mount Mateo on the Nigua
River, encountered ore yielding as high as 33 per cent of copper. On
the Jaina River near the ruins of Buenaventura, I have seen promising
ledges of copper ore. Copper carbonates predominated, the green ore
known as malachite and the beautiful blue ore azurite were quite
common, and white quartz, which on being broken showed little specks
of native copper, was also to be found. The asperity of the region,
the absence of roads and the uncertainty as to the extent of these
deposits caused the attempts at working them to be but feeble until
recently, when extensive works of development were undertaken in the
vicinity. Copper veins have also been reported in the mountains of the
commune of Bani, province of Santo Domingo; in the communes of Cotui
and Bonao, province of La Vega; in the canton of Moncion, province of
Monte Cristi; in the commune of San Juan de la Maguana, province of
Azua, and at a number of other places.

Iron is reported in large quantities in various parts of the country.
The largest deposit so far known is on the banks of the Maimon River
in the municipality of Cotui, being a bed of black magnetic oxide of
iron, nine miles long. It is said to be excellent in quality and
inexhaustible in quantity. The difficulties of transportation in this
case could be obviated by the canalization of the river to its
confluence with the Yuna River, so as to make it navigable for small
boats. Iron ore has been discovered on the slope of Mt. Isabel de
Torres behind the city of Puerto Plata, limonite deposits at various
places in Santo Domingo province, and a rich black iron oxide on the
upper Ozama River. A layer of iron pyrites extending from Los Llanos
all the way to Sabana la Mar was believed by its discoverers to be a
gold mine. The central ridge of Santo Domingo is part of the same
mountain chain which extends through Santiago province in Cuba where
enormous quantities of iron are produced, and it is not improbable
that some of the Dominican mines will be found to pay.

Coal mines found in the Samana peninsula produced a kind of lignite
which proved of little commercial value and gave rise to the belief
that the Republic's coal deposits had not emerged from the formative
period. Later investigations show that while there is considerable
undeveloped lignite, coal suitable for fuel is not wanting. Small coal
deposits have been discovered in the Cibao Valley, between the central
and the northern mountain chain, in the province of Pacificador and
that of Santiago. Anthracite coal found at Tamboril, near the city of
Santiago, was used to run a small motor exhibited at an industrial
fair in Santiago in 1903. In the commune of Altamira, province of
Puerto Plata, lignite and anthracite beds have been discovered, and
traces of anthracite have also been found in San Cristobal commune,
and in the petroleum region of Azua. In the central mountain chain a
valuable coal deposit has been found on the Haitian side and similar
beds may be expected in Santo Domingo.

Silver has been discovered at Tanci, near Yásica, in the commune of
Puerto Plata. The old chronicles refer to silver mines at Jarabacoa
and Cotui in La Vega province, also to others near Santiago, near
Higuey and on the Jaina River. Platinum occurs at Jarabacoa, traces of
quicksilver have been found near Santiago, Banica and San Cristobal,
and tin in Seibo and Higuey.

Rock salt is found near Neiba in inexhaustible quantities, there being
several hills of native salt covered with a thin layer of soil. The
fact that the waters of Lake Enriquillo are saltier than the sea is
attributed by some to a deposit of this kind. The salt is so pure that
it does not attract moisture and deliquesce. The isolation of the
district has been an obstacle to the development of the salt mines,
but there is a project for the building of a railroad to the port of
Barahona. Part of the salt used in the island comes from salt ponds
near Azua, where salt is obtained from sea water by solar evaporation.

On a hill at the confluence of the Jimenoa and the Yaque del Norte an
alum deposit reaches the surface and the natives gather alum which
they sell in Santiago City. A deposit of amber having been reported in
the Cibao a company was formed several years ago for its development,
but as the company did nothing, so far as known, except issue stock,
and no part of the untold millions which were affirmed to be within
easy reach has materialized, the deposit is not regarded as possessing
commercial value.

For building purposes there is a large variety of limestone and lime.
The coral rock is easy to quarry and soft enough to shape with the
axe, but exposure to the air makes it hard as granite, as is proven by
the old buildings and city walls of Santo Domingo City, which have
stood for centuries. In the central range, on the Samana peninsula and
near Puerto Plata, granite, syenite and other building stones are
found, but owing to the absence of transportation facilities they are
not utilized. In the Bani region a sandstone occurs from which
grindstones are made. Clay of a fine grade, proper for the manufacture
of bricks and tiles, is abundant. Clays of various colors, found in
the interior of the island, are suitable for the manufacture of
paints. Gypsum is found, especially in Azua province, and the presence
of kaolin and feldspar in the province of Santo Domingo, south of the
central range, offers a possibility of porcelain manufacture.

Petroleum has been found in large quantities in the vicinity of Azua.
The presence of the oil is suspected in other parts of the island and
it is claimed that a petroleum belt which is believed to extend from
Pennsylvania to Venezuela embraces a considerable portion of the
Dominican Republic. Near Puerto Plata, during rains, one of the
streams flowing down from the mountains in the Mameyes section, is
covered with greasy spots thought to be petroleum that has oozed from
the subsoil. Traces of petroleum have also been discovered near Neiba,
and in the provinces of Pacificador and Seibo.

Borings have been made only in the neighborhood of Azua. A pool known
as "agua hedionda," "stinking water," had long suggested petroleum,
and an American company known as the West Indies Petroleum Mining and
Export Company undertook the development of the field. Oil was struck
on November 14, 1904, the well spouting oil to a height of seventy
feet and producing about 500 barrels per day. The grade of the oil was
22 Baume gravity with an asphaltum base. It was better than the
average of Texas oil and was considered a good fuel and lubricating
product. The main difficulty in this field was the presence of salt
water above the oil (as is often the case in oil regions), which here
came in rapidly at a depth of about 900 to 1000 feet. It was necessary
to put a gate valve on the first well, keeping it enclosed for a
period of six months, in order to prevent the damaging of the
surrounding property from the flow of oil, as there were no storage
tanks. During this time the continued agitation of the casing by the
gas pressure and the looseness of the upper soils and shales let in
the salt water and ruined the well, and, it is to be feared, to some
extent affected the surrounding territory. The company sunk four wells
more, all but one of which produced some oil, but as the salt water
entered in such large quantities they were unable to penetrate below
the 1200 feet level and were forced to abandon the wells at just about
the depth where they expected to reach the real oil sand. The fifth
well showed greater evidence of a genuine oil field than any drilled
previously but for the same reason it could not be carried to the
desired depth. At this point dissensions arose in the management of
the company with regard to the method of drilling, the suggestion
being made that a combination drilling machinery comprising what is
known as the rotary process be adopted in combination with the old
cable rig style. No agreement was reached, and operations were
discontinued. Since the beginning of 1917 other interests have made
investigations and it is rumored that development work will shortly
begin. There are indications that if drilled with the proper
appliances the field will yield excellent results. How far the Azua
oil field extends is a matter of conjecture, but it has been estimated
to cover an area of over 190 square miles.

Thermal springs are also found near Azua. At Resoli, about 21 miles
southwest of Azua City, there are hot sulphur springs of very copious
flow. Nearby there is one of tepid water, slightly acid and stinging,
though pleasant to the taste, and with no trace of sulphur. Within a
radius of a hundred yards there are about a dozen springs of different
temperatures and medicinal properties, and the place is admirably
adapted for the location of a health resort. Mineral springs,
especially sulphur springs, abound along the western frontier of the
Republic. On the Viajama River, where a sulphur mine is reported,
there are cold sulphur springs which are said to have gushed forth for
the first time during the earthquake of 1751. To the east of Santiago
are the Anibaje springs which contain sulphur and iron. Hot and cold
sulphur springs are found in the outskirts of San José de las Matas,
southwest of Santiago, and hot springs at Banica, and to the east and
west of Lake Enriquillo.

While there are no volcanoes on the island, severe seismic
disturbances have at times occasioned great havoc and loss of life.
One of the first and most memorable was that of 1564 which overthrew
the cities of La Vega and Santiago de los Caballeros. La Vega was at
that time a good sized town with substantial brick houses, and the
masses of masonry strewn about in the thicket which now covers the
site of the old city give evidence of the force of the earthquake. In
1654 and 1673 dwellings and churches in Santo Domingo City were
damaged by lesser shocks, and in 1751 an earthquake wrecked edifices
in the capital, and completely destroyed the old city of Azua and the
town of Seibo. The most recent and perhaps the most disastrous
earthquake was that of 1842 when a violent commotion in the northern
part of the island demolished the cities of Santiago de los Caballeros
on the Dominican side and Cape Haitien on the Haitian side, bringing
death to hundreds of their inhabitants. Since that date there have
been no severe shocks, though, as is the case in other West India
Islands, slight tremblings of the earth are not infrequent. I have
experienced several of such tremblings in Santo Domingo and have never
been able to ward off a kind of creepy feeling when the rattling of
windows and doors indicated their approach and passage. Near the ruins
of ancient La Vega the natives point out a spot in the woods which
they call "tembladera" and where they say the earth quakes at the
approach of man. Investigation discloses that while the earth really
does tremble when anyone walks at this place the cause is not so
deep-seated as many imagine, the phenomenon being caused by the fact
that the rich loamy soil is sustained by the interlaced roots of
trees, the foundation having been washed away by subterranean waters,
and the grassy floor is swayed by every motion upon it.



Agricultural conditions.--Land titles and measures.--Wet and arid
fruits.--Forest products.--Insects.--Reptiles.--Fishery.--Birds.
--Cattle raising.

