Dominican Republic expelled 1800 children to Haiti without their parents’ knowledge and consent in the early 18th Century
In the early 18th century, the Spanish, Portuguese and French colonial empires were attempting to convert the Caribbean to Christianity. After a failed attempt in the Dominican Republic in 1595, the Spanish and Portuguese sent priests to convert the region in the early 17th century. With a large indigenous population, the Dominican priests were successful in converting them to Christianity, at least for a time.
However, by the 19th century, the area was experiencing a very different wave of Catholic convertions. Many people in the Dominican Republic were Christian first or second generation, meaning that they either had a first or second cousin or ancestor who converted to Christianity. These converts were more likely to be well educated, and many were well connected. In fact, many of the converts who were educated became famous leaders of the region, such as Francisco de Miranda, who was Dominican colonial governor from 1812 to 1816.
Despite these conversions, the Dominican Church continued to condemn the practice of ‘marrying’ a child before a parent’s consent and to prohibit mixed-gender marriages to avoid any complications. Thus, the Dominican colonists decided to expel the more educated converts from the Church, and to take over their land to convert it into a private property for themselves. This included forcibly expelling 1,836 children from families, who were not Christian, and from their parents.
A group of Dominican colonial authorities exiled in the UK in 1808
The original families, however, remained. The Spanish colonial authorities exiled in the British colony of Santo Domingo had to contend with these families who refused to leave the land they had received from the Spanish colonial government. Although many of the families in the colony were Catholic, the Spanish colonial authorities had established a system of non-Catholic government employees who were given land. These landowners received government taxes, and the Spaniards gave