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One of the noblest names in Cuban history of a century and more ago is that of Francisco de Arango y Parreño, advocate, economist and statesman. He came of a family of noble lineage, and was born in Havana on May 22, 1765. Among the great men of his day in Cuba, who were many, he was one of the foremost, as the detailed story of his labors and achievements in the chapters of this History abundantly attests. He worked for the reform of the economic system of the island, for the development of agriculture on an enlightened basis, for the extension of popular education, and for the promotion of commerce. He urged upon King Charles III plans for averting the evil influences of the French Revolution, while securing the good results; and he set an example in educational matters by himself founding an important school. Recognized and honored the world over for his character, talents and achievements, he died on March 21, 1837.


A.M., L.H.D.
Author of "A Century of Expansion," "Four Centuries of
the Panama Canal," "America's Foreign Relations"
Honorary Professor of the History of American Foreign
Relations in New York University





Copyright, 1920,
All rights reserved




  Entering a New Era—The Freedom of the Seas—Progress of the Slave Trade—Clandestine Commercial Operations and Political Intrigues—The Genius of Governor Guazo—Attacking the
British and French—Close of a Notable Administration—Shipyards at Havana—Havana Threatened by the British—Rivalries in Cuban Politics—Foundation of the University of Cuba—Change in Land Tenure—Copper Mining—Insurrections of the Slaves—Glimpses of Social Life in Cuba.
  The Administration of Guemez—Introduction of Reforms—Sanitation—Economic and Fiscal Reforms—Monopolies in Trade—Further Fortifications—Controversies Over the Slave Trade—Disputes with Great Britain—Declaration of War—Conflicts in Florida—Two British Expeditions—Admiral Vernon in the West Indies—Attack upon Santiago—The War in Florida—Governorship of Cagigal—Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle—Accession of Charles III—British Plans for the Conquest of Spanish America—Some Interesting Literature.  
  Some European Alliances—A Period of Peace for Spain—Reasons for the British Attacks upon Cuba—The Family Pact Between France and Spain—Spain's Break with Great Britain—Declaration of War by George III—Havana Chosen as the Point of Attack—The Albemarle-Pococke Expedition—Preparations at Martinique—The Advance upon Havana.  
  First Appearance of Yellow Fever in Cuba—Preparations to Resist the British Attack—Divided Counsels—Arrival of the British Fleet—Consternation of the Inhabitants—Velasco Chosen as Commander of the Defense of Havana—Beginning of the Attack—Heroism of the Spanish Commander—British Accounts of the Fighting—Raids and Counter-Raids—British Reinforcements from the American Colonies—British Tributes to Spanish Valor—Surrender of the City—The Articles of Capitulation.  
  British Occupation of Havana—Attitude of the Cubans Toward the British Conquerors—Departure of the Spanish Forces—British Views of the Conquest of Cuba—A Controversy Over Church Bells—Difficulties with the Spanish Clergy—Character of Lord Albemarle's Administration—Troubles Over Taxation—Plots Against British Rule—Corruption in Colonial Government—Political Disturbances in England—The Making of Peace—Restoration of Cuba to Spain.  
  Far-Reaching Effects of British Rule in Cuba—A French Picture of Life in Havana—A British Tribute to the City—Character of the People—Economic Changes in the Island—The Commerce of Havana—Defenses of the City—Not an Impregnable Fortress.  
  Departure of the British and Re-entry of the Spanish—The New Spanish Governor—Antagonisms Between British and Spanish—A Period of Reconstruction—Reclassification of Revenues—Military Reorganization of Havana—New Provincial Administration—Establishment of a Mail Service—End of a Noteworthy Administration—Reform in Police Regulations—Expulsion of Religious Orders—Suppressing Contraband Trading—Destruction by Earthquakes—A Disastrous Hurricane—An Administration Void of Complaints.  
  An Era of Peace in Cuba—Tribulations in Spanish Louisiana—Spain Still Lagging Behind Other Colonial Powers—Fear of a Republic—O'Reilly's Expedition from Cuba to Louisiana—His Success—Effects of His Severity—The Tragic Prelude to Spanish Rule—Louisiana an Appanage of Cuba.  
  Administration of the Marquis de la Torre—One of Cuba's Best Governors—Cleansing and Paving the Streets of Havana—New Public Buildings—Harbor Improvements—The First Theatre—Trinidad, Santiago and Puerto Principe also Renovated—Founding of Pinar del Rio and Other Towns—Reforms in Government—Havana a Beautiful and Prosperous City—Turgot's Warning to Spain Unheeded—Interest in the North American Revolution—Tariff Reform—The Currency—Jurisprudence.  
  Rise of the United States—Spanish Interests Involved—Negotiations Over Florida—Alliance Between France and Spain—Cuba's Intense Interest in the War Against Great Britain—Disaster to an Expedition from Havana—Operations at Mobile—Cuban Reconquest of Pensacola and Florida—An Early Prohibition Decree.  
  An Ill-Managed Armada—Neutrality Violated in Warfare upon Commerce—An Orgy of Privateering—Rodney's Exploits—Cagigal's Expedition to the Bahamas—Rodney's Menace to Havana—The First Newspaper in Havana—Negotiating for General Peace—Spanish Chagrin at American Independence—More Liberal Trade Laws for Cuba—Insurrection in Peru—Peace and Prosperity in Cuba—Wasteful Forestry—Visit of an English Prince—Improvements and Reforms in Havana—Foundation of the Sociedad de Amigos—Reign of Charles IV—Godoy, "Prince of the Peace"—Ecclesiastical Changes in Cuba—Economic Ills—Administration of Las Casas—A New Census—Disastrous Hurricane—The Society of Progress—Advance in Commerce, Agriculture, Literature and Education—Work of Francisco de Arango—The Tomb of Columbus.  
  Influence of the French Revolution in Spain—Toussaint Louverture—Cession of Santo Domingo to France—The Peace of Basle—Panic and Chaos in Spain—Advantages Gained by Cuba—A Civic Awakening in the Island—Dr. Romay's Introduction of Vaccination—Defense Against the Slave Revolt of Santo Domingo—The Work of Santa Clara—British Capture of Trinidad—Fears for the Safety of Cuba—Administration of Someruelos—Founding of the Intendencia—Expansion of Commerce—The Slave Trade—Extent and Conditions of Slavery—Rise of the Emancipation Movement—Importance of Negro Labor to Cuba.  
  The Land Problem in Cuba—Lands Withheld from the Real Workers—Indolence Induced by Lack of Opportunity—Manners and Customs of the Cuban People at the End of the Eighteenth Century—Lawyers and Land Titles—Prices of Land—Live Stock, Sugar and Tobacco—Primitive Sugar Factories—Progress of Agriculture—Obstacles to Economic Progress—Restrictions upon Commerce and Travel.  
  Conditions Accompanying the Rise of Wealth—Strange Mixture of Immorality and Religion—Seclusion of Cuban Women—Amusements and Entertainments—The Bull Ring—The Cock Pit—The Beginning of Literary Activity and Intellectual Life—The Drama in Cuba—Musical Culture—Dancing—Architecture—Home Life—Backward State of Education—Printing and Publishing—Suggestive Articles in the Press—The Beginning of Cuban Literature.  
  Rise of Relations Between Cuba and the United States—Early Interest of the United States in Cuba—Action of Congress in 1811—"The Ever Faithful Isle"—First Overtures for Annexation—George Canning and British Policy Toward Cuba—Policy of John Quincy Adams—Utterances of Jefferson and Clay—American Attitude Toward British and French Designs—Mexico and Colombia Restrained from Conquest.  
  Spain in Her Decline—The Napoleonic Wars—The Constitution of 1812—Revolt of Spain's South and Central American Colonies—Cuba the "Ever Faithful Isle"—Reasons for Her Loyalty to Spain—Origin of the Cuban Spirit of Independence—An Age of Intellectual Activity—The Rise of Cuban Literature and Scholarship—Refugees in Cuba.  
  The First Cuban Census—The Second Census and Humboldt's Comments Thereon—Distribution of the Population by Races—Effects of the Slave Trade on Population—The Census of 1817—Subsequent Enumerations—Discrepancies in Statistics—Character of the Negroes of Cuba—The Birth Rate.  
  Early Records of the Slave Trade—Participation by the Portuguese, French and British—Statistics of Slave Importations—Illegality No Bar—Relations Between Masters and Slaves—Efforts to Ameliorate the Conditions of Slaves—Introduction of Chinese Labor—Free Negroes—Religious Training of Slaves—Punishments of Slaves—Fear of Servile Insurrections.  
  The Administration of Santa Clara—Someruelos—Great Fire in Havana—Architectural Progress—Fear of Invasion—A French Fiasco—Hostility to Napoleon—Loyalty to an Unworthy King—Napoleon's Designs upon Cuba—The Aleman Episode—Arango and the Chamber of Commerce—Conflict with Godoy—Arango in the Cortes—Arbitrary Administration of Cienfuegos—Opposition to Street Lighting—Political Changes—Cagigal's Diplomatic Administration—Mahy the Reactionary.  
  Good and Bad Deeds of Vives—A Royal Decree that Proved a Boomerang—Dangers of the Slave Trade Perceived—Apprehension of Intervention by Other Powers—A Subtle Appeal for Patriotic Organization—Progress of the Spirit of Independence.  
  British Designs upon Cuba—Cuban Negotiations with the United States—The Mission of Morales—Annexation Sentiment—Attitude of the United States Government—Issuance of the Monroe Doctrine—Its Effect in Europe and America—United States Consuls to Cuba Rejected—Cuba Offered to England in Pawn—American Objections to the Scheme—Increase of American Interest in Cuba.  
  An Era of Revolution—Career of Simon Bolivar—His Observation of the French Revolution—Liberation of Venezuela—Miranda and His Work—Bolivar in Exile—Final Success of the Liberator—Influence of His Career upon Cuba.  
  The "Soles de Bolivar" in Cuba—Administration of Villanueva—Oppression of the People—Vain Attempts to Suppress Patriotic Societies—Conspiracies for Freedom—Early Martyrs to Patriotism—The Black Eagle—Trouble with Mexico—The Tyranny of Tacon—His Conflict with Lorenzo—Victims of Spanish Despotism—Cuban Deputies Excluded from the Cortes—Manipulation of the Police—Propaganda of Freedom by Cubans in Exile—Tacon's Public Works—Dealing with Pirates and Smugglers—Origin of the Havana Fish Market—Tacon as the Champion of Virtue in Distress—End of a Bad Reign.  
  Beginning of Slave Insurrections—David Turnbull's Pernicious Activities—O'Donnell the Despot—Roncali the Ridiculous—Causes of Slave Unrest—Story of One Uprising—Vacillating Course of the Government—Systematic Propaganda Among the Slaves—Some Serious Outbreaks—Savage Methods of Repression—A Reign of Torture and Slaughter—White Victims as Well as Black—An Appalling Record—Saco's Advocacy of Independence—Some Advocates of Annexation to the United States—Spain's Determination to Hold Cuba Fast.  
  Review of an Era in Cuban History—Progress in Inverse Order from International to National Interests—Alienation from Spain—Contrasts Between Cuba and Other Colonies, Spanish and English—Unconscious Preparation for Independent Statehood—Cuban Interest in the World and the World's Interest in Cuba—On the Verge of a New Era—The Promise of Cuban Nationality.  
Index to volumes 1 thru 4


Francisco de Arango Frontispiece
Laurel Ditch, Cabanas Fortress 58
Havana, from Cabanas 96
In Old Havana 130
Tomas Romay 192
Juan José Diaz Espada 272
José Antonio Saco 378
Old Espada Cemetery, Havana 52
Atares Fortress, 1763 103
Don Luis de las Casas 175
A Volante, Old-Time Pleasure Carriage 238
Monserrate Gate, Havana 244
George Canning 258
John Quincy Adams 259
Alejandro Ramirez 311
James Monroe 329
Simon Bolivar 334
Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros 380



When the Treaty of Utrecht was signed on the eleventh of April, 1713, the Spanish colonies in America felt as if they were entering upon a new era, an era of peace and unhindered growth and prosperity. They did not realize until the first elation over the establishment of peace had spent itself, that this treaty contained the seeds of future wars which were bound to be quickened by the powerful spirit of commercial rivalry, which had been awakened in the European nations and was alarmingly dimming the justice and righteousness of their policies. By losing the European possessions, the population of Spain had been so seriously diminished that it was entirely out of proportion to the area of her over-seas dominion. While the Bourbon king had nothing more to fear from France, even her pirates having palpably decreased their operations against the Spanish colonies in America, he had in England a rival and enemy whose power he had reason to dread. For all the maritime and commercial agreements of the treaty favored England.

George Bancroft justly characterizes the spirit of the period in the second volume of his "History of the United States" when he says (Chapter XXXV, p. 388):

"The world had entered on the period of mercantile privilege. Instead of establishing equal justice, England sought commercial advantages; and, as the mercantile system was identified with the colonial system of the great maritime powers of Europe, the political interest, which could alone kindle universal war, was to be sought in the colonies. Hitherto, the colonies were subordinate to European politics; henceforth, the question of trade on our borders, of territory on our frontier, involved an interest which could excite the world to arms. For about two centuries, the wars of religion had prevailed; the wars for commercial advantages were now prepared. The interests of commerce, under the narrow point of view of privilege and of profit, regulated diplomacy, swayed legislation, and marshalled revolutions."

Concerning the mooted problem of the freedom of the seas, discussed as ardently and widely then as at the present time, Bancroft had this to say in the same chapter (p. 389):

"To the Tory ministry of Queen Anne belongs the honor of having inserted in the treaties of peace a principle which, but for England, would in that generation have wanted a vindicator. But truth, once elicited, never dies. As it descends through time, it may be transmitted from state to state, from monarch to commonwealth; but its light is never extinguished, and never permitted to fall to the ground. A great truth, if no existing nation would assume its guardianship, has power—such is God's providence—to call a nation into being, and live by the life it imparts."

The great principle first formulated by the illustrious Dutch historian and statesman Hugo Grotius was touched upon in the treaty of Utrecht in the passage saying,—"Free ships shall also give a freedom to goods." The meaning of contraband was strictly defined; the right of a nation to blockade another's ports was rigorously restricted. As to the rights of sailors, they were protected by the flag under which they sailed.

But whatever credit belongs to England for her upholding of this principle was obscured by her exploitation of a monopoly, created by a special agreement of the same treaty. The "assiento," which established that most ignominious traffic in negro slaves, was to have disastrous effects, political, economic and racial, upon the American colonies, whether British, French or Spanish. The agreement had been specially demanded by the British representatives and had been approved by Louis XIV, who saw in its acceptance not only an advantage for England, but justly hoped his own colonies on the Gulf of Mexico to profit by it. It was worded simply as follows:

"Her Britannic Majesty did offer and undertake by persons whom she shall appoint, to bring into the West Indies of America belonging to his Catholic Majesty, in the space of thirty years, one hundred and forty-four thousand negroes, at the rate of four thousand eight hundred in each of the said thirty years."

The duty on four thousand of these negroes was to be thirty-three and a third pesos. But the assientists were entitled to introduce besides that number as many more as they needed at the minor rate of sixteen and two third pesos a head. However, no Frenchman or Spaniard or any individual of another nation could import a negro slave into Spanish America.

This trade in human flesh was duly organized and carried on by a stock company which promised enormous profits. King Philip V., sorely in need of money with which to execute all his plans for the reconstruction of his kingdom, anticipated great gains from such an investment and bought one quarter of the stock. Queen Anne was the owner of another quarter and the remainder was sold among her loyal subjects. Thus the sovereigns of these two kingdoms became the leading slave-merchants in the world and by the provisions of the agreement "her Britannic Majesty" enjoyed the somewhat dubious distinction of being for the Spanish colonies in the Gulf of Mexico, on the Atlantic and along the Pacific coasts, the exclusive slave-trader.

No trade required as little outlay in capital as the slave-trade. Trifles, trinkets and refuse stock of every possible kind of merchandise including discarded weapons, were exchanged for the human cargoes on the African coast; who, crowded into vessels, crossed the seas, and upon their arrival in the New World were sold to the colonists who wanted cheap labor and a cheaper service. A fever of speculation which had in it no little touch of adventure, seemed to sweep over England and to delude the people with visions of wealth to be acquired by a conquest of the Spanish possessions from Florida south, including Mexico and Peru. Wild schemes of colonization promised to open Golcondas on the fields of sugar-cane and tobacco, and in the mines holding inestimable treasures of gold and silver. For the realization of those plans negro labor was needed. Even in the West Indies it was welcomed especially by those settlements engaged in the raising of sugar cane.

That the Assiento opened the door to all sorts of clandestine commercial operations, as also to insidious political intrigue was soon to become evident. Agents of the Assiento had the right to enter any Spanish port in America and from there send other agents to inland settlements; they had the right to establish warehouses for their supplies, safe against search unless proof of fraudulent operations, that is importations, was incontestable. They could send every year a ship of five hundred tons with a cargo of merchandise to the West Indies and without paying any duty sell these goods at the annual fair. On the return trip this ship was allowed to carry products of the country, including gold and silver, directly to Europe. The assientists urged the American colonies to furnish them supplies in small vessels. Now it was known that such vessels were particularly favored by the smuggling trade. Hence British trade in negro slaves was indirectly used to encourage smuggling and thus undermine Spanish commerce.

To estimate the extent of the smuggling trade directly traceable to the loop-holes which the Assiento offered, was impossible. Jamaica, the stronghold of British power in the West Indies, and ever a hotbed of political and commercial intrigue against the Spanish neighbors, became a beehive of smuggling activities. In places formerly used as bases of buccaneer operations a lively business was carried on with contraband goods. The danger to legitimate commerce in and with the West Indies became so great that the Cuban authorities were forced towards the end of Governor Guazo's administration to adopt strenuous methods in dealing with such offenders. D. Benito Manzano, Andrez Gonzales and other mariners and soldiers of experience and known valor were sent out against them and made important seizures in this service. The governor was authorized to organize cuadrillos (patrols) of custom officers and equip custom house cutters that watched for and descended upon all vessels found without proper clearance papers or that had failed to register their cargoes in conformity to the laws of the island. The smugglers were tried and condemned to suffer various penalties, ranging from loss of property, hard labor and imprisonment, to death.

Governor Guazo's reorganization of the military forces gave proof of his extraordinary foresight and his executive power. He formed a battalion of infantry composed of seven companies of one hundred men and besides two other companies, one of artillery, the other of light cavalry, which was later changed to mounted dragoons. Two more companies of seventy men each were added some years later by order of the king. For the lodgment of these troops Governor Guazo ordered built the rastrille (gateway of a palisade), which became later part of the fortress and the quarters that run along the southern part.

Governor Guazo was a man of action and enterprise, besides being endowed with no little military genius. Never once during his administration did he lapse into that passive attitude which was in a large degree responsible for the slow pace at which the Spanish colonies progressed. One of his first aims was to inflict an exemplary punishment upon the outlaws of the seas that rendered insecure the coasts of the Spanish island colonies, and interfered seriously with commerce in the Gulf of Mexico. The militia of Havana had on previous occasions, when called into service on the sea, proved its mettle and displayed so much bravery and perseverance in the pursuit of its tasks that he had unlimited confidence in its ability to do the work he planned. He conferred with the governor of Florida, and they agreed upon concerted action against the English colony of St. George in the Carolinas. He made it known that he intended to dislodge the pirates on the island of the Bahamas called New Providence and for some time settled by the British. For that purpose he fitted out fourteen light vessels, ten bilanders (small one-mast ships, one of them of fourteen pieces), two brigantines (two-masted vessels with square sails) and other smaller ships with munitions and sufficient stores. Then he gathered a force of one thousand volunteers, one hundred veteran soldiers and a few of the prominent residents of the city to whom he entrusted the command of some of the ships. As head of the expedition he named D. Alfonso Carrascesa, a dependable official, and as his assistant D. Esteban Severino de Berrea, a native of Havana and the oldest captain of the white militia.

The story of this enterprise as related by Guiteras gives a somewhat different version of the struggles between the French and the Spaniards for the possession of Pensacola as that contained in the preceding chapter. According to Guiteras the armada organized in Havana and placed under command of Carrascesa sailed on the fourth of July, 1719. But it had barely left the harbor, when it sighted two French warships. They were coming from Pensacola, which the French had just captured, and had on board as prisoners the governor and the whole garrison. Carrascesa did not for a moment lose his calm assurance at this unexpected intermezzo. He stopped the French when they turned to flee, and they were in turn captured. With the rescued Spaniards from Pensacola he returned to Havana, considering this easy victory of happy augury for the expedition upon which he had set out. But Governor Guazo persuaded him that the reconquest of Pensacola was of paramount importance. Carrascesa yielded to Guazo's arguments and the entreaties of the governor of Florida's stronghold and started upon his new task. He succeeded in recovering Pensacola and reinstalling the Spanish governor with his garrison. Of the ultimate defeat of the expedition Guiteras has nothing to say.

Carrascesa, too, was a man of untiring activity and did not rest upon the laurels of his victory over the French. He made several expeditions to the ports of Masacra, Mobile and other places, laying waste rice fields and sugar plantations. He captured a number of transports carrying army provisions, and also took many negroes that had been brought over by the company carrying on slave trade, prisoners. So encouraged was he by his successes, that he planned another attack upon Masacra, which was defended by four batteries mounted on the coast and had a garrison of about two thousand Frenchmen and Canadians. But he realized that his forces were numerically far inferior and he desisted from carrying out this enterprise. He contented himself with turning his attention to the improvement of the fortifications of Pensacola and built a fort at the point of Siguenza for the defense of the canal. While engaged upon this work he was surprised by the arrival of a French squadron under the command of the Count de Champmeslin. There were six vessels in all well equipped with artillery far superior in quality to that of the Spaniards. A fierce and stubborn combat ensued, in which the volunteers from Havana distinguished themselves by their valor, but the French admiral succeeded in forcing the passage of Siguenza and compelled Carrascesa to surrender. Pensacola fell for the second time into the hands of the French, who, however, gave credit to the Cubans for unusual bravery and declared that, had it not been for their inferior numbers, and the inferior equipment of their ships and their troops, they never would have been defeated. This is the story of the fights for Pensacola as related by the Spanish historian Guiteras.

Governor Guazo's administration covered one of the most important periods in the history of Cuba. One of his last acts was the proclamation in Havana in March, 1724, of the ascension of King Luis I. to the throne of Spain, his father, King Philip V., having abdicated. But King Luis died on the thirty-first of August and King Philip V. resumed the scepter. In the following month Governor Guazo retired from office and on the twenty-ninth of September was succeeded by the Brigadier D. Dionisio Martinez de la Vega. One of the first acts of Governor Martinez was to raise the garrison to the number of two hundred and fifty men. By decree of the court he also superintended the construction of the arsenal which was to contribute much to the improvement of the rather poorly equipped fleet. In order effectively to pursue his predecessor's policy of prosecuting the smuggler bands, the number of which was alarmingly multiplying on and about the island, Governor Martinez suggested to the Minister of the Treasury the erection of a shipbuilding plant to turn out vessels especially designed for that purpose. He obtained the consent of the Minister and within a short time the plan was realized.

This dockyard for the construction of ships primarily intended for revenue service, was at first erected between the fort of la Fuerza and la Contaduria (office of the accountant or auditor of the exchequer), because that location offered great facilities to lower the vessels directly from the rocks to the sea. But as soon as the superiority of the ships built in Havana over those produced in Spain became manifest, owing to the excellent quality of the timber used, it was at once decided to extend the dockyard and it was moved to the extreme southern part of the city where it occupied a space of one-fourth of a league, near the walls with the batements and buttresses, which added much to its solidity and beauty. There within a few years were built all kinds of ships, from revenue cutters to warships intended to strengthen the Armada. In time the plant turned out large numbers of vessels. According to Valdes there were built between the years 1724 and 1796 forty-nine ships, twenty-two frigates, seven paquebots, nine brigantines, fourteen schooners, four ganguiles (barges used in the coasting-trade, lighters) and four pontones (pontoons or mud-scows, flat bottomed boats, furnished with pulleys and implements to clean harbors); in all one hundred and nine vessels.

This shipyard and the fortifications which were being steadily improved were found of invaluable service in the year 1726, when a break between Spain and England occurred and a British fleet appeared in the Antilles. So alarmed was King Philip V. by the news of the danger of British invasion which threatened Cuba, that he immediately ordered D. Gregorio Guazo, who had in the meantime been entrusted with the superior military government of the Antilles and Central America, to adopt measures of safety. Guazo accordingly sent the squadron of D. Antonio Gastaneta with a force of one thousand men to assist in the defense of Cuba. The historians Alcazar and Blanchet report that D. Guazo himself accompanied the squadron, fell sick upon his arrival in Havana and died the same month. But Valdes records that he died on the thirteenth of August of that year in his native town of Ossuna. However, D. Juan de Andrea Marshall of Villahemosa seems to have been appointed his successor.

The precautions taken were to be well rewarded. On the twenty-seventh of April, 1727, the English squadron under the command of Admiral Hossier came in sight and approached the entrance to the harbor of Havana. But the population had so effectively prepared the defense of the city, that the attack of the British failed. Besides seeing himself defeated by the enemy, the Admiral saw with dismay that his crews were decimated by fever. Gastaneta was at that time in Vera Cruz and Martinez alone carried off the victory over the British forces which after a blockade of a month had to retire. Admiral Hossier was so overcome with his failure and the loss of his men that he himself died of grief shortly after.

The following two years of the governorship of D. Martinez were turbulent with the discord of rivals and their factions. The immediate cause of these regrettable disturbances was Hoyo Solorzana, the governor of Santiago de Cuba. He had some time before taken a prominent part in the removal of the treasures lost in el Palmer de Aiz. The charge was raised against him that he had appropriated a certain portion of these treasures and he was suspended and proceedings were begun against him. The case was pending when the accused, who enjoyed great popularity with the people, suddenly without the knowledge of the Captain-General or the Dominican Audiencia, took possession of the government office in which he had formerly exercised his official functions. The authorities were indignant and sent a complaint to his Majesty in Madrid. When the reply arrived a few months later, it ordered his immediate removal from office, annulled his earlier appointment and demanded that he be sent to Madrid. The commander-in-chief took steps for his removal, but the municipal government claimed that the cause could not be pursued as long as an appeal was pending. Governor Martinez, too, waited with the execution of the royal decree in order to learn what decision the Ayuntamento of Havana would take. But the latter was kindly disposed to Hoyo Solorzano, remembering the undeniable services he had rendered the city.

Both sides held stubbornly to their opinions and the lawyers also could not be swayed by any arguments. Suddenly there appeared in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba a few galleons under command of the chief of the squadron, Barlavente, and acting under orders of Fra D. Antonio de Escudero. They were to apprehend the governor and his supporters, and take them as prisoners to Vera Cruz on the Admiral's ship. True to his character and antecedents, Solorzano bravely defended himself and with the help of his adherents managed to elude his pursuers and to escape to the country. After visiting places where many of his friends lived, he ventured into Puerto Principe, whose inhabitants were such loyal partisans of his that they decided upon protecting him arms in hand. A detachment of troops had been sent from Havana and surrounded the house in which Solorzano was staying. They succeeded in crushing the riotous demonstrations in his favor and seized him. Manacled and chained he was taken to el Morro and imprisoned. Although he was evidently the victim of misaimed ambition, the court that tried his case condemned him to death.

While these unpleasant events were agitating the official circles of the island, the people saw in the year 1728 one of the most ardent desires of the ambitious youth of Cuba attain fulfillment. This was the foundation of the University. Hitherto, it was necessary for young men desiring a superior and especially a scientific education to attend the universities of Mexico, Santo Domingo or Seville. With the opening of this institution of learning in the metropolis of the island, Havana, the intellectual life received a strong impulse. The credit for having secured the permission to open this university is due to the Dominican order which was mainly instrumental in promoting the cause of education in Latin America and especially the West Indies. The University was opened in the convent of Havana by virtue of a bull issued by Pope Innocent XIII. and in accord with the royal order of March fourteenth, 1732. The event was celebrated by brilliant decoration and illumination of the principal thoroughfares and buildings of the city and by festive gatherings and banquets, as also by dignified and solemn ceremonies in the building itself.

The first rector of the University was Fra Tomas de Linares. According to the custom of the period and the country the rector, vice-rector and assistants were all selected from the clergy. The curriculum comprised courses in grammar, rhetoric, mathematics, philosophy, theology, canons of economic laws, jurisprudence and medicine. But it seems strange that for a number of years no professor could be found to occupy the chair of mathematics. The peripatetic system prevailed. After two years of existence the university won such hearty approbation from the king that it was granted by royal decree of the twenty-seventh of June, 1734, the same concessions and prerogatives as were accorded to the University of Alcala. In the year 1733 Cuba lost her most revered and beloved spiritual leader, Bishop Valdes, who expired on the twenty-ninth of March. He lived in the memory of many generations that followed not only by the many parishes which he had founded in the smaller towns and rural districts, and by the seminary of San Baulie el Magne, which he had called into being, but also by his many personal virtues that had endeared him to his people.

An important innovation was made at this period concerning land tenure. The Ayuntamentos or municipal corporations started to rent lands, that is to give them in usufructu for the pasturing of cattle, to swine herds, for labor or as ground plots. The person receiving such a grant paid to the propios (estates or lands belonging to the city or civic corporation) six ducats annually for the first, four for the second, and two for the others. The land-surveyor, D. Luis de la Pena, resolved to give a plot of land in the radius of two leagues to the haciendas that raised black cattle, called hatos, and to the raisers of hogs, cordos or corroles (enclosures within which cattle is held). But there was such a lack of precision in determining the boundaries of the lands covered by these concessions, that one overlapped the others and caused innumerable heated lawsuits. The abuses committed by the corporation concerned in these land deals, finally caused the king to strip these bodies of the power of renting the lands. This important royal decree was according to the historian Pezuela dated 1727, according to La Torre 1729.

The copper-mines of Cuba which had during the second half of the seventeenth century been totally abandoned, but had been reopened in the year 1705 under the direction of D. Sabastian de Arancibia and D. Francisco Delgado, once more disappointed those interested in that investment and yielding little profit were closed. The result was very disastrous for the men that had been employed in the mines. For when they found themselves without work, they began to lead a sort of unrestrained life, which caused unrest and disturbances. In the year 1731, the governor of Santiago de Cuba, D. Pedro Jiminez, decided to put an end to this idleness and without warning imposed upon them hard labor. This the men resented and rebelled. After considerable difficulty, the gentle exhortations of the Canonicus Morrell of Santa Cruz prevailed and succeeded in appeasing the men, who took up other work.

