A Case for Dominican Protestantism: Nation-Building and US Empire in Goodin vs. Astwood, 1890–92
Unexamined by historians, Astwood’s outburst in the Cuartel de las Milicias marked the beginning of a legal dispute that passed before all three branches of Dominican government before being resolved by the Dominican Supreme Court in July 1892. This paper examines that dispute, Goodin vs. Astwood, and how descendants of African-American immigrants in Santo Domingo used historical narrative and property law to make claims to Dominican nationality and to fend off U.S. appropriation of church property. Arguing against affiliation with the A.M.E. Church and Henry Astwood, the church’s representative on the island, the descendants of African-American immigrants underemphasized their racial and ethnic ties to African-Americans in the United States. Instead they claimed to be “Dominican Protestants,” and members of a non-Catholic religion, “whose history was tied in great part to the history of the country.” Surprisingly, the Dominican judiciary and legislature tacitly supported them.
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