On January 12th, 1493 Christopher Columbus arrives
in the Samana Peninsula and is attacked by the Indians
in a place called Arrows Gulf. It was not until 1756
that Samana is officially founded by Governor Francisco
Rubio y Peņaranda.
In 1802 a French squadron sent by Napoleon arrived
in Samana with the objective of subordinate Santo
Domingo to France dominions, including Haiti.
There were less than an estimated 175,000 inhabitants
in the eastern half of the island. Old timers in Samana
said that Boyer, President on the Government while
French domination, was obsessed with how was Haiti
ever going to hold on to this new land without "populating"
it with blacks.
The Samanenses recalled that the idea to bring American
black ex-slaves down came about through coffee since
the renowned Haitian coffee was already being exported
to the US. One of the coffee merchants was said to
have made contact with freed blacks in Philadelphia
who were ex-slaves.
President Boyer proposed that they be invited down
to Hispaniola and provided with land and money to
settle. Leaders of the Philadelphia blacks were cautious
about the idea and asked to send a delegation to check
out the offer. They returned to Philadelphia & described
the DR as "a paradise" and everything that was promised.
Subsequently hundreds of them travelled to accept
the offer but over the years 10 or 11 settlements
around the country gradually fell apart for various
reasons. These reasons included tropical diseases
and difficulty in adjusting to the climate. They were
not farmers but rather journeymen like carpenters,
Mentioned several times was their shock over the behaviour
of the Haitian military toward Dominican Catholics.
They were black & Protestants but mentioned was the
behaviour of Haitian soldiers in cutting the heads
off of white statues in the church.
The only community to survive was the one in Samana.
It was interesting to note that successive US ambassadors
in Santo Domingo favoured the Samanense because they
spoke English & were often described as a refined
lot. Their names still are recalled & still prevail
in Samana: King, Kelly, Johnson, Greene, Baret & others.