Of all the islands visited by Columbus none impressed him so favorably
as Santo Domingo. His enthusiasm is reflected in the glowing
description given in his letter to his friend and patron, Luis de
Santangel, dated February 15, 1493, of which the following forms part:

"In it (la Española) there are many havens on the sea, coast,
incomparable with any others I know in Christendom--and plenty of
rivers, so good and great that it is a marvel. The lands there are
high, and in it there are very many ranges of hills and most lofty
mountains, incomparably beyond the Island of Cetrefrey (Teneriffe);
all most beautiful in a thousand shapes and all accessible, and full
of trees of a thousand kinds, so lofty that they seem to reach the
sky. And I am assured that they never lose their foliage, as may be
imagined, since I saw them as green and as beautiful as they are in
Spain in May, and some of them were in flower, some in fruit, some in
another stage, according to their kind. And the nightingale was
singing, and other birds of a thousand sorts, in the month of
November, round about the way I was going. There are palm trees of six
or eight species, wondrous to see for their beautiful variety; but so
are the other trees and fruits and plants therein. There are wonderful
pine groves and very large plains of verdure, and there is honey and
many kinds of birds and great diversity of fruits. There are many
mines of metals in the earth, and the population is of inestimable
number. Española is a marvel; the mountains and hills, and plains, and
fields, and the soil so beautiful and rich for planting and sowing,
for breeding cattle of all sorts, for building towns and villages.
There could be no believing, without seeing, such harbors as are here,
as well as the many and great rivers and excellent waters, most of
which contain gold. In the trees and fruits and plants there is great
diversity from those of Juana (Cuba). In this island there are many
species and great mines of gold and other metals."

Columbus' panegyric on the beauty, fertility and resources of the
Island has been echoed by every writer and traveler who has since
visited the country. The United States Commission of Inquiry to Santo
Domingo reported in 1871: "The resources of the country are vast and
various, and its products may be increased with scarcely any other
limit than the labor expended upon them.... Taken as a whole, this
Republic is one of the most fertile regions on the face of the earth.
The evidence of men well acquainted with the other West India Islands
declares this to be naturally the richest of them all." Yet the
country's wonderful resources are to-day in almost virgin condition;
in the greater part of the Republic's extent they remain absolutely
untouched; in the remainder the beginning of development has scarcely
been made.

In the first days of the colony it appeared that agricultural
prosperity would quickly be attained. Great plantations were set out
and the remains of palaces and convents in Santo Domingo City testify
to the wealth they produced. But the prosperity was founded on the
basis of slavery. The laughing aborigines soon succumbed under forced
labor, the importation of negroes was found expensive, and hopes of
better fortune attracted the colonists to the American continent.
While the country languished under restrictive trade regulations,
stock raising became almost the sole pursuit of the Spanish section of
the island. In the meantime the French settled the western coast, and
the name of their colony, also founded on slavery, became a synonym
for wealth and luxury. The development of the Spanish section had
scarcely begun at the end of the eighteenth century when it was
blocked by wars, the Haitian occupation, and later by the civil
disturbances. The native had no incentive to accumulate property,
which would only attract revolutionists, and the foreigner was chary
of investing his money in so turbulent a community. What progress has
been made is due to the short periods of peace, principally the period
of Heureaux's ascendancy, from 1880 to 1899, and the periods from 1905
to date. The rapid and gratifying strides made since the
Dominican-American fiscal treaty increased the probabilities of peace
are an indication of what the country may and will in time attain. As
an English-speaking resident put it, paraphrasing a familiar saying in
the United States, "If the people will only raise more cacao and less
Hades, the country will soon be a paradise." At the present time the
most serious obstacle to rural development is the lack of adequate
means of communication--roads and railroads. It is evident that the
interior cannot be developed so long as the cost of transportation is
prohibitive or the roads are impassable during a great part of
the year.

The condition of land titles leaves much to be desired. All titles are
supposed to be derived from original grants by the crown or the
government of the Republic. As there is no record extant of such
grants and as much land has been acquired by adverse possession, the
amount of land remaining to the state cannot even be the subject of an
intelligent guess. The greater part of such land passed to the
Republic as successor to the Spanish crown, another portion was added
in 1844 by the confiscation of property belonging to Haitians, but no
attempt has ever been made to survey or even to list state lands.
According to some estimates the state owns as much as one or even
two-fifths the area of the Republic, but it is probable that these
estimates are exaggerated and almost the only tracts remaining to the
government are situated in the inaccessible mountain region of the
interior and along the Haitian border. The income of the Republic is
still insufficient to leave money for the investigation of public
lands, and every year's delay will permit more of such lands to be
absorbed by private persons.

A large portion of the rural land is held in common. Tracts originally
belonging to one owner descended undivided among his heirs for
generations, individual heirs sometimes sold their shares, and the
result is that often the tract belongs in common to many persons, some
of them holding very small shares. The shares of the co-owners are
known as "pesos de posesión," "dollars of possession," corresponding
to the value given them at some remote period. The owner of any
undivided portion of such "comunero" property, though he hold only one
or two shares or "pesos de posesión," may enter upon and cultivate any
part of the land he finds unoccupied by other co-owners, and use
anything growing or existing thereon, except certain timber or unless
it be the result of the labor of other co-owners. That this peculiar
mode of enjoying the comunero property has not resulted in friction
and conflicts may be ascribed to the smallness of the cultivated
fields, the small population and the enormous expanse of vacant land.
For the prospective purchaser the doubts surrounding the title to
comunero lands are enhanced by the existence of fraudulent "peso"
titles and by the destruction of public offices where title transfers
should have been recorded. In recent years much division of comunero
land among the co-owners has been going on and such action is
facilitated by a law of 1911, but the importance of the matter merits
additional laws to cheapen and hasten the division.

All the planting of small crops by the poorer countryman is done in
what are called "conucos," cleared spaces fenced by sticks laid
tightly against each other in order to keep out the wild pigs which
infest the country. The construction of the fences is a laborious
task, yet after one or two years they require extensive repairs, and
when the repairs are such as to amount to a practical rebuilding, the
"conuco" is commonly abandoned, and a new one located elsewhere. This
method is wasteful of fence-material and land. The planting is done in
the most primitive way, commonly by making a hole in the ground with a
machete or by using a forked stick as a plow. There are few hoes, and
among the natives no modern steel plows.

A "conuco" is usually about one acre in extent, or to be precise
twenty-five varas conuqueras square. Though the metric system is the
official system of measurement and is gradually coming into use, many
of the older standards still prevail. A common measure of length is
the Castilian vara, about equivalent to an English yard; the vara
conuquera, about two and a half yards; the tarea, used for measuring
fences, twenty-five varas conuqueras in length, and the league,
something over three miles. The common units of surface measurement
are the tarea, of about one-sixth acre, and the caballeria of 1200
tareas or about 200 acres.

Generally speaking, a line drawn from Cape Isabela on the north coast,
through Santiago, to the mouth of the Nizao River in the south,
divides the country into two regions of which the eastern one has
abundant rainfall and luxuriant tropical vegetation, while in the
western one there is little rain, and cactus plants and thorny bushes
betoken the aridity of the soil. The two ends of the Cibao Valley seem
like different countries, the eastern end covered with palm-trees,
ferns and other flora of the torrid zone, and the western portion dry
and dotted with giant cacti of fantastic shape. In the country near
Azua and Monte Cristi I have imagined myself on the plains of New
Mexico, with their scorching heat, their cactus, mesquite bushes and
distant violet mountains fading into the azure sky. While arid, these
western regions of Santo Domingo are as fertile as the rest of the
country and when irrigated give remarkable crops. One of the Dominican
government's projects is an extensive irrigation scheme for the Monte
Cristi district. The most productive portion of the Republic is
undoubtedly the Royal Plain in the Cibao Valley, which is of almost
incredible fertility. It is covered with a rich black loam from three
to fifteen feet deep, as can be seen wherever brooks have cut ravines
into the earth, and is referred to as the Mississippi Valley of the
Dominican Republic.

The greater or less elevation of the land has likewise produced
different agricultural zones: the lower plains of the southern coast
are favored for sugar planting; the slightly higher lands are given
over to cacao and coffee, and the highest part of the country, the
mountain region, is covered with timber. Broad savannas are a feature
of the southern portion of the Republic; on the plains to the east of
Santo Domingo City, all the way to the ocean, there are great seas of
grass, like the prairies of the United States, with large islands of
trees, while to the west they constitute lakes in a continent
of forest.

All tropical fruits grow in profusion and many vegetables, fruits and
cereals indigenous to countries of the temperate zone are successfully
grown. Practically all the vegetables and fruits, as well as the
grains and staples of the Middle States of the American Union may be
produced, especially in the higher portion of the island. The fact
that raspberries and delicious grapes grow wild in the highland
indicates the possibilities of fruit culture. With a view to
encouraging agriculture the various provinces for years had "boards of
development" paid from national funds, but the positions on these
boards were regarded as political plums, and while the members drew
their salaries, no other result of their activities was apparent. The
government has also made spasmodic attempts to establish an
agricultural experiment station, but with its limited resources
nothing tangible has been accomplished. The establishment and
extension of large sugar estates was stimulated by a law of
agricultural franchises, enacted in 1911, granting excessively broad
privileges and exemptions to sugar, cacao and coffee plantations which
registered under that law.

The table on the opposite page shows the quantity and value of the
principal exports of the Dominican Republic since 1913 and is the best
illustration of the fact that agriculture is the mainstay of
the country.


