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Buenaventura Báez, in full Ramón Buenaventura Báez Méndez (July 14, 1812 – March 14, 1884) was the President of the Dominican Republic for five nonconsecutive terms. He is known for attempting to annex the Dominican Republic to other countries on multiple occasions. His son Ramón Báez was briefly president in 1914.

Ramón Buenaventura Báez Méndez
Buenaventura Baéz.gif
Coat of arms of the Dominican Republic.svg 3rd President of the Dominican Republic
In office
May 29, 1849 – February 15, 1853
Preceded by Manuel Jiménes
Succeeded by Pedro Santana
Coat of arms of the Dominican Republic.svg 6th President of the Dominican Republic
In office
October 8, 1856 – June 13, 1858
Vice President Domingo Daniel Pichardo Pró
Preceded by Manuel de Regla Mota
Succeeded by José Desiderio Valverde
Coat of arms of the Dominican Republic.svg 10th President of the Dominican Republic
In office
December 8, 1865 – May 29, 1866
Vice President Francisco Antonio Gómez y Báez
Preceded by Pedro Guillermo
Succeeded by Triumvirate of 1866
Coat of arms of the Dominican Republic.svg 13th President of the Dominican Republic
In office
May 2, 1868 – January 2, 1874
Vice President Manuel Altagracia Cáceres (1868-1871)
Juan Isidro Ortea y Kennedy (1871-1874)
Preceded by Manuel Altagracia Cáceres
Succeeded by Ignacio María González
Coat of arms of the Dominican Republic.svg 16th President of the Dominican Republic
In office
December 26, 1876 – March 2, 1878
Vice President Vacant
Preceded by Marcos Antonio Cabral
Succeeded by Ignacio María González
Coat of arms of the Dominican Republic.svg 4th Vice President of the Dominican Republic
In office
6 October 1856 – 8 October 1856[1]
Preceded by Antonio Abad Alfau Bustamante
Succeeded by Domingo Daniel Pichardo Pró
Personal details
Born (1812-07-14)July 14, 1812
Puerto Rico Captaincy General of Santo Domingo
Died March 14, 1884(1884-03-14) (aged 71)
Hormigueros, Puerto Rico
Nationality Dominican
Political party Red Party
Domestic partner Teresa Batista, Josefa Silverio, Carmen Cordero, Concepción Machado Peralta, Fermina Andújar de Soto, Corina Dupont
Relations Marcos Antonio Cabral (son-in-law)
Virgins of Galindo (nieces-in-law)
Children At least 9 children, some sources have attributed more children to him[2]

Contents

Early years and familyEdit

Báez was born in Rincón (now Cabral) in the Captaincy General of Santo Domingo, he was raised in his father's hometown Azua.

Báez was the son of Pablo Altagracia Báez and Teresa de Jesús Méndez. His father Pablo, a wealthy merchant from Azua, was a left in an orphanage when he was born, as he was the result of an extramarital affair between a married Spanish woman and the priest Antonio Sánchez-Valverde. Pablo was raised by a French silversmith (a factor that generated a deep francophilia in both Pablo and Buenaventura) known as Monsieur Capellier, and became a wealthy businessman, slaveholder and politician. Teresa de Jesús Méndez was a beautyful, busty, mixed-race former slave from Rincón. She was born to a slave and a master, and was sold to Pablo Altagracia Báez, who freed her to take her as his mistress when his wife María Quezada told him to do so when realized that she was infertile herself; Pablo and Teresa had 7 children.

Báez was light-haired and blue-eyed like his father but had curly hair and was somewhat swarthy, earning the nickname of Jabao. Cultured and good-looking, Báez was very popular among women, especially because of his gallantry. Due to his family's fortune he was able to study in Europe, particularly France. There, he learned various languages including English and French. When his father died in 1841, Báez, aged 29, inherited a large fortune that he used assiduously in politics, becoming elected in 1843 deputy to the Haitian Constituent Assembly.

Political careerEdit

From 1843 Báez served as deputy of Azua to the ruling Haitian government. This post was gained in part because of his role in the revolution that overthrew President Jean-Pierre Boyer from power. As a deputy, Báez lead a faction of Dominicans that tried to removed the anti-white bias in the Haitian Constitution, but failed.[3]

Báez was, at first, completely and totally against any move to leave the union with Haiti. Then, on 15 December 1843 Báez, as leader of the Dominican legislative faction, proposed to French consul Auguste Levasseur to establish a French protectorate in the Spanish-speaking side of the island with a governor appointed by Paris, in exchange for guns and warships to compel or fight Port-au-Prince for a retreat. Consul Levasseur was very well disposed and constantly exchanged correspondence between Paris and the conspirators.

