Juan Pablo Duarte (1813–76), national hero of the Dominican Republic, was the leader of the famous "La Trinitaria," along with Francisco del Rosario Sánchez (1817–61) and Ramón Matías Mella (1816–64), which proclaimed and won independence from Haiti in 1844. Emiliano Tejera (1841–1923) and Fernando Arturo de Merino (1833–1906), first archbishop of the Dominican Republic, were noted statesmen.
Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina (1891–1961) was the dominant figure in the political life of the country from 1930 until his assassination on 30 May 1961. He served four times as president and was commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Joaquín Balaguer (1909–2002) was a prominent political figure in the Dominican Republic. Juan Bosch (1909–2001), founder of the leftist PRD and later of the PLD, served for seven months as president in 1963.
Juan Bautista Alfonseca (1810–75), the father of Dominican music, was the first composer to make use of Dominican folklore. José Reyes (1835–1905), musician and soldier, wrote the music for the national anthem. José de Jesús Ravelo (1876–1954) composed the oratorio La Muerte de Cristo, which has been performed yearly since 7 April 1939 at the Basílica de Santa María la Menor on Good Friday. Other prominent Dominican musicians are Juan Francisco García (1892–1974), Luis Emilio Mena (1895–1964), and Enrique de Marchena (1908–1988). Juan Marichal (b.1938) achieved fame in the US as a baseball pitcher.