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Full text of "Facts about Santo Domingo, applicable to the present crisis"

FABENS 
Facts About Santo ^omingo 
Applicable to the Present 

Crisis -• 




FACTS 



SANTO DOMINGO 



applicable to tl)c present €xbx5. 



A^ ADDRESS 

DELIVEEED BEFOEE THE AMERICAN GEOGRAPHICAL AND STATISTICAL 
SOCIETY AT NEW TORK, APRIL 3, 1862, 



JOSEPH WAEEEN FABENS. 



ILLrSTRATED BY THE OXLY COMPLETE MAP OF SANTO DOMINGO AND IIAYTI 
THAT IIA9 YET APPEARED. 



iSL.V YORK: 

GEORGE r. PUTNAM, 5 32 BROADWAY 

WASHINGTON, I). C. : FRANCK TAYLOR. 

18G2. 



JOHN F. TROT^, 

TniNTEE AND STEEEOTYPEn, 

50 Greene street. 



LIDRARY 
. ,, . UNIVERSITY OF CALIFO 

\M O I SANTA BARBARA 



F3 



SANTO DOMINGO. 



INTRODUCTORY HISTORICAL REMARKS. 

The Island of Santo Domingo is the New World's classic 
land. Nothing in the records of remote antiquity fascinates us 
like the wonderful story of its discovery and first occupation by 
the white man. Every page of its early history is alive v>'ith 
stirring incidents and pregnant adventures, the strivings, achieve- 
ments, failures, sufl'erings, and sorrows of hold spirits and soaring 
intellects ; and, over all, magnifying their shadowy proportions, 
softening, too, their harsher outlines, lies the dim mist of cen- 
turies. Here was the chosen and cherished home of Columbus. 
Here the great discoverer enjoyed, for a time, the sweet fruition 
of those hopes which had been his only solace during years of 
wandering, anxiety, and many disappointments. For this he 
had been, as Irving says, " exposed to continual scoffs and indig- 
nities, being ridiculed by the light and ignorant as a mere 
dreamer, and stigmatized by the illiberal as an adventurer." For 
this, according to Clemencin, a Spanish writer, "he had waited 
in the corners of ante-chambers, confounded in the crowd of im- 
portunate applicants, melancholy and dejected in the midst of 
the general rejoicing." For this, one day, a stranger in a strange 
land, weary with travel and sad at heart, holding his little boy 
by the hand, he had stopped at the gate of the convent of Santa 
Maria de Rabida, and asked for bread and water for his child. 
But all this time, without a home, without money, and without 
friends, he bore about with him, smouldering in his bosom, the 
wealth of the great faith and hope which was here to be realized. 



4 SANTO DOMINGO. 

Here he established the first white colony on this side of the 
Atlantic, introducing also horses, cattle, and domestic animals of 
all kinds, grain, seeds of various plants, vines, sugar-canes, and 
many European grafts and saplings. " There was something 
wonderfully grand," says the historian, " in the idea of thus in- 
troducing new races of animals and plants, of building cities, 
extending colonies, and sowing the seeds of civilization and of 
enlightened empire in this beautiful but savage world. It struck 
the minds of learned and classical men with admiration, filling 
them with pleasant dreams and reveries, and seeming to realize 
the poetical pictures of the olden time," 

" Columbus," says old Peter Martyr, who describes so graphic- 
ally events at this period, " has begun to build a city, as he 
has lately written to me, and to sow our seeds and propagate our 
animals. Who of us shall now speak with wonder of Saturn, 
Ceres, and Triptolemus, travelling about the earth to spread new 
inventions among mankind ? Or of the Phconicians, who built 
Tyre or Sidon ? Or of the Tyrians themselves, whose roving 
desires led them to migrate into foreign lands, to build new 
cities, and establish new communities T' 

The theatre of the drama was worthy of the stirring events 
therein enacted. Glowing descriptions of its palmy groves, its 
lofty but luxuriant mountains, its pictured landscapes of rich 
smiling valleys and broad sweeping plains, its majestic rivers, 
flowing through aromatic forests to secure and spacious bays and 
harbors, its mines of gold and silver and precious stones, its 
numerous and beautiful birds, its abundant fishes, its manifold 
and delicious fruits, its fragrant flowers of perpetual bloom, its 
soft and voluptuous climate, the cordiality and gentleness of its 
simple-minded inhabitants ; these went back to Spain, thrilling 
the public heart from Cordova to Barcelona and the shores of the 
little port of Palos, and, radiating thence, caused the pulse of 
enterprise throughout Europe to beat with liveliest throbs. 
Enthusiasts and adventurers flocked from all sides to visit these 
new-found regions of wealth and enchantment. Hidalgos of the 
highest rank, favorite officers of the royal household, Andalusian 
cavaliers, fresh and glowing with martial zeal from the Moorish 



INTRODUCTORY HISTORICAL REMARKS. 5 

wars, pale students from the cloister, devoutly anxious to extend 
the dominions of the Church, together with traders, husbandmen, 
miners, mechanics, and servants, thronged the outward-bound 
ships and caravels. As we look back through the intervening 
centuries upon this crowd of actors, by the light of our later 
knowledge and experience, they pass before us with proud and 
stately tread ; but with remorse, and the sorrow which is often 
allied to greatness and enthusiasm, imprinted on their faces. 
Many were their misconceptions and terrible the mistakes and 
crimes which they committed ; but swift and righteous was the 
retribution, Columbus is ever the central figure of the group. 
With all his religious fervor and lofty purposes, he appears to 
have been wanting in a broad and earnest sympathy with his 
kind, and to have fallen into deplorable errors, till at length we 
are heart-rent at beholding him carried in chains from that land 
which but a few years previous had worshipped him as a god. 
Yet those chains, heavy and degrading as they were, which, his 
son Fernando tells us, were kept ever after hanging in his cabi- 
net, and which he desired might be buried with him in his grave, 
were as nothing to the heaviness and bitter disappointment which 
weighed upon his soul. Far more inexcusable were the cruelties 
and indignities perpetrated by his companions and followers, and 
thorough and complete was the Almighty's vengeance. The 
simple-minded, long-suffering natives, on whom they delighted 
to place intolerable burdens, were taken from them to those 
mansions " where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary 
are at rest." The land withered beneath their iron rule. Their 
cities fell in ruins, the lizard and centipede crawled over decay- 
ing rafters and among noisome weeds in the corridors of their 
once splendid palaces. Their fields were abandoned for want of 
labor, and the wilderness came back to repossess the site of the 
garden. They perished from no visible calamity, but, as a 
recent writer expresses it, from an internal gnawing — a kind of 
dry rot. There is something inexpressibly sad and touching in 
the final exodus of the remnant of this haughty race, when, in 
1795, having ceded the island to France, they gathered up the 
remains of their great admiral, and, bidding adieu to the land 



b SANTO DOMINGO. 

which he so loved and they had so cursed with political and social 
misrule, " westward took their solitary way." If the active life 
of Columbus was roimded by sorrow, as Shakespeare tells us all 
our lives "'arc rounded by a sleep," so the island that was his 
best beloved — the Benjamin around which clustered the affec- 
tions of his declining years — after three centuries of occupation 
by the Spaniards, centuries of oppression, bloodshed, and crudest 
wrongs, during which the bones of its once numerous people 
checkered the greensward from Cape Tiburon to Engano, re- 
turned again to its former condition of savage innocence, of rude 
plenty, and the semblance of patriarchal repose. 