In other parts of the island there occurred about this time uprisings of the slaves, which required the use of force and led to no little bloodshed before they could be suppressed. One of these revolts on the plantation Quiebra Hache and some on other neighboring haciendas led to the foundation of Santa Maria del Rosario. It was D. Jose Bayona Chacon, Conde de Casa-Bayona, who conceived the idea that the existence of a white population in the heart of the mutinous district might help to keep the negroes submissive. He asked the king's permission to establish a town on the land of said plantation and of the Jiaraco corral, which were all his property, and asked for manorial grants, civil and criminal jurisdiction, that is the right to appoint alcaldes (ordinary judges), eight aldermen and as many other officials of the court as were needed. King Philip, remembering the services D. Bayona Chacon had rendered the island, granted this request in the year 1732, and D. Bayona or Conde (count) Casa-Bayona settled thirty families on the place, which was henceforth called Santa Maria del Rosario.

The last years of the governorship of D. Martinez were undisturbed by strife either from within or without, and Cuba prospered during that brief spell of peace and quiet. But he did not delude himself by imagining Cuba safe from further disturbances, either of her internal conditions or her relations to her enemies. Like his predecessors he continued to add to the fortifications, as is proved by an inscription on the gate of la Punta, which reads:

Reinando en Espana Don Felipe V. El Animoso y Siendo Gobernador y Captan General de Esta Plaza E Isla de Cuba El Brigadier Don Dionisio Martinez de la Vega, se Hiciron Estas Bovedas, Almacenes, Terraplenes, Y Muralla Hasta San Telmo; Se Acabo La Murella Y Baluartes Desde El Angel Hasta El Colateral De La Puerta de Tierra Y Desde El Anguilo De la Tonaza Hasta El Otro Colatoral; Se Puso En Estado y con Respeto La Artilleria; Se Hizo La Caldaza, Y En El Real Artillero Navios De Guerra Y Tres Paquebotos, Con Otras Obras Menores; Y Lo Gueda Continua do Por Marzo de 1731 Con 220 Esclavos De S. M. Que Con Su Arbotrio Ha Puesto En Las Reales Fabrica.

(While King Philip V. the Brave reigned in Spain and the Brigadier Don Dioniosio Martinez de la Vega was Governor of this place and the island of Cuba, there were built three vaults, stores, terraces and a wall as far as Telma, were finished the wall and bastions from El Angel unto the Colateral of the Gate of Tierra, and from the corner of the tenaillo unto the other collateral; was set up in good condition the artillery; was constructed the high road and were built in the royal dockyard war vessels and three packet-boats and minor ships; and this was continued in March, 1730, with 200 slaves of his Majesty, who deigned to have them placed in the royal shops.)

Accounts of foreigners that traveled in the West Indies and visited Cuba during this period give glimpses of the cities and the life therein which are interesting reading. John Campbell, the author of "The Spanish Empire in America" and "A Concise History of Spanish America," published in London in the year 1747, says in the latter book, in the description of Havana:

"The Buildings are fair, but not high, built of Stone and make a very good appearance, though it is said they are but meanly furnished. There are eleven Churches and Monasteries and two handsome hospitals. The Churches are rich and magnificent; that dedicated to St. Clara having seven Altars, all adorned with Plate to a great Value; And the Monastery adjoining contains a hundred Nuns with their Servants, all habited in Blue. It is not, as some have reported, a Bishop's see, though the Bishop generally resides there. But the Cathedral is at St. Jago, and the Revenue of this Prelate not less than fifty thousand Pieces of Eight per Annum. Authors differ exceedingly as to the Number of Inhabitants in this City. A Spanish Writer, who was there in 1700 and who had Reason to be well acquainted with the Place, computed them at twenty-six thousand, and we may well suppose that they are increased since. They are a more polite and sociable People than the Inhabitants of any of the Ports on the Continent, and of late imitate the French both in their Dress and their Manner."

The Spanish historian, Emilio Blanchet, also limns a picture of life in Havana about this time. Always inclined to express their feelings of joy or of sorrow in a rather demonstrative manner, every national event of some importance gave occasion for festivities that lasted sometimes several days, and in one instance almost a whole month. This extraordinary example of Cuban delight in great public celebrations occurred in the year 1735 in Villaclara. The recent victories of Spain in Italy and the ascension of Carlos to the Neapolitan crown were celebrated in that town from the first to the twenty-second of February. Of course, the national sport of bull-fights figured largely in the program of this month of festivities; but there were also equestrian contests, military games, processions and cavalcades, and for the first time in Cuban history, dramatic performances. Besides such unusual occasions as the celebration of a victory, the numerous church festivals also encouraged the people's love of more or less ceremonial display and solemn public functions. The eyes of the people loved to feast upon the processions on foot or on horseback which took place on various saints' days, especially on the days of St. John, St. Peter, St. James and St. Anna.

The British writer quoted above was right in saying that the Cubans emulated the example and followed the models of the French in the dress of the period. For Blanchet gives a description of the dress of the Cuban women of that time, which evokes before the reader visions of the elaborate costumes inseparable from the period of Louis XIV. The Spanish historian dwells at some detail upon the gorgeous dresses of the wealthy women of Cuba. There were gowns with long, sweeping trains, the material of which was mostly a heavy brocade silk, interwoven with threads of gold or silver, trimmed with taffeta in sky blue or crimson. Other material was trimmed with gold or silver braids. The belt generally of rose taffeta joined the waist to the skirt. The hair was adorned with a large silver or gold pin which held the folds of a richly trimmed mantilla, also either of brocade or some lighter tissue, gracefully falling back over the shoulders. The undergarments were of silk taffeta, all of these materials being flowered or checkered and interwoven with threads of gold. Velvet was also used in the fashioning of vestees and jackets. Cloaks, capes and redingotes were either of camelot or barocan, or of some other fine cloth. Pink was the favorite color. Laces and embroideries were used on the dress of both men and women. No cavalier was without a frill. The use of powder for the face and hair was quite common, and the powdered queue was as indispensable to the costume of a cavalier as the buckled shoe.


When Governor Martinez de la Vega was promoted to the post of President and Captain-General of Panama, there was appointed in his place, as the thirty-sixth governor of Cuba, Fieldmarshal D. Juan Francisco Guemez y Horcasitas, a native of Oviedo and son of Baron de Guemez. Valdes remarks that during his administration was born his son D. Juan, who seems to have been also actively engaged in public life. Guemez was governor of Cuba long enough to occupy a prominent place in the chronicles of the island. He was inaugurated on the eighteenth of March, 1734, and continued in office until the twenty-eighth of April, 1746. Guemez entered upon the political and military administration simultaneously with the Franciscan padre D. Juan Lasso de la Vega, who assumed the spiritual leadership of the people as successor to Bishop Valdez. During his governorship, the Municipio of Havana was organized, and Santiago de Cuba being for the first time subordinated to his authority, Havana became virtually the capital of the island, and one of the most important of Spanish America. In that civic corporation, a very prominent member was the Habanero D. Jose Martin Felix de Arrate, who wrote a valuable history of Havana under the title "Llave del Nuevo Mundo, Antemural de las Indias Occidentales, la Habana descriptiva: Noticias de su fundacion, aumentos y Estado."

Governor Guemez introduced some measures of reform which tended to appease the discontent occasioned by previous abuses of municipal power. One of these was the rigid enforcement of the royal decree which forbade the ayuntamentos to trade in land. He also improved the functioning of the primary courts called Justicias ordinarias; for a great deal of disorder was caused by the fact that their decisions were rarely promptly obeyed. He associated with them the tenentes a guerra, military lieutenants, whose authority was more likely to be respected. One of these, the Captain of militia D. Jose Antonio Gomez, was sent to the salt works of Punta Hicacos and Cayo Sal, where much confusion had reigned, to regulate the salt production, and insure an efficient functioning of the organization concerned in it. He became later known as a famous guerillero, a civilian serving in guerilla warfare, and was familiarly called by the people Pepe Antonio.

During this administration some very important work was done towards sanitation. Guemez succeeded in having the harbor thoroughly dredged; by urgent appeals to the residents he secured the removal from the streets of all encumbrances of traffic and insisted upon having them regularly cleaned. It can be justly said that, if the standard of public health in Cuba was raised at this period, it was undoubtedly due to his efforts. Nor was he indifferent to the extortion practiced upon the poorer inhabitants by unscrupulous landlords and shopkeepers, one of his ordinances to that effect regulating the prices at which provisions were to be sold by the grocers and thus insuring a proper and sufficient supply of these necessities to the population which otherwise would have been underfed. He was also the first governor of Cuba who paid attention to the island's forests and curbed the operations of the thieves that ravaged them. Of course such measures were bound to be resented by those elements who had previously profited from the freedom with which they could carry on their trade regardless of human equity and public welfare; and although the administration of Guemez was one of great material prosperity for the people, he did not escape the fate that befell so many of his predecessors, that of being made the target of slanderous accusations. But the government had profited from previous experiences of this character, that of the Marquis de Casa-Torres being still remembered; it was no longer inclined to lend so ready an ear to charges raised against the governors, and paid no attention to the attempts made by his enemies to discredit Guemez in Madrid.

The colonial government was then in charge of D. Jose del Campillo, an official of great knowledge and sagacity and of wide experience in economic and financial affairs. Many of the improvements that had been introduced in Spain by Minister Ori were through D. Campillo's efforts now applied to the colonies in America. Among these valuable innovations were the regulation of the revenues, the reduction of import and export duties, and the distribution of the realenzes or royal patrimonies. But equally important was the creation of royal commissions to inquire into the state, the resources and needs of the provinces, and to organize industry and commerce upon a sound and equitable basis.

On the other hand it cannot be denied that powerful influences were at work to secure privileges for private corporations, which in a measure threatened to undo what those commissions attained. The organization which came into being in Havana in the year 1740 under the name Real Compania de Comercio under the patronage of the Virgin del Rosario, was such a corporation and it seems doubtful whether the privileges it enjoyed and the profits that accrued from them did not outweigh the advantages which were promised to the colony. The company was given a general monopoly, including the exclusive right of exportation of tobacco and sugar; it had the right of importation of articles of consumption in the island without paying custom on goods imported into the interior. Of course, it pledged itself on its part to render the community certain services which should not be underestimated. It was to build in its dockyards vessels of war and of trade; to supply the warships anchored in the harbor with provisions for their crews; to furnish ten armed vessels for the persecution of contraband; and for the transportation of the country's products to the port of Cadiz; to bring from Spain the ammunition needed in Cuba; to provision the garrison of Florida; and to furnish articles of equipment to the weather-side fleet.

The Captain-General himself was given the office of Juez conservador (judge conservator). The first president of the company was D. Martin de Aroztegui. The organizers had at first counted upon a capital of one million pesos, but it barely exceeded nine hundred thousand. Each share was valued at five hundred duros (dollars) and eight shares were required to entitle the holder to a vote in the general conventions. There were at first five directors in all, but they were gradually reduced to two only. Some historians had warm praise for the work of the company, among them Arrate, who with many others was preoccupied by the economic interests and the commercial progress of the community. But there is no doubt that at the end it did not bring about the results that had been expected. During twenty years of its existence Cuba derived no tangible benefit. The importation of goods from Spain did not amount to more than three vessels annually. The exports amounted to less than twenty-one thousand arrobas of sugar (a weight of twenty-five pounds of sixteen ounces each).

Governor Guemez was not oblivious to the dangers forever menacing the security and the peace of the island. He made great improvements on the batteries of el Morro; he had parts of the city walls, which ran from la Tenaze to Paula, demolished, and rebuilt of better material; he had the walls on the inland side re-enforced so as to offer greater resistance in case of attack by enemies. To all these improvements the citizens of Havana contributed generously; they furnished ten thousand peons (day-laborers) and as many beasts of burden to do the work. Guemez also built factories in the parish of El Jaguey on the other side of the bay and established the first powder magazine on the coast. During the latter part of his administration, in the year 1743, the town of Guanabacoa received its charter. The following year, 1744, is memorable in the history of Cuba as the year when the first postal service was organized. Thus the governorship of D. Guemez proved for the island a period of great civic and material progress and prosperity. The peace it enjoyed during the earlier years was, however, to be seriously disturbed later on.

For even towards the end of the administration of D. Martinez de la Vega clouds had arisen upon the political horizon of Europe which had begun to cast their shadows over the colonies. The slave-trade sanctioned by the famous Assiento agreement gave rise to more and more serious tension between the governments of England and of Spain. In order to execute that part of the Treaty of Utrecht which related to the importation of negro slaves into Spanish America, the British government had encouraged the formation of a company, the Compania de la Mar del Sud, or South Sea Company, which was to act as agent of the assientists. It consisted of men holding the large national debt of Great Britain and had received a grant for the exclusive trade of the South Seas. But since Spain was in possession of a great proportion of the coast in that part of the world and had so far enjoyed a monopoly of its trade, the South Sea Company derived no benefit from that grant, unless the commercial activity of Spanish America could be paralyzed. The slave-trade with its clandestine opportunities for contraband, offered the South Sea Company possibilities to undermine Spanish trade. The slavers, as the slave-carrying vessels were called, being protected by passports issued by their contractors, were not slow in getting into communication with those elements in the Spanish colonies that placed their personal profit above their duty to the country under the protection of which they lived, and had no difficulty in delivering cargoes of divers merchandise while they unloaded their human freight. Moreover they never returned to Europe in ballast, but carried a correspondingly large cargo of West Indian goods of which they disposed in European ports.

Spain had repeatedly entered complaints against these scandalously dishonest operations upon the coasts of Spanish America, but Great Britain was then not in the mood to concern herself with problems of international ethics. The enormous profits that the trade in negro slaves had brought to investors in that enterprise had dimmed their sense of honor. Queen Anne herself had in a speech to the parliament boasted of having secured to the British a new market for slaves in Spanish America. A considerable part of the population of Jamaica lived exclusively on the profits of this traffic between the Spanish-American harbors. The vessel which the British according to the Assiento were allowed to send annually to Portobello was soon followed at a certain distance by a fleet of smaller ships that approached the harbor at night and replaced the cargo that had been unloaded by day. Frequently the slavers would appeal to the human feelings of the officials in Spanish-American ports and with stories of shipwreck and damages sustained in hurricanes induce them to desist from the customary inspection of every foreign vessel. The effect of these manoeuvers was the complete extinction of Spanish commerce. While the tonnage of the fleet of Cadiz had formerly reached sixteen thousand, it was reduced at the beginning of the eighteenth century to two thousand.

But the reclamations of Spain were not heeded. Great Britain, then in a mad fever for the acquisition of wealth, was intoxicated with the rich profits it was deriving from the operations in the West Indies and other parts of Spanish America. It not only wished to continue these, but it also tried to bring about war between the two countries. As Guiteras says, and Bancroft expresses the same ideas in his second volume of his "History of the United States," the war which was on the point of breaking out was not about the right to cut the timber of Campeche in the Bay of Honduras, nor because of the difference between the King of Spain and the South Sea Company, nor about the disputed frontiers of Florida. All these questions could have been easily settled. The sole aim and end was to compel Spain to renounce her right of inspecting or examining suspected merchant vessels that cruised in the Antilles, in order that Great Britain might extend her insidious operations.

After much deliberation on both sides, an instrument was drawn up and signed, in which the mutual claims for damages sustained in the overseas commerce were balanced and settled. The king of Spain demanded from the South Sea Company sixty-eight thousand pounds as his share of their profits, in the slave-trade; on the other hand he paid to the British merchants as indemnity for losses caused by unwarranted seizures the sum of ninety-five pounds. The question with regard to the boundaries of Florida was also disposed of; it was agreed that both nations were to retain the land then in their possession, until a duly appointed commission should determine the exact boundaries, which meant that Great Britain would hold jurisdiction over the country to the mouth of St. Mary's River.

The discussion about this agreement in the British parliament did not add to the glory of the United Kingdom. Walpole spoke in favor of its acceptance, saying "It requires no great abilities in a minister to pursue such measures as make a war unavoidable. But how many ministers have known the art of avoiding war by making a safe and honorable peace?" The Duke of Newcastle, not credited with too much intelligence, opposed the measure. William Pitt, Pulteny and others sided with him. The opposition finally triumphed. Bancroft says of this disgraceful termination of a conference intended to seek equitable solution of a most harassing international problem:

"In an ill hour for herself, in a happy one for America, England, on the twenty-third of October, 1639, declared war against Spain. If the rightfulness of the European colonial system be conceded, the declaration was a wanton invasion of it for immediate selfish purposes; but, in endeavoring to open the ports of Spanish America to the mercantile enterprise of her own people, she was beginning a war on colonial monopoly, which could not end till American colonies of her own, as well as of Spain, should obtain independence."

Even before this official break between the two countries, the British had become guilty of movements that violated Spanish territory.

There is not much said by Spanish historians about the difficulties between Florida and the newly planned British colony of Georgia. But the dispute about the boundary of Florida ripened into an armed conflict, in which Cuban forces assisted those of St. Augustine. Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia, had in the year 1736 endeavored to vindicate British rights to territory previously claimed by the Spaniards and the opposition of the latter when the British approached more and more closely was easily understood. Oglethorpe dispatched messengers to St. Augustine and, claiming the St. John's River as the southern boundary of the British colony, built Ft. George for defense of the British frontier. The messengers were for a time held in St. Augustine as prisoners, but eventually released. The dispute was temporarily settled by negotiation. But though the British abandoned Ft. George, they kept St. Andrew's at the mouth of St. Mary's, which was bound to be a perpetual source of irritation to the Spaniards. Two years later, according to Blanchet, hostile movements of British ships were observed in Cuban waters. He speaks of the Commodore Brown as having, by the effective defense which Guemez had prepared, been prevented from landing in Bacuranao, Bahia-Honda and other places. With the beginning of the war, Guemez was called upon to secure the aprovionamento, the provisioning of the island and to insure its security. He received efficient assistance from some of his privateers, among them D. Jose Cordero and D. Pedro Garaicochea, who valorously fought some British vessels and obtained advantages over the British fleets commanded by the admirals Bermon and Oglethorpe. D. Jose Hurriaza, too, won some victories over the British with his three ships, of the kind called at that time guipuzcoanos. He sank one British vessel, captured another and anchored safely with his booty in the harbor of San Juan of Puerto Rico.

The British war party made capital out of the news of these encounters. Exaggerated reports about the cruelty practiced upon British prisoners were sent to London. The authorities did not hesitate to call as witnesses of victims of such outrages, characters whose words would not have received credence at other times. Bancroft quotes the case of a notorious smuggler by the name of Jenkins, who accused the enemy of having cut off one of his ears, and Pulteny, in order to precipitate the issue, exclaimed in parliament: "We have no need of allies to enable us to command justice; the story of Jenkins will raise volunteers."

Not only politicians and the ever ready pamphleteers lent their voice to the "cause," but even the poets joined the ignoble chorus. Alexander Pope wrote in his customary mordant manner:

"And own the Spaniard did the waggish thing
Who cropped our ears, and sent them to the king";

and even Samuel Johnson burst out into the cry:

"Has Heaven reserved, in pity to the poor,
No pathless waste or undiscovered shore,
No secret island in the boundless main,
No peaceful desert yet unclaimed by Spain?"

Thus was the mood of the moment prepared in the multitude and mass psychology did the rest, as it always does in such crises.

About this time occurred an incident, in which Guemez showed his mettle as a man, regardless of his official capacity. It is the historian Blanchet who has recorded this remarkable example of noble generosity. It seems that the British frigate Elizabeth, under the command of a Captain Edwards, had been caught in a terrible tempest off the coast of Cuba and threatened with inevitable shipwreck, sought the protection of the harbor. According to the laws of warfare, the Captain surrendered as prisoner of war. But Guemez, as acting Captain General, refused to take advantage of his misfortune, and not only permitted the vessel to careen and take on much-needed supplies, but gave Captain Edwards letters of safe-conduct allowing him to continue on his way as far as Bermuda. The rivals and enemies of Guemez, who had previously attempted to lodge complaints against him with the Consejo de Indias, renewed their intrigues and cabals, aimed at robbing him of the good name he enjoyed in Cuba as in Madrid, and accused him of all sorts of misdemeanors and abuses. But they failed in ruining his career. He was made lieutenant-general and on his retirement from the governorship was given the rank and title of Conde (count) de Revillagigedo and appointed Viceroy of New Spain. He died in Madrid as commander-in-chief of the army at the ripe old age of eighty-six years.

However great were the services rendered by D. Guemez y Horcasitas to Cuba, the conflicting rumors attacking his character must have had some foundation. Perhaps the impression the governor made upon a French traveler, who visited Havana at this time and was on board the vessel which took him to Mexico, may add some traits to his portrait. M. Villiet d'Arignon is quoted in Pierre Jean Baptiste Nougaret's "Voyages interessans" as saying:

"D. Juan Orcazita had been appointed to this important post on account of the sums he had lavishly spent at the court of Madrid. One could say that he bought it. The immense fortune he made during his governorship soon enabled him to turn his eyes to a higher goal. Everything depended upon contributions. So he in a short time amassed considerable sums, which from a simple civilian raised him to the highest rank ambition could aspire to. We shall see that he continued the same tactics in Mexico and profited even more, the country being wealthier. Orcazita was a man of some height, rather handsome, but of a mediocre intelligence, and had no ambition except for spoils. This was the viceroy given to Mexico, whither his reputation had preceded him. For the inhabitants soon made fun of his, and circulated this uncomplimentary nickname which sounds better in Spanish than in French: 'Non es Conde, ni Marquis, Juan es,' which means that he was neither count, nor Marquis, but simply 'Juan.' In fact he was not a man of birth, and he owed all he had to his money."

In the meantime Great Britain's preparations for the war resulted in the sending over to Spanish America of two fleets. The one under Edward Vernon was commanded to make an attack upon Chagres, east of the Isthmus of Darien; the other one, considerably smaller, under the command of Commodore Anson, was to begin operations in the Pacific. But a series of unfortunate accidents made it impossible for him to cooperate with Vernon, as he was expected to do. He encountered terrible gales, which disabled and scattered his ships, one by one, and after many romantic adventures which were set forth by a member of the expedition in a very readable book, he returned to England with a single vessel, but one richly laden with spoils acquired in pirate fashion. Edward Vernon, whose experiences have also been recorded in a volume, giving interesting details of his expedition, arrived at Portobello in November, 1739. He had under his command six war ships and a well-equipped force of trained men, and on the twenty-second of the month launched an attack. The garrison was so small and poorly prepared that he forced it to capitulate on the very next day. The British lost only seven men in the engagement and found themselves in the possession of the place. Vernon dismantled the fortifications and returned to Jamaica with a booty of ten thousand pesos. Expecting to be joined by Anson, he went to Chagres early in January, succeeded in forcing that port, too, to surrender, and after having demolished it, returned to Jamaica, and rested from his easily won victory, which the party opposing Walpole celebrated in London as a most heroic exploit.

The greatest armed force that had yet been seen in West Indian waters had in the mean time sailed from England to join the expedition of Vernon. It consisted not only of British troops, but had been reenforced by recruits from the colonies north of Carolina. Its commander was Lord Cathcart, who, when they stopped to take on fresh water in Dominica, was taken violently ill with a malignant fever and succumbed. His death was a disastrous blow to the British, for it destroyed the unity of command which is indispensable for the success of military operations. Cathcart's successor was Wentworth, who not only lacked experience and firmness, but was a political opponent of the impulsive, irritable Vernon. Thus the enterprise seemed to be at the outset doomed to failure owing to the rivalry and the discord of the leaders. The fleet under their command consisted of twenty-nine line ships, eighty smaller vessels with a crew of fifteen thousand sailors and a land force of twelve thousand men.

The expedition set sail from Jamaica without having agreed upon any definite plan of attack. Havana was the nearest point at which operations should be directed and besides her conquest would have given Great Britain supremacy over the Gulf. But Admiral Vernon saw everything only in the light of his own advantages and decided to go in search of the French and Spanish squadrons, without taking trouble to inform himself whether they had not already left. Finally a war council was held and it was decided to make an assault upon the tower of Cartagena. The squadron appeared before the city on the fourth of March and after a siege of twenty-two days succeeded in capturing the fort of Bocachica at the entrance of the harbor. Admiral Wentworth then made preparations to take the fort of San Lazare, which dominated the city. He planned to attack it with a force of two thousand men, but half of them, misunderstanding his directions, remained in camp. The squadron, too, failed to come to his assistance in time, and after a complete defeat he was forced to retire. Before the British had a chance to recover from the effects of this disaster, caused mainly by the lack of harmonious cooperation between their commanders, the rainy season set in. With it came the usual epidemic of tropical fever and alarmingly decimated the forces of the British. The blockade was for the time being abandoned and the survivors of the expedition returned to Jamaica.

Admiral Vernon resumed the plan in July, 1741, and arrived in the bay of Guantanamo on the coast of Cuba with a force of three thousand men and about one thousand negroes. He landed and then moved to Santiago with the purpose of taking that city. There the governor Colonel Francisco Cagigal prepared for him an unexpectedly hot reception. He divided his people into small detachment of trained troops, militia and armed inhabitants, and placed himself at their head. His example and the care with which he had calculated the defense inspired the people with the will to win and they plunged with zest into the fight with the invaders. Never for a moment stopping in their furious assaults upon the British, the forces of Admiral Vernon were decimated in the endless series of attacks and counter attacks. The climate, too, was against the British, and they were forced to retire. Vernon left the island with the remainder of his men and abandoned large stores of provisions and ammunition, which Governor Cagigal appropriated amid the enthusiastic acclamation of the brave citizens.

Thus ended according to the reports of Guiteras and other Spanish historians the British expedition which had started out with the intention of conquering not only the Spanish West Indies, but Mexico and Peru as well. British arrogance and greed had for the moment received a well-earned lesson. The fleet retired to Jamaica towards the end of November. When a survey of the state of both the naval and military forces was made, it was found that the British had lost some twenty thousand men. During all the time that these fights took place, commerce with the Spanish colonies had of necessity been suspended. The importation of negroes had ceased. Smuggling had considerably decreased. Spanish privateers lay in wait and intercepted the British merchant vessels, whose cargoes were triumphantly brought to Spanish ports. Great Britain, on the contrary, had not conquered a single Spanish possession and the damage caused to her commerce was far greater than that which Spanish America had suffered.

In the meantime, the undaunted Oglethorpe had once more decided to challenge the Spanish neighbor in Florida, and encouraged by the British authorities marched upon St. Augustine. He had six hundred regular troops, four hundred militia from Carolina and two hundred Indians, and set out on his expedition in January, 1740. But the garrison of the old town, under the command of the able Monteaco, was prepared and had also secured reenforcements. Five weeks lasted the siege; the troops of Oglethorpe lost patience and courage, failure staring them in the face. When they threatened to abandon him, he retired without even being pursued by the enemy. After this provocation the Spanish authorities felt forced to retaliate and decided upon an invasion of Georgia. A large fleet with troops from Cuba joined the forces of the Florida settlement. They arrived at the mouth of St. Mary's, where Oglethorpe had built Ft. William, in the first days of July. But Oglethorpe succeeded in retaining his hold upon that place, though his forces had to retire. The Spanish took possession of their abandoned camps, but on the seventh of July, when they were attempting to advance towards the town on a road which skirted a swamp on one side and a dense wood of brush-oak on the other, they were surprised by Oglethorpe and the fight which ensued was so fierce, and caused such a great loss of life, that the spot has ever since been known as Bloody Marsh. Another attack was made upon Fort William, but being again repulsed, the Spanish forces retired, abandoning a quantity of ammunition.

When Guemez of Cuba was promoted to the vice-regency of New Spain, he had been succeeded by Field Marshal D. Juan Antonio Tines y Fuertes, who was inaugurated on the twenty-second of April, 1746, but died on the twenty-first of July of the same year. In spite of his very brief term of service, he is remembered according to Valdes for having been the first governor to whom it occurred to do something for the confinement and possible reform of dissolute women. He is said to have founded for that purpose the Casa de Resorgimento, which seems to have been both a home and a reform school. He was temporarily replaced by Colonel D. Diego de Penalosa. About the name and exact date of his interim administration there seems to exist some confusion, some historians placing him immediately after Martinez de la Vega. Valdes says he was Tenente-Rey in 1738, assumed the functions of provisional governorship at the death of Fuentes, and upon the arrival of the newly appointed governor, was sent to Vera Cruz as Brigadier General. Blanchet, too, calls him Penalosa; but Alcazar gives his name as Penalver. However, Penalosa or Penalver enjoyed during his brief administration the privilege of proclaiming the ascension of Fernando VI. to the throne of Spain.

King Philip V., who had so reluctantly been dragged into the war with England, did not live long after the victory of Santiago had temporarily checked the designs of Great Britain. He had died on the ninth of July, 1746, and his crown descended to his son Fernando, an amiable and virtuous prince. King Fernando VI. was also inclined to follow a peaceful policy. He promptly settled the foreign questions that called for attention at this time, and tried his best to enter into and maintain friendly relations with all foreign powers. He aimed at the preservation of Spanish neutrality in the European wars of the period, being most deeply concerned with developing the national wealth. The brilliant festivities with which Cuba celebrated Fernando's coronation gave proof of the love his subjects even in Spanish America had conceived for him before he ascended the throne.

After the brief administrations of Fuentes and Penalosa, a new governor was appointed in Madrid and the choice fell upon D. Francisco Cagigal de la Vega, Knight of the order of Santiago. The brave defender of his town against the attack of Admiral Vernon had since that experience ingratiated himself with his people by other equally commendable exploits. With the cooperation of his valiant seamen Regio Espinela and D. Vicenzo Lopez, he had repulsed many an aggressive manoeuver of the British fleet in Cuban waters, until the signing of the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. Cagigal was a personality of quite different calibre from Guemez. While the latter had been singularly open and sincere for a man in an official position, Cagigal was endowed with a suavity of manner which concealed his keen shrewdness. He had after the defeat of Admiral Vernon been created Field Marshal and was certainly the right man for his place.

His inauguration occurred on the ninth of June, 1747, and from that day Cagigal entered upon his duties with the energy and perseverance that had characterized his previous career. Seriously concerned with the defenses of Havana, he had the battery of la Pastora finished, which had been begun long before him, and upon his urgent request the king ordered a citadel to be built on the mountain-side of la Cabana. He also had the Barlovento (weather-side) fleet removed from the port of Vera Cruz to that of Havana. The activity of the ship-building plant of Havana was remarkable during his administration. In the thirteen years of his governorship it turned out seven line ships, one frigate, one brig and one packet-boat and kept in steady work a great number of laborers. Cagigal improved the fort of la Fuerza by having a reception hall built on the seaward side, which was surrounded by a row of balconies. The interior was sumptuously decorated with medallions and escutcheons in bas-relief. He was much interested in the work of the Commercial Company which had been organized during the administration of Guemez; its capital at this time was nine hundred thousand pesos, with shares of one hundred pesos each, and there was declared in 1760 a dividend of thirty per cent. on each share.

Before the signing of the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle became known in America there was a serious engagement between the British fleet and the Spanish on the twelfth of October, 1747, a league off Havana. There were six vessels on each side, the Spanish under the command of General Andreas Reggio, the British under that of Admiral Knowles. The Spanish opened fire at three o'clock in the afternoon and a furious battle took place which lasted for full six hours. The forces of both sustained heavy losses, computed approximately at one thousand men on each side, and when the firing ceased, neither could claim a decisive victory. The British fleet retired and the Spanish returned to Havana.

