Samana Bay Cayo Levantado

History of Cayo

On January 12th, 1493 Christopher Columbus arrives in the Samana Peninsula and is attacked by the Indians in a place called Arrows Gulf. It was not until 1756 that Samana is officially founded by Governor Francisco Rubio y Peñaranda.

In 1802 a French squadron sent by Napoleon arrived in Samana with the objective of subordinate Santo Domingo to France dominions, including Haiti.

There were less than an estimated 175,000 inhabitants in the eastern half of the island. Old timers in Samana said that Boyer, President on the Government while French domination, was obsessed with how was Haiti ever going to hold on to this new land without "populating" it with blacks.

The Samanenses recalled that the idea to bring American black ex-slaves down came about through coffee since the renowned Haitian coffee was already being exported to the US. One of the coffee merchants was said to have made contact with freed blacks in Philadelphia who were ex-slaves.

President Boyer proposed that they be invited down to Hispaniola and provided with land and money to settle. Leaders of the Philadelphia blacks were cautious about the idea and asked to send a delegation to check out the offer. They returned to Philadelphia & described the DR as "a paradise" and everything that was promised.

Subsequently hundreds of them travelled to accept the offer but over the years 10 or 11 settlements around the country gradually fell apart for various reasons. These reasons included tropical diseases and difficulty in adjusting to the climate. They were not farmers but rather journeymen like carpenters, plumbers, etc.

Mentioned several times was their shock over the behaviour of the Haitian military toward Dominican Catholics. They were black & Protestants but mentioned was the behaviour of Haitian soldiers in cutting the heads off of white statues in the church.

The only community to survive was the one in Samana. It was interesting to note that successive US ambassadors in Santo Domingo favoured the Samanense because they spoke English & were often described as a refined lot. Their names still are recalled & still prevail in Samana: King, Kelly, Johnson, Greene, Baret & others.