To-da}', on the same picturesque stage, amid the same bright 
surroundings of tropical enchantment, a new drama is being 
enacted, a drama of far greater significance than the old, in the 
events of which we are especially interested. In the west end of 
the island, in that comparatively small portion of its territory 
now known as Hayti, a free black republic exists, which is not a 
failure. In Santo Domingo proper, restored again voluntarily to 
the rule of Spain, but, as I shall hereinafter state more in detail, 
under very different auspices from the former, with the moral 
and political equality of the races guaranteed, and the fairest 
promise of a most liberal and enlightened policy of government, 
we are invited to try on an extensive scale the oft-discussed 
experiment of free black labor in the tropics. It is not likely 
that we shall disregard the invitation. The emergencies of the 
new era, on which, as a people, we have already entered, forbid 
the supposition. On the contrary, it is more than probable that 
we shall at once embrace the opportunity here offered us of 
solving one of the great industrial })roblems of the age. 

Apart from the story of Santo Domingo, I find but little 
information of an accurate character prevailing with regard to 
the island. Let us cast a glance at its geographical position and 
topographical character, and consider a few facts relative to its 
climate, soil, and productions. I shall pass by the rose-tinted 
descriptions of those magniloquent adventurers who found here 
cataracts of wild honey flowing over precipices veined with gold, 
and saw on every side the wealth of Ophir and the aromatic 



GEOGRAPHICAL TOSITION, 7 

spices of the Moluccas^ and give only the well-authenticated facts 
of reliable residents and travellers, combined with the results of 
my own observation. It will be seen that the land is to-day as 
rich, and the field of labor as inviting, as when, according to 
some of the old writers, Hispaniola exported twenty- five millions 
of gold per annum, and the magnificent palaces erected by 
Charles V. at Madrid and Toledo were said to have been built of 
the sugar of its production. 

Geogeaphical Positiox. 

The Island of Santo Domingo lies between the eighteenth 
and twentieth parallels of north latitude, reaching ouite up to 
these limits in a large portion of its boundaries, overrunning them, 
even, in one point southward, and extends from near the third to 
near the ninth parallel of longitude east from Washington. It 
lies midway between the fine islands of Cuba and Porto Kico, 
and its relative position in the great Archipelago of the West 
Indies, as well as toward our own shores, and the coasts of Cen- 
tral America and the Spanish Main, is peculiarly advantageous 
and commanding. It may be said to lie on the western con- 
fines of the north-east trade-winds. The seas in its immediate 
neighborhood are remarkably free from dangers, while its bold 
headlands and lofty inland mountains afford well-marked beacons 
to the navigator. Hence the native Indians had given to it the 
name of Hayti, or Highland — and Quisqueya, or Mother of 
Lands. Columbus made it his head-quarters, not merely because 
his dearest hopes were centred in its welfire, but because it was 
a convenient stopping-place fur him in his voyages of discovery 
amongst the other islands, and to the Main. " It was," says 
Valverde, "as a centre, whence sailed all the expeditions by 
which was discovered, conquered, and settled, the fourth part of 
the v.'orld, we may say half the globe. For these and olher mo- 
tives it was distinguished from the first by the family name of 
Spain, as if it were the heart of the country, from which its peo- 
ple overflowed upon the other innumerable isles and the vast 
continent, proceeding even to the ocean of the Pacific, and the 
Southern seas." 



8 SANTO DOMINGO. 

" Its situation/' says the old Padre Charlevoix, '' relative to 
the other islands and Costa Firma, could not be more advan- 
tageous, for it is surrounded by them, as it were, and may be said 
to be placed in the centre of this great Archipelago to exercise 
jurisdiction over them. The other three great Antilles of Sota- 
vento, namely Cuba, Porto Kico, and Jamaica, appear particularly 
disposed to recognize this superiority, and their own subordina- 
tion, for toward each of these three islands it extends a cape or 
point. Cape Tiburon, which forms its southwest extremity, is 
not more than thirty leagues from Jamaica, and, according to 
Oviedo, only twenty-five. Point Espada is distant from Porto 
Kico but eighteen leagues, and it is but twelve leagues from San 
Nicholas to the coast of Cuba. No other position," observes 
this writer, "will enable Spain to establish a solid footing in these 
waters, for none is so capable to maintain the respect and supe- 
riority of the nation, as well in the islands and continents which 
she possesses, as in those which foreigners have usurped in these 
dominions. Its location to windward, the great number and 
convenience of its ports, its contiguity to Cuba and Porto Rico, 
with other advantages, render it the centre of navigation and key 
of New Spain. To whatever part our fleets and squadrons may 
sail, they are allured hither by safe roadsteads, abundant sup- 
plies, and secure seas, whether voyaging to or from Europe, or 
returning from the Indies, or navigating from whatever motive 
in the waters of this Archipelago." 

Topographical Description. 

The surface of Santo Domingo is exceedingly broken and 
diversified. Ilills and mountains rise in massive and irregular 
piles in all directions, but they look down on smiling valleys and 
broad plains where majestic rivers flow through dense forests, and 
past lands of the richest 2)asturage. Two principal ranges of 
mountains run in nearly parallel lines through almost the entire 
area of the island, observing a general direction from east to 
west. They lie at an average distance of some ten leagues from 
the coast. These ranges have many spurs and auxiliary chains, 
as it were, taking quite eccentric paths, and agreeably diversify- 



TOPOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION. if 

ing the aspect of the intervening country. It is owing, perhaps, 
in part to this great topographical feature, that an impression 
prevails in some minds that the wooded and arable land of Santo 
Domingo is somewhat limited^ but a closer investigation will dis- 
pel the erroneous idea. " This is the reason," says the author^ofjf"^ 
a recent work entitled " The Gold Fields of Santo Domingo," ^ 
(which contains some very interesting facts, particularly those 
concerning the geology and mineral resources of the country,) 
" why, on approaching the island, it appears rugged and moun- 
tainous beyond all description, impressing the spectator with the 
belief that it is a mountainous waste, utterly destitute of any 
agricultural susceptibilities, while it is, in fact, thickly inter- 
spersed with the richest valleys, plains, slopes, and savannas, where 
the vegetable kingdom perennially reproduces itself in a thousand 
forms, and in riotous profusion, the mountains themselves being 
covered with the darkest forests and the greenest foliage, to their 
very tops." 

M. Moreau de St. Mery, in his carefully prepared work on 
Santo Domingo, thus alludes to the fertility and hidden resources 
of these mountain ranges : " If we may judge of them," he says, 
" by the stoutness of the trees and the thickness of their foliage, 
they must be extremely fertile. Some of them, however, have a 
rugged and sterile appearance, but this is almost always the effect 
of some mine, of which there are many in these mountains, of 
various sorts and various fecundity. The mountains of the Span- 
ish part are high enough to attract the rains that furnish the 
water with which the Spanish part is more amply supplied than 
the French. It is they that preserve that perpetual verdure, 
that coolness so delightful in a hot climate, and the enlivening 
beauty of all the vegetable creation." 

In Irving's " Columbus" we have the following description, 
made up from the papers of the great Admiral himself. Speak- 
ing of the magical ellect of the island's first appearance, as it rose 
upon his vision from tropic seas, green and distinct in the pure 
air, and beneath the serenity of the deep blue sky, he says : " Un- 
der these advantages the beautiful island of Hayti revealed itself 
to the eye as they approached. Its mountains were higher and 



10 SANTO DOMINGO. 

more rocky than those of the other islands, but the rocks rose 
from among rich forests. The mountains swept down into luxu- 
riant plains and green savannas, while the appearance of culti- 
vated fields, of numerous fires at night and columns of smoke by 
day, showed it to be populous." 