The efficient management of the island's affairs during the administrations of Guemez and Cagigal greatly stimulated the initiative and enterprise of the Cubans. The first coffee-trees were set out on a plantation in the province of Waja by D. Jose Gelabert. Brandy and other spirits were distilled. The armory of Vera Cruz having been removed to Havana, there was great activity in military circles, and D. Rodrigo de Torres was appointed as the first commander of the navy of Cuba.

King Fernando VI. succeeded during the thirteen years of his reign in keeping out of the general European war of 1756, in which England and Prussia had ranged themselves against Austria, France, Russia, Sweden and Poland. He was intent upon building up the resources of the kingdom which had been drained by the wars waged by his predecessors and devoted his attention to promoting the agriculture, industry and commerce of Spain. He was fortunate in the choice of an intelligent wife and of two ministers whose wise counsel he could ever depend upon. The Marquis de Ensenada, who had risen from a peasant to a banker, financier and finally minister of marine, war and finance, enjoyed at first the unlimited confidence of the sovereign and the people, but later fell into disgrace, because it was discovered that he had sent out secret orders to the West Indies to attack the British logwood colony on the Mosquito Coast. The other adviser of Fernando VI., D. Jose de Carvajal, was a man of quite different stamp, endowed with common sense, sound judgment, pure of morals and as just as he was incorruptible. But Fernando died without direct heir to the throne in the year 1759, and his brother, D. Carlos III., succeeded him.

The solemn proclamation of King Carlos III. in the cities of Cuba was one of the last acts of the administration of Governor Cagigal. In the year 1760, he was promoted to the post of viceroy of Mexico and left the affairs of the government in charge of the Tenente-Rey, the King's Lieutenant, D. Pedro Alonso. During this provisional government there was erected a new sentry-house at the gate of Tierra, as is commemorated in the following inscription:

Reynando La Magesdad de Carlos III Y Siendo Gobernador Y Capitan General de Esta Ciudad E Isla El Coronel D. Pedro Alonso Se Construyo Esta Garita. Ano de 1760.

In the reign of his Majesty Charles III. and when Colonel D. Pedro Alonzo was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of this town and island was built this sentry-box. In the year 1760.

During this administration died the venerable Cuban prelate D. Juan de Conyedo, who as spiritual adviser to individuals and as counselor to prominent officials had won the love and esteem of the population as did the Bishop Compostela and later the popular Bishop Valdes. Conyedo's services to Cuba in the interest of religion, charity and education were invaluable. He was especially identified with the growth of Villa Clara, where in the year 1712 he had founded a free school for children of both sexes and had himself taken charge of the classes. Before he opened this school, the people knew absolutely nothing besides the Christian doctrine, and the rudiments of reading and writing.

The propaganda of the British war party favoring the conquest of Spanish America was in the meantime going on without interruption. When the greed of acquisition of territory is once roused in a nation, it is difficult to appease it. It enlists in the cause all ranks and professions, it employs all means, whether they answer the test of international justice and human equity, or not. Art, literature, science are harnessed in its service. It is needless to remind of a recent example of national mentality and morality gone astray through misapplied ambition. The utterances of Pope and Johnson were tame in comparison to the hymns of hate following the declaration of the World's war, still fresh in our memory.

But, there was another side to this literary activity. It did not always appeal to the emotions and stir up feelings. It was also of an instructive kind. Just as the Dutch at the time when their attention was fixed upon the Spanish possessions of America wrote book upon book describing the coveted islands and the coasts of the continent supposed to hold inexhaustible riches, so did the British during the eighteenth century suddenly conceive an interest in Spanish America which led to magazine articles, pamphlets and books dealing with those lands. That this literature with its endless descriptions of ports and products was intended for the use of mariners venturing forth on legitimate or illegitimate business, was evident. All these writers did not fail to remark that Havana was the richest town in America, that it had magnificent churches and public buildings and that the streets were narrow, but clean. But their main concern was to describe the exact location of every bay and every harbor: Matanzas, Nipe, Puerto del Principe, Santiago, Baracoa, Guantanamo, etc., and their next concern was to dwell upon the several products of the country, as tobacco, sugar, and others.

One of the most curious books of this kind was "A Voyage to Guinea, Brazil and the West Indies," published in London in the year 1735. Its author was John Atkins, surgeon of the Royal Navy, and though it contained an account of a trip made by him, it very plainly revealed an interest in the commerce of the countries visited and in the possibilities they offered, which, while natural in a business man, was quite surprising in a member of the medical fraternity. After devoting considerable space to the products of these southern lands, hurricanes, etc., he also discourses at length upon the slave-trade and gives interesting glimpses of the manner in which it was conducted. "To give dispatch," says he, "cajole the traders with Brandy," and continues: "Giving way to the ridiculous Humours and Gestures of the trading Negroes is no small artifice for success. If you look strange and are niggardly of your Drams, you frighten him. Sambo is gone, he never cares to treat with dry lips, and as the Expenses is in English Spirits of two Shillings a Gallon, brought partly for this purpose, the good Humour it brings them into, is found discounted in the sale of goods." Speaking of Cuba, he calls it a very pleasant and flourishing island, the Spanish building and improving for posterity without dreaming, as the English planters do, of any other homes. But he does not fail to add, "They make the best Sugars in the world."

Another publication aiming more directly at the mariners and merchants of Great Britain is by one Caleb Smith, called on the title page, the inventor of the "New Sea Quadrant." It was printed in 1740 and was a translation of Domingo Gonzales Carranza's description of the coasts, harbors and sea-ports of the Spanish West Indies. In the curious preface he says:

"The original was brought to England by a Sympathetic prisoner who had been in Havana where he procured it in manuscript and presented it to the Editor as a Testimony of his friendship and respect,"

and the dedication is addressed "to the Merchants of Great Britain, the Commanders of Ships, and others who were pleased to subscribe for this Treatise."

Thus was the mind of the people perpetually stimulated to look beyond the Atlantic for lands and seas which waited to be conquered by British prowess; and the defeat of Vernon in Santiago was hardly heeded. In the meantime negotiations had been going on between the European powers and a convention of their representatives had met at Aix-la-Chapelle to settle certain disputes and sign a treaty of peace. England and Spain on the one and England and France on the other hand had gained nothing by eight years of mutual fighting, but an immense national debt. As at other conferences for the establishment of the world's peace much was said and after all little was done. For when the document known since as the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed in 1748, it left some of the most harassing problems unsolved. Among them was the frontier of Florida and the right of Spanish ships to search British vessels suspected of smuggling. The assiente agreement, which had been found so profitable, was continued for four more years. In the light of later events the treaty was found to be only a makeshift for the moment, and did not prevent the outbreak of new hostilities between Great Britain and Spain when the ink with which the treaty was signed had barely dried on that document.


The alliances among the powers of Europe in the middle of the seventeenth century and the unsatisfactory settlements of some of the most harassing questions in dispute produced a state of unrest and tension throughout the world which the clever pourparlers and the fascinating fencing bouts of European diplomacy failed to relieve, and of which Cuba was destined to feel the effects. In spite of her insular isolation Great Britain was closely concerned with the intrigues that were being spun at the courts of the continent and were bound sooner or later to involve Europe in a new bloody conflict. She had on the one hand allied herself with Austria, bribing even some of the South German principalities to insure the election of Joseph II. to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, and on the other hand with Russia, which was then a newcomer not yet vitally interested in the issues at stake. Both allies failed to keep their pledge; Austria turned away to enter into a confederacy with France, while Russia passed from one camp to the other. The growing ascendancy of Prussia under Frederick II. had long been watched with distrust by the immediate neighbors, but by this time even those whose territories seemed safe from his acquisitive aggressiveness were roused to the realization of the danger it foreboded.

When Saxony and some other German states, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Russia and France combined to check the Prussian's ambitious designs, Great Britain, Hanover, Hesse-Cassel and Brunswick became the allies of Frederick. Spain with remarkable firmness decided to keep out of the general war which broke out in 1756 and, lasting until 1763, was to be known in history as The Seven Years' War. Even when Pitt, who was the ally of Frederick of Prussia, offered the conditional return of Gibraltar and the abandonment of the British settlements on the Mosquito Coast and in the Bay of Honduras, Fernando VI. resolutely refused to participate.

By this wise policy of non-interference this king secured for Spain a period of peace which brought with it a prosperity it had long lacked. The country recovered from the losses occasioned by previous wars, and when Carlos III. succeeded his father, he found fifteen millions of dollars in the treasury. He, too, was determined to keep peace, but the stubborn resistance of Great Britain to any equitable settlement of the question in dispute between the two countries, and the continual violation of international justice by her mariners were hard to bear and sorely tried the patience of the people. Bancroft says in his history of the United States (Vol. III, p. 264):

"The restitution of the merchant ships, which the English had seized before the war, was justly demanded. They were afloat on the ocean, under every guarantee of safety; they were the property of private citizens, who knew nothing, and could know nothing, of the diplomatic disputes of the two countries. The capture was unjustifiable by every reason of equity and public law. 'The cannon,' said Pitt, 'has settled the question in our favor; and, in the absence of a tribunal, this decision is a sentence.'"

It is meet in this place to call attention to the literature called forth by Britain's colonial ambitions. Albert Savine, a French writer, during the Spanish-American war, wrote an interesting article in the Revue Brittanique of Paris (1898, Vol. III, pp. 167 etc.), entitled: "Les Anglais dans l'ile de Cuba au dix-huitieme siecle," in which he refers to a History of Jamaica by Hans Sloane, published in 1740 and translated into French in 1751. This writer brought out the importance of Cuba very clearly, saying that no vessel could go to the continent without passing that island, that Havana was the general rendezvous of the fleet and that for the British to be really lords of the seas surrounding them, nothing was needed but Havana. Savine in discussing Britain's designs upon Havana, continued:

"The reason for their attack upon Cuba was, as is seen, the commercial and military importance of the island, which was at that epoch considered a necessary stopping place, a rallying point for the vessels going from Spain to America and from America to Spain. To be master of Cuba, thought they, was to be master of the road which the Spanish galleons followed. This rôle of port of supply and repairs for the damages sustained on the sea had made of Havana since the middle of the sixteenth century an important arsenal and dockyard, where there were continually in process of construction enormous ships destined for travel to Spain or South America. From 1747 to 1760 they fitted out seven ships of line, a frigate, a brigantine, and a packet-boat. The vessels which at the side of our fleet at Trafalgar fought those of Nelson had almost all come from the yards of Havana, which used the excellent timber of the island, commerce in which has somewhat diminished in our century."

The notes and dispatches exchanged between France and Spain on the one, and Britain on the other side, prove how the two were slowly forced into an alliance against the latter. On the fifteenth of May, France presented a memorial asking that England give no help to the king of Prussia and simultaneously a paper was presented from Spain, demanding indemnity for seizure of ships, the right to fish at Newfoundland and the abandonment of the settlements in the Bay of Honduras. On the twenty-ninth, England demanded Canada, the fisheries, granting to the French a limited concession, unlikely to be of any use, the reduction of Dunkirk, half of the neutral islands; Senegal and Goree, which was equivalent to a monopoly of the slave trade; Minorca; freedom to give help to the king of Prussia; and British supremacy in East India. On the fifteenth of August, the French minister Choiseul concluded with Spain what was called a family compact, rallying all the Bourbons to check the arrogance of Britain. On the same day a special agreement was reached between France and Spain, empowering the latter, unless peace were concluded between France and England before the first of May, 1762, to declare war against England.

Guiteras in his "Historia de la Isla de Cuba" has set forth the position of Spain at this time and her relation to France, which led to the famous alliance known as the Family Pact. He says justly, that the general interests of the nation demanded from Carlos III. the continuation of the strict neutrality which his brother had pursued in this war; for by that neutrality the commerce and general welfare of Spain had derived great benefits. But personal motives of resentment against England and of esteem and gratitude for Louis XV. predominated in his mind against the serious reasons of state and the advantages to his subjects, and the voluminous correspondence carried on between him and the king of France made him deeply share the humiliation of the principal branch of his family under the triumph of British arms. These sentiments and other motives finally gave birth to the treaty which was concluded between the two sovereigns on the fifteenth of August, 1761, and which was a defensive and offensive alliance of the two countries with the object of creating between them firm and lasting bonds for the mutual protection of their interests, and thus to secure on a solid basis the internal prosperity of the two kingdoms and the predominance of the house of Bourbon among the princes of Europe.

It was agreed to consider henceforth as a common enemy any government that would declare war against either of the two kingdoms and reciprocally to guarantee the dominions they possessed at the conclusion of the war, in which France saw herself involved; to lend each other aid at sea and on land, and not to listen to or enter into any settlement with the enemies of both crowns unless so done with common accord. For as much in peace as in war they had to consider the identified interests of the two nations, compensate their losses and divide their respective acquisitions and operate as though the two peoples were one, by granting to the subjects of both kingdoms in their European dominions the enjoyment of the same privileges as those of their native subjects; and, finally, to admit to participation in this treaty only such countries as were ruled by sovereigns of the House of Bourbon.

As Spain was by this treaty compelled to break with Great Britain, they awaited only the arrival of the galleons from South America in order to provide for the security of their commerce and territory, and that of their distant possessions. Then would be the moment to make known the consummation of this alliance and to begin hostilities against the common enemy. But somehow Britain anticipated the designs of Spain, for the French with their characteristic impatience had divulged the secret in their communications to foreign courts, and a lively correspondence ensued between the countries, soon to be arrayed against each other in the war Carlos III. had so zealously wished to avoid. But there was no doubt in the minds of the Spanish king and his cabinet, that the British policy was one solely of conquest, that Britain recognized no other law than the aggrandizement of her power on land and her universal despotism on the ocean. Nor could it be doubted by any impartial onlooker that Britain had long cast covetous eyes upon the Spanish possessions in America, and had for a long time given Spain sufficient cause for grievance. The audacity of her privateers and pirates in their attacks upon the West Indies had not been forgotten; the colonies especially had reason to remember the numerous and criminal outrages to which they had been subjected at the hands of men openly or covertly breaking treaties that had been made and accepted by the two nations for the mutual protection of their merchantmen at sea. The leniency of Britain in dealing with the most notorious pirate of all, the scoundrel Morgan, whom she allowed to settle under the protection of her flag in Jamaica, to rise to social prominence, to be appointed to public offices of importance, and whom her king had finally distinguished by conferring upon him knighthood, had always been felt as acts of defiance.

In the rapid exchange of notes during the period when the rupture between the two powers was daily coming nearer the suavity of diplomatic language was sometimes discarded for rather plain speech. When Britain proposed some regulations of the privileges of the British to cut logwood in Campeche, the king of Spain, through his minister, Wall, replied in a dispatch:

"The evacuation of the logwood establishment is offered, if his Catholic majesty will assure to the English the logwood! He who avows that he has entered another man's house to seize his jewels says, 'I will go out of your house, if you will first give me what I am come to seize!'"

This drastic comparison enraged Pitt and he decided upon even more stringent measures to humiliate Spain and crush her power in America. But in the meantime the party in parliament that had steadily opposed him succeeded in its propaganda against him, and he was forced to retire. However, the feelings had run too high, the hostility on both sides had assumed such proportions that war was inevitable. The British were more than ever bent upon pursuing their acquisitions in America, regardless of France and Spain; and the Spanish were unanimous in their hatred of the aggressor.

The year 1762 opened for the powers concerned in this conflict with the declaration of war upon Spain by King George III. on the fourth of January. This was promptly followed on the sixteenth of the same month by a declaration of war upon Britain by King Carlos III. Thus was the die cast, and both governments at once set about to make extensive preparations for military and naval action. Fortune seemed to favor the British; for George Rodney, the gifted naval officer, who was to distinguish himself during the war between Britain and her colonies by his daring and successful operations against the French and Spanish fleets in the West Indian waters, was at that time in the neighborhood of what was to be the scene of action. He had with a fleet of sixteen ships of line and thirteen frigates, carrying an army of twelve thousand men under Monckton, arrived at Martinique and laid siege to the colony which France cherished most among her island possessions in America. After five weeks, it was forced to surrender. A number of other islands followed, until all the outer Caribbeans from St. Domingo towards the continent of South America were in the possession of the British.

Naturally the attention of the British government was immediately fixed upon Havana. This being the most important military post of New Spain, its conquest promised to close the passage of the ocean to the Spanish ships carrying away from America its inexhaustible treasures for the sole enrichment of the crown of Spain. It meant also opening that and other ports of the Spanish West Indies to British navigation, and lastly it was to be only the beginning of operations which ultimately were to include the conquest of other possessions of Spain in that part of the world. The honor of conceiving the project has been conceded to Admiral Knowles, who had submitted his plan to the Duke of Cumberland; but although the latter recommended it to the ministry, the plan of the invasion, which had been simultaneously submitted by Lord Anson, chief of the board of Admiralty, and which was almost identical with that of Knowles, was the one finally adopted. In order to divert the attention of the enemy from the true object of the expedition, a rumor was circulated that the forces were destined for Santo Domingo, which seemed quite plausible, this island being nearer to Martinique than to Cuba, and one half of it belonging to France, the other to Spain. The London Gazette of January ninth corroborated this statement by the announcement that the English army was bound for the Antilles.

George III. entrusted the Duke of Cumberland with the task of selecting the chiefs who were to be placed at the head of the enterprise, and his choice fell upon the following: Lieutenant-General Keppel, Earl of Albemarle, for general-in-chief of the land forces, and Admiral Sir George Pococke for the command of the squadron. The latter and a division of four thousand men gathered in Portsmouth and orders were given to General Monckton to hold the forces which had gone to the conquest of Martinique and Guadeloupe ready for the arrival of Admiral Pococke. The authorities in Jamaica and the British colonies of North America were ordered to prepare two divisions, the first of two thousand men, the latter of four thousand. The British command staked everything upon a surprise attack. Fear that information of the rupture between the two countries might have reached Cuba, caused no little anxiety to Lord Albemarle and Admiral Pococke. The expedition narrowly escaped an encounter with the squadron of M. de Blenac, who had left Brest in aid of Martinique with seven vessels and four frigates and a sufficient force to have saved that colony, had he come in time. Unfortunately he arrived in sight of Martinique only after the surrender of Fort Royal, and on hearing that the island was in possession of the British, he altered his course and turned towards Cape France, leaving the passage free for Admiral Pococke and his fleet.

Upon his arrival in Martinique, Lord Albemarle took command of all the forces assembled on the island and found that his army consisted of twelve thousand men. He divided them into five brigades and formed besides them two bodies, one of four companies of light infantry brought from England, and one battalion of grenadiers under the command of Colonel Guy Carleton, and placed two other battalions of grenadiers under the command of William Howe. He also ordered the purchase of four thousand negroes in Martinique and other islands, who were incorporated into a company with six thousand negroes of Jamaica. When all these preparations had been made, the forces that were to take part in the siege of Havana were under orders of the following commanders:

Lord Albemarle, Commander-in-chief.

Lieutenant-General George August Eliot, second chief.

Field Marshals: John Lafanfille and the Hon. William Keppel.

Brigadiers: William Haviland, Francis Grant, John Reid, Andrew Lord Rollo and Hunt Walsh.

Adjutant-General: Hon. Col. William Howe; second;—Lieutenant-Colonel Dudley Ackland.

Quartermaster General: Col. Guy Carleton; sub-delegate:—Major Nevinson Poole.

Secretary of the general-in-chief: Lieutenant-Colonel John Hale.

Engineer-chief: Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick MacKellar.

Chief of the Military Health Board and of the medical corps: Sir Clifton Wintringham; sub-delegate: Richard Hunck and a staff of three physicians, four surgeons, four druggists and forty-four attendants.

A month passed in concluding the details of this well-elaborated plan. Finally on the sixth of May Admiral Pococke started from Martinique in the direction of the Paso de la Mano, where he was joined on the eighth by the division of Captain Hervey, who was blocking the squadron of Admiral de Blenac at Cape France; on the seventeenth they arrived at Cape Nicolas and on the twenty-third they met the Jamaica fleet under command of Sir James Douglas. The British naval forces, including these two divisions and the one that later arrived from North America, consisted of fifty-three warships of various kinds with a crew of ten thousand eight hundred men, and a great number of transports, among them two hundred vessels carrying provisions, hospital supplies, ammunition, etc. When the manner of conducting the expedition was at last decided upon, the fleet ordered to take part in the siege of Havana was composed of the following vessels:

The Admiral ship Namur of fifty cannons; Cambridge of eighty; Valiant; Culloden; Temerare; Dragon; Centaur; and Dublin of seventy-four; Marlborough and Temple of seventy; Oxford and Devonshire of sixty-six; Belleisle; Edgar; Alcide; Hampton Court; and Sterling Castle of sixty-four; Pembroke; Rippon; Nottingham; Defense; and Intrepid of sixty; Centurion; Depford; Sutherland; and Hampshire of fifty; the frigates Penzance, Dover and Enterprise of forty; Richmond and Alarm of thirty-two; Echo, Lizard, Trent, Cerberus and Boreas of twenty-eight; Mercury of twenty-four; Rose, Portmahon, Forvey and Glasgow of twenty; Bonetta, Cygnet and Merle of sixteen; the schooner Porcupine of sixteen, Barbadoes, Viper, Port Royal, Lurcher and Ferret of fourteen, and the bomb-vessels Thunder, Grenade and Basilisk, each of eight cannons.

Of such formidable dimensions were, according to Guiteras, the preparations made by Britain for the attack upon Havana. Little is heard of corresponding steps taken by her opponents. France was too exhausted to indulge in great expenditures of money or men. Spain was curiously unconcerned. The possibility of an attack upon Havana was discussed in Madrid, but the Spanish minister Grimaldi could not be made to believe that it might be successful. Cuba, too, little suspected what was in store for her. The new governor appointed to take the place of Cagigal, when the latter was promoted to the vice-regency of Mexico, was the Field Marshal D. Juan Prado y Portocasso. Before the consummation of the Family Pact, in March, 1670, King Carlos III. had told Prado of the menacing attitude of Britain and had warned him of the possibility of a rupture. He counted upon him to reorganize the island from a military point of view. Nevertheless Prado did not immediately after his appointment sail for Cuba, but lingered six more months in Spain, and, when he arrived on the island, wasted another month in a visit to his friend Madriaga, the governor of Santiago. He did not arrive in Havana until January, 1761. Valdes gives July as the month of his inauguration which seems improbable.


When Prado took charge of the governorship, he immediately proceeded to build quarters for the reenforcement of dragoons which were to be sent over from Spain, and for that purpose engaged sixty galley-slaves from Vera Cruz. He also began work on the fortifications of Cabanas under the direction of the excellent engineer Francois Ribaut de Tirgale. But a second consignment of galley-slaves in June brought to Havana the "vomito negro," the yellow fever, of which Siam had made a gift to Mexico in 1713 and which so far had been unknown in Cuba. Physicians being unfamiliar with the terrible scourge, all remedies proved of no avail. Within three months eighteen hundred men of the garrison and the fleet succumbed to the disease. The hospitals were filled with the sick, and work on the important public constructions was suspended. Engineer Tirgale was one of the first stricken. He was succeeded by his brother Balthazar, but he himself was sick and had such insufficient and inadequate help that he was much handicapped in his work. New difficulties having arisen with the vigueros, or tobacco-planters, Prado convoked the Junta which agreed to fix the process, the quantity and the brands of tobacco which the General Factory was to receive from the planters.


Thus was the whole year 1761 wasted, while the signs of the impending outbreak multiplied and the danger of the dreaded invasion came nearer and nearer. On the sixteenth of January, war was declared and only on the twenty-sixth of February did the news reach Prado, for the vessel carrying the dispatches of the Spanish government had been captured by the tender of the Dublin. He called at once a meeting of the council and asked for one thousand veterans to replace the losses which the troops had sustained through the epidemic. He also demanded that he be furnished four thousand rounds of powder. The army that he could muster in the eventuality of an invasion did not number at that time more than four thousand six hundred men. Yet Prado could not be roused from a curious apathy that possessed him and that made him again lapse into the indolence of Creole life. It seemed impossible for him to realize that anybody would dare to attempt what neither Hossier, nor Vernon, nor Knowles had dared. M. de Blenac, who commanded a French fleet charged with the protection of Santo Domingo, and Prado's friend Madriaga were equally unsuspecting. Had the former come to an understanding with the commander of the Royal Spanish transports, they might have surprised the British in the straits of Bahama and averted the disaster.

On the twenty first of May, a business man from Santiago, Martin de Arana, who had been on an errand to Kingston and in his patriotic anxiety perceived the armaments and supplies that were being collected there, came to Havana to inform the government. Reluctantly Governor Prado consented to an interview with this man who had braved the sea voyage and suffered privations to save his country from the menacing attack. The attitude of the people as soon as the news spread was commendable. The sugar-planters promised their negroes freedom if they joined the troops of defense and the clergy went about rousing the spirit of the people to action. Bishop Pedro Agustino Morell of Santa Cruz did admirable work. He had during the expedition of Edward Vernon traversed the country on horseback, and stirred the people to resist the invaders. Beloved by his parishioners, whom he inspired with his zeal, he had for twenty years preached the holy war against the enemies of his native soil. His generosity and his self-denial knew no bounds. The word of such a man at such a moment had weight and the people were ready to go to any length of sacrifice; but the man at the head of the government seemed oblivious to the gravity of the situation and did nothing efficiently to prepare the defense of the city. Prado presided at the meetings of the War Junta which failed to suit the action of the word and wasted time in heated discussions. This War Council consisted of the "Marquès" of the Royal Transports, the honorary marine quartermaster, D. Juan Montalvo, Col. del Rio D. Alejandro Arroyo, the engineer D. Balthasar Ricaut, and the captains of the vessels anchored in the bay. Later it was joined by the Lieutenant-General D. Jose Manso de Velasco, the former viceroy of Peru, the Field Marshal D. Diego Tabares, ex-governor of Cartagena, and the Lieutenant-General Conde de Superanda, then visiting Havana. The council did not heed the warning of D. Martin de Arana, the Santiago trader, any more than did Governor Prado.

In the meantime the British fleet was approaching through the straits of Bahama, clear of purpose, strong of will, and bent upon conquest. An interesting document of that event is "An Authentic Journal of the Siege of the Havana By an Officer. Printed in London MDCCLXII. Reprinted in Dublin, by Boulton Grierson, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty." That record of the expedition had evidently for its author a man of sound judgment and is imbued throughout with a rare sense of justice towards British and Spanish alike. Spanish authorities, among them Blanchet, give the number of line ships in the fleet as twenty-six, fifteen frigates and an infinite number of smaller vessels, and about twenty thousand combatants. The author of the journal reports nineteen ships of the line, about eighteen frigates, sloops, and other vessels and one hundred and fifty transports with ten thousand troops. The commander of the fleet was Sir George Pococke, Knight of the Bath, Admiral of the Blue, etc., and the commander of the troops, Lieutenant-General Earl of Albemarle. The witness writes that they left Cape Nicolas, northwest of Hispaniola, on the twenty-seventh of May and sailed in seven divisions through the old straits of Bahama—"an undertaking far superior to anything we know in our times, or read of in the past, as few ships care to go through this passage at any time, much less such a fleet, destitute of pilots that professed any knowledge of it and almost of any information of the passage that could be relied on." He goes on to say that "frigates, smaller vessels and even the great ships' boats were sent ahead and so distributed on both shores, with such proper and well adapted signals for day and night, that not only reconciled every one to the dangers and risk of so hazardous an undertaking, but almost ensured our success. We were often in sight of the keys or shoals on each side."

In the first days of June some of the British ships engaged in a fight with and took a Spanish frigate of twenty-four guns and a smaller vessel of eighteen guns, a brig and a schooner, all of which had sailed ten days before from Havana for timber. Through the crews of these vessels, the British learned that at the time of their sailing the people of Havana had not yet been informed of the declaration of war. On the fifth of June the fleet cleared the straits and the next day was off Puerto de Terrara, about thirty-six miles windward of Havana. Colonel Carleton and Colonel Howe went to reconnoitre the coast for landing. The siege of Morro Castle was left to Commodore Keppel. "The Admiral went himself with the rest of the fleet off the harbor, to block up the enemy's ships and in order to more effectually draw the attention of the enemy that way, took with him all the victualling ships, store ships and transports, whose troops had over night been put in those men-of-war appointed for securing the landing." By daylight the troops were in the flat and other boats, and Captain Hervey gave the signal for descent on the sandy beach between Boconao and Cojimar. The enemy had thrown up small breastworks near the old tower commanding the mouth of Boconao and attempted a defense, but was soon dispersed by fire from two ships anchored close to shore. At three o'clock in the afternoon the army was on shore and began to advance toward the Morro, five miles away, along a road which had a thick wood to the left and the sea to the right. The ten guns of the old stone fort of Cojimar were soon silenced by the Dragon, anchored close by. Two and a half miles from the Morro the British lay down for the night upon their arms in a heavy rain.

While the British were continuing their advance upon Havana, the authorities of the Cuban metropolis were deliberating in the sessions of the War Junta, and the Governor was still unconvinced of the serious intention of the British, this time determined not to rest until Havana was in their possession. Valdes reports that this state of affairs lasted until on the sixth of June there appeared on the weather-side about two hundred and fifty vessels. Everybody but Governor Prado was convinced that they had come ready to fight. He supposed them to be a flotilla come from Jamaica to discharge their cargo. Nevertheless he went that morning to the Morro to observe the movements of the armada. He found the garrison under arms by order of the royal lieutenant D. Dionisio Soler. Much vexed by what he considered exaggerated fear and suspicion, he rescinded the order and commanded the soldiers to return to their quarters. That afternoon, however, the report came from the Morro, that the fleet had arrived and was preparing to land troops.



The Cabanas fortress stands near the Morro Castle, at the eastern side of the entrance to the harbor of Havana, and ranks with the Morro and La Punta, on the western headland, as one of the historic fortifications of the capital. Like the Morro Castle, it was used by the Spaniards as a prison, and the Laurel Ditch, under its landward walls, was the scene of many a martyrdom of Cuban patriots. Here men and boys innumerable, during the years of Cuba's struggles to be free, were lined up to be shot, until the massive wall was thickly pitted with the marks of bullets fired not at the foes but at the friends of Cuba.

The consternation of the inhabitants can be imagined when suddenly the bells began to ring and the cannons to thunder. The people rushed out of their houses. Some were armed; but the greater part had no weapons and hurried to the Sala Real, where fifteen hundred guns were stored away with some old carabines, swords, bayonets, and other weapons, mostly out of order and too old to be of any use. They were quickly distributed among the people. The war council assembled. The governor, the Royal Lieutenant, the General of the Navy, the Marques of the Royal Transports, the Commissary D. Lorenzo Montalvo and the distinguished visitors, the Commander-in-Chief Conde de Superanda and Field Marshal D. Diego Tabares were present. It was decided to charge Colonel D. Carlos Caro with the task of opposing and preventing the enemy's debarkation at Cojimar and Boconao, and to collect the cavalry of that place, a few companies of infantry, militia and lancers, in all about three thousand men, at this point. La Cabanas was rapidly supplied with artillery. But in the meantime the enemy, according to the testimony of a British officer's journal, had already landed troops and overcome the resistance of the very places to the support of which these forces were sent!

