The first to come under Spanish control--it was discovered by Columbus on his great voyage in 1492--Hispaniola, later known as Santo Domingo, or Haiti, was also one of those early to pass from Spanish control.
During the seventeenth century the French established themselves in the west and at its end in 1697 succeeded in forcing Spain to recognize their claims. A century later, in 1795, France became also the owner of the eastern portion.
On the outbreak of the French Revolution political dissensions broke out in the west and the colonists of white blood, with the exception of a negligible number, were killed or forced to emigrate. The blacks then invaded the east and in 1801 established control over the entire island. Efforts of Le Clerc, the brother-in-law of Napoleon, to re-establish French authority were unsuccessful. Haitian domination in the eastern section was opposed by a revolution in 1808. Spanish control was re-established in 1814 but again lost through a revolution in 1821. Haiti next reinvaded the eastern section and ruled it for twenty-one years--till 1844. Santo Domingo then became independent, but was so weak that the rulers, fearing further interference by Haiti, sought a protectorate or annexation from Spain, France, Great Britain, or the United States--without success. In 1861 Spain hesitatingly re-established herself in the colony with the support of its then rulers and with but mild protest by the United States, the attention of which was then demanded by civil war in its own borders. In 1865, however, Spanish control was abandoned.
Thereafter renewed attempts were made by dictators of insecure tenure to obtain support by the United States. The most serious of these occurred in 1868 when President Baez negotiated a treaty of annexation with the United States. It was favored by an overwhelming majority in a "plebiscite" the voting in which, however, was controlled by the most arbitrary methods. The United States Senate rejected the treaty.
The government of the country continued throughout the rest of the nineteenth century to be disturbed and inefficient. True popular government did not exist. Meanwhile concessions, foreign loans, the yield of which was unwisely spent, and hypothecation of the customs receipts to foreign creditors complicated the international relations of the republic. The country was hopelessly bankrupt. Its debt and claims against it totaled more than thirty million dollars, its annual revenue less than two million. In view of these debts and "the imminent peril and urgent menace of intervention on the part of nations whose citizens" had claims, the Dominican Republic in 1905 asked the United States to assist in the collection and application of the customs revenues and in effecting an arrangement with its creditors. A modification of the terms of the agreement later proved necessary to meet the views of the United States Senate, and in this form it was approved by both countries in 1907.
On the reappearance of political disorder the United States sought again to contribute to the maintenance of peace by assuring the fairness of the elections through observers. Later, on the ground that the Dominican Republic had violated its agreement not to increase its public debt without consent of the United States, it tried to have the Dominican Republic appoint a financial adviser on the nomination of the president of the United States. The Dominicans declared such steps not contemplated in the agreement of 1907. The result of the differences arising was a military intervention by the United States on November 29, 1916, a step authorized by President Wilson "with the deepest reluctance." The intervention came to an end September 18, 1924. It had been efficient but not without abuses and in certain parts of the republic had caused the development of deepseated anti-American feeling.
On October 26, 1925, a new convention between the two republics was proclaimed replacing that of 1907. Its object was to refund the former bonds still outstanding, to modify the engagements concerning payments on the public debts, and to provide funds for improvements.