Punta Presidente History

First map of the new world by columbus

First Map of the New World, by Christopher Columbus. The location of Punta Presidente has been highlighted for clarity. Source: Royal Naval Museum, Madrid, Spain.

December 25, 1492.  Christopher Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria, is torn apart along the northern coast of Hispaniola. During a night of drinking and celebration, the crew left a cabin boy, Pedro de Terreros, at the helm.

As the ship approached a coral reef, the inexperienced Pedro didn’t realize the danger and sailed directly onto the rocks.

After assessing the damage, Admiral Columbus ordered the ship taken apart and the timbers used as the first settlement in the new world.

He named this fort “Natividad” or Fort Christmas, in reference to the date of the disaster.

The remaining two ships, The Nina & Pinta, sailed east and anchored along the shores of Punta Presidente in what is now MonteCristi.  

It was from this bay that Columbus planned his return to Spain on the first voyage of discovery.

The map on the left is a photograph of the original found in the naval museum in Madrid, Spain.  The highlight of Punta Presidente in the image is ours.

1605 – Spain is at war with France, England, and the Netherlands.

The Spanish Armada’s Atlantic fleet, commanded by Captain-General Luis Fajardo, defeats Dutch buccaneers near Punta Araya in Venezuela to regain control of the vital salt industry.

Antonio Osorio, Hispaniola’s governor, reports that ‘foreigners’ have taken over trade along the north coast.Pirates and contrabanders trade freely with the local colonists, and worst of all, Spain is losing it’s ‘Quinto’ (20% tax) on commerce.

The Spanish Crown orders Fajardo to sail to Hispaniola. He is commanded to set fire to the farmland along the north coast to prevent sugar, pork, and cattle farms from falling into foreign hands.

Any locals resisting displacement were to be arrested.

The cities of MonteCristi and Puerto Plata were torched and moved to a new settlement – MontePlata- 8 miles from the capital of Santo Domingo where they could be monitored and controlled.

A garrison of soldiers from the Armada assisted Osorio in executing the plan, and completed the mission in a couple of years.

The Armada returned in 1606 to monitor and defend Spanish rights.

This action, known as “The Devastation’s of Osorio” was a disaster for the crown.  Half of the displaced population died from disease or starvation, and 100,000 cattle were set free.

Launching from Tortuga in 1625, the French seized the opportunity to take the western third of the island and establish a colony.

The effects of the devastation divided Hispaniola to this day.  The French colony became modern day Haiti, and the northern coast in many ways, is as pristine as the day the Armada anchored here.

1605 - 1606 The Armada's Windward Fleet anchors at Punta Presidente.

1605 – 1606 The Armada’s Windward Fleet anchors at Punta Presidente.

1640 map of Punta Presidente and the Bay on Manzanillo, by Capt. Francisco Ramirez. Source: https://issuu.com/popularenlinea/docs/imagenes_insulares pg.103

El Morro, MonteCristi

El Morro Bay, MonteCristi. This is where Admiral William Penn launched the seige for Jamaica in 1654.

April 1654.  Admiral William Penn, the father of the founder of Pennsylvania, was sent by Lord Oliver Cromwell to capture the Island of Hispaniola.

As the English headed inland, they were ambushed by 2,400 Spanish soldiers in the capital of Santo Domingo.  Penn’s force of 13,000 troops and 34 ships panicked and retreated in shame, sailing for the northern coast of the island.

Reeling from the failed siege, the Admiral and Land General Robert Venables, decided it was impossible to return to England without a colonization prize for the Commonwealth.

Anchored along the coast of Punta Presidente, the decision was made to take the  island of Jamaica.

The size of the invading force was overwhelming for the Jamaican colonists, and the island was captured with little resistance.

Upon returning to England with news of their prize, Penn and Venables were sent to the Tower of London for failing to follow orders.

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