The military defense of Havana, as described by Blanchet, presented a sorry spectacle. It consisted of eight hundred and ten cavalry, three thousand five hundred infantry, three hundred artillery, nine thousand marines and fourteen thousand militia. The armament of these troops was insufficient in quantity and inferior in quality. Twelve vessels were anchored in the port. The entrance was protected by the Morro with fourteen cannons, the battery of the Doce Apostoles with twelve guns, that of the Divina Pastora with fourteen guns and the fort of la Punta. In the city there were the twenty two guns of la Fuerza, the residence of the Captain-General, and the depository of the royal estates. The condition of the walls was unsatisfactory. The town was dominated by fortified heights, which, however, were very accessible. It is not difficult to imagine the state of the people when the news reached the town that Cojimar and Boconao had fallen. When on the following day General Eliot defeated D. Luis Rasave and took Guanabacoa, Colonel Caro, who had been little more than a spectator, retired to Havana. The population was in a panic.

The war council then entrusted the defense of the Morro to D. Luis Vicente Velasco, a native of Villa de Noja in Santander and commander of the vessel La Reina. Defenses were hurriedly put up at Chorrera and Cabanas. All residents unable to bear arms were advised to leave the city. Soon a procession of women and children and members of the religious orders of both sexes, with here and there the calash of some wealthy family, were seen to proceed along the roads radiating from the city towards the suburbs and the more remote haciendas, under the protection of a detachment of troops. It was a heartrending picture to see these crowds, trudging along on foot in the cruel heat of the tropical sun, on roads almost impassable from recent rains. Many succumbed to the hardships of this exodus. Others were dumb with terror as they realized that they might never again see their fathers, brothers and husbands. Again others gave vent to their high-strung emotions by loud wails. About the time this evacuation took place, fire was set to the suburbs outside of the city walls and unspeakable was the distress of innumerable unfortunate families, who in the face of foreign invasion saw their homes reduced to ashes.

A part of the British fleet was seen sailing at this time towards the leeward part of the island with the manifest intention of making another landing. The population was dazed. Some men rushed out to defend their homes and their women, but the greater number was so overcome by the calamity confronting them, that their wills seemed paralyzed and they dumbly awaited the blow that was coming. The next day the work of fortifying la Cabanas began in such an exposed place on the border of the city that rifle bullets could reach the Plaza de los Armas. The construction of a trench was also begun. It was intended to hold one hundred cannon, but after nine or ten had been mounted, the war council changed its plan, ordered the destruction of the trench and had the artillery brought down. This was done in the night of the ninth of June and fire was set to some houses on the hill. The people were startled by this surprising procedure and began not only to grumble, but to talk of treason.

As the British fleet was then menacing the port, the three vessels, Neptune, Europa and Asia, were concentrated in the canal of the entrance. With the huge iron beams that closed it and the artillery of the harbor, they acted like forts securing its safety. It seemed as if these land batteries could prevent the landing of any enemy vessel. But the war council wanted to improve upon this measure and decided to sink Neptune and Europa, during the hurried execution of which order two sailors were drowned. Still bent upon what seemed an improvement, two days later the Asia, too, was sunk. The British, supposing the port to be closed, anchored along the coast, landed five thousand men and after defeating the land forces, the fleet entered the canal without encountering serious obstacles. But the Spanish authorities continued to commit more blunders. Appointing as commanders of the land-forces officers of the fleet, the army of course resented this as an insult. The task of mobilizing the troops was entrusted to D. Juan Ignacio de Madriaga; the defense of el Morro had been given to D. Luis Vicente de Velasco, whose second was D. Bartolome Montes, and that of la Punta to D. Manuel Briseno, who was soon relieved by D. Fernando de Lortia. Almost all the army posts were occupied by officers of the fleet. The reasons for these measures which seemed absolutely senseless in view of the critical situation, were hotly discussed and some malicious tongues asserted that the object of this curious disposition was to prevent the fleet from making its escape.

On the tenth of June a British division moved from the leeward part of the fort of Chorrera, a short distance from the port, with the object of landing troops. They met with greater resistance than they had reason to expect; for the defense was here aided by the loyal executor D. Luis de Aguiar, who had been appointed Colonel of the militia. All day his men fought bravely; they consisted of whites and negroes. They expected a supply of powder and ammunition from an official of Guadeloupe, but he by mistake had delivered them at la Caleta. Finally their stock gave out, and, obeying the order of a superior officer, Aguiar withdrew his troops with little loss. The British then advanced about three thousand men strong, until they reached the hill of San Lazaro, where they dug trenches and prepared a new encampment. They also occupied and fortified the height of the caves, called Taganana, where they mounted three cannon and two large mortars. With two vessels, armed with bombs, in the small bay, the fire they kept up helped the camp on the weather-side, at which the chief force was concentrated. They then proceeded to erect batteries on the height of la Cabanas and were at first much molested during their work by Aguiar, Chacon and the guerilla Pepe Antonio, who had collected a force at that point. A detachment of militia under the command of Captain D. Pedro de Morales was sent to reenforce them, but on the next day he was surprised by the British, who thus came into possession of this important place.

In the meantime, the British expedition was beginning to suffer much from incessant rains, alternating with excessive heat. Their work was retarded as much by the weather as by the physical condition of their forces, which began to suffer from the climate and fatigue. The resistance of the Cubans was increasing in proportion as the enemy drew near. During the last days of June, Colonel D. Alejandro de Arroyo landed a body of six hundred men at Pastora battery. Simultaneously the naval lieutenant D. Francisco de Corral placed three hundred men at Norno de Barba. The plan was to spike up the enemy's artillery. But laudable as was the ambition of the commanders, their ability of achievement was not in proportion. Their forces, too, were sadly inferior in number to those of the British. The Captain of the infantry of the fleet, D. Manuel de Frias, was made prisoner, three hundred of his troops were killed and forty men wounded. The force of Col. Arroyo also sustained heavy losses, especially the grenadiers of Arrajon.

A council held at el Morro resulted in the election by the commanders of D. Luis Vicente de Velasco as their head and chief. No man was more able or worthy to fill this responsible position. Untiring in his efforts to defend the fortress, Velasco resolutely and capably endeavored to foil the enemy's designs. But he was out-numbered and the danger grew daily nearer. Though at a great loss to their forces, the British forged ahead and surrounded Velasco with a continuous fire. With the port closed to the Cuban squadron they were free to place their cannon as they went along. The rain of bullets, bombs and grenades was incessant and the breakdown of the bastions inevitable. The garrison seemed to be doomed. The commander declared that it would not be possible to maintain his position without some aid from the camp, but while the walls were being gradually destroyed by the enemy, he did not venture a well organized sortie. On the first of July el Morro was attacked by the batteries which the British had planted on el Cabanas and the fire from three vessels, among them the Cambridge and the Dragon. The valor of Velasco inspired his troops, pathetically small in comparison with those of the British. After seven hours of the hottest fire, the Cambridge and the Dragon were so badly battered that they were forced to the rear. The British lost three hundred men, among them Captain Goostree of the Cambridge. So fierce had been the resistance offered by Velasco and the few cannon at his disposal, that the British camp, which had been pouring a rain of bombs on el Morro, finally ceased firing. So the honor of this day belonged to the Spanish commander.

It is interesting at this point to revert to the journal of the British officer, who took part in this memorable siege of Havana. After reporting under date of July third that their great battery had caught fire, he continues on the following day:

"The Morro was now found to be tougher work and the Spaniards more resolute than was at first imagined. Our people grew fatigued by the heat and hard labour and the want of water near them was a sensible distress, and the disappointment of the Morro's not being reduced so speedily as at first they were made to hope, helped to depress the spirits of the weak and low minds; but we found every want relieved and amply made up for by the Admiral's attention, not only to supply every article that could be asked, but by his own sagacity, foreseeing and his precaution providing everything we could want."

During the following days the British seem to have suffered much from the climate. The writer of the journal records that the men in general "fall down with fevers and fluxes, but few are carried off by them." Admiral Keppel was much weakened by illness and fatigue, but this discouraging entry is followed immediately by a cheerier note, dated July 8th and 9th:

"Every one was exerting himself in his different station and with such zeal as gave fresh hopes to our undertaking, notwithstanding the melancholy scene of the infinite number of sick and the apprehension of the approaching hurricane season."

The British had begun to realize the failure of the naval attempt to reduce el Morro. They tried to fortify themselves in the harbor and established the lee-shore camp on the slope of Aroztegui, the same on which El Principe was situated. From this point they undertook many movements, but were always driven back. In spite of these temporary and local successes the Cuban authorities now fully realized that their situation was almost hopeless and devised various measures to stay the progress of the enemy. The magistrates D. Luis de Aguiar and D. Laureane Chacon were made colonels of the militia. They decided to stop the forays and attacks from that encampment, and D. Aguiar established himself in the Horon and tried to dislodge the enemy from various points to which they had penetrated. His undertaking was successful, as was proved by the number of prisoners taken. The hostile forces at Taganana, however, did much mischief and he resolved to attack them on the night of the eighteenth of July. His troops consisted of peasants and negro slaves and fought so effectively, that he was able to send to the fortress eighteen prisoners, including an officer and many trophies. The governor was so elated by this success that he gave one hundred and four negro slaves, that had taken part, their liberty.

The British officer in his journal alludes in the entries of these days to the heavy losses sustained by the British, but dwells more upon the ravages caused by disease. The sick list increasing, the guards had to be reduced. The necessity of having a supply of fresh meat for the invalids and convalescents worried them much. They had counted upon getting it from Santiago and Bejucal, where the rich plantations and pastures were, and a monastery that promised rich loot. But D. Laureane Chacon anticipated their movements in that direction. He concentrated some troops four leagues leeward from Wajay, and thus not only checked their progress, but by his persistent opposition weakened their forces.

Many of the smaller actions that were undertaken against the British by the Cubans were by volunteer forces recruited by veteran fighters, who had not been associated with the army proper, and their manner of waging war was of the kind called guerrilla warfare. Nevertheless they did active and efficient work and had they not been hindered and restrained by orders from the regulars, they might have accomplished much more. The Lieutenant Diego Ruiz lost his life in such an enterprise. Another famous guerrilla, the valiant fighter known as Pepe Antonio, had won the esteem of the whole army by his courage. He had collected a force of three hundred men and was planning an ambitious assault upon the enemy, when he was called to report to Colonel Caro, who commanded the encampment at Jesus del Monte and San Juan. Colonel Caro, who had not during the siege distinguished himself by any extraordinary achievements, not only censured Pepe Antonio severely, but discharged him. The valiant patriot hero of many daring exploits was so grieved by this injustice that he died within five days.

Among these side plays of the great siege an expedition led by Colonel Gutierrez had some successful encounters with the British. D. Luis de Aguiar and D. Laureane Chacon, too, who had gathered under their command the brave youths of the country side, were untiring in their efforts to weaken the British. They prevented them from establishing a cordon and cutting communication with the fort and were themselves enabled uninterruptedly to secure provisions and supplies with which to carry on their operations. Less fortunate was the attack upon Cabanas by D. Juan Benito Lujan with a thousand militia men from the interior of the island. At daybreak, on the twenty-second of July, according to the British officer, the Spanish at el Morro, having been enforced by twelve hundred men from the town, furiously attacked the British. But Brigadier Carleton directed so fierce a fire against them that their forces were driven into the water. He describes them as having consisted mainly of militia, some seamen, mulattoes and negroes. They lost four hundred dead, many wounded and seventy prisoners. A violent cannonade followed, during which Carleton was wounded.

While the British troops were encamped from La Cabanas to Cojimar they made many looting raids in the neighborhood, extending their incursions as far as San Miguel and Santa Maria del Rosario. They not only ransacked the churches for their treasures, but also private estates, and took away whatever they could carry. They had approached el Morro by the bulwark of Pina and a body of forty to fifty men in the shelter of some rocks maintained an incessant gunfire. The garrison of the fort, which was being steadily reduced by the rain of bombs and grenades, wanted to make a sortie into the open country, hoping there to be reenforced. Remaining in el Morro was becoming more and more perilous, because the enemy had undermined the fortress. D. Luis de Velasco, broken down by the strain and overwork received a blow on the shoulder, which temporarily disabled him. His aide, Mentes, was likewise wounded, and the two were replaced by D. Francisco Medina and D. Manuel de Cordova. During their absence nothing was done, for the peasantry, fond as they were of Velasco, were reluctant to fight and perhaps die under the command of another. Mentes returned on the third day, appointed Lieutenant-Colonel, and, joined by D. Juan Benito Lujan, who commanded one thousand men of Tierradentro and some colored troops from the fort, attempted a sally. But the British on the heights threw themselves upon the Cubans and overpowered them. The loss on both sides was so great, however, that the enemy had to ask for a truce to bury their dead. As the British said, the Spanish were valiant, but they had no head. If there had been at their head a man of foresight, and if unity of command had been insured at the beginning, the disaster might have been avoided.

The British forces were at this time beginning to suffer painfully for want of water and lack of fresh provisions. Five thousand men, and a great proportion of officers among them, were unfit for duty. But the arrival of North American troops under convoy of the Intrepid of sixty-four guns, revived the spirit of the expedition. The North Americans had lost a ship of forty guns and six transports in the old straits of Bahama, but the people were saved and encamped upon the shores, and the British Admiral sent frigates for them. One thousand and four hundred men under Brigadier Burton reenforced Col. Howe on the west side. The Cuban defense was also encouraged in these days, for Velasco, who had been wounded on the sixteenth of July, with second, Mentes, forced to seek medical care in the city, returned to his post at el Morro on the twenty-fourth. During the siege the Spanish vessels, with the exception of the frigate Perla, which was sunk by the foe, were singularly inactive. The critical and decisive moment of the siege came on the thirteenth of July, when at two o'clock in the afternoon the British sprung their mines. Through the breach they rapidly entered and captured the battery of San Nicolas. Although the garrison was so terrified that not a few soldiers had fled, the remaining offered a brave opposition to the invaders. D. Fernando Parrayo and thirteen men, supported by two cannon, fought heroically, while the British forces poured into the port. The British officer gives due credit to the Cuban commanders who desperately tried to save the honor of their country. He writes:

"The Marquis de Gonzales, commander of a man of war, etc., second in command of the fort, fell bravely endeavoring to animate and rally his people. Don Luis de Velasco, also Captain of the Reina man-of-war, soon after shared the same fate endeavoring to defend the colours of the fort, round which he had made a breastwork and had collected about 100 men, who soon fled and left him to that stroke he seemed to invite and wait for; for being shot through the breast he fell, offering his sword to the conquerors. Confusion and fright ensued, and as much slaughter; for near 400 of the enemy fell by the sword; as many more taken prisoners to whom the soldiers had generously given quarters, though no ways obliged by the rules of war. English colours were soon flying on the fort, that were welcomed by the loud huzzas of all the rejoiced army and navy. A parley ensued, and D. Luis de Velasco (not yet dead) was at his own request sent to breathe out his last at the Havana, where he expired a day after, leaving a name behind and a character that justly merited admiration and esteem from his opposites as respect and love from his confederates."

The historian Blanchet also reports that the British showed due reverence to the dead leader and that hostilities were for that reason suspended during the following day. They received a reenforcement of troops from New York on the second of August; but they had fallen in with three French men-of-war and some frigates on their passage, who took five or six transports with about five hundred men. Their forces were being decimated by the climate and the hardships. The British witness writes that finishing the batteries on Cabanas cost the lives of many poor seamen who were obliged to be day and night filling vessels with water for the men at work. Some men-of-war were sent down with transports to Mariel, for want of men made it unsafe for them to remain any longer on this most open and frightful coast, where the Spaniards as well as West Indians expressed their surprise and dread at seeing such a fleet ride so long in such a season.

When the British entered el Morro, they found only one hundred and two bronze cannon of various calibres, two hundred iron cannon, nine bronze mortars, two iron mortars, four thousand one hundred and fifty-seven rifles, five hundred hand grenades, four hundred and seventy empty grenades of various quality, seventeen thousand four hundred and four cannon balls, thirty quintals of rifle balls, one hundred and twenty-five thousand cartridges and five hundred quintals of powder. The sorrow at being forced to give up el Morro was great. Supported by the vessel Aquilon the quick fire from la Punta and the bulwarks of the place promptly demolished the fort. The Cuban vessels retired to the interior of the bay, fearing the bombs from la Cabanas. The commanders for the same reason sought shelter in the hospiteum of St. Isidore, which was situated at the point farthest away from the fire. Yet the determination to continue to resist the invaders prevailed and a battery was formed on the elevation of Soto, where the fort of Attares was located, and fortifications were continued to be strengthened wherever it was possible.

The batteries of the British were completed on August tenth, and Lord Albemarle summoned the city to surrender. But Governor Prado relied upon reenforcements promised him by the governor of Santiago de Cuba and hoped also for the possible arrival of a French squadron, so he refused. The people, too, were opposed to surrender, for they had within the last six days received reenforcements from several sides; two hundred and twelve rifles and ammunition from the town of Cuba, five hundred more from Jagua and fifteen hundred on the very last day. However, the fierce fire which the British opened against Havana at daybreak on the eleventh of August, induced the commander of the Cuban forces to give up the last hope. About noon the Spanish ceased firing and at three o'clock in the afternoon flags of truce appeared everywhere. The governor sent word that Havana was ready to capitulate.

According to the British officer's journal the victors took possession of the town and port of Havana on the next day; they also became the owners of nine ships of the line, of seventy four and sixty four guns, two very large ones on the stocks, nearly completed, about twenty-five loaded merchant ships; nearly three million dollars belonging to the King and the Royal Company; about six hundred pieces of cannon, and great magazines of stores and merchandise of all kinds. He continues:

"But the most grateful at the time was, that it furnished us with fresh provisions, rest and shelter for the many thousands poor sick wretches we had in our camp and hospital ships, all mouldering away for want of nourishment when their disorders had left them. Our battalion is so weak that we have not above one hundred and fifty men fit for duty. I am told the navy is badly off. Our loss of killed and wounded is very trifling in comparison to that of the enemy. Theirs amounts to upwards of six thousand killed and dead of their wounds since, and of sickness."

The following day the governor ordered all weapons to be surrendered by military bodies as private individuals and Mayor D. Antonio Ramirez de Estenez was authorized to accord the articles of capitulation.

>Articles of Capitulation


The garrison will leave by the puerta de Tierra on the twenty-eighth of the present month, if there should not arrive before sufficient help to raise the siege, with all military honors, the soldiers with arms, hoisted flags, six field cannon, and the regiments will also remove the military cases with their contents, and besides six carriages of the Governor.


Said garrison will be permitted to remove from the town all luggage and money, and transport them to another place of the island.


That the ship crews of the port that had served on land shall in their departure enjoy the same honors as the garrison and be brought back to their vessels. They may sail to any other place of Spanish domination, on the condition that on their voyage until their arrival at their destination they shall not attack any vessel of H. British Majesty, of his allies, or any vessel of his subjects.


That of all the artillery, arms, ammunition and provisions belonging to his Catholic Majesty, excepting those that particularly correspond with said fleet, an exact inventory shall be taken, with the assistance of four subjects of the king of Spain, who will be appointed by the governor, and four subjects of H. British Majesty, chosen by H. Ex Count Albemarle, who will take possession of all until both sovereigns agree otherwise.


That in this capitulation shall be comprised H. Ex Conde de Superanda, Lieutenant-General of the armies of H. Catholic Majesty, and former Viceroy of Peru, as well as Don Diego Tabares, Fieldmarshal of the same royal arms, and former Governor of Cartagena, who happens to be in that town on their way to Spain, together with their families. They shall be left in the possession of their baggage and their sailing to Spain shall be facilitated.


That the Catholic Apostolic Roman religion shall be maintained, and conserved, as before exercised under H. Catholic Majesty, and that not the least impediment shall be placed in the public acts in regard to the rites exercised and with the churches, and the observation of religious feasts, and all priests, convents, monasteries, hospitals, societies, universities, colleges shall remain in the free enjoyment of their privileges and rights, as to their property and income, and furnitures, as they had enjoyed before.


That the Bishop of Cuba shall likewise conserve his rights, privileges and prerogatives, which are required for the direction and spiritual nourishment of the faithful of the Catholic religion, or nomination of priests and ecclesiastical ministers necessary, and exercise his accustomed jurisdiction. (Note: Conceded with the reserve that the nomination of priests and other employes be subject to the approval of the Governor of H. British Majesty sent to the place.)


That in the cloisters and nunneries the internal government hitherto prevailing shall be followed with subordination to their legitimate superiors, according to the statutes of the particular institutions. ("Conceded.")


That the funds in the town belonging to H. Catholic Majesty shall be embarked on the vessels of the fleet that happen to be in port to be shipped to Spain, likewise all the tobacco belonging to H. Catholic Majesty; that even in war time the same Sovereign shall be permitted to buy tobacco from the island, in the district subject to the King of Great Britain at current prices, and to transport it to Spain in their own foreign vessels. ("Refused.")


That in consideration of the fact that this port is so conveniently situated for those navigating in these parts of America, be they Spanish or English, it shall be available to the subjects of H. Catholic Majesty as a neutral port and they shall be permitted to enter and leave freely, taken the food they require and repair their vessels, paying for everything at current prices, and that they cannot be insulted or disturbed in their navigation by the ships of H. British Majesty, nor the ships of his subjects and allies, from the promontory of Celoche on the coast of Campêche and St. Antonio in the West, and from the sound of la Tortuga to this port, and thence to the latitude 33° North, until their two Majesties agree otherwise. ("Refused.")


That all permanent inhabitants of the city and neighborhood remain in the free use and possession of their political offices and employments, and in that of their funds and other property, i.e. household stuff of whatever origin, quality, or in whatever condition they be, without being obliged to contribute in other terms than those made by H. Catholic Majesty. (Conceded, and they will be permitted to continue in the enjoyment of their property so long as their conduct does not give cause for denying them.)


That these same should retain and have guaranteed the rights and privileges which they hitherto enjoyed, and that they will be governed in the name of H. British Majesty under the same conditions as they have been under Spanish domination, naming their judges and agents of justice according to usages and customs. (Answered in the preceding.)


That whoever of said inhabitants is unwilling to stay in this city, be permitted freely to remove his property and wealth in the manner most convenient to him, to sell them or leave them to be administrated, and to go away with them to the dominions of H. Catholic Majesty, he may choose, granting them a space of four years and giving them bought or chartered vessels for conveyance, with the passports and necessary protection of safety, and the power to arm them in the cruise against the Moors and Turks, with the express condition not to use them against subjects of H. British Majesty or his allies, nor to be ill-treated or molested by them. (Reply: The inhabitants will be permitted to sell and remove their effects to any place of Spanish dominions, in vessels at its coast, for which purpose they will be given passports; and it is to be understood that officials who have property in the island will enjoy the same benefits as conceded to the other inhabitants.)


That these will not be in the least molested for having in their loyalty taken up arms, and enlisted their militia for the war; nor shall the English troops be permitted to plunder or any other abuse, and that, to the contrary, they shall completely enjoy the other rights, exemptions and prerogatives as the other subjects of H. British Majesty, the families that had left the town on account of the present invasion to return without any obstacle or difficulty from the country to the city with all their provisions and funds, and it is to be understood that neither the one nor the others will be inconvenienced by the stationing of troops in their houses, unless it be in quarters as were used during Spanish dominion. (Reply: Conceded, excepting that in case it becomes necessary to quarter the troops, it must be left to the direction of the Governor. All the slaves of the King will be delivered to the persons that will be named to receive them.)


That holders of stocks found in this town and belonging to merchants of Cadiz and in which all nations of Europe are interested, be facilitated to depart freely with them, to remit them with the protocols without being insulted in their voyage.


That the ministers in charge of the administration and distribution of the Exchequer or any other business of H. Catholic Majesty be left in the free use of all those documents that are in their guard, with the power to remit or bring them to Spain for safety, and the same to hold also good with regard to the Royal Company established in this town, and its clerks. All public papers will be delivered for revision to the secretaries of the Admiral, and will be restored to the ministers of H. Catholic Majesty, unless they be found necessary for the Government of the island.


That the public archives remain in the power of the Ministers in whose charge they are, without being permitted the least irregularity in regard to these papers and the instruments they contain, because of the grave mischief that would result from it to the rights of the community and to private individuals. (Replied in the preceding articles.)


That the officials and soldiers who are in the hospitals be treated in the same way as the garrison, and after having recovered, they should be helped in obtaining beasts of burden or vessels for their transportation to where the rest of the garrison happens to be, as well as everything necessary for their safety and subsistence during the voyage, and among others they should be given the provisions and medicines asked for by the directors and surgeons of said hospitals. (Conceded: The governor having competent commissaries to assist them with provisions, surgeons and the necessary medicines at the cost of H. Catholic Majesty.)


That the prisoners of either party taken by the other since the sixth of June when the English fleet appeared before this port, be reciprocally restituted without any ransom whatever in the course of two months. (This article cannot be concluded before the British prisoners are returned.)


Upon the granting of the articles of this capitulation, and the giving of hostages by either party, the gate of Tierra will be delivered to the troops of H. British Majesty, for placing there a guard, together with another provided by the garrison of the place until the evacuation is carried out, and His Ex Conde de Albemarle will send a few soldiers for the protection of the churches, convents, the houses of the generals and other officials. (Conceded.)


That the governor and commander of the fleet be permitted to dispatch to H. Catholic Majesty and to other parties information by the vessels, to which passports for their voyage shall be given. (Since the troops are to be sent to Spain, the information is useless.)


That in consideration of the vigorous defense made by the Fort of la Punta, it shall be included in this capitulation and its garrison shall enjoy the same honors as that of the fortress, and it shall leave through one of the most suitable breaches made in the ramparts. (Conceded.)


This capitulation to be observed punctually and literally. (Conceded.)

Headquarters in Habana, August 12, 1762.

(Signed) G. Pococke,
Marques of the Royal Fleet,
Juan de Prado.

What is contained in these articles in regard to the squadron, its officials, crew and garrisons, has been done with my intervention, and I propose them as their Comendante General, and in consequence of what has been accorded in the Junta of yesterday.

Habana, August 12, 1762—El Marques of the Royal Transports.

We agree with these articles, which are a true copy of the originals, according to the translation made from the English into Spanish by D. Miguel Brito, public interpreter of this town for H. Catholic Majesty.

Habana, August 12, 1762—El Marques of the Royal Transports—Juan de Prado.


With the solemn signing of the foregoing articles of capitulation on the twelfth of August, 1762, began the occupation of Havana by the British, who thus seemed to have attained the goal of their covetous aspirations. It was a great day for them; it was a day of mourning for the Cubans.

While these articles of capitulation were in themselves not unjust, differing in no essentials from those usually exacted by the victors from the vanquished, the people of Havana found it difficult to obey all these injunctions coming to them from a foreign authority. History furnishes abundant proofs that it is comparatively easy to conquer a country by numerical superiority or clever strategy, but that it is infinitely more difficult to conquer the hearts of its people. The Spanish historian Alcazar records an incident belonging to the history of the capture of Havana which illustrates this point.

As soon as the British were masters of the city Lord Albemarle called an extraordinary meeting in which he declared to the Municipio that, being masters of the city by force of arms of King George III. of England, they had to insist upon obedience and allegiance to him as sovereign. The Alcalde D. Pedro Santa Cruz at once rose to say that subjects of Don Carlos III. of Spain could not without committing perjury swear allegiance to any other monarch. He added: "The capitulation compels us to passive obedience. Count on this, but never on our dishonor." It seems that these noble words found an echo in the heart of the British commander who henceforth let the people choose whether to take the oath or not.

This story is symptomatic of the attitude of the population of Cuba towards the conquerors. When the morning of the thirteenth of August, 1762, dawned, the British were in possession of the town and port of Havana with one hundred and eighty miles to the east and all that tract of land to the west which terminates the island on that side. They took without resistance Managuas, Bejucal, Santiago, Mariel and Matanzas. The commander of the fort of San Severine in Matanzas, D. Felipe Garcia Solis, had stored up a large amount of provisions and supplies of all kinds in view of an eventual attack. But when he heard of the capitulation of Havana, he blew up the fort and retired with part of the garrison to Santiago. The governor of that city, D. Lorenzo Madriaga, was recognized as the authority to be obeyed by the people in that part of the island not taken by the British. Perhaps the British had gauged the sentiment of the population; perhaps they felt that their forces were too much weakened by the hardships of the siege. They made no attempts at further extending their conquest.

According to the agreement between Admiral George Pococke and Lord Albemarle on the one side and the Marques of the Royal Transports and D. Juan de Prado on the other side, the Spanish garrison was to retire with military honors; artillery arms and munitions were to be delivered to the British; the Spanish troops were to be sent back on British transports; but the British were to respect the Catholic religion, its ministers, and churches, hospitals, and colleges; and the population was not to be disturbed in the exercise of wonted occupations and employments; and the laws of Spain were to remain in force. On the thirteenth of August, the gates of Tierra were opened to the British and on the following day they entered with two pieces of artillery and planted their flags on the forts. The following day the Spanish vessels were delivered to them: Tigre, Reina, Soberano, Infante, Aquilon, America, Conquistader, San Antonio and San Genero. Many merchant vessels in the bay were also taken. The value of their booty was estimated at fourteen million pesos. But according to Valdes their losses during the first twenty four days of the siege had been seven thousand men, some killed in combat, some deserters, but the greater part victims of the Cuban climate. Hence in spite of reenforcements from Jamaica and North America, they had only three thousand men of infantry when Havana was taken.

The departure of the Spanish troops was scheduled for the twenty-fourth of August. The British held ready for them three transports which on the thirtieth sailed through the gate of la Punta. One of them carried the Governor and his family. On his arrival in Madrid he was tried by a war council, which for his lack of foresight and energy in preparing the defense of Havana, condemned him to exile. But the king commuted the sentence to imprisonment for life. The British commanders, no longer needed in Havana, worn out with fatigue and weakened by the climate, also hurried to leave. Brigadier Burton returned to North America, Admiral Keppel to Jamaica, Pococke to England. He met with terrible tempests, lost one ship of line, and twelve transports. But the greeting he received on his arrival in England was most enthusiastic. Though the parliament was divided on the question of extending British conquests in Spanish America, there was still the party representing commercial interests to be reckoned with.

With a promptness quite unusual at that time a book was published shortly after the capture of Havana, which outlined the course to be pursued in order to reap the benefits of the South Sea trade, which so far had been in the hands of the French and Spanish. It was entitled "The Great Importance of the Havana" set forth in an "Essay on the Nature and Methods of Carrying on a Trade to the South Sea and the West Indies, by Robert Allen, Esq., who resided some years in the Kingdom of Peru, London, printed for J. Hinxman in Paternoster Row and D. Wilson in the Strand, in 1762. Dedicated to the most Hon. Thomas Harley, Esq., M. P. and Merchant of London." The author begins with reference to an old tradition that a Prince of Wales had made an expedition to the coast of Mexico in 1190 and died there. Upon this tradition and the assertion that the Mexican language abounds in Welsh words, he seems to base the right of British priority to Spanish America.