1913 1914 1915 1916
Sugar (raw) kilos[1] 78,849,465 101,428,847 102,800,551 122,642,514
value $3,650,556 $4,943,452 $7,676,383 $12,028,297
Cacao kilos 19,470,827 20,744,517 20,223,023 21,053,305
value $4,119,955 $3,896,489 $4,863,754 $5,958,669
Tobacco leaf kilos 9,790,398 3,705,549 6,235,409 7,925,151
value $1,121,775 $394,224 $972,896 $1,433,323
Coffee kilos 1,048,922 1,831,938 2,468,435 1,731,718
value $257,076 $345,579 $458,431 $316,827
Hides and kilos 541,154 685,042 638,020 616,446
skins value $241,072 $253,832 $270,356 $334,665
Sugar cane value -- $62,585 $195,782 $295,622
Bananas bunches 592,804 114,142 327,169 348,560
value $296,368 $57,044 $166,432 $172,615
Beeswax and
honey value $206,749 $207,290 $144,579 $176,144
Molasses kilos 12,064,038 17,962,441 15,484,205 18,752,440
value $60,737 $93,787 $100,023 $120,738
Forest value $167,037 $66,464 $64,368 $57,250
Cotton kilos 242,221 167,123 141,623 91,258
value $85,398 $67,830 $60,600 $31,759
All other value $263,224 $200,211 $240,457 $601,964
Total value $10,469,947 $10,588,787 $15,209,061 $21,527,873

[Footnote 1: 1 kilo = 2.2 pounds]

Sugar, the leading export, is the principal product of the southern
portion of the Republic. In contrast with the cultivation of cacao,
coffee and tobacco, sugar planting requires a large outlay of capital.
The fields must be carefully prepared, extensive ditching must be done
in order to provide irrigation during the dry season; the fields must
be cleaned repeatedly while the cane is growing; and when the cane
eventually matures, after fourteen to eighteen months of growth,
it must upon cutting be immediately transported to the mill,
where expensive machinery grinds it and fabricates sugar from
the cane juice. The large sugar plantations of the country
are all owned by foreigners, principally Americans and Italians,
but dependent upon them are many small plots, planted under
contract with the central factory by small native owners or
contractors. Before the establishment of the first of these
plantations near Macoris in the early eighties, the apparatus for
making sugar was as crude as that employed by the first colonists,
consisting of small presses turned by oxen, and large caldrons to boil
the cane. The other West India Islands are dotted with the ruins of
old sugar mills erected in the beginning and middle of the last
century, but those days were not favorable to investment in Santo
Domingo and such buildings and ruins are absolutely wanting in
this island.

Most of the large plantations are located in the vicinity of San Pedro
de Macoris, and to them the city owes its rapid development. These
represent a value of millions of dollars, are equipped with plantation
railroads and modern mills and extend over thousands of acres of the
plains behind the city. The great Consuelo estate, the Santa Fé
plantation, the Porvenir and the Puerto Rico estates are owned by
American capital, and two others, the Quisqueya and Cristobal Colon
plantations are owned by Americans and Cubans. The Angelina estate is
an Italian investment, but its owners hold it in the name of the
General Industrial Company, a corporation organized by them under the
laws of New Jersey, apparently with a view to claiming American
protection in case of disturbances. The principal owners of this
estate as well as of other Italian sugar estates on the south coast
are heirs of J.B. Vicini, who was a wealthy Italian merchant of Santo
Domingo City.

One of the largest sugar estates of the Republic is the Central
Romana, which controls some 40,000 acres near the port of La Romana,
and is owned by the South Porto Rico Sugar Company. Since the first
crop in 1911 the cane has been shipped to the mill at Guanica, Porto
Rico, for grinding, but a huge fifteen-roller mill, which will be the
largest on the island, is now in course of erection at La Romana.

Two plantations near Santo Domingo City, San Isidro and La Fé, belong
to Americans. The Italia sugar estate at Yaguate, near the Nizao
River, the Ocoa estate and the Central Azuano, on the outskirts of
Azua all belong to the Vicini heirs. At Azua there is another
plantation, the Ansonia estate, which is the property of Americans.
The plantations at Azua and Ocoa are watered by irrigation, those of
Azua deriving their water from artesian wells. American capital is
also establishing sugar plantations near Barahona. On the north coast
there are only two small sugar plantations near Puerto Plata, in which
German and Spanish capital is interested, but another is being
established at Sosua.

So rich are the Dominican lands that cane will grow from the same root
for ten and even twenty years, while in Porto Rico and the lesser
Antilles long cultivation has exhausted the soil and replanting is
necessary every three years. Near Macoris the planters have had so
much land available that instead of replanting they have often
abandoned their old fields and taken up virgin lands instead. The
busiest time in Macoris is the crop season from November to May. Many
laborers are then required, and as native labor is not abundant, large
numbers of negroes come from the British West Indies to work on the
plantations, returning to their homes when the cane has been cut.

Most of the Dominican sugar goes to the United States and a large
portion is eventually sold in Canada and England. When the amount of
sugar produced in little Porto Rico is compared with that grown in
Santo Domingo, it is evident that the Dominican production might
easily be increased to twenty times its present figure.

While sugar attracts the foreigner, the Dominican's favorite staple
has been cacao. The cacao or chocolate tree grows in a number of the
West India Islands, but in none of them is it cultivated to such an
extent as in Santo Domingo. Cacao is peculiarly fitted to be a "poor
man's crop," as little land and labor are required and, while the
trees are growing, corn, bananas and other crops can be raised on the
same field. Most of the cacao is raised on small plantations,
producing from fifty to one hundred barrels, a barrel being worth
about eight dollars. For the preparation and planting of the field of
a poor man the whole family turns out and neighbors often come to
help, regular planting bees being organized. The larger landowner
makes contracts for the preparation of his lands, paying at the rate
of $2 or $2.50 a tarea.

The best months for planting cacao are the wet months, which in the
Cibao are May and October. Small holes are dug in the earth about
three yards apart and three beans placed in each. When the sprouts
grow into young trees, two of the three should be cut off, and the
best developed allowed to remain; but the countrymen generally permit
all three to grow, with resulting dwarfed trees and poor crops. To
protect the small plants from the hot sun a yuca or cassava plant is
set out next to each one. While the trees are growing, corn is planted
between the rows and three or even four crops are obtained in each
year. After two years the cacao trees begin to bloom, after three
years they begin to give fruit, and their production gradually
increases until their eighth year when they reach mature growth. Each
tree furnishes about two pounds of cacao per year. On the larger
plantations less attention is paid to ancillary crops and the cacao
plants are raised in seedbeds, the seedlings being transplanted to the
field after six months or a year. When the pods containing the cacao
beans are ripe the beans are extracted, soaked in water and then dried
in the sun. During the crop season cacao beans are spread on mats
before every native hut and in the streets of every town and village
in the Cibao, and the sourish smell of the drying bean pervades
the air.

The principal cacao region is the Cibao and the upper Seibo plain, and
the largest plantation, belonging to the well-known Swiss chocolate
manufacturer, Suchard, is situated near Sabana la Mar, on the south
side of Samana Bay. The cacao here produced is not of the finest
grade, such as that grown in Ecuador, but goes to make the cheaper
grades of chocolate.

The ease with which cacao is planted and the profits to be derived
from it often cause the small farmers to neglect everything else for
cacao and purchase articles of food which they could themselves raise.
The consequence is that when the cacao crop fails, there is widespread
want and discontent.

Cacao has been exported since 1888, before which time it was grown for
local consumption only. For years it led the country's exports, until
sugar took first place in 1914. The greater portion of the cacao crop
is exported through the port of Sanchez, on Samana Bay. Formerly
almost the whole crop went to Europe, Havre being the chief market,
but of late years the United States has become one of the
principal buyers.

The cultivation of tobacco is confined to the Cibao region, where it
was grown by the Indians when the Spaniards landed. It is a crop
yielding rapid returns, but cacao has paid so much better that the
progress of tobacco culture has been slow. The effort of the
countrymen to produce quantity rather than quality has prevented the
development of the finer grades and the price paid for Dominican
tobacco is low. While the tobacco grown is of inferior quality, there
is no reason why it should not be susceptible of improvement as the
climatic and soil conditions of the interior valleys are very similar
to those of the tobacco regions of Cuba and Porto Rico.

Tobacco is grown mostly by small planters and sold to the large
commercial houses of Santiago and Puerto Plata. Practically the entire
crop is exported through Puerto Plata. Before the European war the
great market for Dominican tobacco was Hamburg. Up to 1907 tobacco was
exported only in leaf, but since then a small cigarette industry has

Coffee is another native crop the development of which has been
checked by the popularity of cacao. It is also a crop which can be
grown with profit on small tracts of land. The coffee bushes flourish
in the mountains and are grown under the shade of larger trees. A
clearing having been made in the forest, the small coffee trees are
planted in rows or irregularly and near each a banana or plantain
tree. The latter reach full height within six months and afford shade
until guava and other shade trees planted on the field have attained
sufficient size. A wait of five years is necessary before the coffee
bushes begin to bear, but after that they continue indefinitely every
year, the only labor required being that of keeping the plantation
clear of brush and picking the berries when they are ripe. The trees
grow to a height of six or eight feet; they bloom with a fragrant,
white, star-like flower which on withering leaves the green embryo of
the berry. When the berry has reached the size of a hazel-nut it turns
red and is picked, much of the picking being done by women. The
berries are poured into a simple machine which extracts the two coffee
beans encased in each berry. The beans are dried in the sun, on the
largest plantations in drying machines. They are then transported to
the merchants in town, where they are polished in another machine,
assorted and bagged for export. The town of Moca owes its name to the
fact that the principal coffee plantations lie in its vicinity. Other
important coffee districts are Santiago and Bani. About two-thirds of
the coffee of the Republic is exported from Puerto Plata.

The coffee of Santo Domingo is of excellent quality. In normal times
the greater portion was exported to France and Germany, but most of it
now goes to the United States.

With one exception the limitless resources of Santo Domingo with
reference to fruit culture have remained untouched. The single
exception was the United Fruit Company's banana plantation at Sosua,
about ten miles east of Puerto Plata, and even this estate is at
present, in consequence of the greater attractiveness of sugar, being
converted into a sugar plantation. Otherwise there has been no attempt
to raise fruit for export, though the sweet and bitter orange, the
lemon, the lime, the grapefruit and the paradoxical sweet lemon, grow
wild. Pineapples are raised only for the small home consumption. An
obstacle to the cultivation of such fruits at the present time would
be the absence of rapid fruit steamers to the United States. The
fruits peculiar to the torrid zone all grow in profusion and among
them the native is fondest of the juicy mango, the guava, the aguacate
or alligator pear, the anon or custard apple, the guanabana or
soursop, the mamon or sweetsop, the mamey or marmalade fruit, the
nispero or sapodilla and the tamarind. From the large palm-groves
about Samana Bay cocoanuts and a little copra are exported,
principally to the United States.

