| Conquest and Colonization
The sugar industry
Contraband and pirates
French occupation of the western side of the island
War of reconquers
Period of "España boba"
The ephemeral independence
The Haitian domination
Upon the end of the War of re-conquest, the colony of Santo Domingo was left devastated and in absolute misery. The situation continued in the coming years, as the Government of Spain had to confront the internal struggles in its Courts (infiltrated by French interests), the emancipation movements that emerged from the large colonies in South America and Mexico, as well as the threat of the United States to its colonial possessions in North America.
General misery. There were five administrations or colonial governments between 1809 and 1821 without effecting substantial change in the economic life of the eastern part of the island:
- Agriculture was almost completely subsistence.
- Exports were limited to tobacco, some leather and, later, some honey and aguardiente.
- The production of coffee and cocoa was reduced to a minimum.
- Cattle raising was ruined.
- Scarcity of circulating money.
The colony had to ask again for the “situado” subsidy that, in those years, only arrived on two occasions and for minimal amounts.
Below, an excerpt of the Compendio de la Historia de Santo Domingo (Pags. 25 and 26 of Volume II, 1982.) of José Gabriel García, that summarizes life at this time:
“…it was for this reason that the period came to be known by the common name “España boba”, as the requirements for social life were so few due to the reining misery that there was no poor class, as all classes had the same needs. Ostentatious dress was unheard of and style did not change; there were no theaters, nor public parks, nor inns, nor public centers for recreation or prostitution where money could be wasted; such that a small hacienda cultivated by eight or ten slaves produced enough for a family to be considered content, as it produced the same result as any paltry salary indicated by the government budget for the employees of the king, to whom the scarcity of luxury items and the cheap prices of daily consumer goods offered considerable savings. Artisans and farmers satisfied their needs at a low cost, and through the simplicity of their customs, even the unhappiest Dominicans lived tranquilly, given over to their favorite pleasures: food, cockfighting, national dances, bull running and religious festivities, a situation that in no way satisfied the aspirations of the intellectuals, nor did it offer a bright future.”