Mr. Allen was evidently much concerned with the activity of the French in West Indian waters. He says: "As to the slave-trade, it is too well known that the French are now under contract with the Spanish Assiento to supply them with four or five thousand negroes yearly and the greater profits and advantages which they reap from this trade has encouraged them to send many strong ships yearly to the coast of Africa which have not only taken many of our own ships on that coast, but also destroyed several of our many forts and settlements and likewise made several new settlements of their own, all which has been frequently represented both in the governing and legislative bodies of Britain, and no effectual reconciling remedy taken yet." He continues, that the channel of Spanish trade is quite altered from Jamaica "and the French, a nation whom we least suspected in trade, have of late years engrossed much of the greatest part thereof to themselves." He tries to rouse the British to the need of regaining the Spanish market in America, which was slowly slipping away from them, by a strenuous appeal to his Majesty to encourage such commerce by underselling the French. After giving a list of commodities and manufactures proper for this trade, he adds the postscript:

"If Queen Anne, at the treaty of Utrecht, obtained so valuable a branch of trade as the Assiento contract by the success of the Duke of Marlboro alone, which according to stipulation was for two millions in shares annually, but doubly augmented under that contract in other goods (tho' given up by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle with our right of logwood) how much more ought we to insist on valuable terms since the reduction of Cuba, the key to the South Sea trade?"

While the British people, like all people under a mass suggestion, were giving themselves up to jubilating and celebrating, the politicians in Parliament and elsewhere to controversies on technical questions, the business world of London and the great industrial and manufacturing centers of the country were considering investments in West Indian trade and calculating the profits to be made thereby. After all human nature is very much alike the world over. That the British as victors were also not different from other conquerors by force of arms and exacted requisitions and even without any formalities and ceremonies appropriated the treasures that seemed worth taking possession of, is evident from many data in the chronicles of those days. Not only were the royal chests taken, but also the property of private corporations, and individuals. Some documents relating to the "right of bells" have been presented and are interesting reading. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Cleaveland, Artillery Commander of the island, addressed the following communication to Bishop Senor D. Pedro Agustino Morell of Santa Cruz, and to other priests:

"According to the rules and customs of war observed by all official commanders of artillery in all European countries when a besieged town surrenders by capitulation:

"I command that the city of Havana and the neighboring towns, where the army was situated, give account of all the bells found in all the churches, convents and monasteries, as well as in the sugar-plantations, and of other metals similar to bells, in order that said point shall be put into effect.

"Havana, 19 August, 1762.
"Samuel Cleaveland,
"Lieutenant-Colonel of Artillery."

The bishop addressed a letter of inquiry concerning this "Derecho de companes" to Lord Albemarle and received the reply, that the war custom was well known, that the chiefs of artillery receive a gratification from any besieged and captured town or city, and that the Lieutenant-Colonel insisted upon compliance with his demand, adding, however, that it would not be disproportionate. Cleaveland was offered one thousand pesos in place of the coveted bells, but the British considered this amount too small, and the bishop received another letter from Lord Albemarle, which reads:

"Illustrious Sir:

"The compensation offered to the Commandant of Artillery of His British Majesty for the bells of the city is so low as to compel me to express my indignation. In order to have the matter settled, I say, that your Reverence can give the said official for all the churches ten thousand pesos and I am in the hope that this letter will deserve your immediate attention.

"Your obedient servant,

"Havana, 27 August, 1762."

The Bishop tried to obtain the sum demanded by alms and collections among his parishioners. But at a meeting on the thirty-first of August it was seen that the collection amounted only to one hundred pesos and four reales, which together with the previous one thousand pesos did not nearly approach the sum required. This was communicated to the British General with the remark that it would be impossible to raise more. This communication received no reply and the Commander of Artillery came to ask for the delivery of the bells, although this was not to take place until September fourth. He did not receive the bells, for the ten thousand pesos were got together by a loan, and the money was paid to Cleaveland on the sixth of that month.

Difficulties between the British authorities and the Spanish clergy increased as time went on. On the twentieth of August the Junta of priests and prelates had a meeting at which was discussed the demand of the British Lieutenant-General, the local governor of the place, for a church in which the Anglican worship was to be instituted. The Bishop decided at once to send the communication to said governor, explaining to him that this demand was not contained in the articles of capitulation and if his Excellency had some other basis to justify his claim, he should communicate it. In reply the Bishop received on the thirtieth of August the following letter:

"Havana, Aug. 30, 1762.

"Rev. Sir:

"I wish and ask that your Reverence provide for the British troops a church for their divine worship, or that an alternative be arranged with the Catholics for such hours in the morning or evening, in which they don't use their church.

"I request at the same time that an account be given me of all churches, convents, monasteries of every denomination, that are comprised in the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Cuba, as well as of Superiors and public officers associated with them.

"Very respectfully, etc.,

In a long letter dated September second, 1762, the Bishop replied, that he had to consult with the government of his Spanish Majesty and briefly avoided complying with the demand. Thereupon he received a caustic communication from Albemarle saying:


"I received your very large letter, but which is no answer to mine. I do not know having read a particular Capitulation made with the Church, but I am sure that there is none that can exclude the Subjects of H. British Majesty of their public worship in churches; and for that reason, if you do not assign me a church I shall take one that suits me best, and please remember that all Ecclesiastical employes or dignitaries have to receive my approbation, and also that you better comply with my demand, and cease writing such long Epistles.


"Havana, September 4, 1762."

After a consultation with the other prelates the bishop informed Albemarle that since he was so decided, he should choose any church that he liked best. Albemarle selected the Church of San Francisco. But he insisted upon his other claims, as can be seen from the following letter dated September 25:

"Some time ago I asked for a list of all Ecclesiastical Benefices (to which is associated a curacy) of the Donation of Your Honor; and once more I repeat my wish to be complied with without loss of time.

"I learn that the Jesuit college received in their order an English official dismissed from the Royal Service on account of his bad proceedings; I can hardly believe that such a thing has been done without my license. That order has even in Spain a bad reputation, and in Portugal and France they have been expelled. If they are not entirely under your jurisdiction, send to me their Rector, etc.


The Bishop replied that the story about the admission of the discredited Englishman into the Jesuit seminary was altogether untrue, since the authorities of that college could not admit anybody, this being a special privilege of the Provincial residing in Mexico. A somewhat amusing incident of these disputes between the British authorities and the Spanish clergy of Havana is recorded in the following letter of the Bishop dated October twenty-second. It reads:

"Your Excellency:

"Yesterday between 4 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon, there called on me on your part a person whose name and nationality I do not know. All I know is that he speaks Spanish, though with a foreign accent and wears golden earrings as is customary with women. He addressed me with 'Usted.' I informed him in the conversation that in speaking to me he had to use a more dignified title. He replied that he would always use 'Usted.' It then occurred to me that this obstinacy might be justified by his higher rank. I asked him and he said that he had no other rank but that of a bomb-thrower in his Majesty's name. He continued in his way of speaking to me with a loud voice, and since in all his conduct he was wanting of the respect due to my dignity, I deem it fair that it should be corrected and that your excellency give me satisfaction."

Lord Albemarle seems to have paid no attention to this letter. But on the same day the Bishop received another urgent order in which Lord Albemarle, as Governor and Captain-General of the island, insisted in his demand to receive a list of all ecclesiastical orders and benefices, in order to know and be the "competent judge" of the persons appointed by the Bishop and be able to consent to their appointment. The Bishop in his reply referred to his previous letter, stating that the Governor could neither before nor after the appointment be a competent judge of the appointees, since ecclesiastics, according to all rights, were exempt of protests by the laity, and their privileges were inviolate.

According to the historian Blanchet, Bishop Morrell was at the end exiled to Florida for having refused to obey certain orders given by the British authorities.

Although Albemarle cannot be said to have governed with the tyranny that characterized the German governors of occupied territories in the recent war, he failed to win the people. Those residents of Havana who were able to leave the place, moved into the country or to towns like Villa-Clara. The peasants of the neighborhood, who had carried on a profitable trade with the city in garden and dairy products, fowl, venison, etc., preferred to renounce these profits rather than go to the market and have the British buy what their soil had raised and their hands had tended. The spirit of the people was unanimous in the hatred of the enemy conquerors. Their intemperance, their customs, and even their language irritated them. Altercations that terminated in bloodshed became more and more numerous as time went on. Any act of violence against the British was severely punished, and not a few Cuban "rebels" were executed; the atmosphere of Havana was soon charged with invisible mines that a spark could set off.

Complying with the orders of the British government, Albemarle had to exact the payment of certain sums from the population, including the clergy and the religious organizations, and found great difficulty in enforcing these orders. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the feelings of the population were being deliberately hurt, especially by the disregard of the British authorities for the institutions maintained by the clergy. Thus a wave of indignation swept over the city, when the beggars and the sick were ejected from the convent of San Juan de Dios, which was turned into a hospital for the British. Without remuneration they occupied almost one-third of the buildings subject to an ecclesiastical tax, they transformed private residences into jails; they seized merchandise and funds that were owned by the Real Compania de Comercio and when these were claimed as private property, they were returned only after payment of one hundred and seventy-five pesos. As the tension grew crimes committed from vindictiveness increased among the population. M. Savine, the French writer referred to previously, reports that the Guajiros of the mountains poisoned the milk furnished to the garrison. A Cuban "rebel" who had escaped from the jail went about in the part of the island not occupied by the British and preached a "holy war" against the invaders of the island. Conditions were such that Havana might have become at any moment the scene of a new Sicilian Vespers.

It was at this time that the Commissary D. Lorenzo de Montalvo wrote to the Minister of War at Madrid under date of October eighteenth, 1762:

"The extraordinary mortality of the British troops has reduced them to the state which Your Excellency will see from the included papers. If at this moment eight or ten vessels arrived with two or three thousand men to debark, it would not be forty eight hours before they would capitulate."

There was indeed a movement on foot in the unoccupied part of Cuba to collect a force, march against Havana and deliver it from the British conquerors. A force of guerilleros was ready for action under command of the intrepid Aguiar. He was only waiting for enforcement promised him by Governor Madriaga of Santiago, who had three hundred and fifty men with two thousand and five hundred guns, collected at Yaguas and Villa-Clara. But he lingered at Yaguas and it was supposed that he was afraid of losing his position if the British should decide upon moving against Santiago. Madriaga was however associated with Aguiar, D. Lorenzo Montalvo, D. Nicolas Rapua, D. Pedro Calvo de la Puerta, D. Augustin de Cardenas and other prominent citizens and patriots of Cuba in a pact to reconquer Havana at an opportune moment, and action may have been delayed only because rumors were afloat that peace was about to be signed.

In Spain itself feeling ran high. The provinces of Murcia, Granada, Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia sent an address to King Charles III. asking to defend the colonies. It said among other things:


"Now is the moment to hold high the glory of the nation; let us humiliate under your auspices ambitious England which in her folly proposes nothing less than the ruin of all Europe. As her only aim is commerce, that is sordid gain, she wages a regrettable war upon a warlike nation that does not know meanness and has no other sentiments than the love of her king and her country. Money may be needed in London, as once in Carthage; but virtue, constancy and heroism we shall never lack, as they never failed the ancient Romans."

But there is no record that this address elicited anything more than an appreciative reply from the government at Madrid. For the diplomatic and political world of Spain as of Great Britain was indeed occupied in considering a settlement of the Spanish-British problem.

Nevertheless there were Spaniards, who even at that trying time must have viewed the state of things dispassionately, for the historian Pezuela gives the British much credit for the moderation and conciliatory tendency of their policy during the occupation. He records that they did not materially alter the general regime of the city, nor even make any radical changes in the municipal government. On taking possession of the town, Albemarle named for civil lieutenant-governor the Alderman D. Sebastian Penalver, a prominent lawyer; for the latter's Suplente or alternate, the alferez real or chief ensign D. Gonzale Oquendo, and for common civil judge D. Pedro Calvo de la Puerta, a high-constable and property holder highly esteemed by his fellow citizens. These three officials by their wisdom, unselfishness and impartiality lightened the burden of the foreign yoke.

Both Albemarle and Keppel had soon recognized some of the greatest evils of the colonial administration, among them the corruption of the lower courts and the amazing amount of bribery going on even in the higher departments of the government. They tried to check the malpractice of lawyers, and in a decree dated the fourth of November, 1762, prohibited the making of gifts or presents of any kind to the principal governor and to the inferior authorities, considering such practice as means to promote dishonesty. However, the attitude of the great majority was and remained hostile to the British and it needed all the prudence and tact of men like Oquendo, Penalver and Puerta to avoid conflicts between the citizens and the foreign authorities. Nor should the Intendant Montalvo be forgotten, whose services were highly appreciated by Albemarle.

In the British parliament there existed at that time a state of turmoil. The Earl of Bute, friend and adviser of George III., did not care for further extension of Britain's colonial possessions in America, saying that it was much greater importance "to bring the old colonies in order than to plant new ones." Others favored the return of Havana to Spain in exchange for Porto Rico and Florida. On the twenty-sixth of October, 1762, the British King expressed his approval of the latter proposal and urged the diplomats engaged in deliberating upon the subject speedily to draft a treaty. He wrote to Bedford, as quoted by Bancroft in his "History of the United States," Vol. III., p. 298:

"The best despatch I can receive from you will be those preliminaries signed. May Providence, in compassion to human misery, give you the means of executing this great and noble work."

The terms proposed to the French according to the same authority were severe and even humiliating, and Choiseul is reported as having said:

"But what can we do? The English are furiously imperious; they are drunk with success; and, unfortunately, we are not in a condition to abase their pride."

The preliminaries of a peace which was to bring a certain stability to the colonies in America and permanently settle the claims of the three nations that had for three centuries been striving for supremacy in the New World, were signed on the third of November, 1762. They contained the following stipulations: England was to receive the Floridas and some islands in the West Indies, but abandon Havana; it was to have Louisiana to the Mississippi, but without the island of New Orleans; it was likewise to have all Canada, Acadia, Cape Breton and its independent islands, Newfoundland, except a share of France in the fisheries, with the two islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon as shelter for their fishermen. In Africa England was to have Senegal, which insured for it the monopoly of the slave-trade. In the East Indies, too, France recovered only what she possessed on the first of January, 1749, the rest going to England and assuring its sway over that territory. France, on the other hand, to indemnify Spain for the loss of Florida, ceded to Spain New Orleans and all Louisiana west of the Mississippi. There is no doubt that France came off worst in this settlement; but, as her minister Choiseul said, it was at the time helpless. In England, which by this settlement laid the foundations of her great power, there was a great display of flamboyant oratory. The king was reported to have said:

"England never signed such a peace before, nor, I believe, any other power in Europe."

Granville, then, on his deathbed, exclaimed:

"The country never saw so glorious a war or so honorable a peace," and Bute, roused to defend it against some opponents in Parliament, uttered these words significant of the high esteem in which he held himself and whatever services he rendered England as favorite of the king:

"I wish no better inscription on my tomb than that I was its author."

It is needless to say that the effect of this document upon Spain was of quite a different nature. For it practically checked for all time her ambitions for maintaining supremacy in the world her discoverers and explorers had once claimed under her colors. Cuba, of course, rejoiced at the prospect of the restitution of Havana. Lord Albemarle, suffering from the strain of the siege and the climate, as no less from the realization that he would never be able to reconcile the Cubans to a recognition of his authority, had left early in the year 1762 and Sir William Keppel occupied his post. The peace was ratified at Paris on the tenth of February, 1763, and the people began to look forward with impatience to the arrival of a new governor from Madrid and to the debarkation of the British. In spite of the harassing situation which they had endured during the rule of the enemy they had not been idle, but planned many improvements and reforms which they promised themselves to execute as soon as the British domination would end. They had learned, too, to appreciate the advantages of free trade; for during the British occupation no less than nine hundred merchant vessels entered the harbor and not a few cargoes of negroes were landed.


The changes which the island underwent during this time were far-reaching. The British occupation had established a direct contact with the world outside of Spain, which was bound to broaden the narrowly provincial viewpoint of the residents of the colony. For the nobles to whom large tracts of land had been granted in the earlier days of the colony had never permanently resided there but only came over for a short time to occupy their winter residence in Havana and for another brief season to show themselves in all their old-world aristocratic splendor on their haciendas. The great majority of the people, descendants of the adventurers and the poor immigrants of the pioneer period, had acquired the habits of country people so engrossed in their fields, their live stock and the daily labors required to make these possessions profitable, that they had lost any desire to seek the stimulating influence of city life. The cities themselves, Havana not excepted, had a provincial aspect and offered little attraction to the foreign traveler who did not come there exclusively on business. Nevertheless they left a pleasant memory with many a casual visitor. A Frenchman, who spent some time in Havana about the year 1745, set down his impressions, which with other letters and memoirs of travel were edited by Pierre Jean Baptiste Nougaret and published in Paris in 1783 under the title: "Voyages interessans dans differentes Colonies francaises, espagnoles, anglaises, etc." In these reminiscences of Havana some twenty years before the British occupation, he draws a picture of the city, which it is interesting to compare with what other writers have to say of the Havana of 1762. He writes:



"Beautiful for situation" indeed is the Cuban capital, whether it be used as a point from which to view the sea and land, or be itself looked upon from some neighboring or distant height. This view, from the grounds of the great Cabanas fortress, shows the central portion of the city, with the notable public buildings clearly discernible, and nearer at hand the waters of the inner harbor, where occurred in 1898 the memorable and mysterious tragedy of the Maine.

"It is a very spacious city, well enough built and among the best fortified in America. In size it compares about with la Rochelle, but it is far more populated. It is graced with a large number of public buildings, churches, convents and you see there usually more negro slaves than in any other city of Spanish domination. Its harbor especially is one of the largest and most beautiful in America, and they build there warships for the construction of which the king of Spain employs a prodigious number of laborers, an arsenal and an immense workshop. It is the Catholic king's custom to pay one thousand piastres a cannon; so a vessel of eight cannon costs him eight thousand piastres. There are always on the docks five or six vessels at once; it is a company called the Company of Biscay which attends to the business. Havana is rather regular in plan; the streets are surveyed by the line, although some of them are not absolutely straight; all houses are of two or three floors, built of masonry and have balconies mostly of wood; the lower part of most houses is terrace-like as in European Spain and altogether they make a respectable impression.

"The city is protected by a numerous garrison of about four thousand regular troops, extremely well kept, who make Havana impregnable in a country where one cannot attack, except with considerable forces. The city which is one of the best located seems an oval; the entrance to her port is advantageously protected by different forts, of which one, the first, is called Morro or port of entrance; the second is opposite; a third has been erected toward the side of the city; it is so large that it seems rather a citadel than a fort. There is besides before the principal section of the city before the palace of the governor which is magnificent, a battery of big guns and of considerable calibre; so one can say that Havana is the best defended of all places in America, the vessels that want to enter being obliged to pass so close to the forts that it would be easy to sink them.

"The customs of the Spanish are here about the same as in Spain, differing from other colonies of the nation, where frankness, righteousness and probity seem to have been exiled. The Havanese are quite frank, extremely gay, more so than suits the ordinary Spanish gravity which is probably due to the great number of strangers which come there from all parts. The climate is rather good; the sex very handsome and enjoying much more liberty than in the rest of Spanish America.

"Armed cruisers are entertained to keep away strangers from the coast, which does not prevent all the fraudulent operations in which the commandant often shares. Nevertheless life is agreeable for the rich, everything being abundant in Havana; and the residents are far more neatly habited than elsewhere. One does not drink but cistern water, much superior to that of the only fountain which is in the center of a large square; and which serves only as watering trough for animals. You see in Havana many rolling chairs, most of which are rented, which gives the city an air resembling European towns."

Appreciative as this description sounds, which had for its author a M. Sr. Villiet d'Arignon, the Havana of the time of the British calls forth even more appreciative language from the Spanish historians of Cuba. They dwell much on the beauty of its location and of the city itself say:

The streets were not large or well leveled, especially those running from north to south, which caused the town to be so great in length; over three thousand houses occupied an expanse of nine hundred fathoms in length and five hundred in width; they were of hewn stone, of graceful form and as a whole afforded a very beautiful appearance. To the beauty of the city contributed eleven churches and convents and two large hospitals; the churches were rich and magnificent, especially those of Recoletos, Santa Clara, San Agustino and San Juan de Dios. Their interior was adorned with altars, lamps and candelabra of gold and silver of an exquisite taste. There were three principal squares: The Plaza des Armas, which still retains its name, encompassed by houses of uniform frontage with the metropolitan church. A magnificent aspect was added to this square by the castille de la Fuerza, where resided the Captain-Generals, and the pyramid encompassed by three luxuriant five-leaved silk cotton trees planted there in memory of the tradition, that the first mass and town meeting were held in the shadow of a robust tree of that kind; that of San Francisco adorned with two fountains was considered the best place in the city and on it were the houses of the Ayuntamento and the public jail, whose two-story façade with arched entrance contrasted with the severe architecture of the convent after which the square is named; and there was still another, the new square, because it had been opened after the former, with a fountain in the center and all encompassed with porticos for the convenience of the public, serving also as market-place, where the inhabitants, according to Arrate, provided themselves "copiously" with all they wanted.

Native writers also dwell upon the good manners of the Havanese, calling them the most polite and social people of Spanish America, much given to imitating the French customs and manners, which were then in vogue at the Spanish court of Madrid, both in their dress and their conversation, as also in the furnishings of their houses and the good table they set their guests. These descriptions of Cuba and Cuban life tally well with those of the foreigners quoted by the author, and indicate the progress made by the island, and especially by Havana, in the sixth and seventh decades of the century.

The economic conditions of the island underwent a great change during the sixth decade of the century. Up to this time, the majority of the people had been engaged in agriculture and led a more or less simple, rustic life. The products of her soil were consumed on the spot. Her mines were neglected because the gold and silver which had been discovered in the earlier part of Cuba's history and which had roused the jealousy of other countries were not sufficient in quantity to justify the labor needed for working them. With the increasing number of negro slaves, the possibilities of exploiting all the rich natural resources of the island were multiplied. Among the products that came into prominence was sugar. Not ordinarily consumed, it brought forty three cents a pound. John Atkins, the British surgeon and author of that interesting book of travel in Spanish America referred to in a previous chapter, had declared the sugar of Cuba the best in the world; and it was indeed so considered in the market. It became soon one of the most important articles of Cuba's commerce. The cheapened labor encouraged enterprises which the Spanish would have been physically unable to carry through.

The commerce of Havana had in this epoch increased considerably and the greatest part of it came from the ports of the island itself. Besides supplying with goods the towns of the interior and the littoral, Havana exported great amounts of hides, much esteemed for their excellent quality, and also sugar, tobacco and other articles. The trade was carried on by vessels registered from Cadiz and the Canaries besides those of Spanish merchants who were allowed to trade with the Spanish-American continent. Especially favored were those that returned to Spain from Cartagena, Porto Bello and Vera Cruz and entered Havana to renew their supply of provisions and water, and enjoy the advantage of going out with the convoy which in the month of September returned to the Peninsula with galleons loaded with the riches of Peru and Chile, and the fleet freighted with the treasures of New Spain. This periodical assembly of a great number of merchant and war vessels in Havana had introduced the custom of holding fairs, during which great animation prevailed in the city. For while they facilitated commercial transactions, they also furnished diversion and entertainment to the sailors and others who were waiting for the sailing of the convoy. At that time an order was published prohibiting on penalty of death any person belonging to the squadron to remain on land over night, and all had to retire on board at the report of a gun. Provisions were then, as also M. d'Arignon reported at his time, very dear. The monopoly which was exercised by the company had unreasonably raised the cost of living. The flour brought from foreign smugglers at five or six piasters a barrel, was sold at his time at thirty-five and more! Besides the ordinary wages of men hired by the day every male slave day-laborer was paid in excess four pesos a day and every female two pesos.

The description of the defenses of the city during the British invasion suggest that the surrender to the enemy may after all not have been entirely the fault of the procrastination and unconcern of the Cuban governor, as some zealous patriots alleged at the time. The entrance of the port was in the eastern part, defended by the strong fort of el Morro, situated upon an elevated rock of irregular, somewhat triangular form, in the walls and bulwarks of which were forty mounted cannon. It was protected also by the battery of Doce Apostoles, so called for having a dozen mounted cannon, situated toward the interior of the port in the lower parts of the Morro bulwark, which looked to the southeast and were almost at sea-level. There was also the Divina Pastora with fourteen cannon, on a level with the sea at a point a little higher than the former facing the gate of la Punta. Toward the west in the same entrance of the port and about two hundred yards from it with four bulwarks well-mounted with artillery, was la Fuerza with twenty-two cannon. Although not of as solid construction as the others, it served as storehouse for the treasures of the King and was also the residence of the governor. Between these fortresses there were erected along the bay a number of other bulwarks well supplied with artillery. The walls from la Punta to the arsenal were protected by bulwarks with parapets and a ditch. From the first to the second gate there was considerable territory converted at that time into gardens, and pasture land, and covered with palmettos. In front of the Punta de Tierra was a ravelin.

Nevertheless those fortifications had serious defects of position, because the city as well as the forts were dominated by many hills easy of access. East of the port was Cabanas, where there was a citadel built later, dominating a great part of el Morro and the northeastern part of the city. West of the town was a suburb, called Guadeloupe, the church of which was situated on an eminence half a mile from the gate of Tierra, and on the same level with it, the highest of all fortifications in that direction. From the northern side of this elevation the gate of Punta could be flanked and from the southeast the shipyard was dominated. The zanja real, or royal trench, in the northern part, descended not far from the Punta de Tierra and then ran into the shipyard where its water was employed in running a mill. Half a mile from said church was the Chavez bridge, built over a rivulet flowing into the bay, which served to unite the central road of the island with that of Baracoa; and from the bridge to the Lazareto was a stretch of two miles with an intermediate hill. A trench between these two points could easily cut the communication of Havana with the rest of the island. From this close description it can be seen that in spite of the imposing impression its fortifications made upon foreigners, Havana was by no means an impregnable fortress at the time of the British invasion, which was brought out at the trial of Governor Prado. But whatever may have been the cause of its capitulation to the British, the period of their occupation at the end benefited Cuba, for it opened the eyes of the government to the needs of the island, and prepared a new era, political, social and economic.


By the terms of the treaty signed at Versailles on the tenth of February, 1763, Britain was to give back to Spain the city and territory of Havana in the condition in which the British had found it and Spain was to grant the British a term of eighteen months, so that those who had established themselves upon the island could insure their interests by transferring their property. To administrate the political and military affairs of Cuba and carry out these stipulations, a new governor was appointed in the person of the Lieutenant-General Conde de Ricla, a relative of the famous Minister Aranda. Ricla arrived in Havana on the thirteenth of June and prepared to enter upon his duties, while the British authorities made preparations to wind up their affairs and to embark. Spanish love of festive demonstrations of joy must have culminated in a frenzy of exultation on the day when Admiral Keppel solemnly and formally gave up Havana to the Tenente Rey, the King's Lieutenant, who took possession of all military posts. It was the sixth of July, 1763, ever since remembered as the glorious day when Cuba was delivered from the British yoke. The new governor entered through one of the iron gates of the city, driven in an open coach, and acclaimed by the enthusiastic vivas of the population. On the same day the British authorities set sail, and the city entered upon a celebration of the event which lasted nine days. The Spanish colors fluttered from every roof, the houses were draped in them, the doors were garlanded in green, and when the evening came, lights shone in every window and sky rockets were set off on every street corner, turning the tropical night into day.


The new governor was a man of rare character and was endowed by the royal government with more power than any of his predecessors had enjoyed. He received a salary of eighteen thousand pesos annually. The task before him was one of reorganization and reconstruction. He was charged and expected to inaugurate a new era in the administration of the colony, to employ the most judicious means to prevent errors committed by his predecessors and to insure a prompt and efficient enforcement of the principles of colonial policy which the time demanded. He was also to repair all the fortifications and defenses of the island, rebuild whatever had been destroyed and add to them whatever was needed as rapidly as possible, so they would be proof against any possible coup-de-main on the part of any enemy. The reconstruction of the Morro and of the arsenal destroyed by the British, and the erection of the forts of Cabanas and Atares was entrusted to the able engineers D. Silvestro Abarca and D. Agostino Crame, who later drew the plan for that of Puerto Principe, intended to protect that place and prevent any landing by la Chorrera. The records of the period show that six million pesos were spent on those fortifications. New hospitals and other public buildings were also erected. The work was greatly facilitated by the number of negroes that had been added to the population since the British domination of the city. The great activity of the building trades stimulated the circulation of gold and gave a new impetus to all business life.

That the antagonism between the Spanish and British was not confined to Havana, which had suffered British occupation, is proved by the influx of immigrants from Florida, when this province was ceded to England. Unwilling to live under British dominion, many French and Spanish families of that colony left their old homes for new ones in Cuba. A great number of them settled in Matanzas and its environs, on land which belonged to the famous Marquis Justiz de Santa Anna. The generosity of this man in gratuitously ceding that land endeared him to these immigrants. Their love for the place they came from induced them to give to the towns into which their settlements were formed, names that suggested the old home, as San Augustin de la Nueva Florida proves. As soon as the enemy had left, the residents of Havana who had retired to the interior of the island returned to the city and resumed their occupations. Bishop Morell, who had been exiled to Florida by the British, also returned. He brought with him the white-wax bee, which in time became a new source of wealth for the island.

It was a period of reconstruction and readjustment during which not only were old business relations renewed and reaffirmed, but many new steps taken to insure the welfare of the community. Those elements of the population which were particularly concerned with the honest and efficient management of its affairs, had during the British occupation become aware of some malpractices that had escaped their attention or to which they had become so accustomed that they did not make any effort to check them. There were always on the island rumors of corruption in this or that department. Occasionally a fraudulent functionary was tried and convicted, but the great majority of these dishonest officials escaped without ever being brought to trial. The frequent change of governors with the inevitable periods of interim administration gave unscrupulous men ample opportunity to fill their pockets at the expense of the government. Nor can it be doubted, that the governors sent over by the Spanish court were invested with a farther reaching authority than was advantageous for the colony. For they enjoyed not only a political power almost absolute, but directed the economic affairs of the colony.

The governors of Cuba had in former times authority to handle the revenues and in accord with the municipal councils were wont to elect delegates to discharge these duties. In 1551 they had begun to exercise these functions as ministers de capa y espada, which means literally of cloak and sword. There were two of them for the island; they enjoyed seat and vote in the town corporations and were considered royal officials. They supervised the work of the Auditor and Treasurer and together with the Governor were judges in cases of contraband. Later there were appointed tenientes (lieutenants), one for each of the following communities, Bayamo, Puerto Principe, Trinidad, Matanzas, San Juan de los Remedios, Sancti Spiritus, and Guanabacoa, and two for Santiago de Cuba. The new ministers of the Tribunal de Cuentes (Exchequer) were provisionally endowed and the whole department hitherto in charge of the royal officers was reorganized and managed under a new system by the newly appointed Intendant. To him was probably due the new classification of the revenue rates, which was as follows:

(1) Duties on imports and exports,
(2) of the fleet,
(3) of the armadilla,
(4) of the royal Fifths (i.e. a duty of 20% on prizes, etc., paid to the Spanish government),
(5) the duty on anchoring,
(6) the duty on frucanga, i.e. beverages made of water
and molasses, which at a later time, when the use of wine,
beer, etc., became more general, went into oblivion.