Small attempts have been made to cultivate other products to which the
country is adapted. Growers of cotton and hemp are encouraged by
results, but a rice plantation established in the swamp-lands near the
head of Samana Bay proved a failure rather on account of errors of
management than for other reasons.

In the forests which cover her mountains Santo Domingo has hardwoods,
dyewoods and building timber of inestimable value. Only a generation
ago mahogany trees grew all the way to the water's edge, but years of
wasteful cutting have exhausted the nearer supplies and the more
valuable woods must now be sought in the interior. In the mountains
and on the high plateaus of the interior there are hundreds of square
miles of Spanish cedar and longleaf pine. The principal woods exported
are mahogany, guayacan, known to commerce as lignum vitae (one of the
hardest woods and so heavy that when in loading the steamer a log
drops into the sea it sinks to the bottom like iron), bera or bastard
lignum vitae, espinillo or yellowwood, campeche or logwood (a famous
dyeing material), sparwood and cedar. Other forest products exported
are dividivi, a tanning bark, and resins. Most of these exports go to
the United States and England. For the preparation of lumber for local
needs there are sawmills in La Vega and Santiago de los Caballeros.

With regard to indigenous fauna Santo Domingo occupies a position
midway between the diverse and abundant fauna of Cuba and the more
limited species of the Leeward Islands. Insects abound and in all the
coast towns it is necessary to sleep under a mosquito bar. Wild bees
are found in many parts of the country and apiculture has met with
much success. Of poisonous insects there are few. Those sometimes
met with are the species of tarantula known as the hairy spider, the
spider known as guava, and the blue spider, also the scorpion and the
centipede. Their sting produces intense pain, inflammation and fever.
They are found in crevices, under stones, in caves, and in rotten
wood. The last two are often seen in old houses, but daily use of the
broom and duster will make them appear but rarely. Some of these
animals grow to a large size. On a ride on the Haitian border my horse
shied at a tarantula in the trail, and in calling my Dominican
companion's attention to it, I remarked that it was as large as a
saucer. "That is nothing," he replied, "there are many around here as
large as a soup plate."

There are few classes of reptiles. Santo Domingo is a paradise where
serpents are at a discount, for they are few in number and although
occasionally some are found of considerable size, they are all
harmless. Lizards are plentiful in the forests, the largest class
being known as iguana, which is eaten by some of the country people,
as it was in former days by the Indians. The lizards are all
inoffensive. A species of alligator is found in the lower waters of
the Yaque del Norte and of the Yaque del Sur, and in the salt lakes on
the Haitian border. Tortoises occur in such numbers that their shell
forms an article of commerce.

Crustaceans and testaceans are abundant in number though few in
species. A tiny oyster is found, not much larger than a thumb-nail,
but very succulent. The marine fauna is the same as that of the
neighboring Antilles, the sea and rivers teeming with edible fish, to
which, however, but little attention is paid. Sharks infest the coasts
and render bathing unsafe except behind protecting reefs.
Occasionally, too, a manati, or sea-cow, is seen. This strange mammal
has breasts which resemble those of a human being and emits cries
that sound almost human. It was probably a party of manati gamboling
about in the water which induced Columbus gravely to enter in his
logbook that he had sighted mermaids near Monte Cristi.

Of birds there are over one hundred and fifty species, about
ninety-five of which are residents and among these several peculiar to
this island. The forests resound with the cries of parrots and other
birds of beautiful plumage; from any point on the coast pelicans and
other ichthyophagous birds can be observed darting into the waters
after their prey; the lakes and rivers are the home of thousands of
wild ducks; myriads of wild pigeons breed in the woods; and the number
of insectivorous birds, including the sweet-singing nightingale,
jilguero and turpial, the swallow and the small pitirre and colibri,
is infinite. The caves are inhabited by swarms of bats, the guano of
which, mingled with the calcareous detritus of the rocky walls, is
found in great deposits and constitutes a good fertilizer.

At the time of the discovery the Spaniards found very few kinds of
quadruped mammals. One was the agouti, looking like a large rat and
inhabiting the forests; another the coati, similar to the squirrel and
easily domesticated. Three other classes are mentioned, the quemi,
mohui and perro mudo (dumb dog), but are not now to be found and as
the description of two of them almost tallies with that of the others
above mentioned, it is possible that different names were applied to
the same animals. It is possible, too, that reference was made to the
solenodon or almiqui, an animal long thought to be extinct but of
which several specimens have recently been found in Santo Domingo.
This animal is about two feet, long and resembles a rat, but having a
long prehensile snout and the habits of an ant-eater, it is considered
to be a remnant of the early zoölogical type from which diverged both
the rodents and the insectivorous animals of the present.

The Spaniards introduced the European domestic animals, which
immediately began to flourish. During the seventeenth and eighteenth
century the principal and for a long time almost the only industry of
the Spanish portion of the island was cattle-raising. Some of the
cattle and pigs escaped to the woods and reverted to the wild state,
and towards the middle and end of the seventeenth century great herds
of wild cattle roamed over the island. Such herds no longer exist, but
wild pigs have found their way to the most remote recesses of the
mountains and are the plague of the fields. The equine species, sprung
from the Andalusian horses brought by the Spaniards, has degenerated
considerably and the best horses in the Republic today are of Porto
Rican stock, but attention is at last being given to breeding. The
largest herds of cattle roam about in the unfenced arid regions of the
northwest. Hides are exported in large quantities, but there is little
dairying. Of late years attention is being directed to improving the
stock and several stock farms have been established near San Pedro
de Macoris.

Sheep raising is followed to some extent in the arid regions of the
southwest and northwest, but the wool is of coarse grade. An important
industry in these regions, especially in the neighborhood of Azua, is
goat-raising. My inquiry as to the population of Azua was answered by
the purser of the Clyde line steamer: "About three thousand people and
about three million goats." Though his estimate of the number of goats
may have been somewhat exaggerated, the fact is that they are
everywhere in evidence and charge through the streets in droves, and
at the great Azua church I found a goat in the vestibule looking
reverently in. Over nine-tenths of the goatskins exported from the
Republic go to the United States.



Population.--Distribution.--Race.--Descendants of American
negroes.--Language.--Physical traits.--Mental traits.--Amusements.
--Dances, theaters, clubs, carnivals.--Gaming.--Morality.--Homes.

The estimates of the early Spanish writers as to the Indian population
of Hispaniola at the time of its first settlement in 1493 range all
the way from one million to three million inhabitants. While it is
probable that the former number was nearer to the truth, it is evident
that the island was well inhabited, for Columbus found every valley
swarming with natives. The severe labor imposed by the Spaniards made
such frightful inroads on the native population that within a decade
labor for the plantations and mines began to grow scarce and forty
thousand inhabitants of the Bahama Islands were imported to increase
the supply. They were lured on board the Spanish transports by the
promise that they were to be conveyed to the beautiful home of their
departed ancestors and though they did indeed quickly join their
deceased relatives, it was not until after a taste of purgatory in the
mines of Santo Domingo. In 1507 the entire Indian population was
estimated at only 70,000, in 1508 it had fallen to 40,000, and in 1514
to 14,000. Six years later the remnant of the aborigines united in the
mountains to resist the Spaniards to the end, but in 1533 a treaty was
concluded by which the Indians were assigned certain lands near Boya,
thirty miles northeast of Santo Domingo City. According to some
authorities 4000 and according to others only 600 natives remained to
take advantage of this provision. Thereafter all mention of the
Indians disappears from Dominican annals. Types recalling Indian
characteristics are sometimes seen, however, and it is probable that
some Indian blood is still represented in the country.

Father Las Casas, the friend of the Indians, is credited with the
suggestion that in place of the frail natives negroes be imported for
labor in the mines and on the plantations. The earliest importations
seem to have taken place in the opening years of the sixteenth
century, for as early as 1505 King Ferdinand authorized the shipment
of more negroes in lots of 100. Later, licenses were issued for the
importation of negro slaves by the thousands and many more were
probably smuggled in. The Spanish population also grew rapidly until
about 1530 when the colony reached the zenith of its wealth and
prosperity. Twelve years later, when the decline had become marked, it
was estimated that besides a substantial white population there were
30,000 negro slaves on the island. The superior attractions of other
newly discovered countries and the fear of piratical invasions had by
1591 decreased the total population of the colony to 15,000. This
number remained almost stationary until about 1663 when it began to
dwindle further until the low water mark was reached, about 1737, and
the entire population of the Spanish portion of the island was
estimated at but 6,000. Timely tariff concessions revived trade and
encouraged immigration and new importations of slaves the number of
inhabitants increased rapidly and in 1785 was reckoned at 150,000,
including 30,000 slaves and a considerable proportion of free colored
persons. A decade later saw the beginning of the negro insurrection
in the French section of Santo Domingo; the horrors attending this
war, the invasion of the Spanish colony by the Haitians, the menace of
further invasions, the frequent changes of sovereignty, and adverse
economic conditions, produced an exodus in the course of which the
great majority of the white population abandoned the island, many with
all their slaves and dependents. A few returned, but in 1809 it was
calculated that the inhabitants of Spanish Santo Domingo numbered
104,000 and in 1819 but 63,000, of whom the greater number were
colored. During Haitian rule, from 1822 to 1844, white emigration
again took place and white immigration was discouraged, while
settlements of negroes from Haiti and the United States were made in
different parts of the country. The increase of the population since
that time has been subject to little outside influence; there has been
practically no emigration, and immigration has been insignificant, the
few new settlers being chiefly negroes from the British colonies,
Haitians, Porto Ricans, Syrians and European merchants. In 1863 an
ecclesiastical census, based on the returns of the various parish
priests, placed the population at 207,700. This number may be
described as little more than a compilation of guesses and was
probably exaggerated. A similar ecclesiastical census taken in 1888
gave a total of 382,312 inhabitants.