And again, of the north coast he says : 
" It was lofty and mountainous, but with green savannas and 
long, sweeping plains. At one place they caught a view up a 
rich and smiling valley, that ran far into the interior, between 
two mountains, and appeared to be in a high state of cultivation. 
The coast abounded with fish, some of which leaped even into 
their boats. They cast their nets, therefore, and caught great 
quantities. The notes of the bird which they mistook for the 
nightingale, and several others to which they were accustomed, 
reminded them strongly of the groves of their distant Andalusia. 
They fancied the features of the surrounding country resembled 
those of the more beautiful provinces of Spain, and in conse- 
quence the Admiral named the island Hispaniola." 

The slopes and plains of the south side, intersected as they 
are by frequent rivers, which afford special facilities for communi- 
cation with the coast, offer perhaps the best field for immediate 
colonization. This portion of the country is well divided into 
wood, tillage, and pasture lands. From the boundary line with 
llayti to the city of Santo Domingo, there is a succession of 
these lesser plains and valleys, possessing a salubrious climate, a 
soil of great productiveness, and a most desirable location. Both 
Valverde and Moreau spciik particularly of these inviting tracts, 
and make some interesting statements as to their extent and 
agricultural capacity. 

" The valley of Nclba, which is the westernmost of these 
southern slopes," says Moreau, '• contains about seven hundred 
square miles. The Neiba River and some mountainous parts 
separate it on the east from the plains of Azua and Bani, and to 
the west it is bounded by the river of Dames, and the lake of 
Henriquilla. It is extremely fertile, and well adapted to com- 
merce, on account of the largeness of its river. The chase there 
is both useful and agreeable. The birds multiply exceedingly 



TOrOGRAPIIICAL DESCRIPTION. 11 

fast. This seems to he the cliosen spot of the flamingoes and 
pheasants, which keep in flocks, and are found in every part of 
the plain, particularly in the watering-places. This plain," adds 
Moreau, who seems to have quite a predilection for the sugar 
culture, " would be a commodious and eligible situation for more 
than a hundred and fifty sugar manuflictories or plantations ; an 
opening to which would be very easy by means of this great river 
that has long been the boundary of the French possessions." 
Notwithstanding its excellent position, and the abundant fertility 
of its soil, it is to-day little better than a desert. 

At the old port of Azua there were formerly shipped large 
quantities of excellent sugar, raised in the immediate neighbor- 
hood. This valley contains about 1,300 square miles. Accord- 
ing to Moreau, the su<iar-canes in this district <rrew to the heifrht 
of nineteen feet, and produced six successive years without re- 
newal. ''Every production of the canton of Azua," he says, 
" excels by its cjuality and exquisite taste ; it furnishes the whole 
year round a great abundance of the finest oranges, and so sweet 
and pleasant as not to leave the least tartness upon the palate. 

"The mountains of this district are covered with fustic of 
superior quality. It is reputed extremely healthy. The in_ 
habitants are tall and well built, and more industrious than those 
of other parts. This tract," adds Moreau, " might certainly 
have four hundred sugar plantations, and furnish employment 
for eighty thousand negroes. 

" The bay of Ocoa, near Azua, is capable of containing the 
largest squadrons. The landing is so good that the stoutest ships 
may approach near enough to fasten their bowsj)rits to the 
shore. The elevation of the coast on each side, sheltering the 
bay from the wind, renders the sea always calm, and makes it a 
most excellant anchorage. This happy site," observes the same 
writer, "seems to invite inhabitants. The sugar formerly made 
here was of excellent quality, and the land yielded abundantly." 

Next comes the fine rolling ground of Bani and Palenque. 
" To the west of the capital," (Santo Domingo City,) says Val- 
vcrde, " is the rich and fertile valley of Bani, which extends from 
the Nisao River to Ocoa, abounding in excellent pasturage and all 



12 SANTO DOMINGO. 

kinds of cattle, whose flesli is of the most delicate flavor, and 
who rejoice in milk and fatness. It is not easy to conceive any 
position more desirable than that of the fine arable land in the 
vicinity of the port of Palenque, and the rich pasture grounds of 
Savanna Grande adjoining, where the Nisao Eiver finds its outlet 
in the sea, after flowing over sands of gold and copper, and 
through forests of the most valuable dye and cabinet woods." 

To the east of the capital are immense meadows, called by the 
generic name of los Llanos, or the Plains, extending from the 
Ozama Eiver to the easternmost point of the island. These are 
skirted on the south side by timber of the same desirable kinds 
as is found elsewhere. In the time of the early Spaniards there 
were many valuable sugar and tobacco estates in this dis- 
trict, which is now unoccupied save by a few cattle ranges. 
Riding, as I have often done, the day through, across these 
monotonous plains, tenanted only by the drowsy herds — a placid, 
slumberous sea of grass — I have thought yearningly of what a 
few artistic touches of human dwellings and human cultivation 
would do, lighting up the scene, endowing it with a living, 
breathing soul. Methinks the woman poet of England must have 
had a landscape like this in her mind's eye when she wrote the 
Emigrant's Song : 

" Round onr white walls we will train the vine, 
And sit in its shadow at the day's decline, 
And watch our flocks as they roam at will 
. O'er the green savannas so broad and still." 

The great plain or valley of the island, however, far excel- 
ling all others in beauty and fertility, is the Vega Eeal or Eoyal 
Meadow. This renowned tract is situated in the centre of the 
island, between the two great chains of mountains, and is watered 
by the numerous streams which flow thence, forming the very 
important rivers Yaque and Yuna, the latter of which empties 
into the famous bay of Samana, and the former into the lesser 
but well-sheltered and spacious bay of Mansanilla. This plain, 
which Charlevoix estimates at eighty leagues in length by ten in 
width, is probably not far from two hundred miles long, with an 



TOrOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION. 13 

average widtli of twenty-five miles. " Tliis magnificent valley," 
says Mr. Courtney, a recent traveller, "for fertility of soil, salu- 
brity of climate, and its exuberant productiveness of all tropical 
fruits, flowers, and vegetation, is perbaps not equalled by any in 
tbe world." It was here that the charming enthusiasm of Colum- 
bus and bis companions seemed to culminate, when their eyes 
rested for the first time upon its vast extent and vivid beauty. 
" Here," says Irving, " a land of promise suddenly burst upon 
their view. It was the same glorious prospect which had de- 
lighted Ojeda and his companions ; below lay a vast and delicious 
plain, painted and enamelled, as it were, with all the rich variety 
of tropical vegetation. The magnificent forests presented that 
mingled beauty and majesty of vegetable forms known only to 
these generous climates. Palms of prodigious height, and spread- 
in^c mahoo-any trees, towered from amid a wilderness of variegated 
foliage. Freshness and verdure were maintained by numerous 
streams, which meandered gleaming through the deep bosom of 
the woodland, while various villages and hamlets, peeping from 
among the trees, and the smoke of others rising out of the midst 
of the forests, gave signs of a numerous population. The luxu- 
riant landscape extended as far as the eye could reach, until it 
appeared to melt away and mingle with the horizon. The Span- 
iards gazed with rapture upon this soft, voluptuous country, which 
seemed to realize their ideas of a terrestrial paradise, and Colum- 
bus, struck with its vast extent, gave it the name of the Vega 
Real, or Royal Plain." 