These duties were from twenty-one to two and one half per cent. according to the articles, the time and the place they came from. There were also two per cent. duties on importations, on fruits of the country brought to Havana in smaller vessels; on the gold and copper of the mines of Jaguas, Holguin, etc., and there was also what was called the extraordinario del Morro, which consisted in collecting four pesos for each vessel sent to Spain and the American continent. The enforcement of these custom regulations was entrusted to the Intendant referred to above, who in October of the year 1764 was given the right to use a special building for the offices of this department.

For the military reorganization of Havana had been appointed Marshal Senor Conde D. Alexandre O'Reilly, who as Inspector-General devoted himself to the organization of line troops and militia and was materially assisted in his work by Aguiar. O'Reilly succeeded in getting the veteran troops and militia of the island into good condition. By studying the city, dividing it into districts, naming the streets—simple requirements which according to Valdes had at that late date not yet been established in Havana—O'Reilly learned that the city alone could raise a battalion of disciplined militia of white men. After organizing two such battalions in Havana and Guanabacoa, he realized that this force was insufficient for the protection of the capital and he raised two more battalions, composed of colored men. When on examining the polls or registers of tax-payers he found that owing to the poverty and also the ignorance of the majority of the people he could not proceed with the draft system without including the married and other classes, he decided to resort to conscription.

In 1764 there was created by royal decree a military and provincial administration for Cuba in the manner of the peninsulas. D. Miguel de Altavilla took charge of it in February, 1765. He established in Havana an accountant's (auditor's) office, a treasury and custom-houses at various points, subject to the department. This organization required many employees, and increased the expenses of the administration. The salaries of the officials amounted to one million two hundred thousand pesos, while until the year 1761 they had been only four hundred and fifty thousand pesos annually. As the Mexican assistant of the director never arrived in time to help with the accounts, the Royal Hacienda, as it was called, was not a sinecure. The revenues rose within a short time to one million two hundred and fifty thousand pesos, but whether this was due to the high duties or to the wise administration of the Intendencia does not appear.

The tentative effort at establishing a mail service during a previous administration was taken up in 1765, when the tax administrator D. José de Armona established the internal and external mail service of the island. It was found that every fortnight there was sent from Havana to Santiago de Cuba the mail, touching at Villa-Clara, Sancti Spiritus, Puerto Principe and Bayamo. According to royal decree of 1718 there should have been sent annually to Spain eight avisos or ships of one hundred tons, carrying letters from the Philippines and America, four of them stopping for provisions and supplies at Havana. These avisos (advice-boats, light vessels for carrying dispatches) sailed at the beginning of January, the end of March, the middle of June, and the first days of November. Most of the letters at that time were carried by smugglers. Armona succeeded in establishing a weekly postal communication between the towns mentioned above and also engaged postillions to carry mail sacks of San Juan de los Remedies, Trinidad and other towns not included in the other line. Every month except September, la Coruna, a vessel with the mail of Cuba and Spanish America, sailed from Havana for Spain. The work of Armona was extraordinary in face of the great difficulties which he had to overcome, both in regard to the lack of sufficient funds and to the lack of efficient and reliable officials. When he retired from the department the mail service of Cuba was neglected and even the line established between Havana and other towns of the island reduced its operation to one mail a month.

In the meantime the tragedy of the siege of Havana was being discussed in Spain before the tribunal charged with the investigation of the conduct of the men then at the head of the government in Havana and supposed to be responsible for its defeat by the British. After many months of tedious conferences, the Military Council, according to Alcazar, condemned Ex-Governor Prado to degradation of rank and banishment, Conde de Superanda and Tavares likewise, and the colonel of engineers Ricaut to ten years' suspension from office. The Teniente-Rey Soler, the colonels Caro and Arroyo and the artillery-commander Crel de la Hoz escaped with severe admonitions. Thus was the curtain rung down upon the epilogue to the tragedy of that siege.

After two years, during which he administered the affairs of the government with great sagacity and introduced many valuable reforms, Conde de Ricla asked permission to retire from his office and return to Spain. The Court accepted his resignation and appointed as his successor the Field Marshal D. Diego Manrique, who took charge of the government on the thirtieth of June, 1765. But he was almost immediately taken sick of yellow fever and died on the thirteenth of July, a few days after his inauguration. The Municipio of Havana urgently requested Ricla to resume the duties of governor, but he firmly refused and embarked for Spain. There may have been reasons for his determination not to continue in office, that are not mentioned by Valdes and Alcazar. For Blanchet remarks that the Conde de Ricla, though a man of action and efficiency, seems in the awarding of privileges and assignment of punishments not to have conducted himself quite properly. Ricla is described as having been a man of small stature, and grave but not unpleasant manner. He died in 1780 as minister of war in Spain.

There is a memorial to his services in carrying through the extensive work on the fortifications of Havana in the chapel of Cabana, where on a block is found this inscription:

"During the reign in Spain of His Catholic Majesty Senor D. Carlos III. and the government in this island of the Count de Ricla, Grandee of Spain and Lieutenant-General of the Royal Armies, was begun, in the year 1763, this fort of San Carlos, that of Atares in the Loma de Sota and the rebuilding and enlargement of el Morro. The works of this fort were continued and those of el Morro and Atares were finished during the government of the Lieutenant-General of the Royal Army Senor Baylio D. Antonio Maria Buccarelli, etc."

The provisional governorship of the Teniente de Rey, the King's Lieutenant, D. Pascal Jiminez de Cisneros, lasted from the thirteenth of July, 1765, to the nineteenth of March, 1766. He conscientiously endeavored to continue to rule in the spirit of his predecessor and to carry out the instructions given him by Ricla before he left for Spain. Some disturbances took place during that time, caused by the tobacco-planters and by the soldiers. The former began to object to selling their entire harvest to the factory. The latter had become dissatisfied on account of the irregularity with which they were paid.

The new governor appointed by the court of Madrid for Cuba was the Field Marshal Senor Baylio D. Antonio Maria Buccarelli, a native of Sevilla. He entered upon his office on the nineteenth of March, 1766, and was evidently determined to continue and if possible improve upon the many reforms and improvements that had been introduced by Ricla. Among them were certain police regulations which tended to insure the safety of the residents, as well as order and cleanliness on the streets. He also resolved to abolish the abuses of the bar, by putting a stop to the extortions practised by unscrupulous lawyers on ignorant clients. This decidedly new departure from any precedent was outlined in a proclamation of good government, which he published according to Valdes on the seventh, according to Alcazar on the twelfth of April, 1766. In this memorable address to the people, he announced that he would devote two hours daily to giving hearing to complainants; at this hearing were to be present attorneys and clerks to take down the depositions and render advice, and the judgments there delivered were to be signed without delay, except on holidays. By these verbal audiences he succeeded in clearing up many cases before they went to the regular courts, thus protecting the people against exploitation by the numerous officials attached to the lower courts and avoiding expensive lawsuits. This new reform in the judicial department of the island especially benefited the slaves, whose rights he endeavored to protect and insure. The extraordinary discretion with which he performed this function of his office, preserving his dignity and affability in the most trying situations, endeared him to the people.

The most difficult task before him, and one calling for unusual prudence and tact, was the execution of the royal decree concerning the expulsion of certain religious orders against whom drastic measures had been taken in Europe. The movement began in Portugal in 1759, when the Jesuits were expelled from that country. Two years later the society was dissolved and its members banished from France. Then the opposition to them made itself felt in Spain. King Carlos III. had always been their zealous protector, but he suddenly turned against them after the curious Sombrero-and-Manta revolution in Madrid in 1766. His favorite, the Marquis Squilaci, a Neapolitan, had tried to inaugurate various reforms in the city, among them the cleaning of the streets, which were in an unspeakable state of filth, the regulation of the prices of food and the installment of a lighting system. Simple and reasonable as were these innovations, they met with furious opposition on the part of certain classes of the people. This opposition was fanned into open revolt by another ordinance which he issued. It was directed against the enormous sombreros and voluminous mantas (cape cloaks) worn with preference by individuals who could thus easily disguise themselves, hide their identity and carry dangerous weapons which played a dismal part in the numerous assassinations that had shocked the authorities. An organized revolt against these measures took place in Madrid and led to considerable bloodshed. The king was made to believe that the Jesuits were the prime agents in that insurrection, and at midnight of the seventeenth of February, 1767, Carlos III. signed a decree ordering their immediate expulsion from Spain. In this decree, the execution of which was entrusted to Count Aranda, the king gave as reason for this step, the necessity to maintain among his subjects order, obedience, quiet and justice. At the same time he ordered the temporal property of the society of Jesuits in the dominions of Spain to be adjudged to the treasury. The order was executed with a promptness and a quiet deserving especial comment. On the same day were sent to all judges, governors, regents and viceroys a secret message, accompanied by a circular letter saying that the message containing royal instructions to be obeyed by every one should not be opened before April 1. Those officials were moreover warned not to communicate the contents of the message to any one, and should the public by some chance obtain such knowledge, those responsible were to be treated as though they had violated the secret and were guilty of opposition to the Sovereign's orders. This measure was so effectively executed that the padres of the order were taken by surprise, and were speedily sent on their way out of the country without the slightest disorder. On the day of this expulsion the king had affixed a "pragmatica" on the doors of the palace and public buildings in the principal streets, in which it was said among other things, that the individual priests would be given seventy-two pesos annually for their means of subsistence, and the lay brothers sixty-five, that their pensions would be paid out of the property of the Society, and that it was prohibited in the whole monarchy to receive any individual of the Society in particular, or to admit them into any community, or any court or tribunal, or to appeal in their behalf. It was also prohibited to write or influence the minds of the people for or against this pragmatica or to enter into any correspondence with the members of the expelled order. This royal decree was carried into effect in all the colonies of Spanish America, and in Cuba it was Buccarelli to whom credit was due for the tact displayed in performing this extremely difficult duty. The proceeds of the property of the Society, which reverted to the state, were devoted by Buccarelli to the endowment of three professorships at the university, two for law and one for mathematics. The decision of the King met with no open opposition among the residents, although the Jesuit College, since then called the Seminario de San Carlos, and their church, actually the Cathedral, had been a center of interest to the society of Havana, and the much esteemed and beloved Senor D. Pedro Agostine Morell was reported to have been responsible for the coming of the order to Havana. Senor Morell died on the twenty-ninth of December, 1769, and was succeeded in his diocese by D. José Echeverria.

Governor Buccarelli made strenuous efforts to abolish contraband trading in the island. He tried also to promote coffee culture in Cuba, which had so far yielded so little as to be not even sufficient for home consumption. His Majesty granted an extension of customs for five years at that time. A new step for the improvement of the maritime department was taken in the year 1766, when the Apostadero was created a military and naval station. To the administration of this office was appointed D. Juan Antonio de la Colina, who during the siege of Havana in 1762 had ordered the sinking of the three vessels for the purpose of closing to the British the entry of the port. Colina was invested with the same powers possessed in Spain by the Captain-General of the naval department. In the shipyard of Havana there were built at this time vessels of various sizes and purposes, among them the Santissima Trinidad, a vessel of one hundred and twelve guns, and three smaller but excellent ships. The Santissima Trinidad was destined some years later to be destroyed in the battle of Trafalgar.

Two great calamities caused much distress and loss of lives and property during Buccarelli's administration. In July and August, 1766, earthquakes destroyed a great portion of Santiago de Cuba. It was estimated that more than one hundred persons perished. Among them was the governor, Marquis de Casa-Cagigal, who was removed from the ruins of his residence. The disaster called for such great funds for the alleviation of the suffering and the hardships occasioned by this catastrophe, that the Royal Treasury had to retard the payment of the salaries to the officials of the island. The civilian population contributed generously to the relief funds collected in the principal towns of the island. Governor Buccarelli himself sent contributions to two hundred presidarios and to two engineers that had been stricken in the performance of their duties.

The losses and the sorrow caused by this calamity had barely been repaired and mitigated, when another disaster called for sympathy and active assistance on the part of those that were spared. This was the tremendous hurricane which swept over Havana on the fifteenth of October, 1768, and left the city a scene of desolation. The vessels in the harbor were torn from their anchorage, and drifted into the sea lashed into fury by the tempest; the trees in the orchards were uprooted, the fields appeared as if they had been churned. Buildings were carried away from their foundations and deposited in remote places. It was difficult to estimate the damage done in the city and its neighborhood. Again a call for relief was sounded and responded to readily. To assist the sufferers a great sum came from the proceeds of the Jesuit properties recently seized, which according to the valuation of experts amounted to several million pesos.

Buccarelli was appointed Viceroy of Mexico, and retired on the fourth of August, 1771. He had proved a worthy successor of the much esteemed Count Ricla and left behind him an excellent reputation. It was said of him that he had never once lacked that political prudence which should ever guide the actions of an official in such a responsible position as was the governorship of Cuba. He was praised for his cautious inquiries into legal abuses and his judicious settlement of cases, some of which had for forty years occupied the time of the courts and filled the pockets of greedy attorneys. He was reported under the most exasperating circumstances to have always conserved his affable disposition and to have never lost his temper, however great may have been the provocation. Upon the whole, he was looked upon as a man of rare nobility of character and Cuba was loath to part with him. He was one of the few governors that had never given cause for any complaint. This was attested by the Minister of the Indies, then Baylio Knight Julian de Arriaga, who wrote to him by order of His Majesty that not the slightest complaint of his government had come to the court.


While Cuba was enjoying the peace and prosperity which had followed its return to Spain, Louisiana, which by the Treaty of Paris had been ceded to Spain by Louis XV. of France, to indemnify her for the Floridas and the government of which was annexed to that of Cuba, was going through a most harassing period of anxiety. For this agreement, which transferred the French inhabitants of Louisiana to Spain, was a violation of that human right which at this very time was beginning to dawn in the awakening political consciousness of mankind, and was to be a source of serious conflicts between the French of Louisiana and the authorities that came to establish upon her soil the rule of the king of Spain.

Bancroft gives an interesting account of the events that occurred. He writes in his "History of the United States" (Vol. IV, p. 122):

"The Treaty of Paris left two European powers sole sovereigns of the continent of North America. Spain, accepting Louisiana without hesitation, lost France as her bulwark, and assumed new expenses and dangers, to keep the territory from England. Its inhabitants loved the land of their ancestry; by every law of nature and human freedom, they had the right to protest against the transfer of their allegiance."

The spirit which found ultimate expression in the formula: "no government without the consent of the governed" had been awakened in the people of the North American continent. As soon as the news reached Louisiana, that the territory was to be transferred under the rule of the Spanish king, the call for an assembly was issued and every parish in the colony sent representatives to voice their protest and deliberate upon measures preventing the execution of that transfer. Under the leadership of Lafreniere the people unanimously decided to address a petition to the king of France, entreating him not to abandon them to foreign rule. The loyalty with which the colony had so far adhered to the kings of the mother country seemed to call for redress of the wrong which was about to be inflicted upon them.

The wealthiest merchant of New Orleans, Jean Milhet, went to Paris as the spokesman of the colony. He met Bienville, the pioneer founder of the city which enjoyed at that time the reputation of being an American Paris, and the octogenarian lent his aid in an attempt to appeal to the French minister, Choiseul. But Choiseul gave them no encouragement. His answer was, briefly: "It cannot be; France cannot bear the charge of supporting the colony's precarious existence." On the tenth of July, 1765, the Brigadier D. Antonio de Ulloa, who was appointed by Governor Buccarelli of Cuba to take possession of the territory ceded to Spain, sent a letter from Havana to the superior council of the colony at New Orleans announcing that he had orders to take possession of that city for the Catholic king. But the French authorities did not remove the flag of France and Acadian exiles continued to pour into the colony from the north. Ulloa finally sailed from Havana and on the fifth of March, 1766, he arrived in the bay.

The very elements of nature seem to have conspired to lend gloom to his arrival. A terrible thunderstorm and violent downpour of rain was a feature of the landing. He was accompanied by some civil officers, three Capuchin monks and eighty soldiers. The people, resentful of being forced to submit to foreign rule, received him coldly and sullenly. He had brought with him orders to redeem the seven million livres of French paper money which had been a heavy burden upon a population of not more than six thousand souls. He saw at once that the population was unwilling to give up its nationality and to change its allegiance from France to Spain. He learned that the French garrison peremptorily refused to serve under Spanish commanders. So he was forced to leave the government, which he was supposed to administer with the aid of the Spanish officials that he had brought with him, in the hands of the former French functionaries.

When in September of that year an ordinance was introduced by Ulloa forcing French vessels having special permits to accept the paper currency in payment for their cargoes at an unreasonable tariff, the merchants of the colony protested vigorously. They declared stoutly:

"The extension and freedom of trade, far from injuring states and colonies, are their strength and support."

Reports circulating about the disorders caused by this conflict between the French population and the Spanish authorities frightened the owners of merchant vessels that had been in the habit of trading at the colony and its commerce with them was for the time being almost suspended. The ordinance was rescinded, and Ulloa retired from New Orleans to the Balise. He had to be contented to establish Spanish rule at that spot and opposite Natchez at the river Iberville. Perhaps a man of different disposition would have been able to reconcile the colonists to the foreign régime. But Ulloa did not possess the amiable qualities that characterized the Governor of Cuba, Buccarelli. He had to learn, as did Lord Albemarle during his brief administration of Havana, that it was not an easy task to conquer the hearts of a people and win them over to the rule of foreign authorities.

According to Bancroft this irritating state of things continued for more than two years. He writes (p. 123):

"But the arbitrary and passionate conduct of Ulloa, the depreciation of the currency with the prospect of its becoming an almost total loss, the disputes respecting the expenses incurred since the cession of 1762, the interruption of commerce, a captious ordinance which made a private monopoly of the traffic with the Indians, uncertainty of jurisdiction and allegiance, agitated the colony from one end to the other. It was proposed to make of New Orleans a republic, like Amsterdam or Venice, with a legislative body of forty men, and a single executive. The people of the country parishes crowded in a mass into the city; joined those of New Orleans; and formed a numerous assembly, in which Lafreniere, John Milhet, Joseph Milhet, and the lawyer Doucet were conspicuous. 'Why,' said they, 'should the two sovereigns form agreements which can have no result but our misery, without advantage to either?' On the twenty-fifth of October, they adopted an address to the superior council, written by Lafreniere and Caresse, rehearsing their griefs; and in their petition of rights, they claimed freedom of commerce with the ports of France and America, and the expulsion of Ulloa from the colony."

This address was signed by upwards of five hundred persons and at the meeting of the council on the very next day it was, contrary to the warnings of Aubry, accepted. The excitement of the people, when they heard this good news, was indescribable. The French colors appeared in the public square and veteran pioneers of the colony, women and children crowded around to kiss the cherished flag of the much beloved mother country. Nine hundred men pressed around the flag pole when it was about to be raised, eager to lend a hand in what was to them a sacred function, and men, women and children began to cry: "Vive le roi de France! Nul autre que lui pour nous!" This clamorous demonstration manifested to Ulloa the will of the people; and when they proceeded to elect their town officials, he abandoned the attempt of establishing Spanish rule in Louisiana. He set sail for Havana, and through his representatives sent the news of these events to Spain. That incident was so significant of the spirit of the times that Du Chatelet wrote to Choiseul:

"The success of the people of New Orleans in driving away the Spaniards is a good example for the English colonies; may they set about following it."

For at this very time the British colonies of America were entering upon their struggle for deliverance from restrictions upon trade as symbolized in the stamp act and the atmosphere upon the continent was rife with revolution. While the statesmen of France and even some of England were inclined to grant greater freedom of commerce, Spain still lagged behind. She had been the champion of the protective system for centuries, and though it had not added to her wealth, on the contrary, had helped to impoverish her, she was unwilling to depart from the time-honored policy. Grimaldi, the Spanish minister, thus set forth the stand which Spain was to take in this question:

"Besides, the position and strength of the countries occupied by the Americans excite a just alarm for the rich Spanish possessions on their borders. Their interlopers have already introduced their grain and rice into our colonies. If this should be legalized and extended to other objects, it would increase the prosperity of a neighbor already too formidable. Moreover, this neighbor, if it should separate from the metropolis, would assume the republican form of government; and a republic is a government dangerous from the wisdom, the consistency, and the solidity of the measures which it would adopt for executing such projects of conquests as it would naturally form."

This fear of a republic in Louisiana haunted the king of Spain and his cabinet and after discussing the question of returning it to France, it was almost unanimously agreed that Louisiana was needed "as a granary for Havana and Puerto Rico, a precaution against French contraband trade and a barrier to keep off the English encroachments." The Duke of Alva said, in a spirit true to his namesake of two centuries before:

"The world, and especially America, must see that the king can and will crush even an intention of disrespect."

Masones de Lima expressed himself briefly:

"If France should recover Louisiana, she would annex it to the English colonies or would establish its independence."

Minister de Aranda began cautiously:

"A republic in Louisiana would be independent of the European powers, who would all cultivate her friendship and support her existence. She would increase her population, enlarge her limits, and grow into a rich, flourishing and free state, contrasting with our exhausted provinces."

He continued in this vein, dwelling at length upon the consequences such an example might bring in its wake, and advised to keep New Orleans in such insignificance as to tempt no attack.

The deliberations in the French cabinet were of quite a different nature. Du Chatelet, as quoted by Bancroft (p. 151), declared:

"Spain can never derive benefit from Louisiana. She neither will nor can take effective measures for its colonization and culture. She has not inhabitants enough to furnish emigrants; and the religious and political principles of her government will always keep away foreigners, and even Frenchmen. Under Spanish dominion, the vast extent of territory ceded by France to Spain on the banks of the Mississippi will soon become a desert.

"The expense of colonies is required only by commerce; and the commerce of Louisiana, under the rigor of the Spanish prohibitive laws, will every day become more and more a nullity. Spain then will make an excellent bargain, if she accords liberty to the inhabitants of Louisiana, and permits them to form themselves into a republic. Nothing can so surely keep them from falling under English rule as making them cherish the protection of Spain and the sweetness of independence."

But the king of Spain had no thought save that of upholding the Spanish traditions, and, accepting the advice of the Duke de Alva, decided to crush the rebellion of Louisiana. He chose as his instrument the Conde Alexandre O'Reilly, who had gone to Cuba with de Ricla and had reorganized the army and militia of the island. Buccarelli was informed of the royal decision and assisted O'Reilly in fitting out an expedition which was to enable him to enforce Spanish rule and eradicate all traces of republican leanings in the French colony. The people of New Orleans had in the meantime once more sent a petition to France in the attempt to enlist the sympathy and aid of the mother country in their endeavor to remain French citizens. They also sent an appeal to the British at Pensacola but the governor was not inclined to offend any powers with which his king was at peace. So great was the dread of the Louisianans of being forced to bow to Spanish rule, that they spoke seriously of burning New Orleans rather than giving it up to the hated foreign authorities.

O'Reilly set sail from Havana with a squadron of twenty-four vessels, with three thousand well-trained troops on board. He arrived at the Balise at the end of July. For a time panic reigned in the city. Aubry tried to quiet the people, and advised them to submit and trust in the clemency of the king of Spain. A committee of three, Lafreniere, as representative of the council, Marquis of the colonists, and Milhet of the merchants, presented themselves at the Balise to pay their respects to the Spanish general and to appeal to his mercy. O'Reilly entertained them at dinner and they left assured of perfect amnesty. On the eighth of August the Spanish squadron anchored before the city itself, and the authorities took possession in the name of his Majesty, Carlos III. of Spain. The Spanish colors replaced those of France and it seemed as if with this ceremony and the installment of Spanish officials in the different departments of the colony's government the mission of O'Reilly was ended. But there was still the punishment to be meted out to the rebels who had dared to defy the authority of the Spanish king and had sworn unchanging allegiance to the sovereign of France. After having received from Aubry, who seemed to play traitor to his compatriots, a list of those who had taken part in the recent insurrection and had prepared the foundation of a republic with a protector and an elective council of forty, O'Reilly on the twenty-first of August invited to his home the most prominent citizens and asked the representatives of the people's council to pass, one by one, into his private apartment. In their unsuspecting innocence, they accepted this invitation as a mark of distinction, but they were sadly disillusioned, when O'Reilly entered with Aubry and three Spanish officers, and arrested them in the name of his Majesty the King of Spain.

According to Bancroft two months were spent in collecting evidence against the men. The defense asserted that they could not be tried and condemned by Spanish officials for acts done before the proper establishment of Spanish rule in the colony. The citizens begged for time to send a petition to the Spanish sovereign. But all attempts to divert O'Reilly from his purpose summarily to punish the men who had dared to defy Ulloa, as the representative of Spain, were futile. Twelve of the richest men of the colony had to see their estates confiscated; from the proceeds were paid the officers employed in the trial. Six others were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, from six years to life. The five who had been most conspicuous in the revolt, Lafreniere, Marquis, Milhet, Caresse and Noyau, were sentenced to death. According to Bancroft they were shot in presence of the troops and the people on the twenty-fifth of October, 1769. According to Spanish historians they were hanged.

Whatever the fate of these French champions of the newly awakened desire for liberty may have been, the effects of O'Reilly's cruelty were felt far beyond the still ill defined boundaries of the colony. Though the king of Spain was reported to have expressed his approval of O'Reilly's summary procedure, even in Spain voices rose to condemn it. A pall spread over Louisiana. Business life was for a time paralyzed. Commerce came to an absolute standstill. In the country parishes of the colony, the Spanish authority was accepted with sullen silence. Many of the wealthy families, long identified with the history of the colony, abandoned their homes and emigrated to other parts of the continent. The government of the colony was reorganized on the pattern of all Spanish colonies. The restrictions which were placed upon commerce robbed the people of whatever initiative and enterprise they had possessed. A period of stagnation set in, contrasting sharply with the activity and the animation that had previously reigned in the city which claimed and was reported by travelers of that time to have been fairly well started on the road of becoming the Paris of America. It was an inauspicious beginning for the Spanish régime in Louisiana. But the successor of O'Reilly, D. Luis de Uznaga, made up for his predecessor's mistake by showing so much discretion and exercising his authority with such mildness, that he gradually succeeded in reconciling a part of the population to the Spanish rule. Only the families of the victims that had paid for their loyalty to France with their lives remained the implacable enemies of Spain, as long as the colony remained under her rule. Aubry, who immediately after the tragedy of the twenty-fifth of October had set sail for France, suffered shipwreck on his voyage and perished. The six men who had been committed to the dungeons of Havana were, according to Bancroft, later set free by the aid of France.

This tragic prelude to the Spanish rule in Louisiana, little as it has to do with Cuba, with which colony it was but loosely connected in an administrative way, was the herald of a new epoch dawning upon the horizon of the New World. The establishment of the little republic at the mouth of the Mississippi had been frustrated. But the establishment of the greater republic on the continent, under the protection of which Cuba was to come some centuries later, was even at this time approaching consummation.


While the new Spanish possession annexed to Cuba by virtue of the Treaty of Paris, Louisiana, was passing through that painful state of transition which always follows the transfer of a nation belonging to a certain race speaking a certain language and cherishing customs deeply rooted in the national consciousness, to the rule of another nation, of a different race, speaking a different language and practising widely different customs, Cuba was enjoying a period of peace, prosperity and progress. When Buccarelli was appointed Viceroy of Mexico, D. Pascal Jiminez de Cisneros once more exercised superior authority as provisional governor of the island. But in November, 1771, the newly appointed governor arrived from Spain, the Captain-General D. Felipe Fons de Viela, Marquis de la Torre. He was a valiant soldier who in the wars of Spain with Italy and Portugal had distinguished himself by his conduct and his ability, and had risen to his high rank at the cost of his blood. He was a native of Zaragoza, a Knight of the military order of Santiago and Alderman in perpetuity, or prefect-governor of his native city. He came to Cuba with the reputation of an exceptionally worthy official and in the five years of his administration not only justified but far surpassed the hopes that his arrival awakened in the population of the colony. He entered upon his duties on the eighteenth of November, 1771.

Marquis de la Torre was without doubt one of the most efficient and successful governors that Cuba ever had. Havana was at that time growing in population and extent, and entering upon a new era in her economic development, due largely to the foresight of King Carlos III., who had granted her an exemption from certain taxes. The city had, however, suffered so much in previous times, first from the perpetual unrest arising from the fear of invasion by pirates, then from the siege, and lastly from the hurricane of 1768, that it needed a man, clear of purpose and strong of will, to inaugurate the many innovations which he introduced, in order to make the place worthy of being the metropolis of Spain's richest island-possession in America. While Ricla and Buccarelli, entering upon their governorships immediately after the occupation of Havana by the British, had of necessity devoted most of their energy towards insuring the safety of the place from a repetition of the events of 1762, and had therefore been primarily concerned with the fortifications and the military reorganization of the place, la Torre was able to direct his attention to improvements, which made for a higher standard of public health, and paved the way for a culture, which in spite of the wealth of the population, was still only in its beginnings. Coming as he did from the Spain of Carlos III., who during his long peaceful reign did so much for the cultural progress of his country by introducing measures of sanitation and other improvements unknown to his predecessors, it was the ambition of la Torre to make Havana worthy of comparison with the large cities of the mother country.



Havana is at once one of the oldest and of the newest of the great cities of the western world, and the architecture of its streets exhibits samples of the work of five centuries. This scene, showing the side wall of the great Cathedral, is typical of the older portions of the city, with comparatively narrow streets and characteristic Spanish houses.

It seems almost unbelievable that Havana had up to this time lacked proper pavements; that it had no public promenade, such as every European city far inferior in size and population possessed, that the streets were disfigured by unsightly and unsanitary out-houses and that even the government buildings had been put up with little regard for appearance, not to mention beauty. Moreover it is almost incredible that a city, the population of which belonged to the race that had produced some of the greatest dramatists of the world, Calderon and Lope de la Vega, had after an existence of some centuries not yet erected a playhouse, providing wholesome entertainment for her residents there to enjoy the works of their master poets and be for the time of the performance lifted above the purely material pursuits of their daily life. This was the state in which la Torre found Havana and he immediately set to work to study the city's most urgent needs and to raise it as rapidly as possible to the high standard he intended to apply.