These ecclesiastical computations were founded to some extent on
parish records of baptisms and burials, but this basis became more and
more precarious as the population increased. Probably the records most
nearly accurate are the baptismal records of the Church, for almost
every Dominican is baptized at some time in his life. The death
records are the least complete on account of the obstacles presented
during the civil disorders and the distance at which many country
people live from the place of registry. A law of civil registry,
requiring the inscription of all births, marriages and deaths has been
only indifferently carried out and during times of insurrection
entirely suspended. A government census was begun in 1908 but not
concluded. Any accurate computation is thus out of the question.

Unofficial estimates of the population to-day range all the way from
400,000 to 920,000. In 1908 an official estimate based on birth
statistics, placed it at 605,000. An unofficial estimate in 1917, made
on the assumption that there are 1000 inhabitants for every 37 births
reported, calculated the total population at 795,432, thus distributed
among the several provinces:

Santo Domingo ... 127,976
Santiago ........ 123,972
La Vega.......... 105,000
Pacificador...... 90,569
Seibo............ 68,135
Espaillat........ 64,108
Azua ............ 59,783
Puerto Plata ... 55,864
Monte Cristi ... 41,459
Macoris.......... 28,000
Barahona ........ 17,891
Samana .......... 12,675

The estimate of 37 births per 1000 inhabitants is probably too large
as the birth-rate in Jamaica is but 34.6, in the Leeward Islands 33,
and in the birth-registration area of the United States only 24.9. A
reduction of ten per cent in the above figures would probably make
them more nearly correct. That would give a total population of about
715,000. Accepting the number of inhabitants as 715,000 the
population per square mile is about 39.6. A comparison with the
surrounding West Indian countries reveals considerable disproportion.
The Dominican Republic is not quite one-half the size of Cuba but has
only one-fourth the number of inhabitants; it is almost double the
size of the Republic of Haiti but has less than one-half the
inhabitants; it is five times the size of Porto Rico and has but
one-half the population; it is one hundred and seven times as large as
Barbados but has only four times the population. If the Dominican
Republic were as densely populated as the neighboring Republic of
Haiti, it would have 3,000,000 inhabitants; if the population were as
dense as that of Porto Rico, it would be 7,000,000; if the Republic
were as densely inhabited as Barbados it would have over 21,000,000
people. Though the climatic and topographical conditions of the
country would not permit it to become as thickly populated as
Barbados, there is no reason why it should not support a population
proportional to that of Porto Rico.

As in the other West India Islands the population is principally
rural. There are probably not more than a dozen towns in the Republic
with more than 1500 inhabitants. A government census of Santo Domingo
City, the capital and largest urban center, taken in November, 1908,
showed a population of 18,626, and the number is now estimated
as 21,000.

A census of Santiago de los Caballeros, taken by the municipal
authorities in 1903, showed an urban population of 10,921, the present
estimate being 14,000. The estimated population of Puerto Plata is
about 7000; La Vega and San Pedro de Macoris are believed to have
about 5000 inhabitants each, but in every other case the urban
population falls below 3000. The population of the Dominican
Republic is not scattered uniformly over the country, but is to be
found chiefly in a fringe along the shore all the way from Monte
Cristi to Barahona, and in the Cibao Valley. The most densely
populated region is that part of the Cibao Valley known as the Royal
Plain. In the mountainous interior there are vast stretches almost or
entirely uninhabited; and remote valleys which have not been visited
since the days of the conquest.

The vicissitudes through which Santo Domingo has passed, the departure
of so large a proportion of whites in the beginning of the nineteenth
century and the intermingling of blood before and since that time have
determined the character of the population. At the present time the
pure negroes are in a minority, constituting probably less than
one-fourth the entire population. The great majority of the
inhabitants are of mixed Spanish and African blood, their color
ranging from black to white. The lighter shades predominate,
especially in the Cibao. There is also a sprinkling of pure whites,
the majority of whom are to be found in the Cibao region or are
foreigners residing in the larger cities. Many families would pass for
white anywhere, showing absolutely no trace of colored blood, and it
is difficult to believe confidential assurances of their intimate
friends, indicating a different condition. A few families trace their
ancestry back to the first Spanish colonists. As most of the blacks
live south of the central mountain range the population of this region
is a good deal darker than that of the northern part of the island.
The census of Santo Domingo City in 1908 reported 7016 whites, 6934
colored persons and 4676 blacks, but apart from the circumstance that
numerous white foreigners reside in the capital, it is probable that
many persons were classified as white who would have been considered
colored in the United States under the stricter rules there

A comparison with Haiti discloses marked racial differences. In the
French-speaking republic about ninety per cent of the inhabitants are
pure blacks, the remainder being mulattoes. The distinction between
the two countries is due to several circumstances: in Santo Domingo
the pure blacks have never been in a majority; the whites have never
all left the country; massacres of mulattoes and whites have never
taken place; there have never been political parties based on color;
and the relations between the races have always been cordial. In
company, side by side, mulattoes, blacks and whites have lived,
worked, enjoyed themselves and fought their revolutions. There is
absolutely no color line. A friend of mine from Virginia received
quite a shock the first time he attended a state ball in Santo Domingo
and saw an immense negro, as black as coal, a member of Congress,
dancing with a girl as white as any of the foreign ladies present. He
rushed to the refreshment room and beckoned to a tall mulatto in a
dress suit: "I'll have something to cool off, here waiter--" He was
stopped just in time for he was mistaking the secretary of foreign
affairs for a waiter; but after this experience he was afraid of
giving his order to anyone else for fear he might be offending some
other high official. The blacks are commonly the lower laborers, but
negroes are to be found in all grades of society and are not
infrequently represented in the cabinet itself. Of the presidents the
majority have been of mixed blood, but several, like Luperon and
Heureaux, were full-blood negroes. It appears that the strong strain
of white blood in the country has elevated all, mulattoes and negroes.
The negroes have produced men of high ability: Heureaux, for
instance, though unscrupulous and cruel, was a man of remarkable
sagacity and energy.

It must not be supposed for a moment that the Dominicans are inimical
to whites or, like their neighbors, the Haitians, prefer to see their
country peopled by negroes only. On the contrary they are anxious to
be considered as belonging to the white race and are not pleased by
reference to their mixed blood. For this reason the former policy of
the United States of sending colored men as ministers and consuls to
Santo Domingo was resented by the Dominicans who saw therein an
evidence of contempt. I have often heard Dominican statesmen express
an eager desire for immigration, but only white immigration. This
sentiment is reflected in immigration laws and in several concessions
granted in late years in which the concessionnaire was prohibited from
importing laborers of African or Asiatic descent. The Congress has
even made appropriations for the introduction of white families and
their settlement along the Haitian frontier, but the isolation of this
region and other circumstances made such laws impracticable of

During Haitian rule, from 1822 to 1844, a different policy prevailed.
President Boyer was desirous of seeing every part of the island
populated by blacks and accordingly settled Haitian negroes in various
parts of Santo Domingo and encouraged negro immigration from the
United States by premiums to ship captains bringing such immigrants.
The American negroes were distributed in Haiti and in Santo Domingo,
particularly near Puerto Plata and in the Samana peninsula. The Puerto
Plata settlers have mingled with the rest of the population, but
around the town of Samana, where the largest settlement, consisting of
some sixty families, was made, the descendants of the American
immigrants still form a distinct class. Large portions of the
peninsula are taken up by their well kept farms, and one of the
sections or districts into which the commune of Samana is divided, is
officially named "Sección de los Americanos." The people still
preserve the English language and proudly proclaim that they are "of
American abstraction."

They have kept considerably aloof and only in recent years have there
been marriages between them and their Spanish-speaking neighbors.
Their exclusiveness has more than once been criticised by Dominicans.
Of the original settlers all have passed away, their surviving
children are advanced in age and the third generation is in its prime.
The Methodist preacher of the district, a kindly black man, presented
me to the oldest person of the American colony, a woman of about
eighty years of age who was born only a few years after her parents
arrived from Virginia. As the old woman stood smiling in the door of
her little cabin, the walls of which were covered with leafy creepers,
she looked the picture of an old Southern mammy. Her dialect was
typical; when I said: "I am glad to meet you, Mrs. Sheppard," she
answered, beaming, "Me likewise, I'se always glad to meet Americans, I
is." Several of the American negroes have distinguished themselves in
military matters, one of the most noted being General Anderson who
grew gray in many revolutions.

Between the coast towns and the ports of the surrounding countries,
particularly Porto Rico, there is considerable coming and going. This
was called to my attention the first time I set foot on Dominican
soil, when a large negro darted out from a group of loungers on the
wharf and seized my suit-case, crying: "Let me carry your baggage,
Judge." Surprised, I inquired how he knew me, whereupon he asked
reproachfully: "Don't you remember you sent me to jail in Mayaguez
for shampooing a saucy stevedore's head with a brick?"

Whether as a settler or transient visitor the foreigner may be sure of
courteous and respectful treatment so long as he himself observes the
proprieties. The laws grant the foreigner rights as ample as in the
most advanced countries of the world.

