Few in the English-speaking world realize that the Dominican Republic once agreed to join the United States. In 1869, D.R. President Buenaventura Báez signed an annexation treaty with U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. The Caribbean nation, which shares an island with Haiti, would have become a U.S. territory, with the right eventually to apply for statehood.
The Dominican Republic wanted access to broader markets, cash to pay some heavy debts, and stability. The U.S. actually wasn’t its first choice to fill these needs, or even its second. In 1821, it had tried to join Gran Colombia, the South American super-nation, only to be foiled by the Haitians, who invaded and took over in 1822. And during 1840’s, after the D.R. broke free from Haiti, President Báez (not yet in office) tried to give his country to France, which declined. Báez had more success with the Spanish, who accepted the D.R. back into their empire in 1861 (having lost it decades before). But the Spanish pulled out in 1865, fed up with a civil war against local opponents of annexation.
President Báez ran a referendum in 1870 to prove his people wanted to join the U.S. Sixteen thousand voted “yes” and eleven voted “no.” Those numbers would have made this the greatest landslide in referendum history, if the vote hadn’t been bogus.
In an 1870 vote, the U.S. Senate split 28-28 on annexation, falling far short of the two-thirds majority needed to ratify a treaty. So it all came to nothing. Among other issues, the senators feared the D.R. was a bad buy, since it had a history of revolution and unstable governments. (President Báez himself had twice been deposed.)
© 2014 by David W. Tollen. All rights reserved.
I reported in an earlier post that Homo sapiens once shared the world with at least four other hominins: four other species of upright, tool-making, fire-burning people. The four are Neanderthals, Homo erectus, Flores hobbits (Homo floresiensis), and the Denisova hominins. We know of the Denisovans only from a single fossilized finger bone, or possibly two fossils. Scientists identified them as a separate species through extracted DNA. Well, now we’ve got evidence of a fifth species in the Lord of the Rings world of prehistory, and it’s more mysterious even than the Denisovans. That’s because we have no fossils for the fifth species. Read more…
Traditional histories say that when the English migrated to Britain during the 400’s A.D., they almost completely replaced the native Celtic population. In other words, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes — the Germanic peoples who became the English — wiped out the Celts or herded them all into Wales and Cornwall. The result: England’s people are almost completely Germanic, and so is the English language.
But a recent linguistic analysis tells a different story. Read more…
Now that the Scots have rejected independence from the U.K., it’s worth asking how Scotland and England got hooked up in the first place.
For centuries, Scotland was England’s enemy — always reliable for a northern invasion when England’s number-one enemy, France, called for a diversion. That and fear of a French invasion through Scotland led England to interfere in Scottish affairs over and over, often via invasion. Read more…