Historiography of the nineteenth-century Caribbean often holds Santo Domingo (later, the Dominican Republic) to be something of an anomaly. This essay reconsiders that scholarship in a Pan-Caribbean frame, demonstrating how such a characterization can lead to a number of distortions. First, it allows projections of elite Dominican nationalism to serve as synecdoche for popular thought. Second, privileging this anxious and divisive rhetoric forecloses study of the nation as an emancipated state, together with Haiti, in a hostile Atlantic. Common Dominicans had a keen sense of this regional context, as demonstrated by popular unrest in the 1850s and 1860s. In the absence of plantation records or other prolific documentation, scholarship has often rested on the testimony of foreign observers; these sources demand further critical attention. Creative research that pointedly seeks out popular thought promises to elucidate connections across the island as well as ties to networks and neighbors throughout the Caribbean.

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