The language of Santo Domingo is Spanish, and the comparative purity
with which it is spoken is remarkable when the long period of
isolation of the country and the extended duration of Haitian rule are
considered. In this particular Haiti offers a contrast, for though
French is the official language the mass of the people speak Creole
French, a patois unintelligible to anyone who has not lived in Haiti.
The Dominicans do not lisp the "c" as do the Spaniards, and other
peculiarities of Spanish as spoken in America are manifest, but on the
whole the difference between the Dominican's Spanish and the
Spaniard's Spanish may be compared to the difference between English
as spoken in the United States and as spoken in England. Like several
other Spanish-American nations the Dominicans are to be distinguished
by their preference for certain words and endings, and by their accent
and inflection. As everywhere else the unlettered classes are given to
grammatical faults and provincialisms, but on the whole the vocabulary
of the Dominican peasant contains fewer archaic expressions and Indian
roots than that of the Porto Rican "jibaro" and is more easily
understood by the outsider. Slight differences of pronunciation are
noticeable in different parts of the country: the people of Seibo are
inclined to use the vowel "i" instead of the consonant "r" and say
"poique" instead of "porque," somewhat as the New York street urchin
says "boid" for "bird"; the people of Santiago sometimes drop the "r"
entirely and say "poque," as the Southern negro in the United States
says "fo" for "four"; the peasants of Puerto Plata show a tendency to
use the "u" instead of "o" and say "tudu" instead of "todo," like some
of the inhabitants of Catalonia in Spain. The Azuans claim to speak
the best Spanish of the Republic, but their claim is disputed by other

Besides Spanish, the English and French languages are heard to a
limited extent. On the Samana peninsula, where the descendants of
American negroes are in a majority, as much English is spoken as
Spanish, and in the coast towns, San Pedro de Macoris, Puerto Plata,
Monte Cristi and Santo Domingo, it is also often heard. In these
cities it is usually the singsong English of negroes from the British
colonies. Along the Haitian border and at the extremity of the Samana
peninsula, where a Haitian colony was planted by President Boyer, the
French language is spoken. On the wharf at Monte Cristi I have
encountered fruit-vendors from the interior who spoke no language
except Creole French. Some persons who have been born and bred on the
Samana peninsula know not a word of Spanish but only English. Many
members of the wealthier class of the Republic have studied or
traveled in Europe or the United States and speak one or more foreign
languages. In Puerto Plata I was surprised to hear a jet-black negro
speak German fluently; he had been educated in a commercial school in
Hamburg. The larger cities have their foreign colonies, consisting
principally of merchants, and most of the languages of Europe are

As a race the Dominicans are robust and sturdy. All the Dominican
presidents of late years have been men of commanding physique, fitting
representatives of their people. As far as industry is concerned the
average Dominican is little more laborious than absolutely necessary
to support himself and his family. Why should he do more when nature
has been so bountiful and when in the past any accumulated fruits of
his toil might have been swept away by the next revolution? The spirit
of the tropics pervades the country and the tendency not to do to-day
what can be conveniently left for "mañana" is constantly observed.

The Dominican women are as a rule graceful of body and fair of face,
with large and beautiful eyes. They make devoted wives and loving
mothers. The ladies of the better class are quite as susceptible to
the allurements of Parisian fashions as their American and European
cousins, and the scenes at balls and at evening promenades on the
plaza are very attractive. The heat of the climate makes a liberal use
of powder necessary, and it almost seems as if the darker the color of
the woman the greater is her fondness for powder, so that some of the
negresses assume an almost grayish hue. The Dominican woman is very
domestic, she rarely goes out except to church, to an occasional dance
or to the band concerts on the plaza. Before her marriage she is
carefully chaperoned and guarded; all courting takes place in the
presence of her mother or some other near relative.

Notwithstanding the large mixture of African blood and long isolation
of the Dominican race, the strong personality of the Spaniard has
survived unmodified and the population is to-day as thoroughly Spanish
in character, customs and mode of thinking as the people of Cuba and
Porto Rico. How completely the Spanish consciousness pervades the
country was illustrated by a remark made to an American naval officer
by the mayor of an inland town of Santo Domingo; he was a very black
negro, but in the course of a discussion observed: "Your arguments
will fit Anglo-Saxons, but _we Latins_ are a different people." The
first trait noticeable is the politeness of Dominicans of every
degree. Only once have I met a rude official and that by a curious
coincidence was the very first one with whom I had dealings, but after
this beginning there were no further exceptions to the rule. A
charming characteristic is the open-hearted hospitality everywhere
encountered. The stranger who is introduced in any home is immediately
assured in the customary Spanish way: "This is your house." The words,
though figuratively spoken, are sincere, and the hosts are glad to
have their new friend visit their house as though it were his own. As
companions the Dominicans are delightful, being generally jovial and
amiable. Some there are, especially among the country people, whose
natural reticence makes them seem sullen, but once the ice is broken
they are quite as light-hearted as the others.

In the idealistic tendency of their mind the Dominicans strongly show
their brotherhood with the other Spanish peoples. In this connection
the spirit of their renowned kinsman, Don Quixote de la Mancha, is
often in evidence. When one of them mounts his Rocinante in defense of
some particularly attractive abstract proposition, nothing less than a
blow from a windmill will bring him back to reality. And so when any
person or group of persons become enamored of an idea they are
unwilling to brook contradiction or compromise. The inclination of the
majority to do their will irrespective of the wishes of the minority
and the unwillingness of the minority to bow to the resolutions of the
majority have been and will continue to be grave problems in the
government of the country. Even in personal relations a spirit of
intolerance can frequently be noticed and while almost anything is
forgiven a friend, not a single redeeming feature is recognized in an
enemy. To their idealistic tendency may be ascribed the worship of the
words "patriotism" and "liberty." Unnumbered sins have been committed
under the cloak of patriotism, and true personal liberty, such as it
is understood in the United States, has never prevailed in Santo
Domingo; but the adoration of these conceptions continues and it is to
be hoped that now, with American assistance, it will bring real and
lasting liberty to the country. Perhaps it is their idealism, as much
as their isolation, which causes the Dominicans to take themselves so
very seriously and renders them so extremely sensitive to criticism or
jokes on the subject of their country, customs or revolutions.

Foreigners sometimes complain that the affirmations of Dominicans
cannot be trusted. In many cases investigation has shown that these
foreigners were misled with regard to some mine, woodland or other
property they had come to buy. Persons anxious to sell mines and other
undeveloped properties have not distinguished themselves for veracity
in any country, and with regard to sincerity in general the Dominicans
may be regarded as no better but certainly no worse than the general
run of humanity. With their personal friends they are generally loyal
and true, but in their political relations the picture is not so
attractive; for while there have been many cases where subordinates
have followed their fallen chief into exile rather than submit to the
victor, it is saddening to note the frequency with which governors of
provinces and other local authorities have betrayed the confidence
reposed in them by the chief executive, and have initiated or joined
revolutionary uprisings. I have heard both ex-President Jimenez and
ex-President Morales sorrowfully complain that their fall was due to
the treachery of trusted subordinates. A particularly repulsive case
of perfidiousness was that of General Luis Felipe Vidal, a prominent
politician, who participated in the murder of President Caceres,
though he had only a few hours before visited the President, played
billiards with him and fondled his infant daughter.

Of all amusements there is none which appeals so strongly to every
class of the population as dancing. Every public holiday is an excuse
for the giving of a "baile" or dance, and when holidays are scarce the
"baile" is arranged anyhow. So, while elsewhere special occasions are
celebrated by banquets, here the rule is to give a dance. Historical
anniversaries, political triumphs, religious holidays, weddings,
birthdays, christenings: all are celebrated by dances. Waltz music is
popular but the favorite dance music is the pretty Porto Rican
"danza," which is kin to Mexican airs and to the Cuban "guaracha" and
may be compared to a flowing brook, now gliding along serenely, now
rushing in cascades. The dances are often interrupted by the serving
of sweets and ices.

In the country the dance music is quite different. A rhythmic beating
is kept up on a drum made of a barrel or hollow log and rude fiddles
or guitars or an accordion play an accompaniment. To the traveler,
riding along his road at night, the deep regular rumbling of the drums
of distant "bailes" comes with indescribable weirdness. In some dances
the participants engage in a monotonous chant, in others there are
pauses in which the young men must quickly improvise verses on some
subject suggested by one of the lassies. In the cities the dances
begin at ten o'clock at night and last until the wee hours of morning,
but in the country they begin at almost any time and occasionally last
two or three days--especially during the Christmas holidays.

These country dances with drum accompaniment are similar to those
popular among the negroes in Porto Rico and are probably an African
legacy. But, like Porto Rico, the Dominican Republic is absolutely
free from the practise of those barbarous negro rites, of which dances
like these often form part, and which are known in Haiti under the
name of "voudou," in Cuba under that of "witchcraft" and in the
British West Indies under that of "obeah," and which sometimes lead
even to human sacrifices. This is all the more remarkable in Santo
Domingo as the adjoining Republic of Haiti has been the worst sufferer
from such practices.

The country dances are occasionally the scenes of violent personal
altercations. While drunkenness is very rare and a drunkard is
regarded almost as a social outcast, the countrymen are fond of
regaling themselves with rum made of cane juice, and at dances where
such rum is served it is not infrequent for some one to become unduly
excited. If he happened to meet another in the same condition and a
controversy arose with reference to some dusky damsel, a frequent
unfortunate outcome was, until lately, for both to draw revolvers and
blaze away at each other and if ejected from the house to stand nearby
and fire through the wooden walls. In Porto Rico such affairs are
decided with the machete and only the immediate combatants are hurt,
but revolver bullets are more dangerous to the innocent bystander than
to those doing the shooting. In Macoris I was told of a dance where
the casualties were fifteen killed--more than in the average
revolution. Yet so deep-seated is the fondness for dancing that after
the smoke has cleared away and the dead or wounded victim been
removed, it has often happened that the ladies dried their tears and
men and women continued with the "baile."