I remember well, indeed I never can forget, the impression 
produced upon me by the first sight of this same fascinating 
landscape. I was alone, and had been travelling northward for 
half a day, through almost impenetrable thickets and over rocky 
and rugged mountain paths, when suddenly, on reaching the far- 
thest ridge of the southern chain of hills, the broad and pic- 
tured scene burst full upon me. Fatigue and the loneliness of 
the journey were forgotten, and I was content in the enjoyment 
of such a vision of natural beauty as I had never before imagin- 
ed, and of which, perhaps the world cannot produce a rival. 

Should an extensive emigration take place to the island of 



14 SAKTO DOMINGO. 

Santo Domingo, it would unquestionably find its v/ay to the great 
valley watered by the Yuna and the Yaque. Admitting the pro- 
ductive resources of this famous valley to equal those of the 
Island of Barbadoes, and there is no doubt they are much 
greater, it would of itself support a population of four millions. 

Climate. 

Eegarding the climate of Santo Domingo, much might be 
said, for much has been said by travellers, and of an apparently 
conflicting character. While hardly any two sojourners have 
had precisely the same experience, or arrived at the same general 
conclusion, it also happens that the natives and old settlers do 
not agree about the comparative healthfulncss of different sections, 
each taking care to claim that his particular locality is superior in 
this respect to all others. The residents on the north side will 
tell you that the south side is sickly, and so vice versa. In the 
small towns, as is sometimes the case in small towns in 
more advanced portions of the globe, considerable rivalry of a 
petty nature exists, and manifests itself in disparaging state- 
ments regarding the climate of its neighbors. Thus, at San 
Christoval I have been told that Bani was a perfect graveyard, 
although I previous' y knew that it was considered by the 
people of Santo Domingo City a very healthy place, and was 
on that account often resorted to by invalids. An old resident 
at Bani once told me, treating of his somewhat straitened cir- 
cumstances, that he had been blessed with seventeen children, 
and added, as a melancholy fact, that none had ever died, where- 
as, if he had resided at San Christoval, he would without doubt 
have been relieved, in a great measure, of his expensive progeny, 
through the merciful interposition of a kind Providence, At 
Savanna-la-Mar, on the south side of Samana Bay, I was advised 
not to })roceed to the town of Samana on the north side, as I 
should be sure to take the fever, and probably die ; but when I 
reached Samana and informed certain anxious inquirers that 
I had spent the night at Savanna-la-Mar, I was warmly con- 
gratulated upon having escaped from that pest-hole with my life. 



CLIMATE. 15 

Of course, from the peculiar and irregular foimation of the 
island, a diversity of climate exists. It is not to be denied that 
in the low lands, and particularly where the fresh-water rivers 
form a junction with the sea, there is more or less bilious or in- 
termittent fever, at certain seasons. Our seafaring friends, 
whose fortune it is to seldom visit other localities, and who are 
not proverbial for their strict observance of the laws which regu- 
late physical health, are apt to receive unfavorable impressions 
from their personal experience, which they arc not at all back- 
ward in disseminating. Santo Domingo City, I believe, is ad- 
mitted to be the most unhealthy portion of the island, but dur- 
ing a three-years' residence there, I have known but one death 
among the shipping, and that was caused by an internal injury 
received on shipboard, and in nowise attributable to any malady 
of the country. The city is built on the old Spanish plan, with 
houses of thick adobe walls, narrow streets, without drainage, and is 
full of ruins, where the rankest vegetation is allowed to grow, and 
which arc the receptacles of all kinds of filth. Add to this that 
the people use no precautions, either in clothing, diet, or personal 
habits, against the effects of change of weather or season.s, having 
no fireplaces in their houses and no fires in the dampest and 
chilliest weather, living, too, as many of them do, in huts witli 
no floor but the damp soil, and if there are no causes for the 
sickness which sometimes prevails in all this, then it may be set 
down to the mysterious influence of the climate. On the plains 
and in the highlands the air is pure and bracing, and the nights 
are often cold. The mahogany choppers who spend months to- 
gether in the forest, sleeping in their blankets on the ground, or 
swinging their hammocks under trees, tell me they feel no ill 
effects from the climate. In January last I met a party of 
Cornwall miners about thirty miles from the capital, who in- 
formed me that not one of their number had had a day's sickness 
since their arrival in the country, more than two years previous. 
The salubrity of the climate was matter of surprise to them. 

Valvcrdc says : " From the organization bestowed by nature 
upon this favored isle, there proceeds a variety of climate not 
easily found elsewhere ;" and he further observes : " in general the 



16 SANTO DOMINGO. 

temperature of our island is that of a perpetual springtime. 
Its nights are cool and refreshing, and its mornings, up to the 
hour of eight or nine, are the most delicious that can be 
imagined." 

Irving says, speaking of the astonishment of the Spaniards at 
finding in December the trees in leaf, the buds in flower, and the 
birds in song : " They had not yet become familiarized with the 
temperature of this favored isle, where the rigors of winter are 
unknown, where there is a perpetual succession and even inter- 
mixture of fruit and flower, and where smiling verdure reigns 
throughout the year." 

" Notwithstanding," says Mr. Courtney, "the highly exaggerat- 
ed and almost wholly fellacious belief to the contrary, which un- 
fortunately prevails pretty extensively in the United States, 
Santo Domingo is as healthy as any country in the New World. 
Some districts are peculiarly healthy and conducive to longevity, 
among which may be mentioned Monte Christi, at the mouth of 
the Yaque, on Monte Christi Bay, Santiago, Mocha, La Vega, 
and the Koyal Plain on the north portion of the island, and San 
Juan, Maniel, Azua, and Banica on the south portion, and even 
at Port-au-Platte cases of sickness rarely occur, and there is not 
now a physician in the place, although it numbers over 4,000 in- 
habitants. The valleys and plains high up in the mountains are 
unexceptionally and uniformly healthy, the air being as fresh and 
bracing and pure as that of the mountains of Scotland," 

Mr. Harris, a colored gentleman, who has recently travelled 
in Santo Domingo, gives his testimony to the same effect. " Many 
persons," he says, " attribute the cause of the island's decline 
from its ancient splendor, and the supine indifference of the na- 
tives, to the enervating influence attending all tropical climates, 
and without prejudice I believe such would be very greatly the 
case in a large portion of the tropical world, but it is a libel on 
Ilayti and Santo Domingo. The country is a shealthy as Vir- 
ginia, and, except in its excessive beauty and fertihty, resembles 
much the State of North Carolina." Said a Protestant clergy- 
man to Mr. Harris, at Port-au-Plattc : "A man who would find 
fault with this climate, would find fault with paradise." 



SOIL AND PRODUCTIONS. 17 



Soil and Productions. 



The soil of Santo Domingo is fertile to an extraordinary de- 
gree. The superior quality and great variety of its productions 
we find to have been a subject of remark from its earliest records. 
It was this wondrous wealth of vegetation which so captivated 
the Spaniards. There was nothing in the Old World like unto it. 
The lavish profusion with which the Almighty had showered the 
choicest natural blessings upon this land of perpetual sun and 
verdure filled them with awe. Yet they had but a feeble con- 
ception of its real wealth. They dreamed not that the palaces 
of kings and nobles should be adorned with new beauty from the 
heart of these old woods ; that the robes of haughty dames should 
wear new colors from their dyes ; that, knitting the solid frames 
of ships with firmer grasp, their century-during timber should 
float wherever white sails voyaged, time-defiant alike 



''Beside the frozen Hebrides, 
Or sultry Hindostan," 



Forests — Mahogany, Lignum-Vit^, Oak, Dye- Woods, etc. 

