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Banana Wars: The 1904 US invasion of Santo Domingo

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Published on Jun 15, 2019

The 1904 US invasion of Santo Domingo ended up being one of the first altercations of the Banana Wars: The US attempted to influence the government of this nation.

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The Santo Domingo Affair, refers to an incident in 1904 between the US and the Dominican Republic. It occurred following the death of a seaman on February 1, the U.S. military launched a punitive invasion which routed the Dominican forces.

Rebels in the city of Santo Domingo had previously fired on two American merchant ships and damaged property at the American-owned sugar plantations. Marines from the USS Detroit had been landed in November of 1903, but were withdrawn when the situation appeared stable. On February 1, the auxiliary cruiser USS Yankee was on patrol off Santo Domingo. The American captain decided to send some men ashore to make contact with the Dominicans, but when the boat was away from the Yankee a group of men attacked it with small arms fire and Seaman J. C. Johnston was mortally wounded. In response, President Theodore Roosevelt ordered two more cruisers to the islands and exact an apology, under the command of Captain Richard Wainwright.

Wainwright arrived at Santo Domingo on the 10. The following day, a launch from his ship, flying the American flag, was sent in toward the docks, as they were escorting crew intending to offload cargo. As they did so, the rebels opened fire with their small arms. Several shots hit the steamer and a few grazed the naval launch but there were no casualties. The two American vessels withdrew. Wainwright, having informed his superiors and gotten their approval, launched an amphibious assault and naval bombardment. Newark opened fire with her broadside at 3:25 pm, while the Columbia covered the landing. Ten minutes later the bombardment ceased and 375 Americans headed to the beach. The landing party was under the direct command of Lieutenant Commander James P. Parker.

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