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The Samaná Americans: African Americans in the Dominican Republic

The Samaná Americans (Americanos de Samaná) are descendants of African American freed people who, beginning in 1824, immigrated to the Samaná Peninsula in Hispaniola—then under Haitian administration—benefiting from the favorable pro-African immigration policy of president Jean Pierre Boyer. They constitute the most sizable group of native English speakers in the Dominican Republic. Aware of its distinctive heritage, the community, whose singular culture distinguishes them from the rest of Dominicans, refers to itself as Samaná Americans, and is referred to by fellow Dominicans as "los americanos de Samaná." Over 80 percent of Samaná'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.  Eight thousand speak the English of their ancestors.

These African Americans included ship-builders, traders, educators. They traded across the Caribbean and to the US in their own boats and maintained ties in the US to sell their products.

Links/Enlaces top

Historian Martha Willmore interviewed  by Dr. Dana Minaya of the Samaná College Research Center

Samaná College Research Center - Facebook

Freed U.S. Slave Emigrants of 1824 to Samana, Dominican Republic

Samaná College Research Center on Veengle

Samaná and Sinoe, Liberia, Part I - New York University
Samaná and Sinoe, Liberia, Part II - New York University

Haiti and the U.S.: African American Emigration and the Recognition Debate
University of Texas
Haitian leaders actively sought to attract African Americans to the island and believed they were crucial to improving Haiti’s economic and political standing. African Americans became essential players in determining the nature of Haiti and U.S. relations, and the migration of thousands to Haiti in the 1820s proved to be the apogee of the two countries’ interconnectedness. Drawing on a variety of materials, including emigrant letters, diary accounts, travelers’ reports, newspaper editorials, the National Archives’ Passenger Lists, Haitian government proclamations, Haitian newspapers, and American, British, and French consulate records, I analyze the diverse political and social motivations that fueled African American emigration. The project links Haitian nation building and Haitian struggles for recognition to American abolitionism and commercial development.

Domincan Republic: report of the Commission of Inquiry to Santo Domingo  By United States, 1871. Commission of Inquiry to Santo Domingo, Benjamin Franklin Wade, Andrew Dickson White, Samuel Gridley Howe

Leaving their chains behind them: Freed slave colonization and emigration 1/10/2013 Daily Kos: "A number of years ago, I was teaching an anthropology course on Cultures of the Caribbean. About a third of the students in my class were of Caribbean ancestry. One day, during a discussion of skin-colorism, and the divisions between Dominicans and Haitians, a student who had formerly been very quiet raised her hand. She stood up in class and announced she was "black," and Dominican. Everyone in class (including me) went into shock. She was very white, northern European looking, with a Dutch surname, and up until that moment none of us had the slightest hint that she was Latina/Dominicana, and certainly no idea she defined herself as black. She then told her story. She was a direct descendent of free American blacks who had been sent, by the Philadelphia Emigration Society, to a place in what is now the Dominican Republic called Samaná. She explained her phenotype by bringing into class photos of her ancestors. The women in the family had out-married with merchant seamen from Europe, and in the space of only a few generations her direct family went from very dark skin color to whiteness. Eventually her family migrated to the U.S. She admitted that her sisters (in NYC) did not want their black ancestry mentioned, and hid it. She, however, not only embraced her heritage, but left school to go to Samaná to do research and meet up with her relatives there, who are black Dominicans in complexion and culture."

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