When the Independence revolution started, he opposed the Trinitarians and even imprisoned some of them, tried futilely to prevent the publication of a copy of the Act of Independence in January 1844 in Azua, and in February he did not allow the flag of the newly Dominican state to be raised in the city plaza; in part, he was very pessimistic due to the numerical superiority of Haitians and thought that a rebellion against Port-au-Prince with no foreign support was futile. He changed his mind once he saw the popular fervor and decided that the time had come to part ways with Port-au-Prince. Báez was no fool and would always find a way to allow opportunity to shine upon him.

In 1844, Báez helped to lead a successful rebellion against Haiti, which established the independence of the Dominican Republic. He went to Europe in 1846 to convince France to establish a protectorate over the Dominican Republic, but the French refused. As president for the first time, from 1849 until 1853, he attempted to convince the United States to take over the country. He was President again from 1856 until 1857, when he was deposed in a coup.

Báez next supported the idea of having the Dominican Republic be taken over by Spain. He went into exile in Spain and led a luxurious life there. The Spanish agreed to occupy the Dominican Republic in 1861, but by 1865 they had abandoned it (see Dominican Restoration War). Báez then returned to the Dominican Republic and became President again until he was deposed in another coup in May 1866. He then served his longest term as President, from 1868 until 1874, during which time he again attempted to have the United States annex the Dominican Republic.[4] This time he was almost successful, as he convinced American President Ulysses S. Grant to send warships to the Dominican Republic, and drew up an annexation treaty which reached the United States Senate floor.[5] The treaty, however, was not ratified in the US Senate, and it became an embarrassment for Grant.[6][7][8]

Exile and deathEdit

Báez became President again from 1876 until 1878, when he was deposed in a final coup and sent into exile to Puerto Rico, at the time a Spanish colony, where he lived his final days.

He is buried in the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor.

OffspringEdit

Genealogical studies have identified President Báez, and President Espaillat as well, as the most recent common ancestors for most of the Dominican oligarchy, since their offspring managed to establish bonds with the most rich and powerful families from Santiago, and thus, from the country.[9]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Vicepresidentes de la RD que han alcanzado la presidencia
  2. ^ Espinal
  3. ^ Núñez, Manuel (2001). El ocaso de la nación dominicana (in Spanish). Editorial Letra Gráfica. 
  4. ^ "Dominican Annexation; The London Times on the Question--The Results Favorable to all Concerned". The New York Times. December 1, 1869. 
  5. ^ "Washington; Our Navy in Dominican Waters Dominican Annexation and Haytian Interference Completeness of the Administration's Response to Senate Resolution for Information. The Secretary of the Navy to Rear-Admiral Poor, at Key West". The New York Times. February 13, 1871. 
  6. ^ Hidalgo, Dennis (1997). "Charles Sumner and the Annexation of the Dominican Republic". Itinerario. 21 (2): 51–66. doi:10.1017/S0165115312000034. 
  7. ^ "San Domingo: Debate in the United States Senate on the resolutions of Hon. O. P. Morton, authorizing the appointment of a commission to examine into and report upon the condition of the island." African American Perspectives, Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection 1818 - 1907. Library of Congress. 
  8. ^ Edward P. Crapol (2000). "James G. Blaine". Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-8420-2605-5. 
  9. ^ Espinal, Edwin (25 April 2013). "Camateta: la esclava de la oligarquía dominicana" (in Spanish). Hoy. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Manuel Jiménes
President of the Dominican Republic
1849–1853
Succeeded by
Pedro Santana
Preceded by
Antonio Abad Alfau Bustamante
Vice President of the Dominican Republic
1856
Succeeded by
Domingo Daniel Pichardo Pró
Preceded by
Manuel de Regla Mota
President of the Dominican Republic
1856–1858
Succeeded by
José Desiderio Valverde
Preceded by
Pedro Guillermo
President of the Dominican Republic
1865-1866
Succeeded by
Triumvirate
Preceded by
Junta of Generals
President of the Dominican Republic
1868-1874
Succeeded by
Ignacio María González
Preceded by
Marcos Antonio Cabral
President of the Dominican Republic
1876-1878
Succeeded by
Council of Secretaries of State