The French government of Santo Domingo, led by General Louis Ferrand, favored agricultural and logging activities to the decline of the sector that had occupied a principal place in the economic life of the Spanish colony over more than two centuries: cattle-raising. The unpopularity of this policy grew when all commercial trade with the western part of the island (now Haiti) was prohibited, though it has been in place for centuries and was unphased by numerous conflicts and invasions.
When Napoleon invaded Spain and took Ferdinand VII prisoner to force him to abdicate the Spanish throne, the American population, affected by the policies applied by the occupiers and offended by the embarrassment to the “Mother Country”, began an uprising that would end the French government.
The War of re-conquest. The opposition to the French occupation was composed of two main groups with different interests and ends:
• The traders of the south, commanded by Ciriaco Ramírez (assisted by Cristóbal Húber and Salvador Félix), who supported the fight for the abolition of slavery and the proclamation of national independence.
• The cattlemen of the east, commanded by Juan Sánchez Ramírez, one of the emigrants motivated by the signing of the Treaty of Basil that planned a return to Spanish jurisdiction.
The group of cattlemen, richer, more powerful and with more social support, managed to gain power.
The battle of Palo Hincado (November 7, 1808), as well as the Santo Domingo blockade that the army of Juan Sánchez Ramírez maintained for eight months, was essential to the American-born victory.
External support. The colonial government of Puerto Rico, the Republic of Haiti and England supplied men, guns, ammunition and ships to the American-born forces in their fight against the French. The English support was decisive, though the British Crown charged quite an amount for its participation in the war: immense quantities of mahogany, all of the bells of the churches, part of the best artillery of the cities and the promise that the new colonial authorities would allow the free entry of British ships to ports and would grant their products the same customs treatment as Spanish products.