Among the trees we must give preeminence to the Mahog- 
any. This is found in all parts of the island. We meet it on 
the plains, clustering around the unfrequented springs — among 
the thick woods on the banks of rivers, and high up on the moun- 
tains. It grows tall and straight, with a long clean trunk, being, 
when full grown, from twelve to twenty feet in circumference, 
and from thirty to fifty feet from the soil to its lower branches. 
The mahogany wood is well known to commerce. It is the great 
staple cabinet wood of Europe and America. The south side 
Santo Domingo wood is considered the best in the world. Its 
finest qualities are shipped to England and the Continent, where 
it brings fabulous prices. I have known wood shipped at Santo 
Domingo City, to have been sold at the London Docks at four 
dollars and seventy-five cents the superficial foot. The cutting 
and shipping of mahogany probably employ not less than one- 
tenth of the present working population of the island. More 
2 



18 SANTO DOMINGO. 

than one-half of the bulk of the cargoes despatched from Santo 
Domingo City per annum, are made up of this valuable wood. 
Yet it is far from being exhausted. Indeed, I believe that in a 
great portion of the Spanish side of the island the forests are as 
innocent of the axe as at the time of the discovery. 

Next, perhaps, in value to the mahogany comes the Oak. 
This tree does not reach the large proportions of the mahogany. 
It is, however, a very solid and durable wood. Oviedo testifies 
that he had seen pieces seventy to eighty feet in length, squared 
up with a circumference of sixteen hands. Some of it is hand- 
somely flowered, bird's-eyed and mottled like the finer qualities 
of the mahogany, and is manufactured into articles of furniture, 
but for the most part it is used in Santo Domingo for the frame- 
work of sugar mills, and for keels, stern-ports, ribs, &c., in ship- 
building, for which latter purpose it is said to be unrivalled. 

The Capa is a tree found in great abundance on the south 
and east sides of the island. It is smaller and more crooked than 
the oak, but it is compact and strong as iron, bearing to this 
wood perhaps about the same relation that our southern live oak 
bears to the pasture oak of the North. It is esteemed inval- 
uable in Santo Domingo for the knees and other parts of ships 
requiring great strength and durability. 

The Satin-wood tree is more rare than those already named. 
Still it is of frequent occurrence, particularly on the south side. 
This is a valuable wood, and is well known to the commerce of 
America. From its comparative scarcity it commands a higher 
average price than the mahogany, but its finer qualities do not 
bring the enormous rates paid for the best mahogany. It is often 
used in cabinet work to relieve other and darker woods, and 
being susceptible of a high polish its delicate yellow presents 
quite a pleasing contrast to the brown and black rosewood or 
the rich purple-tinted mahogany. 

The Santo Domingo Lignum-vito3 is famous the world over. 
I have known picked lots sold in the London market at one hun- 
dred dollars per ton. It is used for gun carriages, blocks, and 
pins of ships — and has recently been substituted for iron in some 
parts of machinery. There is still an abundance of this wood 
upon the island. 



FORESTS — LIGNUM-VIT^, OAK, DYE-WOODS, ETC. l9 

Among dye-woods the Fustic and Campeachy, commonly 
called Logwood, are the most abundant. The latter, indeed, is 
found in almost inexhaustible tracts upon the south side. The 
Brazil-wood is also said to exist here,* but it has not been found 
as yet in sufficient quantities for any considerable exportation. 

There are many other valuable trees, such as the Locust, 
Yellow and Black Cedar, Brazilleto, Ceiba, Cabilma, Pitch Pine, 
Mamey, Almicndra, Tamarind, Mango, and Palms and Orange 
trees of many varieties. Many of these are very useful in the 
country, although their wood is not so well known to commerce 
as those which I have more particularly cited above. 

The palm tree, however, from its useful character, which is 
by no means generally appreciated, as well as from its poetic as- 
sociations, seems to deserve more than a passing word. There is 
an oriental majesty and charm about it, " the royal palm," as 
the distinguished author of "Two Years before the Mast" de- 
scribes it in Cuba, " which is to trees what the camel or drome- 
dary is among animals seeming to have strayed from Nubia or 
Mesopotamia." 

Every one who has sojourned long within the tropics can 
testify to the delicious character of the palm cabbage. The oil 
from the palm nuts is an article of considerable importance. 
These nuts, of which the palm bears immense quantities, furnish 
in Santo Domingo the principal sustenance of the wild hogs that 
constitute the wealth of the mountaineers. The leaves of the 
smaller varieties, known as the cane and fan palms, are used to a 
great extent in covering houses. Hats of fine quality, and also 
baskets, saddle-panniers, and ccroons are made from the veins of 
these leaves. Although the inner portion of the trunk of the tall 
palms is of a soft and spongy character, and comparatively worth- 
less, yet there is an exterior coating, about an inch in thickness, 
when trimmed up, which is used chiefly for weather-boards, and 
which, for consistency and durability, defies alike the heaviest 
rains and hottest suns. These palms also produce near their top 
layers of an external covering, called yaguas, which arc used for 
covering the roofs of houses, answering admirably the purpose 
of our shingles. 



20 SANTO DOMINGO. 

The cocoa-nut tree is also useful^ furnishing to the natives 
oil, milk, and solid food. 

There is another tree worth mentionins; — of which Moreau 
says : " I shall notice that tree, the utility of which can never 
be enough extolled, which furnishes the poor African with plates 
and bowls that he may renew at pleasure and without expense, 
and the means of carrying and preserving what he could not 
enjoy without the vessels which the calabash tree gives him with 
prodigality/' 

In speaking of the products of Santo Domingo I have given 
the first place to the forests, because they furnish the principal 
articles of export, and because the wealth to be derived from 
them would probably attract the first attention of colonists. In 
this respect Santo Domingo has a great advantage over other 
tropical countries in our neighborhood. Here is a resource that 
may be made available at once. 

Agkicultural Products — Tobacco, Sugar, Coffee, Cocoa, 

Cotton, etc. 

Among the other articles of natural production, or which are 
raised or prepared for export, may be named tobacco, sugar, 
coffee, cocoa, cotton, gum guaiac, honey, beeswax, hides, goat- 
skins, and fruits both natural and preserved. 

Tobacco was found in use here by Columbus, and has to this 
day been cultivated to more or less extent in all parts of the 
island. It is generally of excellent quality, but suffers somev/hat 
from the natives' lack of skill in cultivating and preparing it for 
market. The best tobacco is raised on the great plains near 
Cotvy and La Vega, whence it is taken to Santiago for sale, and 
afterward transported across the mountains to Port-au-Platte. 
and there shipped mostly to Germany, where it is made into 
cigars, and sold on the continent as genuine Havana. This is 
the great staple of export from the north side. This year the 
crop will probably amount to 125,000 quintals. The cultiva- 
tion of this article can be greatly extended, and with large profits 
to the planter, as there is an abundance of virgin soil iu Santo 



AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS — TOBACCO, SUGAR, ETC. 21 

Domingo fit for this kind of cultivation, while it is well known 
that the soil of the best vegas in Cuba is mostly exhausted. On 
my return from Santo Domingo, via Havana, two years ago, I 
happened to have with me a few leaves of tobacco which I had 
picked up in a merchant's store in the town of La Vega. I 
exhibited these to a New York dealer in tobacco, who was on his 
return from purchasing his stock in the island of Cuba. He 
examined them, tested them by lighting, observing the odor of 
the smoke, color of the ashes, etc., and informed me that tobacco 
of that quality would be worth in New York one dollar and forty 
cents per pound. He supposed it was Cuba tobacco, and was 
quite surprised when I told him where I had obtained it. I do 
not presume there is any considerable quantity of tobacco of that 
description now raised in Santo Domingo, but I do not know any 
good reason why tobacco equal to the very best of Cuba cannot 
be cultivated there. 