Up to the time of American intervention in 1916, the practise of
carrying weapons was general. In the country a man strapped on his
pistol or carried his gun as he would in other countries put on his
necktie or take up his cane. At the railroad stations in the Cibao I
have sometimes observed everyone congregated about the station wearing
a revolver more or less visible, except two or three, evidently the
poorest farm-laborers, who could not afford anything more than a dirk
and who gazed at the others with envious eyes. Beautiful pearl-handled
revolvers were proudly exhibited to the public eye, and on one
occasion I saw a little boy not over ten years old with a revolver
that reached to his knee. The habit was all the more indefensible as
it was absolutely unnecessary, Santo Domingo being as safe a country
to travel in as any other. Governors of provinces sometimes forbade
the carrying of arms, but the prohibition was rarely enforced with
reference to their friends and adherents. The American authorities
have put a stop to the habit, however, and confiscated all the arms
they could find; some 15,000 rifles and revolvers have thus been
taken up.

After all, the average Dominican will resent a shot less than a blow.
A story is told of a prominent youth in the capital who received a
slap during a quarrel; the aggressor fled, but the young man kept
holding his handkerchief to his cheek for days until he met his
assailant and was able to wipe out the insult in blood.

Only in the larger towns are there facilities for the gratification of
the popular fondness for theatrical performances. Puerto Plata has a
pretty theatre. In Santo Domingo City the ancient Jesuit church, long
abandoned, was converted into a theater, the stage being located
where the altar formerly stood, the boxes occupying the aisles, and
the chairs of the audience being arranged in the nave; but a new
open-air theatre, the "Teatro Independencia," is more commodious. The
Spanish drama is popular, as well as the delightful Spanish "zarzuela"
or musical comedy. Owing to the isolation of the country it is not
often visited by good professional troupes, and the interior is
entirely dependent upon amateur talent.

In social life the clubs are prominent features. A town must be
unimportant indeed if it has not at least one club where the men can
meet, read the papers and play cards or billiards. The first attention
shown the stranger within the gates is to take him to the club and
enroll him as a visitor, this action being equivalent to a general
local introduction. The clubs give pleasant musical and literary
entertainments and dances attended by the best local society. In Santo
Domingo, Puerto Plata and Santiago the ladies have a club of their own
where they can meet and chat to their hearts' content. Needless to say
the most popular entertainments and dances are those given by the
"Club de Damas." All these clubs have been of great value in the
social development of the country and many of them have given
important impulses to education.

Another valuable contribution to civic development is rendered by the
municipal bands existing in many towns. They are voluntary
associations and tend to awaken in the inhabitants an interest and
pride in their city. On Sunday night and sometimes on other nights
during the week they play on the plaza, while the people, following
the usual custom in the Spanish cities, promenade up and down. Such
scenes are very attractive, the ladies, dressed in their best, with
their light gowns brilliant in the moonlight; the men walking with
them or watching the promenaders. It is on the plaza and in the
ball-room where Cupid's arrows do most execution.

Of late years some interest has been shown in athletics, and baseball
has invaded the island. Bicycle races occasionally form part of public
celebrations, and horse-races and tournaments have long been popular.

Santo Domingo may be said to have two carnivals, one on St. Andrew's
day, November 30, the other during the three days preceding Lent. The
former is the more exciting. Until recent years there was not a person
in the capital and Santiago, where the populace was most given to the
typical diversion of the day, who did not voluntarily or involuntarily
participate therein. The diversion consisted in throwing water or
flour or both on everyone within reach. The poorer people would arm
themselves with great syringes and discharge them at every passerby or
through the keyholes of house-doors. Others would station themselves
at points of vantage with barrels and tubs of water and duck the
unwary they were able to entrap. People of the better class would
place great tubs of water on their balconies or roofs, which the
servants would assiduously keep filled while their masters emptied
buckets-full on friends in the street. The young men rode through the
streets in open carriages, bombarding the ladies on balconies and
housetops with eggs filled with perfumed water, and receiving
drenchings in return. Within the last few years the authorities have
restricted or prohibited the throwing of water, and the principal
celebration of the day is now what is called a "white dance" given by
the better society, at which the participants are supposed to come
dressed in white in order that the many-colored confetti, serpentines
and gilt powders which those present throw at each other between
dances, may appear to better effect. During the carnival proper,
before Lent, the streets are filled with masked persons in groups or
alone, who dance, make impudent remarks or otherwise indulge in
nonsense, to the special delight of the ubiquitous small boy. The
better class celebrate with masquerade balls, where the merry spirit
of the Dominican is given free rein.

The principal vice of the country is gaming. Men of the better class
play cards, dominoes, chess, checkers and billiards, for money, but
they do so rather for pastime than for gain. Among the poorer classes,
however, the predominant idea is that of making money quickly. Cards
and dice are often used, but the typical form of gambling, the one at
which the poor countryman is fondest of staking his hard-earned wages,
is the cockfight. Every town has its cockpit where on Sundays and
holidays the barbarous sport is carried on in the presence of crowds
of whooping, screaming spectators who often ride miles to attend. The
authorities claim that efforts have been made to stop this sport, but
that they have all been unavailing. It constitutes a source of
municipal income, the right to open cockpits being annually conceded
to the highest bidder by the various municipalities. Raffles and
lotteries are also permitted by law, being subject to taxation by the
municipalities, and in one or two cities there are municipal

With respect to morality the same conditions may be said to prevail in
Santo Domingo as in other southern countries, the women being in
general virtuous and pure and the men inclined to amorous intrigues.
The official statistics relating to marriages and births show that of
the children born in the Republic almost sixty per cent are
illegitimate. These figures, while serious, are rendered less alarming
than would appear at first sight by the large number of what the
census-takers term "consensual unions" among the humbler classes, or
cases where a man and woman, though not united by marriage ceremony,
live together publicly as man and wife, rear a family and are as
faithful to each other as if they were legitimately married. "Married
but not parsoned" is the way in which such unions are referred to in
some of the British West Indies. The considerable number of these
unions may be explained by the high cost of the marriage
ceremony,--for while there are some priests ready to waive their fees
for a religious wedding and some alcaldes who are satisfied with what
the law allows for the civil ceremony, others are not so
complaisant--also by the fact that such unions have become so common
that the parties see nothing wrong in them, and further by the
circumstance that the parties often believe it more to their advantage
to remain single rather than to be married. A friend of mine had a
respectable colored man working on his plantation, the head of a large
family, but not married to the woman with whom he had been living for
over a score of years and to whom he was devotedly attached. My friend
endeavored to persuade him to marry the woman, but the answer was a
determined negative. "If I marry her she will know I have to support
her and she may get careless and lazy. Knowing that I can leave her
when I like she will continue to behave herself." Persuasion was then
tried with his wife and her refusal was almost identical: "If I marry
him he will know that I am bound to him and then he may go and fall in
love with some other woman. Knowing that I can leave him when I like
he will continue to behave himself."

The homes of the poorer people are mere huts generally built of
palmwood and covered with palm-thatch. The houses of the country
people are exactly like the "bohios" used by the Indians at the time
of the conquest, as pictured and described by the early writers. In
the towns outside of the capital wooden houses are the rule and some
of the wealthier people have pretty chalets. In the large cities there
is a good deal of "mampostería" construction: brick or stone work,
covered with cement. In the capital the walls of a majority of the
houses have come down from the early days and are of great
solidity--here a man's house is literally his fortress. The barred
windows of the olden days are here still to be seen. One-story
structures are the rule, and there are few if any of more than two
stories. The heat of the climate makes window-glass impracticable and
the windows and doors are fitted with shutters which permit the air to
pass through. Except in the houses of the wealthiest persons the
furniture is very simple and of small amount. In the parlors a
caneseat sofa, several rockers and chairs and a small table with a few
knicknacks are arranged everywhere in the same way. The bedsteads are
of iron and the bedroom furniture is reduced to the simplest articles.
The floors are bare except for a few rugs. The climate is responsible
for the simplicity of the furniture, as carpets would breed insects,
and more furniture would mean endless cleaning and dusting, since
everything must be open all day. The kitchens are not furnished with
iron stoves, but cooking is done on brick hearths, as in Cuba and
Porto Rico. The most serious drawback about Dominican houses is the
want of proper bathing facilities and of sanitary closets, due to lack
of running water in most cities. The most attractive feature of the
houses is the patio, or yard, which is often gay with flowers, though
not so assiduously cared for as in some other Spanish countries. In
similarity to other tropical lands home life is not nearly so intense
as in colder climates.



Catholic religion.--Concordat.--Ownership of church
buildings.--Clergy.--Religious sentiment.--Shrines.--Religious customs
and holidays.--Religious toleration.--Protestant sects.

The Roman Catholic creed has been the dominant religion of Santo
Domingo from the time of the conquest. When Columbus arrived on his
second voyage he brought with him twelve friars, some of whom were as
holy men as their leader, the vindictive Father Boil, was a nuisance.
Others were not long in arriving and soon the country had as many
priests in proportion as Spain herself. Large estates came into
possession of the church, and in the city of Santo Domingo imposing
churches and spacious cloisters were erected, which still stand,
either in ruins or used for religious or secular purposes. There were
three monasteries, two nunneries, and some ten churches and chapels in
the capital.

As early as 1511 bishops were appointed for Santo Domingo and
Concepcion de la Vega and in 1547 the first archbishopric in the new
world was established in Santo Domingo City. From 1516 to 1519 the
island was governed directly by three friars, and the licentiate
Alonso de Fuenmayor, who governed thirty years later, was not only
governor and captain-general of the island, and president of the royal
audiencia, but archbishop of Santo Domingo as well. The Inquisition
was established in Santo Domingo in 1564.

With the decline of the colony the number of churchmen declined also,
and by the middle of the seventeenth century the majority of the
church buildings were closed and falling to ruin and the church's vast
country estates were abandoned. The revival of the country during the
eighteenth century affected the church as well, but the occupation by
Haitians and French during the beginning of the nineteenth century
caused its influence to wane, and restrictive legislation under
Haitian dominion and the expulsion of the archbishop for political
reasons in 1830, severed all connection with Rome for many years. The
first archbishop appointed after the independence of the Republic was
consecrated in 1848.