The first task that claimed his attention was the improvement of the streets. When the plan to have them paved was about to be realized it was found that there was not a sufficient quantity of cobblestones available for that purpose. So the contractors had to employ timber soaked in tar, which had proved to be extremely durable, little affected by atmospheric conditions, and offered only the one disadvantage of making a very slippery surface in the rainy season. The next step towards raising Havana out of its village state to urban cleanliness and dignity was the abolition of the ugly and unsanitary out-houses, a measure which seemed so radical and revolutionary to the conservative elements of the population that it met with no little opposition. Then la Torre deliberated upon plans for public promenades, and those of Paula and Almadea Nueva were laid out, followed by the Mall in the interior of the city and the Nueva Prado outside of the city walls. Great was the delight of the residents, who slowly began to wake up to the benefits and the pleasures to be derived by these attempts at improvement and embellishment of their town. Among the ordinances insuring the health, the beauty and the safety of the city, was one prohibiting the roofing of houses with guano, which had long been the source of dangerous conflagrations, aside from its unsanitary features and its being an eyesore. Modest as these demands may seem to twentieth century readers, la Torre had no little difficulty in carrying them through. But thanks to his energy, perseverance and executive power the streets of Havana with their neat pavements, and the public promenades with their gravel walks not only improved the appearance of the city, but stimulated the dormant esthetic sense of the inhabitants to an appreciation of civic beauty.

The next step undertaken by la Torre for the improvement of Havana was the erection of more suitable public buildings, especially one for the governor himself and for the Ayuntamento, which, strange enough, was to be under the same roof as the public jail. Under his order were rebuilt seven of the old barracks for the soldiers and a new one was erected for the veterans. A great number of bridges was built, that of the Santa Fe passage over the Cojimar river, that of las Vegas on the road of Santa Maria del Rosario; the bridge of Arroyo Hondo, under the leeside of that town; the Enriquez and the Carrillo, and others. All these bridges had shields of arms and inscriptions on their pillars and with their many arches presented a beautiful sight. The harbor was thoroughly dredged with the aid of twelve pontoons and barges manned by a crew of presidarios (criminals condemned to hard labor) and slaves. The wharves of Carpineti, Cabana and Marimilena were constructed. Finally there was erected the first theatre, which was in its way as important an addition to the cultural life of the city as had been the foundation of the university some time before. For the wealthy and intellectually ambitious part of the population had keenly felt the lack of dignified entertainment and not a few individuals had made an annual pilgrimage to Madrid to enjoy a season in drama and music and keep in touch with the progress of the arts. The value of all the public edifices and reconstruction was appraised by D. Simon de Ayala as amounting to two hundred and fourteen thousand eight hundred seventy-three and one half reals; in the light of more recent days a very small amount in proportion to the number and the importance of the buildings constructed.

Nor were the efforts of la Torre by any means limited to the improvement of the capital. Trinidad, Santiago and Puerto Principe benefited largely from the earnest desire for improvement that actuated Governor la Torre to undertake these many works. He was instrumental in the founding of the towns of Jaruco and of Nueva Filipina, which was later called Pinar del Rio. He inspired new life into all the towns that he visited during his administration and turned the colony into one of the richest and most beautiful, by applying to its improvement the most advanced ideas in civic management that were known in his time. From the census which la Torre ordered to be taken it appears that there were on the island three hundred and thirty-nine corrales or well defined farms, seven thousand eight hundred and fourteen farms for horse-breeding, estancias for cattle pasture and vegas for tobacco culture and four hundred and seventy-eight sugar plantations. There were twenty-nine thousand five hundred and eighty casas (buildings, private or public), ninety churches and fifty-two parochial chapels. The population of the island numbered one hundred and seventy-two thousand inhabitants; of which ninety-six thousand four hundred and thirty were whites, forty-five thousand six hundred and thirty-three slaves; that of Havana seventy-five thousand; Santiago nineteen thousand; Bayamo twelve thousand; Santa Clara eight thousand two hundred; Sancti Spiritus eight thousand, Guanabacoa seven thousand nine hundred; Trinidad five thousand six hundred, Matanzas three thousand two hundred and San Juan de los Remedios three thousand.

The reforms which la Torre inaugurated in the government itself were also remarkable. In the proclamation published on the fourth of April, 1772, he repeated the ordinances issued by his predecessors to insure order and quiet in the communities; but he added some important innovations. He delivered the people from the exploitation they had suffered at the hands of annually appointed visitadores de partido (party judges), whose legal malpractices had been a source of great grievance to the citizens, and he compelled the members of the inferior courts of justice to reside in their respective districts. Commerce had after its transient extension during the British dominion once more begun to suffer from the restrictions imposed by the government of Spain. But about the year 1771, it was revived, for the export duties on sugar, honey, cane brandy, hides and wax were lowered and cotton could be exported free of duty. In order to stimulate the wax industry, the growth of which was remarkably rapid and added largely to the wealth of the island, la Torre published in form of a decree measures for its protection and promotion. Among them he prohibited the cutting of trees on which there were hives. In the year 1770 there were exported to Vera Cruz more than five arrobas of wax. At the end of the same year Cuba exported to Spain and various points in America twelve thousand five hundred and forty-six and in the following year twenty-one thousand one hundred and eighty-seven arrobas. The Captain-General was authorized in certain cases to import provisions from abroad. But contraband prevailed and flourished as ever. Governor Torre engaged in an active campaign against the smugglers and was the cause of their suffering heavy losses; but he was unable to exterminate the evil. This was mainly due to the arrogance and arbitrary attitude of Governor D. Antonio Ayanz de Ureta, who favored the smugglers that carried on a lively trade in the eastern part of the island with Jamaica and the foreign Antilles.

Much as General la Torre ingratiated himself with the citizens by his gentle disposition as well as his sound judgment and impeccable honesty, he was not to be spared disagreeable experiences with other officials. One of these was with the commandant of the Apostadero or naval station, D. Juan Bautista Bonel, to whom credit is due for having enriched the shipyard by some magnificent structures. The dispute between them concerned some civilians who were implicated in a case against individuals belonging to the navy, and whom la Torre asked to be given over to his jurisdiction. Another unpleasantness was caused by conflicting orders given by la Torre and the commandant-general of the army. The latter had opened the new gateway that ran as far as the suburb of Jesus Maria in the neighborhood of the arsenal, and it was said the governor ordered that of la Tenaza to be closed, because the commandant opposed its running to that suburb and thus running through the arsenal. But upon the complaints that were entered at Madrid by Ureta as well as the other gentlemen, that caused these dissensions, his Majesty always upheld the side of la Torre and dismissed the accusations. Governor la Torre retired on the twelfth of June, 1776, and died in Madrid as Lieutenant-General on the sixth of July, 1784. His term of administration was the first during which the revenues exceeded a million of pesos, which augured an era of prosperity for Cuba.

That Governor Torre left Havana a healthier and more beautiful city to live in, than it had been before, is an achievement which gives his administration a place of its own among those that were especially concerned with the welfare of the population. Visitors to Cuba that had marked the difference between the Havana of 1745 and that of 1762, would have been even more impressed with the appearance of the city after Torre had left upon it the seal of his improvements. The residents began to take a pride in the capital of the island; a civic spirit arose and began to weld the inhabitants more closely by the bond of interests, which at last began to surpass those associated with their purely material welfare. Visitors coming from the old centers of European culture had formerly commented upon the absence in the colonies of places where men and women could gather for social intercourse and intelligent entertainment. The French visitor quoted in a previous chapter, after his visit to Cuba and Santo Domingo, wrote rather dejectedly:

"Life offers no attraction here for anybody who is not in commerce. Dependent on one's self, there is no relaxation for anyone who has lived in France and there played a certain rôle. One must not expect theaters, nor cafés, nor public promenades, and still less societies. One does not know how to spend the time and this is a real annoyance to a man of leisure. The carnival, especially where there are French, offers the only opportunity to banish in a degree the dryness of the entertainments in these countries—and what entertainments! One would never dream of seeking them, if one were not so far from Europe. The residents in comfortable circumstances come to town, you play a game of cards in some house, in others you drink abundantly, and in most you are bored. The country has hardly more attraction for any one having no residence; but besides the restraint which is banished there, you can at least enjoy a morning and an evening walk; and if you are so lucky as to come across some wealthy resident of the better class, you may in rare instances find yourself in agreeable company. But there are parts of the country where neighbors hardly visit one another once a year."

This is a true glimpse of life in the colonies before the British occupation. Had the distinguished foreigner who made these observations come to Cuba after the administration of la Torre, he would have found the theatre and the promenades, and perhaps even the cafés he had previously missed. For the prosperity which set in for the island after King Carlos III. began to relax the unreasonable restrictions upon her trade and navigation, brought with it to the wealthier classes that leisure which calls for higher forms of social life and leads to the appreciation of such entertainment as the arts of music and drama offer. The theatre of Havana became the meeting place of Cuba's intellectuals and the center from which began to radiate the modest beginnings of a Cuban culture, which a century later was to produce poets that took their place beside those of the mother country. With closer commercial relations and increasing facilities of travel even the inhabitants of the country living on their haciendas a beautiful domestic life, but one making for a certain clannishness, gradually came out of their isolation, and benefiting by the progress of their urban neighbors, were stimulated to participate in enterprises which a few decades before they would have spurned. The constantly growing intercourse with the Old World, bringing them into touch with contemporary thought, was another leaven that began to work in the minds of the Cubans, and to encourage activities and interests held as being entirely without the range of a people whose chief pursuits for some centuries had been agriculture. Thus Cuba entered upon her first period of progress.

This was due in no little measure to the peace and prosperity of Spain during the long reign of King Carlos III. For the overseas colonies of the European powers were so closely associated with and dependent upon the mother countries, that their healthy progress as a rule indicated healthy political and economic conditions of the latter. If there was at this time any unrest and anxiety at the courts and in the diplomatic circles of Europe this was due to events that were happening in North America and were beginning to shake the foundations of the old order. On the nineteenth of April, 1775, there had been fired the first shot in the struggle upon which the thirteen British colonies had entered in order to secure their freedom from the unbearable restrictions which Britain had imposed upon them. That shot sounded an alarm which was heard all over the world and sent a thrill through millions of hearts. The spirit that had dictated the works of the French encyclopedists and had worked like a leaven of liberty in millions of minds, had become incarnate in the British colonists and was clamoring for consummation of its ultimate aims. Monarchs and ministers convened in solemn conferences and deliberated seriously upon the possible effects of the action taken by the rebels against British overrule.

Spain and France, sharing with Britain colonial possessions in America, were profoundly disturbed. They had been allies in the recent war against Britain, and they still depended upon each other for mutual counsel and consolation. The king of France, Louis XVI., an autocrat if ever there was, had an excellent minister of finance in Turgot, a man of extraordinary foresight, of liberal judgment and of rare administrative ability. After Vergennes, the minister of foreign affairs, who favored the emancipation of America, had forwarded to the king a cautiously worded report upon the situation, Turgot was asked to give his opinion, and did so in a memorial which very succinctly stated the position of both France and Spain, and contained the following significant passages:

"The yearly cost of colonies in peace, the enormous expenditures for their defence in war, lead to the conclusion that it is more advantageous for us to grant them entire independence, without waiting for the moment when events will compel us to give them up. This view would, not long since, have been scorned as a paradox, and rejected with indignation. At present we may be the less revolted at it, and perhaps it may not be without utility to prepare consolation for inevitable events. Wise and happy will be that nation which shall first know how to bend to the new circumstances, and consent to see in its colonies, allies and not subjects. When the total separation of America shall have healed the European nations of jealousy of commerce, there will exist among men one great cause of war the less, and it is very difficult not to desire an event which is to accomplish this good for the human race. In our colonies we shall save many millions, and, if we acquire the liberty of commerce and navigation with all the northern continent, we shall be amply compensated.

"The position of Spain with regard to its American possessions will be more embarassing. Unhappily she has less facility than any other power to quit the route she has followed for two centuries, and conform to a new order of things. Thus far she has directed her policy to maintaining the multiplied prohibitions with which she has embarrassed her commerce. She has made no preparations to substitute for empire over her American provinces a fraternal connection founded on identity of origin, language, and manners, without the opposition of interests; to offer them liberty as a gift, instead of yielding it to force. Nothing is more worthy of the wisdom of the king of Spain and his council, than from this present time to fix their attention on the possibility of this forced separation, and on the measures to be taken to prepare for it."

Alas! the warning of Turgot was not heeded by the government of Spain and a whole century had to elapse and many lives had to be sacrificed before the Spanish colonies in America were to gain their independence! Both the French and the Spanish king were opposed to taking sides in the war which Britain was waging with her colonies; but they were quite ready secretly to help those colonies, knowing that their success meant the weakening of British power! Bancroft reports in his "History of the United States" (Vol. V., p. 321):

"After a year's hesitation and resistance, the king of France, early in May, informed the king of Spain that he had resolved, under the name of a commercial house, to advance a million of French livres, about two hundred thousand dollars, towards the supply of the wants of the Americans."

His example was followed by the king of Spain, who, a few weeks later, without the knowledge of any of his advisers except Grimaldi, sent a draft for a million livres more, as his contribution!

Such had been the effect of the first shot fired in the struggle for American independence. When the news of the official declaration of this independence on July fourth, 1776, reached Paris and Madrid, the worst fears of the upholders of the old régime and the most exalted dreams of the champions of the new political ideal were realized. But neither France nor Spain dared openly to take sides against Britain, both having ample reason to avoid being involved in new wars. As Turgot intimated in his message, Spain was far more directly interested in the step taken by the British colonies and the possible effects it might have upon her own possessions. Hence France decided to do nothing without the agreement of Spain. Again it is Bancroft who gives the clearest statement of the economic position of Spain and her reasons for avoiding a break with Britain. He writes in his "History of the United States" (Vol. V., p. 535):

"Equal to Great Britain in the number of her inhabitants, greatly surpassing that island in the extent of her home territory and her colonies, she did not love to confess or to perceive her inferiority in wealth and power. Her colonies brought her no opulence, for their commerce, which was soon to be extended to seven ports, then to twelve, and then to nearly all, was still confined to Cadiz; the annual exports to Spanish America had thus far fallen short of four millions of dollars in value, and the imports were less than the exports. Campomanes was urging through the press the abolition of restriction on trade; but for the time the delusion of mercantile monopoly held the ministers fast bound. The serious strife with Portugal had for its purpose the occupation of both banks of the river La Plata, that so the mighty stream might be sealed up against all the world but Cadiz. As a necessary consequence, Spanish shipping received no development; and, though the king constructed ships of the line and frigates, he could have no efficient navy, for want of proper nurseries of seamen. The war department was in the hands of an indolent chief, so that its business devolved on O'Reilly, whose character is known to us from his career in Louisiana, and whose arrogance and harshness were revolting to the Spanish nation. The revenue of the kingdom fell short of twenty-one millions of dollars, and there was a notorious want of probity in the management of the finances. In such a state of its navy, army, and treasury, how could it make war on England?"

Nobody realized these facts better than King Carlos III. His new ministers, D. Jose Monino, Count de Florida Blanca, who had succeeded Grimaldi, and Galvez, the minister for the Indies, agreed with the sovereign; and when Arthur Lee, emissary of the new republic, appeared in Europe and sought an audience with the authorities in Madrid, he was detained at Burgos to confer with Grimaldi, who was then on his way to his native Italy. Lee found little encouragement and satisfaction in this interview; he was told that the Americans would find at New Orleans three thousand barrels of powder and some store of clothing, and that Spain would perhaps send them a cargo of goods from Bilbao, but he was urged to hurry back to Paris. Florida Blanca, too, very decidedly expressed his aversion to the new republic and was reported to have said "that the independence of America would be the worst example to other colonies, and would make the Americans in every respect the worst neighbors that the Spanish colonies could have." Thus the constant fear that the close proximity of an independent state might rouse the spirit of independence in her own colonies, determined the policy of Spain toward the War of American Independence.

Yet her colonies in America gave Spain little trouble at that time, being contented with their lot and working out the problem of their existence as well as their loyalty to Spanish institutions would permit. Cuba, especially, was at that time absorbed in living up to the high standards set her by the three excellent governors that had followed the British domination: Ricla, Buccarelli and la Torre. Their successor was the Field Marshal D. Diego José Navarro, a native of Badajoz. He entered upon the duties of his administration on the twelfth of July, 1777, at a time when the war being waged between Britain and her American colonies had created an atmosphere of apprehension and once more brought near the possibility of a conflict with the old enemy. The repeated protests of her economic experts against her trade restrictions had induced the government of Spain to issue the royal "Ordenanza para el libre comercio con las colonias," a decree due to the constant efforts of the Minister of the Indies, D. José de Galvez, whose experience in the colonies had given his voice sufficient weight to convince his Majesty of the urgent necessity of this reform. During two and a half centuries Spain had traded with America only, through the ports of Cadiz and Sevilla; this ordinance opened all the ports of the peninsula to traffic with all those of Spanish America.

At the same time was ordered a reduction in the duties and the permission of importing foreign goods, though they always had to be carried in Spanish boats. These duties were henceforth three per cent. on Spanish products, and seven per cent. on foreign products. When the value of the goods was greater than their bulk, a duty was levied, called estranjeria (foreign custom). As a result of this reform, the revenues of Cuba which in 1764 had amounted to not more than three hundred and sixteen thousand pesos, rose in the year 1777 to one million twenty seven thousand two hundred and thirteen pesos. Contraband which had been one of the worst evils that the Cuban authorities had to contend with for two centuries, visibly declined and was soon limited to articles of luxury. At the same time there was also ordered by royal decree the unification of the coinage, and the macuquino, a coin with the milled edges cut off, was replaced by one of silver with a corded edge. All these reforms were received by the people with unbounded enthusiasm. In all parts of the island the inhabitants spontaneously gave vent to their joy in brilliant festivals and in a display of oratory, which acclaimed the beginning of the new era for Cuba.

Like Buccarelli, Governor Navarro was much concerned with the legal malpractice that had long existed in the courts. The bar was composed of many men who with insidious cunning stirred up and prolonged innumerable lawsuits. Their machinations not only violated the sense of justice, but directly disgraced their profession and the judicial administration of the island. So many families had been ruined by such legal procedures, that Governor Navarro was determined to check the operations of these sharks. He ordered that no one but a duly appointed notary should be permitted to draft legal documents and perform judicial acts and he reduced the number of these men to thirty-four for the whole island. He also appointed an appraiser to adjust the costs of legal proceedings and ordered that lawyers who had been convicted of malpractice should be deprived of the right to plead. The Audiencia of Santo Domingo protested against some of these decisions of Navarro, but he succeeded in convincing the court of the justice of his acts.


In the mean time events in North America continued to agitate the diplomatic world of Europe and to stir up trouble. As Great Britain had begun to interfere with the commerce and navigation of France, the relations between the two countries grew daily more strained. France had come to an understanding with Spain, that by the beginning of the year 1778, the two powers would have to combine to make war on Britain, but Carlos III., getting old and more and more conservative, did not want to depart from his policy of neutrality and wanted to end his days in peace. When on the thirteenth of March, the British secretary of state received from the French ambassador a note, saying that France and the United States of North America had signed a treaty of friendship and commerce without any definite advantage to France, but that the king was determined to protect the lawful commerce of his subjects, a state of war was established between the two kingdoms. Efforts to change the decision of Spain were repeated; the return of Florida to Spain was offered with the consent of the United States. But Florida had by this time lost all charm for the conservative court of Spain, so awed by the fact that a republic was to be the neighbor of her American possessions that it was bound not to do anything that might help the insurgents, and sooner or later kindle the desire for independence in their own colonies. Only the prospect of recovering Gibraltar might at that moment have swayed the decision of Spain. But that seemed beyond reasonable possibility.

The king was in an embarrassing position. The compact entered into by the two countries when the Bourbons ascended the Spanish throne, a certain respect for the senior branch of the family and the grudge which he bore Britain, tempted him many a time to revise his decision. His ministers, too, were by no means unanimous in approving Spain's neutrality. While some held that to assist rebels in their fight upon their mother country was morally wrong and politically imprudent, others, impatient of the passive inactivity to which they were reduced, modestly expressed their disapproval. One of them, Florida Blanca, more ambitious for himself than for his country, eager at any moment to embrace an opportunity of making a name for himself, continued to negotiate with the statesmen of France and secretly hoped that somehow he would have a hand in the return of Gibraltar to Spain. In this vague hope he quietly worked to enlarge and improve both the army and the fleet of his country; he collected a large number of battering cannon at Seville, and the port of Cadiz soon held a greater number of well-built vessels than it had seen since the golden age of Spanish maritime power. Cunningly holding out the prospect of a final alliance against the common enemy to France, while at the same time offering Britain to become a mediator in the bloody conflict, he succeeded in delaying any decisive action on the part of France. The French became irritable. Finally the diplomats of the two powers came to an agreement and on the twelfth of April, 1779, a treaty of alliance was signed.

The terms of this treaty were as follows: France was to invade Great Britain or Ireland; if she succeeded in wresting from the British Newfoundland, she pledged herself to share the fisheries exclusively with Spain; she also pledged herself to secure for Spain the return of Minorca, Pensacola and Mobile, the Bay of Honduras and the coast of Campeche. Moreover, the two powers pledged themselves to continue the war on Britain, until that country agreed to return Gibraltar to Spain. From the United States Spain expected as reward of her services the basin of the St. Lawrence and the lakes, the unrestricted navigation of the Mississippi and all the territory lying between that river and the Alleghany mountains. The United States were by this treaty to be free to make peace with Britain, as soon as their independence was recognized, but were not in any way expected to continue war until Gibraltar was returned to Spain.

The Spanish colonies in America proved at this time that the distance which separated them from the mother country, and the greater sense of space and elbowroom which they enjoyed and in which several generations of their people had been born, was beginning to differentiate the Spanish Americans from their kinsmen in old Spain. Unable in the varying aspects of rough pioneer life to preserve the old traditions and conventions, the character of the people themselves had changed. They were not to be bound by the numerous considerations that entered into every step European nations took. They were not slow in taking action, when there was cause and opportunity for such. The news of the alliance between France and Spain against Britain was received in Cuba and Louisiana with intense interest. Within a few days both colonies were swayed by the desire to avenge wrongs formerly suffered at the hands of the British, and with a remarkable promptness framed measures to this effect. Governor Navarro immediately issued privateering patents to Spanish ships and they as promptly set out on their quest and captured a number of British vessels. The coasts of Cuba were closely watched for the possible arrival of a hostile fleet, and the garrison of el Morro was keenly on the alert.

In Louisiana the feeling against the British ripened into the plan of reconquering Pensacola. D. Bernardo de Galvez, who had settled in that colony in 1776, had in 1779 been elected Governor and invested with full rights, proprietary and otherwise. The official council of the colony was of the opinion that Louisiana should assume a passive defensive, until advices and perhaps reenforcements were received from Havana. But Galvez, enterprising and energetic in all his undertakings, and a fighter whose valor had been tried before, was determined to attack the British without delay. He collected a force of only seven hundred men, according to Valdes, fourteen hundred according to Blanchet, among them many veterans and militia men, and marched towards Fort Manchac. It was a perilous and trying expedition through a country then little more than a wilderness. But he arrived at his goal and surprised the garrison, taking the British prisoners. Encouraged by this success, he left the captured fort under guard of a part of his force and turned towards Baton Rouge. There he found the enemy much stronger; the British under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dickson opposed his attacks so strenuously, that his forces had to entrench themselves in anticipation of a prolonged siege. But after nine days, on the twenty first of September, Dickson surrendered and his garrison, too, were made prisoners. Point Thompson and Point Smith, British establishments on the eastern bank of the Mississippi, followed, and leaving General de Camp in charge of the conquered territory, Galvez hurried to Cuba to secure reenforcements for his attack on Mobile and Pensacola.

In Havana he found everything in readiness to engage in or furnish an expedition against the British possessions. He had in the meantime been raised to the rank of Field Marshal and everything seemed to favor his plan. During the preparations there arrived in the port the squadron of D. José Solano, consisting of eight thousand men under the command of the Lieutenant-General D. Victorio Navia. Receiving a valuable addition to his troops from Solano, Galvez prepared to embark with five regiments, a small squadron of dragoons, two companies of artillery and forty pieces of ordnance. The expedition was abundantly supplied with ammunition and provisions. On the sixteenth of October, 1780, they set sail with fifty transports, escorted by Solano, seven ships, five frigates and three brigantines. But on the following day a terrible hurricane surprised them out at sea, seriously damaging some of the ships and dispersing the others. Galvez was obliged to return to the sailing port without even knowing the fate of some of his vessels. A number of them on escaping from the storm drifted towards Campeche, others to the mouth of the Mississippi, still others to unknown ports and one was known to have been wrecked.

News coming to Havana, that the forces at Mobile, which had in the meantime been taken by General de Campo, were in need of food and threatened with an attack by the British, a council of generals was held and ordered two ships, capable of transporting five hundred men and carry a sufficient amount of provisions, to be immediately prepared and sent on their way. The convoy sailed on the sixth of December under the command of the Captain of the frigate, D. José de Rada. On arriving at the mouth of the Mobile, he did not dare to enter, having found some variation in the channel, and sailed directly for the Balize of the Mississippi. He left his cargo at the entrance and returned to Havana. Two days later two British frigates penetrated the very Bay of Mobile and the detachment of the village was reported to be attacked. D. Bernardo de Galvez urged that, although the state of things did not permit a repetition of the expedition that had sailed from Havana in October, some troops be given him with which to reenforce the garrisons of Louisiana and Mobile. There, as soon as a favorable opportunity presented itself, he would pledge the inhabitants to a further effort and attack Pensacola. The plan was approved by the council, thirteen hundred and fifteen men were organized, including five companies of grenadiers, five vessels were equipped as transports and the war-ship San Ramon, under command of D. José Calvo, the frigate Santa Clara, commanded by Captain D. Miguel Alderato, the Santa Cecilia, commanded by Captain D. Miguel de Goicochoa, the tender Caiman, commanded by Captain D. José Serrato, and the packet San Gil under Captain D. José Maria Chacon, were designated as escorts. The whole fleet was placed under the command of D. Bernardo de Galvez, who now bore the title of General.

A communication sent by the General of the Marine to D. José Calvo shows in what esteem Galvez was held and how eager were the Spanish authorities to help him with his attack on Pensacola:

"To the question contained in your paper of yesterday, that I manifest to you the terms under which you must subordinate to and obey the orders of the Field Marshal of the Royal armies, D. Bernardo de Galvez, I beg to advise that your honor shall put in practice with all your well-known and notorious diligence those that the expressed Don Bernardo shall give your Honor relative to the conquest of Pensacola, without separating yourself in other things from what the Royal Ordinances of the Armada provide, endeavoring that the strictest discipline be observed in all the ships under your orders as provided therein. May our Lord keep you many years.

"Juan Bautista Bonet,   
"Sr. D. José Calvo.

"Havana, 6th of February, 1781."

Galvez embarked on the thirteenth of February, the troops followed on the fourteenth and the convoy sailed on the twenty-eighth. The General had previously sent Captain D. Emiliano Maxent in a schooner to New Orleans with orders to the Commandant of Arms, so that the troops which D. José Rada had left and those that had arrived there on account of the October hurricane should set out to meet the convoy. He had ordered them to be ready to sail at the first signal. On the first of March the General sent D. Miguel de Herrera of the Regiment of Spain to Mobile by schooner with letters for D. José Espeleta, directing him to proceed to the east of Santa Rose island, fronting the port of Pensacola. He advised him to march by land to form a union with the troops of his command. Such were the extensive and well calculated preparations made by the Spaniards for the recapture of Pensacola. After Galvez had effected the junction of his troops with those of Mobile and New Orleans, he proceeded towards the place which was well fortified and garrisoned.

The progress of the blockade was at first very slow. Colonel Campbell, who commanded the British, offered a stubborn resistance to the attacks of the Spanish troops. But Galvez was equally persistent and undaunted continued in his operations. Very much smaller in number than the Spanish forces, the British seemed from the first to be doomed to defeat. But the decisions of the siege hung a long time in the balance. After a brave struggle against odds, the British began to relax in their firing, while the Spaniards seemed ever to bring into the firing line new batteries. Finally the powder magazine was blown up and demolished some of the advance works, and on the ninth of May, 1781, the British garrison surrendered with honors. The conquest of Pensacola decided the fate of Florida, which returned to Spanish dominion. As a reward for his valor the king promoted D. Galvez to the rank of Lieutenant-General and gave him the title Conde de Galvez. The British garrison had to pledge themselves not to serve during the war against Spain or her allies, but were left free to do so against the United States.

During the administration of Governor Navarro, which was soon to come to an end, there was one measure enacted, which anticipated our modern prohibition. It was promulgated by means of a proclamation of the year 1780, which prohibited, except for medicinal uses, the sale of liquor. So disastrous and wide-spread were the ravages caused by an immoderate consumption of distilled spirits, brandy, wine, etc., in the population of the island, and especially among the soldiers, that heavy fines were imposed upon the offenders; the first offence was punished by a fine of fifty pesos, the second by one of one hundred pesos and the third by banishment and a fine. The fear that the British would invade Havana or Puerto Rico caused a revival of all military activities and the building of additions and improvements of the fortifications. In the year 1781 Governor Navarro, being old and sickly, resigned his office and retired to Spain, where the king rewarded his services with the Captain-Generalship of Estramadura.


Washington's warning of entangling alliances comes to one's mind on reading the curious results of the concerted action against Britain decided upon by France and Spain in Europe, while the United States were fighting the British in North America, and the Spanish colonies of Cuba and Louisiana were attempting to wrest from them the Gulf coast. The lure of Gibraltar had led to a state of blockade; but this was far from satisfying to the insatiable ambition of the Spanish prime minister, Florida Blanca, still bent upon making the world ring with the sonority of his name. Ignoring all arguments to the contrary presented by the French statesman Vergennes, and even by some of the Spanish authorities familiar with the situation, he began to insist upon an immediate attack on Britain and gradually persuaded the French allies. An expedition was fitted out and in June, 1779, the fleet consisting of thirty-one French ships of line and twenty Spanish warships sailed for the Channel.

It was the largest and best equipped force that had been seen on the Atlantic in many years; for the Spanish shipbuilders had been busy during the past years of unrest and threatening war clouds and had turned out vessels far superior in construction to those of Britain. The French were not over hopeful; even light-hearted Marie Antoinette was conscious of the importance of the enterprise and the great risk it involved; for she wrote in a private letter: "Everything depends on the present moment. Our fleets being united, we have a great superiority. They are in the Channel; and I cannot think without a shudder that, from one moment to the next, our destiny will be decided." The French staked their hope upon the reputation of the Spanish as fighters on sea. Montmorin said: "I hope the Spanish marine will fight well; but I should like it better if the British, frightened at their number, would retreat to their own harbors without fighting." King Carlos alone was optimistic; he imagined a rapid invasion, a prompt victory and the humiliation of Britain, which he had so long wished for.

The unexpected was to happen for both French and Spaniards. The fleet appeared at Plymouth on the sixteenth of August, but, without even an attempt at attacking the town, for some unexplained reason was idle for two whole days. Then a storm came up and drove it westward. When the weather became more favorable, the vessels returned and the British retired before them. There was no action to speak of; there was nothing lost and nothing gained, and realizing the futility of the undertaking, the chiefs decided to abandon it. The French returned to Brest, and the Spanish to Cadiz. To the onlooking world the actions of the expedition appeared nothing less than quixotic. The reasons for this incomprehensible performance gradually became known; the expedition had sailed under many chiefs, but it lacked the one chief, whose will and word was to prevail and insure unity of purpose. Unable to agree upon any one plan of action, they decided upon no action whatever. The Spanish admiral, who had been fired with the spirit of Florida Blanca and been eager to display the famous military prowess of his nation in a big fight with the enemy, was so furious, that he vowed on his honor after this experience rather to serve against France than Britain. Marie Antoinette wrote to her mother: "The doing of nothing at all will have cost us a great deal of money."