Of sugar there is but little raised, but the amount is steadily 
increasing. There is no steam mill on the island, and, I believe, 
not more than half a dozen mills with iron crushers. The others 
are made of the hard wood of the country. There are several 
small proprietors in the vicinity of San Christoval, Palenquc, 
Azua, and Maniel, who cultivate their own patches of land, and 
pack their sugar in ceroons on their own mules, carrying it to 
Santo Domingo City for sale. There were about 3,000 ceroons 
brought in for sale in this manner, between the 1st of December 
last and the 1st of January of this year. The cost of this sugar 
to the planter, with his present facilities, is about two cents 
per pound on his estate. It is a good quality of sugar, of coarse 
and lively grain, and worth at present in this market about six 
and a half cents per pound. I do not think, however, that it is 
so desirable a culture for proprietors of small means as some 
others, for instance, coffee or cotton. As Mr. Dana observes in 
his work on Cuba, " Sugar-making brings with it steam, fire, 
smoke, and a drive of labor, and admits of and requires the 
application of science. Managed with skill and energy it is ex- 
tremely productive ; indifferently managed it may be a loss. 
The sugar estate is not valuable, like the coflfee estate, for what 



22 SANTO DOMINGO, 

the land will produce, aided by ordinary and quiet manual labor 
alone ; its value is in the skill and character of the labor." 
What the island is capable of in this respect, under a suitably 
organized system of labor, may be inferred from the records of 
the early Spaniards and from the present production of the 
neighboring island of Cuba, which exceeds 400,000 tons per 
annum. 

Of coffee there is, at present, hardly enough raised to meet 
the consumption of the island. Yet the soil, and particularly 
that of the mountain sides, is well fitted for this culture. In the 
days of the former occupation by the Spaniards there were many 
fine coffee estates in the immediate vicinity of Santo Domingo 
City, which are now entirely overgrown by the encroaching forest. 
The tree produces heavily in certain districts. Being at Cotvy 
in the winter of 1860, I saw a coffee tree in the garden of the 
priest of that village, from which he had, a few days previous, 
obtained nine pounds of hulled coffee. I have seen coffee from 
Bani, which in its rich aromatic flavor fully equalled the far- 
famed Mocha. The carrying on of a coffee estate requires no 
large outlay of capital ; a few hands are sufficient to tend the 
trees and gather the crop, and no expensive machinery is re- 
quired to prepare it for market. It is by the coffee culture more 
than any thing else, that Hayti is to-day rich and prosperous. I 
am told that the value of the coffee exported from Hayti this 
year will exceed in value 8,000,000 of dollars. 

From coffee w^e come naturally to cocoa. As coffee is said 
to require shade, particularly in its infancy, and as the cocoa 
tree furnishes this requisite, they are often planted together and 
can be easily and advantageously taken care of at the same time. 
In all Spanish tropical countries we find the cocoa tree, at least 
in sufficient quantities to provide for the consumption of the in- 
habitants. According to Valverde, in the time immediately 
succeeding the discovery, the cocoa was, after the mines and 
sugar, the most abundant source of riches to the colonists. In 
the 16 til century there was no other cocoa imported to the con- 
tinent of Europe than that of Santo Domingo, which furnished 
an abundant supply. The cultivation of it has since been aban- 



AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS — TOBACCO, SUGAR, ETC. 23 

doned, and only here and there is it to be met with in the gar- 
dens of the more populous districts. There is no doubt that the 
culture of coffee and cocoa in Santo Domingo by parties of small 
means, who would give it their personal attention, would yield 
very satisfactory results. 

Cotton is an article of spontaneous growth. It grows upon small 
trees somewhat resembling the peach tree in form. These trees 
bear annually an average of about two hundred bolls. It grows 
well in the poorest soil, and sprouts up even in the crevices of rocks. 
My friend General Cazneau has recently sent a sample of the 
bolls and ginned cotton to Prof. James J. Mapes, of this city, 
who will show it with pleasure to any parties interested. This 
sample was taken from a tree which had sprung up by chance 
from the thin soil in the hollow of a limestone riclge on the 
General's estancia, adjoining the walls of the Capital. I am told 
by the Professor that the staple is both fine and strong, although 
I do not consider it by any means a fair specimen of the wild 
cotton of the island. At Higney, near the east end of the island, 
the staple is said to be much finer and longer. In the time of 
Columbus cotton yarn was found in great abundance both here 
and in Cuba. The natives would exchange large balls of twenty- 
five pounds weight for a bit of broken glass or the merest trifle. 
At one place in Cuba, the historian states, they saw vast quan- 
tities of cotton, some just sown, some in full growth. There 
was great store of it also in their houses, some wrought into yarn 
or into nets of which they made their hammocks. In 1494, 
when Columbus adopted the system of imposing tribute on the 
natives, in those districts which were distant from the mines and 
produced no gold, each individual was required to furnish an 
arroba or twenty-five pounds of cotton every three months. 
This cotton has shared the fate of all other branches of industry 
in the island, and been entirely abandoned, except so far as the 
actual wants of the inhabitants are concerned. In the present 
state of excitement about cotton-growing it will probably be 
renewed, to the great profit of all interested. 

Besides these products there are annually exported, as I have 
already stated, considerable quantities of the gum of lignum- 



24 SANTO DOMINGO. 

vita3, known in commerce as gum guaiac, honey, beeswax, 
hides, and goat-skins. 

As Santo Domingo produces an immense profusion of flower- 
ing trees, shrubs, and pLants, bees are found in proportionate 
swarms. They make their hives in hollow logs, in the crevices 
of rocks, and sometimes in holes in the ground. In many parts 
of the island it is only recently that the honey has been saved 
in consequence of the scarcity of suitable vessels in which to 
bring it to market. The wax is cleansed in the rivers and af- 
terward run into cakes and brought to the seaboard for sale. 
This branch of business is, however, attracting more attention 
than formerly, and some persons are even making bee-keeping a 
speciality. I believe the export of honey this season from Santo 
Domingo City will exceed 100,000 gallons^ which probably is not 
one-tenth part of the production of the south side of the island. 

Fruits and Vegetables. 

Of fruits there is a great variety, the principal of which are 
oranges, cocoa-nuts, pineapples, bananas, plantains, alligator 
pears, chimetes, sapotas, mangoes, limes, grapes, guavas, &c. Most 
of these are found in great abundance, and some of them could 
be exported with profit. 

In field and garden vegetables it is hardly necessary to par- 
ticularize. Except the Irish potato, onion, beet, and cabbage, 
I believe all or nearly all the kinds common to temperate as well 
as tropical climes, are here produced or may be successfully cul- 
tivated. 

Besides the various productions to which I have alluded, 
there are many others to which the early settlers gave their at- 
tention, and the vestiges of which are still occasionally seen, such 
as the annotto plant, which produces a fine dye-stufl", called by 
the French rocov, and cultivated on a large scale in Brazil and 
French Guiana ; the indigo, which at the close of the 16th cen- 
tury was exported to the mother country in considerable quan- 
tities, but which now is only noticed as a weed troubling the 
planters in their feeble agricultural efforts ; the ginger, which was 



ANIMAL KINGDOM. 25 

originally brought over from the Moluccas, and was esteemed to 
possess medicinal virtues in the days of herbs and simples — and 
others of less repute. 

