QuoteReplyTopic: Blackography: U.S.Slaves Settled in Hispaniola Posted: Feb 13 2013 at 11:17am
African American Settlement in the Dominican Republic” is an original documentary in English (with subtitles in Spanish) about the story of six-thousand freed U.S. slaves who settled in Hispaniola and Samana in 1824-1825, time when the United States attempted to return all blacks to Africa.
Produced and directed by Nestor Montilla, Sr., the documentary depicts the saga of thousands of free African-Americans who fled the United States in the first quarter of the 1800s in search for freedom and equal rights in Hispaniola, an Caribbean island shared today by the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The settlers had to show proof of their freedom in the US before boarding ships headed to Hispaniola.
"I am of the fourth generation of the African-Americans who settled in Samana in 1824," said Martha Willmore, a Dominican of African-American descent featured in the documentary. "They arrived in Samana in small groups with their families and belongings."
"Almost two centuries have passed," said Franklin Willmore, an African American descendant and member of the African Methodist Church. "We consider ourselves Dominicans."
The documentary highlights that, currently, over 80 percent of Samana's population is of African American descent. It is estimated that there are over one half million Dominicans who are descendants of the African-American settlers.
At present, there are still over 33 African American surnames in use in the Dominican Republic.
The list includes Vanderherst, Miller, King, Jones, Green, Anderson, Willmore, Johnson, James, Hamilton, Hilton, Jackson, Carey, Redman, Shephard, Kelly, Barret, Coats, Buck, Paul, Dishmey, Simmons, Henderson, Handsburry, Mitchell, Smith, Rodney, Berry Banks, Sidny, Wright, Fershue and Copeland.
"Dominicans are African-Americans too," said Nestor Montilla, Sr. President of the Common Roots Project. "Historically, African-American settlers and their descendants have greatly contributed to the socio-economic and political development of the Dominican Republic. Beyond skin color, Dominicans and African-Americans have more historical and sociological traits in common than traits that differentiate them."
"A noticeable contribution ignored by historians is that African-Americans fought for the independence of the Dominican Republic too during the Restoration War agains Spain. Little known heroes such as Jose Wright, an African American who was promoted to Captain on July 3, 1863, joined one of the Dominican Founding Fathers, General Gregorio Luperon, to fight against Spain's attempt to dominate the country between 1861 and 1865, a period known as the War of Restoration," explains Montilla.
To practice Spanish is those days, I went almost daily to Barrio Willmore to the home of Luís Simón Lake, the husband of one of the Willmore descendents, for Spanish conversation. Among the many subjects we talked about were the Americans coming to Samaná and they shared with me documents they had. Those documents indicated that Boyer, the ruling figure in Haiti at that time, was interested in populating relatively unpopulated areas with black people who had a farming background. To attract the blacks from the US, he offered land for them to live and grow crops on.
There were groups that went to other parts of the island, but the Samana group was the most successful. Many of those who went to other parts of the island got sick and died while others soon became disenchanted with the "heathen" customs of the Haitians and returned to the US.
One reason the Samana colony prospered was because the settlers did not mix with the Haitians. They stayed together, had their own protestant church, own school with classes taught in English, they married wiithin their group, and the kept English as their language. In fact, it wasn't until Trujillo's days, when they were forced to use Spanish, that many of them did. But even then they continued to talk among themselves in English. Even today their are barrios outside the city of Samana where "English" is the primary language. Lacking opportunities to read and converse widely in Englis, the language they speak isn't much different than what was spoken by the freed slaves who settled their in the 1800s.
To this day, many of the people in Samana consider themselves Americans because they descended from this group of slaves. And there are others, like Luis Simon Lake who consider themselves English because they descendend from one of the black families that migrated to Samana from the British islands of the Caribbean.
In recent years, the young people wanted to fit into the larger community and were ashamed of their parents speaking English. Of course, many of them are now kicking themselves today because they know they could have better jobs if they had learned English as a child. And today's descendents are marrying outside the group, so the identity of the group is being lost. But it certainly is an interesting history and it is a pleasure to talk with those people about their past.
"Historical Outline of the Landing of Afro-Americans Immigrants on the Island of Santo Domingo" written by Rev. Nehemiah Willmore. Here is a brief quote that relates to what what was being discussed earlier in this thread:
"The historical outlines of the landing of the Afro-American emigrants on the island of Santo Domingo is as follows: In the year 1822, President Peter Boyer, who ruled both countries, withich is Haiti and Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo being situated in the extreme eastern part of the country, and Haiti in the extreme northeastern piart of the country.
President Boyer's desire was to bring thousands of these colored people, as themselves, to this country to cultivate the land and plant crops of various kinds, principally cotton, sugar cane, tobacco and vegetables. These people were found at the time principally in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Jersey City and Maryland, etc. (We also want our readers to know that at this time the slave trade was not yet broken up as yet; but those who managed to make their escape from down south were well protected in these cities.
In the year 1822, President Boyer sent J. Granville to the U.S.A., who contacted on the 25th of May a colored emigration organization from Philadelphia and offered them the privilege of enjoying civil and political rights. And in the month of November, on the 29th of said month of the same year, six thousand colored emigrants parted on said date and another group on the 4th of December, and were sheltered in an old Convent, called "Las Mercedes", which they finally used as a Methodist Church; being the first group of Protestants to bring Protestantism to this country.
Those that remained, greatly distinguished themselves by their well organized families and society, as well as by thier good neighborly customs and treatment. They were given land to carryon their agricultural pursuits. Many of those who remained atSanto Domingo afterwards decided to come over to join their brethren at Samana, which finally proved to be the most progressive group and the only ones who had kept together and retained their original customs and language through intermarriages.
The land here at the time was very fertile, and yielded abundantlyi. And as the years went by, and they used to reap their big rice and corn fields, they got into the custom of making united gatherings to plant and reap these fields, and then to husk the corn and thresh the rice; and in all these gatherings they used to sing the old anthems that they brought with them from the United States, and this they kept up until abut 30-409 years ago when they finally dropped them; and that is because their work in all departments is greatly mixed with Spanish-speaking people with whom lots of them are also marrying."
Talking about the way English is spoken by many, he says, "The improper way in which most of our unlearned people in the U.S. spoke in former years can be detected in the most of them until now: just like the ones over there (such as: am guine, set down for sit; in place of for me to be able to do this, that, or the other they will say: for me te cin, my mame, my papey, her a said, we want to, and the light).
"We arrived in the morning of the 27th of November, 1824, and were received in this city of Santo Domingo with salvos of artilery shot from the fort, and high offcials of the government came on board and welcomed us and escorted us to land, and from there to the government house, and there they registered us as immigrants, and we were treated with much cordiality and love, more as brothers than as strangers. In fact, the reception that was given us was identical or superior to what was given General Lafayette when he visited the United States. We received personal salutes from each one of the solders of the fort and many citizens of the locality."
You cannot post new topics in this forum You cannot reply to topics in this forum You cannot delete your posts in this forum You cannot edit your posts in this forum You cannot create polls in this forum You cannot vote in polls in this forum