The Roman Catholic religion is now the recognized state religion. In
1884 the Dominican government entered into an agreement with the Holy
See according to the terms of which the archbishop of Santo Domingo is
to be appointed by the Pope from a list of three names, native
Dominicans or residents of the Republic, submitted by the Dominican
Congress, which in turn engaged to pay the salary of the archbishop
and certain other officials. The agreement as to the payments
incumbent upon the Dominican government had the same fate as other
financial contracts: it was observed for a short time and then
disregarded, so that for years only small appropriations have been
made for church purposes.

In the year 1908 a controversy arose with reference to the ownership
of the buildings and lands occupied by the church. The archbishop and
church officials claimed that such buildings belong to the church
absolutely; while the government officials alleged that they are the
property of the state, possessed by the church with the state's
consent. Previously few persons had ever given a thought to the
matter, the church having as many buildings as it could properly care
for, and more, while other former religious edifices were used by the
state. Contributions for the erection and repair of churches were
frequently made by Dominican towns without exciting discussion. The
controversy of 1908 was precipitated by the determination of the
church authorities to erect a mausoleum in the cathedral of Santo
Domingo City for the remains of the late Archbishop Meriño. The
Executive of Santo Domingo demanded that the government's permission
be first obtained, but the church officials refused to ask for such
permission, holding it unnecessary. Neither side lacked historical
grounds for its contention. In the old colonial days church and state
were united and the questions of ownership of the church buildings
never arose. When the Haitians assumed control in 1822 they considered
the church edifices as the property of the state alone and religious
services continued only by sufferance of the government. Upon the
establishment of the independence of Santo Domingo, the new
government, although friendly towards the Catholic Church, took a
similar view of the ownership of church edifices and property. By law
of June 7, 1845, of the Dominican Congress, all "censos" and other
perpetual rents established in favor of the church were declared
extinguished and by law of July 2, 1845, all property, real and
personal, formerly belonging to convents and orders no longer in being
in the country was formally proclaimed to pertain to the state. In
1853 burials in churches were prohibited by law of Congress as being
dangerous to the public health, but in exceptional cases the Executive
granted permission therefor on the payment of a fee which of late
years has been $300. On the other hand, it was argued that the church
has been in uninterrupted possession of its present buildings for
centuries; that these buildings are not comprised in the laws of
1845; that a law of 1867 granting the gardens of the archbishop's
residence to the municipality of Santo Domingo for the establishment
of a market and cockpit was repealed in 1871 as being a despoilment of
the church and unconstitutional; and that when the mausoleum of
Columbus was erected in the cathedral the committee in charge,
presided over by the vice-president of the Republic, applied for
permission to the authorities of the church. The dispute regarding the
mausoleum of Archbishop Meriño came to an end when the government
receded from its demand, but the main question is not regarded
as settled.

At the present time the Republic is divided into fifty-seven parishes.
The episcopal head is the Archbishop of Santo Domingo. In 1903, when
old age had enfeebled Archbishop Meriño, one of his assistants,
Monsignor Adolfo Nouel, was made titular Archbishop of Metymne, and on
the death of the venerable churchman in 1906 succeeded him as
Archbishop of Santo Domingo.

In the olden days many religious orders were represented in the
island, but to-day the clergy is secular, with the exception of a few
friars brought over in recent years from Spain and France. The
majority of the priests are native Dominicans, graduated from the
seminary in the capital. There are in the clerical body a number of
black sheep, far too fond of the pleasures of the flesh. Of this stamp
was a noted prelate, of whom I was told when I asked whether he was
old: "Yes, quite old, his oldest son is over forty." As a general
rule, however, the priests of Santo Domingo are earnest, hardworking,
honorable men. The standard is being raised through the efforts of the
present Archbishop Nouel.

The unfortunate political history of the country has not been
conducive to the establishment of eleemosynary institutions or to
other philanthropic activity, and such work has devolved almost
exclusively upon the priests. The names of many of these are held in
grateful remembrance for their efforts in behalf of charity. Perhaps
the most celebrated was Father Billini, who, a member of one of the
foremost families of Santo Domingo, consecrated his life to helping
his fellowmen. He was a father to the poor and through his efforts the
insane asylum of Santo Domingo, an orphan asylum and a college were
established. His name became notable in other directions also, for he
was instrumental in the discovery of the remains of Columbus in the
Santo Domingo cathedral in 1877. At times the methods of the good
father were a little spectacular: thus on one occasion when
supplicating Heureaux in behalf of several prisoners sentenced to
death, he took off his hat and vowed he would not put it on again
until the prisoners were pardoned, but the order of execution was
carried out and ever afterwards Father Billini went hatless. In so
great esteem is his name held that the only statue in Santo Domingo
City, besides that of Columbus on the plaza, is erected to his memory.

Practically the entire population of the country is at least nominally
Roman Catholic. Among the educated classes in the cities the women, as
a rule, are devout; the men either openly acknowledge themselves free
thinkers or their religion is very superficial indeed. On one occasion
a Dominican earnestly assured me he was a Catholic and would always
remain one, "but," he added, "I cannot accept all the doctrines of the
church: thus I do not believe in the Virgin Mary, nor the saints, nor
the power of the priests to forgive sins, nor in the divinity of
Christ, but I feel almost certain of the existence of a God." The
fondness for display makes the ornate ceremonies of the Catholic
Church popular with all, however, and they are observed by officers of
the state whenever possible. The president always goes to mass after
taking the oath of office, and the army flags are solemnly blessed.

The less educated people of the cities and most of the country people
not only hold their priests in great respect, but are blindly
superstitious. It is common to find crosses in the courtyards of
country houses, placed there to keep evil spirits away. Frequently
also, three crosses are seen in conspicuous places near the roadside
or even in the middle of the road. They are supposed to propitiate the
Almighty, and pious persons mumble prayers as they pass them. When the
destruction wrought by the Martinique volcano became known here, the
dismay of the countrymen was responsible for more than one "calvario"
(calvary), as these collections of crosses are called. It is
especially desired by the country people to receive the last
sacraments from the priests before death. On one occasion far out in
the country I met a crowd of people engaged in transporting a dying
man many miles to the priest in the nearest town. When asked why the
priest was not called to the sick man, they explained innocently: "He
couldn't come. The priest is too fat."

There are in the territory of the Republic several shrines of more
than usual renown, which at certain seasons of the year attract crowds
of worshipers, some coming all the way from Porto Rico. Wonderful
cures of invalids are registered which recall the miracles of Lourdes.
The most celebrated of these churches is the one on the Santo Cerro,
the Holy Hill, built on the exact spot where forces of Columbus
planted their cross when defending the hill against the Indians. After
the Indians had stormed the place all their efforts to destroy the
cross were unavailing, so the story goes, and they were finally driven
to precipitate flight by the apparition of the Virgin, sitting on the
cross. A church was founded on the spot and a convent near by. During
the dark years of the colony the convent was abandoned and fell to
ruin but at no time was a priest lacking to look after the site of the
miracle. In the time of Heureaux the humble wooden chapel then
crowning the hill was replaced by a larger but modest brick church,
the greater part of the bricks being carried up from the ruins of the
old city of La Vega which lie at the foot of the hill. The church
occupies an eminence overlooking the great Royal Plain. Its most
prized treasure, which is reverently kissed by the priest before he
shows it to the stranger, consists of two splinters about an inch
long, of black wood, parts of the original cross of Columbus, enclosed
in another small cross of gold filigree work. A larger piece of the
original cross is kept in the cathedral at Santo Domingo City, to be
exhibited on special occasions. The pieces of the original cross
carried away by the Spaniards were enough to make a score of crosses,
yet nevertheless there was always some wood left, which circumstance
was heralded as an additional miracle.

Within the church on the Holy Hill, in one of the chapels, there is a
hole in the stone floor a little over two feet square and deep, which
is pointed out as the exact place where the cross of Columbus stood.
There is nothing so coveted by pilgrims as to be able to kneel in this
hole and offer up their prayers. The soil from this spot is credited
with strange powers, such as that of healing wounds on which it is
laid, and that of causing floods to subside, when sprinkled on the
troubled waters. The late Archbishop Meriño assured me that the
miraculous nature of the spot is evidenced by the fact that however
much soil is taken out of the hole, the bottom thereof always retains
the same level, but my later inspection of the dry yellow earth at the
bottom disclosed nothing unusual. Near the Santo Cerro church is the
trunk of the nispero tree, gnarled with age, from which Columbus is
said to have cut the wood for his cross. All around are miserable
shacks, inhabited, so the pure-minded priest of the church sorrowfully
told me, by people the conduct of many of whom is quite at variance
with the holiness supposed to pervade the place.

The town of Bayaguana, to the northeast of Santo Domingo City, also
attracts the faithful, especially about the first of the year, by
reason of the fame of the "Cristo de Bayaguana," a very ancient figure
of Christ in the church of that town. In the same way Higuey in the
eastern part of the island is specially noted for its shrine of the
"Altagracia," a picture of the Virgin, of which tradition says that in
the early days of the colony it was given by an aged mysterious
stranger to the father of a devout maiden who had pined therefor. The
church is built on the site of an orange tree under which, it is said,
the picture was first admired by the girl and her relatives; the trunk
of this tree is shown behind the altar of the church. Pilgrimages to
this place take place preferably about the twenty-first of January and
the miracles ascribed to the Virgin are astounding. Miracles of quite
a different nature are attributed to an image of Saint Andrew, in the
capital. The populace confidently believe that as sure as this figure
is carried to the street an earthquake will follow.

There are always several altars in the churches, surmounted by figures
of the saints to whom they are dedicated. Some of these statues are
quite beautiful, others, in some of the poorer churches, are hideous.
As in other Spanish countries the churches are bare of seats, and
people who attend either send small chairs before the service, or
stand. It is not unusual to see well dressed ladies carrying their

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