Animal Kingdom. 

In the animal kingdom Santo Domingo presents a respecta- 
ble appearance, but not that patrirachal air of flocks and herds 
which we should expect from the records of the first Spanish set- 
tlers. " The Spanish part of Santo Domingo," says Moreau, 
"abounds in horses, asses, oxen, cows, sheep, goats, and hogs, 
which have been propagated in a manner that drew a sort of 
admiration from the old writers on America." Oviedo said that 
in 1535, forty-three years after the discovery of the island, the 
cows, the first of which were brought from Spain were at so early 
a period in such numbers that many ships returned to Europe 
laden with their hides, and that five hundred of them were killed 
at a time with lances only for the sake of the hides. For a half- 
penny one might buy four pounds of meat, a cow with a calf for 
a dollar and three-quarters, and a wether for the eighth of a 
dollar. The same writer further says that he fiold those of his 
plantation still cheaper, and that many flocks of sheep and goats 
and several droves of hogs had become wild in the woods. This 
abundance and cheapness do not now exist, but with the ex- 
ception of sheep, which have disappeared, there is no lack of the 
animals above cited, and their prices may be quoted at about one 
half of the value of the same descriptions in this market. Fresh 
beef is sold in Santo Domingo City at eight cents per pound. 
In the country, of course, it is much cheaper. Turkeys, guinea 
hens, pigeons, and domestic fowls are abundant and cheap. In 
speaking of the present comparative scarcity of cattle it must be 
remembered that there has probably been no pains taken to im- 
prove or continue the breeds, and that there has been a constant 
drain for the markets of Cuba and Porto Rico. That colonists 
can employ themselves profitably in raising cattle there is no man- 
ner of doubt. 



26 SANTO DOMINGO. 

MiNEKAL KeSOURCES — GoLD, SiLVER, IrON, CoPPER, 

Coal, etc. 

In mineral resources the island of Santo Domingo enjoys a 
famous reputation. Indeed, if we may give full credence to tlie 
universal statements of writers upon this branch from the earliest 
dates down to our own time, it presents itself before us with the 
aspect of another California. I am not sure, however, in my own 
mind, that these inducements will be likely to attract the most 
desirable class of colonists, and furthermore, as I do not intend to 
be held responsible for any possible shortcomings of the island in 
this particular, I shall here content myself with presenting a few 
brief extracts from some of the leading writers above referred to. 

Valverde says that the mineral resources are without doubt 
equally rich with thy vegetable; "but," he very justly adds, 
" there are many mountains and dense woods, which have only 
been visited by fugitives from labor and outlaws, and others, it is 
safe to say, where the foot of man has never trod." 

"In the mineral kingdom," says Moreau, "there is a good 
deal of analogy with the Old World. There are mines of iron, 
copper, and lead, but there are besides mines of gold, silver, and 
precious stones, and even of mercury, and here the island has a 
real superiority." 

In speaking of the country about La Vega and Cotvy the 
same writer remarks : 

" The name of ' Mines' was first given to it, because there 
were mines in its territory, and many gold ones were v/orking at 
the time. But from the year 1520 workmen began to be wanted 
here, as at the mines of Buenaventura. In the mountains of 
Maymon there is a very abundant copper mine. In the same 
neighborhood there is also pure iron of the best quality. 

"Eight years after its foundation La Vega was already a city 
of importance. Sometimes during the year there were two hun- 
dred and fifty thousand dolkirs minted here. This gold was part 
of the products of the mines of Cibao, at a time when metallurgy 
was in no great perfection, and consequently when the loss was 
excessive. The persons concerned in the operation hid a great 



MINERAL EESOUECES GOLD, SILVER, IRON, ETC. 27 

deal of the gold, and did not count that in grains or scales, but 
only that in the lump. 

" The territory of Santiago is very fertile in mines. In the 
first place the Green Eiver has grains of gold among its sands, 
and there was on one side of this river a mine of gold, the prin- 
cipal vein of which was three inches in circumference, very pure, 
and unmixed with other matter. Originally the town of Santiago 
was peopled almost altogether with goldsmiths, which circum- 
stance alone is sufficient to show the abundance of the mines. 

" The sand of the Yaque is also mixed with gold, and accord- 
ing to Mr. Buttet, there was found in 1708 a lump of nine 
ounces. Almost all the rivers that fall in from both banks of the 
Yaque, wash down gold from the mountains which are as yet 
hardly known. Twelve leagues to the south of Santiago, at 
Bishop's Stream and Piedras, there are mines of silver. To the 
west, in the district called Tanci, the abundance of such mines 
caused these cantons to be looked upon as a second Potosi. 
Lastly, at Yasica, twelve leagues from Santiago, on the bank of 
the river, there is a little hillock abounding in silver. There is 
copper also in the territory of Santiago, and mercury at the head 
of the river Yaque, In the region above Maniel every thing 
seems to bespeak mines of gold, and gold sand is seen in the wa- 
ters of every stream, 

'*' Between the rivers Nisao and Haina, lies an extensive and 
fertile plain, which was originally a most abundant source of 
wealth to the colonists. The quantity of gold that was dug from 
its cavities, with its sugar, cocoa, and indigo, paid duties to a 
greater amount than that now paid by all the Spanish part of the 
island put together. On the banks of the Haina, near Guyabel, 
there is a rich silver mine, which was once worked, but afterward 
abandoned in consequence of eighteen negroes having been killed 
by the falling in of the earth. On the same river, near Buena- 
ventura, was found the famous lump of gold spoken of by the 
Spanish writers, and especially Oviedo, who says that it weighed 
three thousand six hundred Spanish dollars, without mentioning 
many others, that were also of remarkable size. The gold found 
here and near Bonao is very pure and fine. Valverde says, that 



28 SANTO DOMINGO. 

in 1764 it was asked at the central office whence came the gold 
of the buckles that were brought thither to be weighed, and that 
it was asserted that none had ever been seen so fine." 

The historian Herrera says that there was a mint at Buena- 
ventura, which annually coined from 225,000 to 230,000 dollars 
per annum, and another at La Vega, which coined from 230,000 
to 240,000 dollars per annum. 

Oviedo testifies that the government royalty of one-fifth yielded 
annually six millions of dollars to the national treasury. Some 
other writers state the amount at five millions. 

The author of the "Gold Fields of Santo Domingo," who 
seems to have studied this subject pretty' thoroughly, observes : 
" If we carefully examine all the histories now extant and acces- 
sible, of the colony during its prosperous mining years, and atten- 
tively consider the geological and topographical characteristics of 
the island, we cannot fail to be duly impressed with the fact, that 
the island of Santo Domingo is one immense gold field from one 
extremiiy to the other. There is scarcely a district of any extent, 
or a mountain of any magnitude, where gold has not been and is 
not nov/ found, and so far from its auriferous resources having 
been exhausted by the Spaniards, they scarcely began to be de- 
veloped. The California miner going over the same diggings 
to-day, would make them pay perhaps equally as well as they 
originally paid his awkward predecessor." 

There is a copper region commencing on the Haina, about 
ten leagues distant from the capital, and extending westward, 
which is said to promise equally well with the copper district on the 
south side of Cuba. A portion of this tract is now being worked, 
and as I am told very successfully, by an English company un- 
der the direction of Colonel T. F. Heneken, a gentleman well 
known from the valuable notes which he furnished to Mr. Irving 
for his history of Columbus. 

