The Dominican Republic Achieves Independence From Spain

The Dominican Republic achieved independence from Spain in 1844.

American occupation of the island nation began in 1916, following years of political intervention in the republic. U.S. troops pulled out of the Dominican Republic on June 26, 1924.

On the heels of its victory in the Spanish-American War, the U.S. began to take a more active role in the affairs of Caribbean and Latin American nations that it deemed fell within its sphere of influence. The Dominican Republic's proximity to the Panama Canal, then under construction, heightened its strategic importance.

By the early 1920s, public opinion in the United States began to turn against the occupation of the Dominican Republic and neighboring Haiti. President Woodrow Wilson, who had authorized invasions of both nations, was succeeded in March 1921 by Warren Harding, who had campaigned against the U.S. occupation of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Dominicans elected a new president, Horacio Vásquez Lajara, in March 1924, and national sovereignty was restored upon his July inauguration.

Opposition to the occupation continued, however, and after World War I it increased in the U.S. as well. There, President Warren G. Harding (1921–23), Wilson's successor, worked to end the occupation, as he had promised to do during his campaign. U.S. government ended in October 1922, and elections were held in March 1924.

The victor was former president (1902–03) Horacio Vásquez Lajara, who had cooperated with the U.S. He was inaugurated on July 13, and the last U.S. forces left in September. Vásquez gave the country six years of good government, in which political and civil rights were respected and the economy grew strongly, in a peaceful atmosphere.