Pedro Santana, a military commander known as “Libertador de la Patria,” served as the first President of the Dominican Republic from 1844 to 1848. He served two more terms, from 1853 to 1856 and 1858 to 1862.
A little-known fact is that Santana was born in the northern border region of the island in Hincha — what we call Hinche today in Haiti — on June 29, 1801. This, according to documents filed in the Dominican Republic’s national archives. His mother was Petronila Familias, a woman of Spanish Canarian descent. Both of Santana’s parents were landowners in that central border zone.
At the time, the island of Hispaniola was split between the Spanish territory of Santo Domingo and the French territory Saint Domingue. It was not uncommon for people to be born on parts of the island considered belonging to the other colonial power, a legacy that has continued into modern times with the current independent nations.
In his youth, Santana was a noted general during the Dominican War of Independence, 1844 to 1856. Unlike many political opponents who wanted to establish an independent Dominican state, he sought to reintegrate Hispaniola into the Spanish Empire.
Throughout his terms as president, Santana also faced Haitian invasions by the Haitian ruler Faustin Soulouque.
Santana died in Santo Domingo on June 14, 1864. His remains are at the National Pantheon of the Dominican Republic.