With regard to the coal beds on the shores of the bay of 
Samana of which we have heard so much, I have observed a 
statement in the " Courier des Etats Unis," of the 18th of Feb- 
ruary last, as follows : 

" There have been discoveries of immense beds of coal in the 



POLITICAL ASPECT. 29 

bay of Samana, and the Brigadier Buccta, who was sent to ex- 
amine them, reports that these mines are of incalculable produc- 
tion. The coal is found near the surface, and is easil}' rained and 
with little expense. The analogy which these deposits present 
to the famous English mines of Cardiff is said to be extraordi- 
nary. The steamer Fernando Cortes has already taken a portion 
on board and tested it, and the captain j'^ronounces it the best 
coal he has yet tried." 

Such then, at a glance, are some of the more prominent 
material advantages which Santo Domingo presents to attract 
the attention of colonists. To give a more accurate and detailed 
account would require a volume ; but I think enough has been 
said to show the field to be sufficiently fertile and inviting. 

Political Aspect. 

Let us now see what other inducements of a direct and 
special nature are offered by the people and government. As 
I have already stated, the people of Santo Domingo having ex- 
perienced several different forms of government, since their sepa- 
ration from the mother country in 1795, and, from various 
causes, not having prospered under any, on the 18th of March, 
1861, returned again voluntarily to the rule of Spain. In their 
attempts at a republic, partly from their isolated position and 
partly from their own inherent weakness, they had failed to 
establish a government efficient at home and respected abroad. 
Few in number, not reaching in the aggregate 150,000 souls, 
spread over a territory of more than 20,000 square miles, Avith- 
out roads or postal flicilities, and totally ignorant of the various 
mechanical inventions which assist labor and add to capital, 
they saw themselves not merely despised but liable at any time 
to be treated with indignities which they could not avenge. They 
had, indeed, returned to a state approximating the patriarchal 
condition in which Columbus found their ancestors ; but they 
had acquired aspirations which forbade them to be content. 
They looked abroad fur aid. They stretched out their arms im- 
ploringly to the great powers of Europe and America, but only 



30 SANTO DOMINGO. 

from the rnotlier country was there any sympathetic response. 
True, there was a khid of semi-recognition of the Dominican Re- 
public on the part of France, England and the United States ; 
but it was used mainly to effect the payment of certain claims of 
rather a questionable character. They always looked to the 
Great Republic of the North as their natural friend and pro- 
tector, but we have never been quite ready to stand up to our 
high-sounding professions of principle, and continued to give 
them the cold shoulder. They had not forgotten Spain ; they 
saw on every side the stupendous ruins of the cities she had 
built ; tradition told them how her ships had lined their shores, 
and how she had brought the arts and sciences, and social ameni- 
ties of civilization to their midst. They were proud of her 
daring ventures and splendid achievements. They had not for- 
gotten her subsequent oppression and cruellies, but perhaps with 
the softenino- lapse of time they had forgiven them. They had 
heard, as we have all heard with lively pleasure, that the Spain of 
to-day was a very different people and government from the 
Spain of the 16th century. They had heard of her railways and 
steamships, of her encouragement of popular education, of the 
repeal or relaxation of her old oppressive lav,'s regulating com- 
merce and industry, and how, strong in her sympathy with 
popular freedom, and with a revenue of ninety millions per 
annum, she was now claiming a place among the first powers of 
Europe, and they asked to be participants in the benefits of her 
liberal and enlightened policy. 

Inducements for Colonization. 

With very natural feelings of pride young Spain has accepted 
the charge, and whatever ulterior designs she may harbor, she has 
at least begun well. Let us give her all the credit to Avhich she 
is entitled for this. She has declared slavery abolished forever 
throughout the island, and threatens with severest penalties any 
who may suggest the reinstatement of the system. She has de- 
clared the perfect political equality of the races, and pronounced 
emphatically in favor of the most thorough religious toleration. 



INDUCEMENTS FOR COLONIZATION. 31 

She has begun to clean up and rebuild her old ruins, to open 
roads and establish postal communications. She promises to re- 
duce the duties on imports, and to repeal altogether the duties 
on exports. She is about to establish public schools. It is un- 
der consideration to open in the bay of Samana a free port for 
all nations. (Vessels touching for coal may now enter free of all 
port charges.) She has thrown open her doors, and invites colo- 
nization from all quarters. To facilitate this end, and with the 
special view of encouraging immigration from the United States, 
she has decreed that vessels coming with colonists shall be admit- 
ted free of all duties and port charges whatsoever, and that the 
household effects of immigrants, as well as tools, agricultural im- 
plements, machinery of all kinds, plants, seeds, domestic animals, 
printed books, and ready-made houses, shall also be admitted free 
of duty. And she has furthermore agreed to exempt from taxa- 
tion for a period of fifteen years, the lands and products of the i 
lands owned or occupied by the said colonists. 

In this how grandly she offsets the record of the old conques- 
tadores ! Theij sought to degrade the people of the lands they 
conquered. Deluded by a false national pride, and led astray by 
pretexts of a most uncatholic religion, they sought to destroy all 
vestiges of existing nationalities, and in their place to h^bstitute 
the name, the arms, and religion of Spain. To-day she seeks to 
ameliorate, but not by violence. She recognizes, and manifests 
a desire to preserve the leading features of the nationality she 
absorbs, and rises to the dignity and triumph of a true conquest 
by withdrawing from the incorporated people no vital or inherent 
rights, and extending over them the more enlarged freedom and 
beneficent institutions of the mother country. In the benefits 
to be derived from this progressive and enlightened system she 
invites the world to share. 

How suggestive these facts ! What amazing significance in 
them ! Young Spain, breaking through her traditional meshes 
of intolerance and oppression, at one bold leap, as it were, and 
here in this beautiful island of the tropics, where Las Casas, 
through a mistaken idea of philanthropy, first introduced in the 
New World the accursed system of African bondage, decreeing. 



32 SANTO DOMINGO. 

as her very foremost act after annexation, the chains of the slave 
broken — and broken forever. Over our fair land dark clouds of 
the Almighty's displeasure, lowering thick and heavy, whence are 

" Loosed the fateful liglitnings of His terrible swift sword," 

and there His own bright bow of peace and promise spanning 
the ever green land. Here millions of a degraded race — scourged, 
crushed, treated as the very Pariahs of civilization, drivelling 
away their lives in the noisome Ghettos of our Christian country, 
free as well as bond, the free even more than the bond ; and 
there a land as beautiful as Moses saw from the top of Pisgah, 
hill-sides blossoming in eternal summer, and valleys of more than 
oriental beauty and fertility, happy valleys, such as the alithor 
of Rasselas never dreamed of, awaiting them, inviting them, of- 
fering them homes of comfort and independence. There is some- 
thing more than poetical justice in this. We feel the presence 
of that invisible Hand which blessed the latter end of Job more 
than his beginning. AVho shall fathom His purposes ? Who 
shall prophesy what is hidden in the future of His mysterious 
providence ? Who shall say that in the new land to which they 
30, this resf-o/red people, in the fulness of their redemption, may 
not one day rival the glories of that dusky race who dwelt in 
Egypt in the gray dawn of civilization, and reared the pyramids, 
temples, and colossal statues that still stand in wondrous majesty, 
along the valley of the Nile "^ 




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