Don Pedro Santana y Familias, 1st Marquis of Las Carreras (June 29, 1801 – June 14, 1864) was a wealthy cattle rancher, soldier, politician and dictator of the Dominican Republic. He was born in the city of Hincha (today Hinche), which was part of the Colony of Santo Domingo and at the time, the third largest city of the Spanish colony, with 12,000 inhabitants (1785 church census).[1] Currently, Hinche is located in Haiti. He was the first constitutional President of the Dominican Republic, and the first Marquess of Las Carreras.


His parents were Pedro Santana, an indigenous Mexican man, and Petronila Familias, a Canarian woman, both landowners in the border zone between Santo Domingo and Saint Domingue; this meant that Santana was a Mestizo.[2] Around 1805, Santana moved with his family to the Cibao valley for a short time, specifically in Gurabo, and later permanently to El Seibo at the eastern part of the colony, where he eventually became a cattle rancher for two years.[2]

Military and political role

Santana was the Dominican Republic's president (although he ruled as a dictator) during the years 1844–48, 1853–56, and 1858–61 (when Spain annexed the Dominican Republic as Santana wished). Thereafter, Santana became governor, with the rank of Captain General of the territory. He held those titles until 1862.

Santana had great talent as a military leader, but was unable to leave his dictatorial personality on the battlefield. Though many historians criticise his rule as an economic disaster, Santana was meticulous in conducting public affairs, and obviously a great soldier.

Santana also fought with distinction in the Revolution of July 7, 1857, when Cibao placed their revolutionary army under his command. The Congress of the Dominican Republic awarded Santana the title of “Liberator of the Nation” on July 18, 1849 for his victory in the Battle of Las Carreras.

As a dictator

He is considered a brilliant military strategist, and was a key figure in the successful separation of the Dominican Republic from Haiti. But many[who?] historians think that some of his later actions barred him from becoming a genuine national hero.

  • After he drove the Haitian army out of the country in the Dominican War of Independence, he almost immediately moved to eliminate the very Independentists that fought alongside him. Santana felt that the new nation could not survive without being annexed to Spain, which the Trinitarian Independentists did not accept.
  • He relentlessly arrested or exiled members of La Trinitaria. The very first person that was forced out of the country was Juan Pablo Duarte, founding father of the new Dominican Republic.
  • Santana attacked María Trinidad Sánchez, the first heroine of the Republic and aunt of Francisco del Rosario Sánchez of the Founding Fathers of the nation. She and Concepción Bona made the first national flag. Santana imprisoned her, tortured her, and sentenced her to death when she refused to name "conspirators" against him in the newly independent republic. Exactly one year after the proclamation of Independence (February 27, 1845) María Trinidad Sánchez was executed by a firing squad. This made her the first (but not last) female martyr of the republic.[3]

Family and marriages

Santana had two brothers, Ramón (b. 15 June 1801) —his twin brother— and Florencio (b. 14 November 1805) —who was paralytic, mute and mentally ill.[4]

Pedro Santana was engaged to María del Carmen Ruiz, a beautiful damsel who, when returning to her home in El Seybo from a pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Altagracia in Higüey, got her horse frightened with Ruiz flying and crashing against a rock, dying instantly. The death of his fiancée caused Santana a deep depression. His twin brother Ramón convinced Pedro to accompany him to visit his fiancée Froilana Febles, who lived in the town of El Seybo. In his visits to his to-be sister-in-law, Pedro fell in love with his brother's to-be mother-in-law, Micaela Antonia del Rivero, the rich widow of Miguel Febles, who was much older than Pedro. This meant that Froilana Febles became Pedro Santana's sister-in-law and stepdaughter at the same time, while Micaela del Rivero became sister-in-law and mother-in-law of Ramón Santana. The Santana-del Rivero marriage was very unhappy, but it gave Pedro Santana influence and power in the Southeastern region.[5]

He enwidowed and remarried, this time with Ana Zorrilla, who was also a widow and a bit older than him. Because of his marriages with mature women, he had no legitimate children.[6]

His brother Ramón died on 15 June 1844 during the Revolutionary war of Independence.[7]

From his brother's marriage to Froilana Febles, he had 3 nephews: Manuel (b. 24 March 1833), Francisco, and Rafael Santana (b. 1834-5), whom inherited many of Santana's properties. From Rafael Santana and his wife Paula Bobadilla is descended Cardinal Octavio Beras and comedian Freddy Beras-Goico.[8][9][10][11]

Last years

Pedro Santana died in the city of Santo Domingo on June 14, 1864, shortly after having been bestowed the hereditary title of Marqués de las Carreras (28 March 1862), in recognition of his victory in the Battle of Las Carreras, by Queen Isabella II of Spain, and was buried in the Ozama Fortress next to the Torre del Homenaje. From 1978 his remains lie at the National Pantheon of the Dominican Republic.

Santana died childless. He bequeathed his properties to his nephews, his godchildren, and his stepchildren. He included a pension to his disabled brother Florencio and his aunt Dominga Familia.


  1. ^ Antonio Sánchez Valverde
  2. ^ a b Lugo Lovatón, Ramón (1953). "El Carácter de Pedro Santana" [Pedro Santana’s Personality] (PDF). Boletín del Archivo General de la Nación (in Spanish). Santo Domingo: Archivo General de la Nación. 78 (2). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-11-13. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-11-13. 
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-11-13. 
  7. ^ http://www.diariodominicano.com/n.php?id=998
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-11-13. 
  9. ^ http://hoy.com.do/capsulas-genealogicasfreddy-beras-goico-in-memoriam-2/
  10. ^ https://books.google.com.do/books?id=D-oMAQAAMAAJ
  11. ^ http://www.docelinajes.org/2010/11/el-general-pedro-santana-primer-marques-de-las-carrerasy-la-identidad-dominicana-ii/

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Tomás Bobadilla
President of the Dominican Republic
Succeeded by
Council of Secretaries of State
Preceded by
Buenaventura Báez
President of the Dominican Republic
Succeeded by
Manuel de Regla Mota
Preceded by
José Desiderio Valverde
President of the Dominican Republic
Title next held by
Benigno Filomeno de Rojas
Spanish nobility
Preceded by
Title created
Marquess of Las Carreras
16 June 1862 – 28 March 1864
Succeeded by