But while a legitimate engagement between the French and Spanish vessels on the one and the British on the other side was for the time being avoided, the three countries did not disdain to stoop to smaller means to inflict damage upon the commerce and the navigation of one another. Nor did they hesitate to attack the vessels of neutral countries, if they suspected them of lending aid to the belligerent they were opposing; and as this spirit began to spread, it led to a state of anarchy upon the seas, which recalled the golden age of piracy. British privateers and other vessels cruised about the ocean in quest of booty and attacked and robbed indiscriminately whatever ships they suspected; and very frequently this suspicion was only a pretext. Dutch commerce and navigation especially suffered from these depredations, and as French and Spanish vessels began to vie with the British in these violations of neutrality, the council chambers of the European powers, from Lisbon to Petrograd and from Naples to Christiania began to ring with vociferous protests against these disgraceful conditions. When Spain issued an order that all ships found by her vessels to be carrying provisions and to be bound for Mediterranean ports, should be brought into the harbor of Cadiz and their cargoes sold to the highest bidder, even Britain was alarmed and indignant.

That was the moment which brought into prominence Sir George Rodney, the British commander, whose naval exploits soon were to worry the Spanish colonies, as did once those of British freebooters. Rodney sailed with his squadron on the twenty-ninth of December, 1779, and by the eighth of January had captured seven warships and fifteen merchantmen. At Cape St. Vincent, where he arrived on the sixteenth, he destroyed a part of the Spanish squadron under command of D. Languara. In the spring of the same year he had several encounters with the French fleet, under command of Admiral Guichen, with results so favorable for him that Britain soon resounded with his praise. His progress had so far been almost unobstructed, but in the summer it was temporarily checked, when the Spanish squadron, commanded by D. Solano, joined that of the French. However, the curious disparity of French and Spanish temperament once more manifested itself in a manner which disastrously affected their work. Unable to agree on important questions of action, their cooperation threatened to come to naught. In the mean time an epidemic of fever broke out in both fleets and D. Solano returned with his ships to Havana, while Admiral Guichen sailed for France.

The new governor, who had succeeded Navarro in the administration of Cuba, was Lieutenant-General D. Juan Manuel de Cagigal. Alcazar calls his governorship a provisional one; Blanchet asserts that he received his appointment in reward for the valuable services he had rendered during the recent conquest of Pensacola, he having been the first to enter through the breach which the Spanish had made in the fortifications. Cagigal was a native of Cuba; he entered upon his office on the twenty-ninth of May, 1781, and remained until December of the same year. He contributed largely to the efficiency of the expedition which was fitted out under the command of D. Solano, the General of the Spanish fleet, consisting of twelve vessels with one thousand men on board, and was to join the French fleet at Guarico. The object of the expedition was to capture the island of Providence and eventually take other island possessions of the British in the contiguous seas. According to Alcazar, Providence was taken, but the defeat of the French squadron by Rodney made the position of Cagigal critical and attention had to be concentrated upon the defense of Havana.

According to Blanchet this joint expedition of the French and Spanish forces, which had for its ultimate object the capture of Jamaica, had elected for its chief D. José de Galvez, giving him for the duration of the campaign authority over the Captain-General of Cuba and the president of Santo Domingo. By order of Galvez, Cagigal had set out from Havana in April, 1782, with forty-eight transports and two thousand men to possess himself of the British island of Bahama, and in particular of Providence. During his absence D. José Dahan exercised the authority of the governor. Cagigal was not aware that a week before his sailing Admiral Rodney had defeated the French squadron of Count de Grasse, which he was to join in the attack on Jamaica. However, Providence was taken and a sufficient garrison left there to make the conquest secure. Blanchet indulges in some criticism of Cagigal that he had left Havana, and taken all the troops with him at such a critical time. For when he reached Matanzas after a heavy gale which had dispersed his ships, he found the authorities no little alarmed since a British fleet had been sighted.

Cagigal immediately hurried to the capital, fortified the approaches, employing one thousand negroes in the work, and formed an intrenched camp. He armed the militia, which was reenforced by many civilians, eager to fight the enemy, and when on the fifth of August el Morro gave notice of the presence of the British, everybody was prepared for the defence. Sir George Rodney, now Admiral, had calculated upon taking Havana by surprise. He brought with him a squadron composed of twenty-six ships of the line, and carrying a large number of troops. When he arrived and began to reconnoiter, he perceived the formidable preparations that had been made for the defence of the place, and deciding that it was imprudent to attack Havana by land, planned to approach it from Jarico. In the meantime Cagigal had received reenforcements which seemed to assure the safety of the capital. Daring as was the gallant Britisher, he was not inclined to waste his material in an enterprise so doubtful of success, and to the great relief of the Cubans he sailed away.

In his administration Cagigal did not prove as efficient as in his military operations. He was a born soldier. He had followed the military profession in Portugal, Oran and at Gibraltar; he had participated in the unfortunate expedition against Argel, had fought in Florida and had been with D. Pedro Caballero at Buenos Aires. He disliked the atmosphere of official bureaus and the complicated machinery of government. This lack of interest in the indispensable functions of his office brought him into serious trouble. He had counselors or asesores attend to matters which did not immediately require his intervention, and as such had employed the Venezuelan D. Francisco Miranda, who eventually became prominent in the history of his own country. When Miranda returned from a commission in Jamaica, he disembarked some contraband in Batabano. The Intendente Urriza, who was informed of the matter, at once sent a complaint to Cagigal, who, either from indifference or indolence, never even stopped to examine the case, but simply resolved to suppress it. He had, however, not taken into account the presence of the functionaries of the royal Hacienda or Treasury, who communicated the incident to the proper authorities in Spain. An urgent order for Cagigal's removal from office was the result; and the Captain-General of Caracas, D. Luis de Unzaga, was sent to take his place as governor of Cuba. Miranda fled. Cagigal was sent to Guarico and later dispatched by D. José de Galvez to Cadiz, where he was for four years a prisoner in Fort Santa Catalina. During the proceedings against him it was found that he was in no way implicated in the smuggling operation of Miranda. He was rehabilitated during the reign of King Carlos IV. and in the war with the French Republic had once more an opportunity to prove his military abilities. He died as Captain General of Valencia.

The strong impulse towards progress which had been given to Cuba in that period of peace when the administrations of Buccarelli and la Torre devoted their main energies to internal improvements and to modest attempts at laying the foundations of Cuban culture, had of course subsided during the recent unrest and the predominance of military interests. Nevertheless, there is evidence that the spark kindled a few years before was not quite dead. A long-felt want had been the absence of any periodical publication that would give the people of Cuba information upon the current political events and also be a medium for advertising purposes. According to some historians the first periodical of this kind, the Gazeta, published under the direction of D. Diego de la Barrera, made its appearance in the year 1780; others give as the date of its foundation the year 1782.

Whatever the date of its publication may have been, the Gazeta de la Habana became a medium through which the people were kept informed of the doings of the various administrative departments. The issue dated April eleventh, 1783, contains some statistics concerning the silver coins with milled edges cut away, which had been recently withdrawn from circulation, which is of interest as it suggests the relative financial rank of the different localities mentioned.

In the Treasury of the General   
Silver Reales
with milled edges    
cut away
in ounces
Havana 311,625 23,340 10
Guanabacoa 2,808 151  
Santa Maria del Rosario 21,870 1,117 12
Arroyo Arenas 7,049 380   14
Santa Clara 237,665 12,558  
San Juan de Los Remedios 68,153 3,848  
Trinidad 40,137 2,145  
Sancti Spiritus 197,905 11,670 14
Puerto Principe 73,792 3,207  
Bayamo 94,499 4,615 7
Holguin 31,013 1,701  
Baracoa 6,396 1,465  
  1,092,940 66,231 5

The Gazeta added to this report: "There have been collected from the public over two million pesos (cut away), and in their exchange they yielded a little over eighty thousand pesos fuertes (efficacious), and although the loss is excessive as a whole it must be stated, that in particular it was not very grave, the money being distributed in small amounts among the public."

This was a critical period in the conflict which had gradually involved the principal countries and was watched with apprehension by all the sovereigns of Europe. Up to this date Florida Blanca, who, from a simple lawyer in the provinces had risen to be prime minister of Spain, had not attained the goal of his ambition and secured for Spain victories, the glory of which should cast a halo about his name. On the contrary, circumstances began so to complicate the task which he had imagined to be comparatively easy, that he was puzzled and began to lose some of his extraordinary self-assurance. Bancroft gives in his "History of the United States" (Vol. VI. p. 441) a very interesting review of the situation and of the relation of Spain to the Revolutionary War, which was drawing towards its close. He says:

"The hatred of America as a self-existent state became every day more intense in Spain from the desperate weakness of her authority in her trans-atlantic possessions. Her rule was dreaded in them all; and, as even her allies confessed, with good reason. The seeds of rebellion were already sown in the vice-royalties of Buenes Ayres and Peru; and a union of Creoles and Indians might prove at any moment fatal to metropolitan dominion. French statesmen were of the opinion that England, by emancipating South America, might indemnify itself for all loss from the independence of a part of its own colonial empire; and they foresaw in such a revolution the greatest benefit to the commerce of their own country. Immense naval preparations had been made by the Bourbons for the conquest of Jamaica; but now, from the fear of spreading the love of change Florida Blanca suppressed every wish to acquire that nest of hated contraband trade. When the French ambassador reported to him the proposal of Vergennes to constitute its inhabitants an independent republic, he seemed to hear the tocsin of insurrection sounding from the La Plata to San Francisco, and from that time had nothing to propose for the employment of the allied fleets in the West Indies. He was perplexed beyond the power of extrication. One hope only remained. Minorca having been wrested from the English, he concentrated all the force of Spain in Europe on the one great object of recovering Gibraltar, and held France to her promise not to make peace until that fortress should be given up."

From that time began a series of secret manoeuvres in favor of a general peace, and rumors of the signing of treaties that had then not even been drafted, began to float across the ocean and agitate the colonies of Spanish America. But naval operations in the waters of the West Indies continued almost without cessation. The French fleet under de Grasse had before its return to France restored to the Dutch St. Eustatius. It had captured St. Christopher, Nevis and Montserrat. When in February, 1782, Admiral Rodney appeared at Barbados with twelve new ships of line in addition to his fleet, and was towards the end of the month joined by the squadron under command of Hood at Antigua, it became necessary for the French to look for a junction with the Spanish fleet. For this purpose de Grasse left Port Royal to Martinique on the eighth of April and hurriedly sailed for Hispaniola. After a small engagement at Dominica, Admiral Rodney by a skillful ruse brought on a battle with the French between Guadeloupe, Saintes and Marie Galante. The British had on their side superiority in number and quality, having thirty six vessels, all in good repair and manned by well-trained and disciplined sailors. The French ships were better constructed, but inferior in number, and their mariners were known to be less efficient and experienced. The combat raged for eleven hours. Four of de Grasse's ships were captured, one sunk. The British lost about one thousand men in killed and wounded, the French about three times as many. This defeat of their ally tended to depress the spirits of the Spanish people, both in the mother country and the colonies, for they saw Britain once more exercising almost undisputed authority over the seas.

By this time the belligerents were all becoming tired of the war and were seriously hoping for peace. The situation in France had after this new defeat become specially precarious. Her coffers had been depleted by participating in a war in which she had nothing to gain. Hence her statesmen were particularly anxious to end a conflict the ideal aim of which had been attained by the recognition of the independence of the United States from Britain. But she was bound by the alliance with Spain; and Spain was inflexible in refusing to acknowledge that independence and in insisting upon her demands, among them above all others, in Europe, the return of Gibraltar, in America the territory east of the Mississippi, including the right of navigation on that river. Conferences between John Jay and Benjamin Franklin, the special American emissaries, and the French minister Vergennes and his able assistant Rayneval were constantly taking place. Couriers were speeding back and forth between Paris and London. Rayneval attempted to bring the subject of Gibraltar to the attention of the Earl of Shelburne, saying: "Gibraltar is as dear to the king of Spain as his life," but he was told that it was out of the question even to propose to the government to cede it to Spain. He pleaded for Spain's claim of the Mississippi and its eastern valley, and received an ambiguous reply, implying that Britain might be induced to cede Jamaica. But the indirect offer was ignored, just as had been that of Porto Rico some time before. The more the negotiations progressed, the more did Spain, persisting in her traditional conservatism, prove a stumbling block to peace. For as late as September, 1782, in a meeting between Lafayette, Jay and Aranda, did the latter, as representative of King Carlos III., refuse to acknowledge the independence of the new republic.

In the mean time Spain was clamoring for action against Gibraltar, and the French and Spanish fleets united in an attempt to reduce the fort under the command of the Duke of Crillon. But three years of blockade, with intervals of famine and privation, had not broken the spirit of the British garrison. While the first question of the king of Spain on awakening every morning was: "Is Gibraltar taken?" the British continued to defend it with a stubbornness which threatened to prolong the struggle interminably. Receiving constant supplies from the British fleet under Lord Howe, General Eliot was able to hold his own and the futility of this expedition soon became apparent. When the Spanish batteries were blown up and General Eliot made his audacious sortie, the hope of this victory had to be abandoned.

Spain at last realized the necessity of yielding to the inevitable. Her debt had been increased by twenty millions sterling, her navy had been almost annihilated and she had gained nothing but an island or two. King Carlos III., who had so long withheld his recognition of the United States and blocked the negotiations for peace, because the American envoys justly demanded that recognition before they could deal with the representatives of Spain, finally yielded to the pressure of the moment and the preliminaries of peace were signed on the thirtieth of November, 1782. By the separate articles of this treaty, the claim of the United States to all the country from the St. Croix to the southwestern Mississippi, from the Lake of the Woods to the St. Mary's, was verified. By a separate article the line of north boundary between West Florida and the United States was defined, in case Great Britain at the conclusion of the war should recover that province.

Thus was the republic, the consummation of which King Carlos III. had in his loyalty to the old tradition of sovereignty so zealously tried to prevent, established upon the very continent, which Columbus had discovered, and to the greater part of which Spain had laid claim. If the Spanish king and his cabinet were at all conscious of the analogy presented by comparison of the commercial and other restrictions placed upon both colonies by the kingdoms from which they had sprung, they had reason to be filled with vague apprehensions at the rise of this new and free power among the countries of the world. They could not help seeing in the republic which by a long and tenacious fight had won her independence from the mother country, a neighbor whose example offered a dangerous precedent.

Perhaps it was with the intention of forestalling the development of such events in Cuba, as had led to the Declaration of Independence by the colonies to the north, that the Spanish King had some years before begun to remove the restrictions which had for two centuries and more hampered the growth of Cuban commerce and retarded her general development. It was a proof of his own growth towards a more liberal conception of the relations between a country and her colonies, that the removal of these restrictions was effected within so short a time. He opened the trade of Cuba and the other islands of his possessions in America in 1765, and that of Louisiana in 1768 to eight Spanish ports besides Cadiz; he gradually permitted direct trade from the Spanish ports to his dependencies in South and Central America; and in 1782 even allowed New Orleans and Pensacola to trade with French ports that had Spanish consuls.

The breath of freedom which seemed to sweep across the world during these last decades of the eighteenth century, might well have filled the sovereigns of Europe with fear for their possessions and prerogatives. Although Carlos III. was the most liberal monarch that Spain had had in a long time, he still clung to a rigorous paternal regime in the relations of the court to the colonies, the population of which began to resent the rule of officials sent to them from Madrid, and rarely concerned with their welfare. He had had more cause than other European sovereigns to dread the consequences which the American Revolution might bring in its wake. For an insurrection, headed by Tupac-Amaru, who called himself an Inca, had broken out in Peru, and was directed against the exactions of the corregidores; and though it was suppressed by the year 1782, incipient revolt seemed everywhere to be ready to break out. As Garcia Calderon says of that period in his book on Latin America:

"The revolution was not merely an economic pretext; it nourished concrete social ambitions. An equalizing movement, it aimed at destruction of privileges, of the arbitrary Spanish hierarchy, and finally, when its levelling instinct was aroused and irritated, the destruction of authority to the profit of anarchy. The Creoles, deprived of all political function, revolted; in matters of economics they condemned excessive taxation and monopoly; in matters of politics they attacked slavery, the Inquisition, and moral tutelage. Charles III. had recognized, in 1783, in spite of the counsels of his minister Aranda, the independence of the United States, which were to serve his own colonies as precedent, and he expelled the Jesuits from America, the defense of the Indians against the oppression of Spanish governors. The corruption of the courts, the sale of offices, and the tyranny of the viceroys, all added to the causes of discontent, disturbance and poverty."

The insurrection in Peru was but the tocsin sounding the alarm. It was to be followed by a number of revolts that shook the very foundations of Spain's colonial empire in America.

Cuba for some time to come remained untouched by the high tide of insurrection. It enjoyed a period of peace, which promoted the welfare of the people and insured their content. D. Luis de Unzaga, who entered upon his office as governor of the island in December, 1783, distinguished himself by his strenuous prosecution of officials, whose honesty he had reason to doubt. One of these was the administrator of the Factoria or tobacco factory, D. Manuel Garcia Barrieres, whose disposal and trial he ordered. This factory, which monopolized the tobacco crop of the island for the benefit of the royal government, received a subvention from Spain which at this time was increased to fifty thousand pesos annually. Unzaga also took steps to limit the number of inexperienced and unscrupulous lawyers, against whom some of his predecessors had already inaugurated a campaign, by refusing to issue new diplomas to barristers, there being at that time two hundred practicing in the island. A royal decree of the year 1784 was directed towards the same evil, but lawyers still remained too numerous in proportion to the population for in 1792 the island had one hundred and six, and Havana seventy two. Governor Unzaga had also some trouble with the governor of Santiago de Cuba, D. Nicolas Arredondo. D. Arredondo, who is remembered in history of the island as the founder of the first "Sociedad Patriotica," in which he had such fellow-members as D. Francisco Lozo de la Torre, D. Pedro Valiente, and D. Francisco Grinan, was accused of participating in contraband trade and was temporarily deposed. Ultimately it was discovered that the real offenders were two aldermen, the brothers Creaght. After a protracted trial the innocence of Arredondo was established and he was reinstated in office.

The greater the natural wealth of a country, the more are its inhabitants inclined to indulge in thoughtless or deliberate waste of resources which would be carefully husbanded in country less favored by nature. Cuba was wasteful of her forest wealth. The governors of the island had so far paid little or no heed to the wanton destruction of the forests by people who exploited them for their timber. In a proclamation issued soon after he was inaugurated, Governor Unzaga made a serious attempt at checking this criminal waste of the island's wealth. He prohibited the use of cedar for building purposes; he designated the land where the people could procure their supply of that valuable wood, and ordered that for each log cut the arsenal should receive two "knees." The state had for years looked with indifference upon the devastation of the forests, and, conceding to private individuals the absolute dominion over those that shaded favored territory, wanted to monopolize them for the use of the Navy. Not only the sugar refineries were using unreasonable quantities of that wood, but especially the shipyard. This enterprise, which received an annual subvention from the Spanish government of seven hundred thousand pesos, and was more active than those of the mother country, because negro labor was cheaper than white, used enormous quantities of cedar.

Thus the order of Governor Unzaga, while ultimately benefiting the island, caused for the moment no little heated discussion and unpleasant tension.

Among the foreigners of high rank that visited Cuba immediately after peace had been signed was the son of George III., William of Lancaster, who had served as midshipman in Rodney's squadron. According to Alcazar, he was most graciously received, being sumptuously lodged by Governor Unzaga, who in honor of his presence arranged many brilliant festivities, in which the aristocracy of the island had opportunity to show itself resplendent in all its wealth. So pleased seemed the prince with his stay that he might have prolonged it, had not the admiral reprimanded him, and insisting upon his immediate return on board, threatened to leave without him. Knowing Rodney's severity, the prince obeyed, although it must have been difficult for him to tear away from that gay life. The visit cost the Cubans great sums of money, officials and civilians having vied with one another in offering entertainment. The mess at which the General of the Marine, D. Solano, had treated him, is reported by Valdes to have cost four thousand pesos. A gold peso being about the value of three dollars, it was a handsome sum to spend on the son of the king who had been Spain's enemy in the war just concluded.

One of the most serious mistakes which Spain had always made in the administration of her American colonies was the appointment of men who were mostly natives of the mother country and not as familiar with the conditions and the needs of the territory they governed as those who had been born in the colonies. The short period of some administrations also greatly hindered a well-ordered systematic management of the different departments of the government. Earlier periods of the history of Cuba had such frequent changes of governorship; and the latter part of the eighteenth century was to undergo the same experience. When Unzaga retired on the eighth of February, 1785, he was succeeded by a man whose previous career had given him a reputation which recommended him to the Cubans; D. Bernardo Galvez, who had distinguished himself in the last expedition against Pensacola, and as former governor of Louisiana was thoroughly in touch with colonial life in Spanish America. Galvez was a native of Malaga, Knight Commander of the order of Calatrava and endowed with the title of Conde de Galvez. But the hopes of the island were much disappointed when only two months later he was transferred to the vice-regency of Mexico and was on the fifth of April temporarily replaced by the King's Lieutenant-teniente de Rey, and Field Marshal D. Bernardo Troncoso. He had been governor of Guatemala, and when he had barely become acquainted with Cuban conditions, was appointed governor of Vera Cruz. But during his brief administration he showed no little initiative and firmness of purpose and among other things succeeded in repressing the bakers' guild which had become very troublesome.

At this time the Spanish colonies of the continent, Louisiana and Florida, became aware of the hostility with which they were regarded by certain elements of the United States, that tried to foment disturbances along their northern boundaries. In June of that year Troncoso received news from Louisiana that a corps of two thousand three hundred Americans were organizing in the state of Georgia for the purpose of taking the fortifications of Natchez, which they alleged were on ground of their demarcation. Troncoso accordingly dispatched from Havana a few pickets of infantry and a company of dragoons, with the aid of which the governor of Louisiana could mobilize a column of twelve hundred regular troops to check the project.

With the inauguration of Brigadier D. José de Espoleto on the first of December, 1785, a little more stability came into the government of the island. One of the first official acts was the formation of the Regiment of Cuba, in which he was ably assisted by the Inspector D. Domingo Cabello. Espoleto entered upon the functions of his office in the spirit of the Marques de la Torre, to whose wise administration Havana was indebted for all the improvements and reforms that made her worthy of being the metropolis of the Spanish West Indies. Espoleto continued the work on the piers, hastened the completion of the buildings for the government and the Intendencia, inaugurated a system of water supply and street cleaning and established a public market for the convenience of the producers in the outlying districts and the city dwellers relying upon them for their supplies in dairy and garden products. He also introduced some reforms in the police department of Havana. But what was most important for that commonwealth was his settling upon it of a sum which was to be devoted to the permanent lighting of the city.

In his administration Santiago de Cuba took a significant step towards the more effective concentration of the literary activities of the island. This was the foundation of the first Sociedad de Amigos, which was approved of by the king and on the thirteenth of September, 1787, received a royal grant. In his colonial administration Espoleto tried to follow the example of Ricla and Buccarelli, ordering the publication of the decrees which they had enacted and which in the course of time had been forgotten, and did his best to enforce them. In this by no means easy task he was backed by D. José Pablo Valiente, an oidor of the Audiencia or judge of the Supreme Court, who had come to Havana in 1787 to start an inquiry into the disbursement of certain funds. By order of the king he had to investigate how the enormous sums, which the expeditions of the gallant Galvez had cost, had been invested; had to examine the state of the royal revenues and suggest needed reforms, watch the administration of justice and propose measures to raise the standard of the bar. One of the high officials who had given a previous administration trouble and was probably guilty of irregularities, Urriza, was so resentful of this investigation of his office, which D. Valiente was ordered to undertake, that he speedily resigned. He was succeeded by D. Domingo Hernani.

Death reaped a rich harvest between 1786 and 1788, in removing men so closely identified with the fate of the colonies and the mother country that they were not soon to be adequately replaced. On the thirtieth of November, 1786, D. Bernardo de Galvez died in Mexico, where he had reigned as viceroy since he left Havana eleven months before. By his rare executive talent and his extensive knowledge he had become one of the most efficient colonial governors that Spanish America had known, and to him was in a great measure due their progress and prosperity. A few days later died in Madrid his uncle D. José de Galvez, the noted minister of the Indies, whose name is also identified with colonial reforms. But the greatest loss to the colonies and to Spain was the death on the twenty-eighth of December, 1788, of King Carlos III. The kind and prudent sovereign had in a reign of almost thirty years, handicapped as he was by the Spanish tradition of absolutism, tried his best to further the growth and the welfare of his country and its dependencies, and inaugurated policies more liberal than any his predecessors had followed. He had endeared himself to his people and was sincerely mourned.

The accession of Carlos IV. to the throne of Spain was not calculated to advance Spain and her colonies beyond the degree of development they had attained during the long reign of his father. He was forty years of age and by stature and physiognomy was singularly fitted to represent so important a kingdom as Spain. But he was as unintelligent as ignorant, and allowed himself to be guided by his wife, Maria Louise, princess of Parma, who was as clever and scheming as he was dull and indolent. She was an autocrat, who suffered nobody to share the reins with her, and imperceptibly they slipped into her hands, until she was absolute sovereign of the kingdom. Two years after the death of Carlos III. Florida Blanca was forced to resign. Count Cabarrus, an ardent champion of reform, and a man of considerable executive power, was arrested. D. Gaspar Melchior de Jovellanos, one of the most profound thinkers and noblest patriots that Spain could claim in the eighteenth century, was removed from the important position he held in Madrid and exiled. Campomanes, too, fell into "disgrace" in 1791. All these men, distinguished for their character and their ability, were replaced by some feeble creatures with no idea or will of their own, puppets in the hands of the queen, who transformed the court of Madrid into a den of corruption.

The policies pursued by Spain during this time culminated in so much confusion that Florida Blanca was recalled in 1792 and set about to make an attempt at restoring order in a thoroughly disorganized government. But he was deposed the same year, having been unable to obtain the favor of the queen. Aranda, who during the previous reign had been the representative of progress, peace and the liberal ideas that came to Spain from France, followed him with no better luck. For he too was dismissed within a year and his place was taken by the queen's favorite, Manuel Godoy, who some years later was to turn up in Cuba. Godoy was a handsome young officer; she made him a grandee of the first class with the title of Duke of Alcudia, and entrusted him with the ministry of foreign affairs. The proud old aristocracy of Spain grumbled at the rise of the upstart; but it succumbed to the spirit of servility which pervaded the atmosphere of the court, and sought the favorite's favor.

Such was the condition of the country which was exercising a paternal authority over Spanish America. It was not calculated to tighten the bonds existing between the mother country and the colonies. As transportation increased and news began to spread more rapidly and to circulate more freely, the eyes of the colonists were opened to the iniquities they suffered, and they began to question institutions and laws which they had formerly unconditionally accepted. The glamor of the period of conquistadores had long faded; the excitement of the age of piracy was slowly being forgotten. Cuba, like all Latin America, had entered upon that period, which President Poincaré in his preface to Garcia Calderon's book on "Latin America" calls "the colonial phase with its disappointments, its illusions, its abuses and errors; the domination of an oppressive theocracy, of crushing monopolies; the insolence of privileged castes, and the indignities of Peninsular agents." It needed strong and noble men to guide her through the period of unrest which even at that moment was culminating in the French Revolution.

The immediate echoes of this Revolution were heard in 1791 in Hispaniola, where at the very first risings of the people in France, the slaves had revolted, killing their masters and burning their property. It was only the prelude to the greater insurrection, which broke out later and in which Cuba became involved. In the mean time, this island had come under another interim governorship, and was drifting along on the tide of progress in some directions, while in others it had come to a standstill, if it had not retrograded. The provisional government of D. Domingo Caballo which began on the twentieth of April, 1789, and ended on the eighth of July, 1790, was not noteworthy for any important measures, unless it be another attempt at restricting the number and the activities of lawyers. The royal decree of the nineteenth of November, 1789, which prohibited the admission of any more professors of jurisprudence, native or foreign, to the bar of the island, was modified to read thus: "To the profession of lawyer, only those shall be admitted who studied in the greater universities of their countries and had practiced in some of their capitals, where there existed a superior tribunal certifying that they had practiced six years at the superior courts of Spain."

During Caballo's interim rule there occurred the ecclesiastical division of the island. The archbishopric of Santo Domingo was divided into two suffragan dioceses, both the bishopric of Santiago de Cuba which had existed since 1518 and the new bishopric of Havana being subject to the metropolitan mitre of Santo Domingo. To the bishopric of Santiago was appointed D. Antonio Feliu, a man of great piety and gentle disposition, who rapidly won the esteem of the community and the love of his flock. That of Havana, which also comprised Louisiana and Florida, was entrusted to D. Felipe José de Tres Palacios.

In spite of the apparent prosperity, the island was still suffering from centuries of restriction which had paralyzed the initiative of its population. Maria de las Mercedes (Jaruco), Countess de Merlin, says of that period in her work, "La Havana" (Paris, 1844):

"Owing to the long tyranny which had weighed upon the island, Cuba needed hands to cultivate her fields. The products were devoured by a monopoly; territorial property did not exist; for the proprietor could not even cut a tree in his woods without the permission of the royal marine; the population was reduced to 170,370 souls; the sugar production had become so inferior in quality, that no more than 50,000 barrels of sugar annually left the port of Havana; finally, the island was involved in debts and Mexico was obliged to aid it in the necessary expenses of the administration and agriculture."

The author, a niece of the Conde de Casa Montalvo, who was identified with the great revival of civic spirit during the administration of Governor Las Casas, also limns a rather discouraging picture of the state of education in the island, saying that in the year 1792, Havana had only one grammar school, of which the mulatto Melendez was the teacher, and that up to the year 1793 girls were forbidden to learn to read. So thoroughly familiar was the author with the political and economic conditions of Cuba, and closely associated with the men, whose energy, integrity and patriotic ambition ushered in that wonderful era of progress, that the three volumes of her work, consisting of letters to Chateaubriand, George Sand, Baron Rothschild, and others are full of valuable information presented in a most fascinating manner.


The historian Valdes is not far from right, when he calls the history of Cuba, as compared with that of other countries, nuestra pequena historia—our little history. But that little history contains more than one great epoch and its biography more than one figure that stands out with something like sovereign impressiveness from the many names which it records. The administration of D. Luis de Las Casas is such an epoch, and he is such a man. Born in the village of Sapuerta in Viscaya, his was a picturesque career. He had embraced the military profession and been on the battlefields of Villaflor and Almeida; in Portugal he attracted the attention of Count O'Reilly, who took him on the expedition to Louisiana, where he was sergeant-mayor of New Orleans. On his return to Spain, he solicited permission to go to Russia and served under the flag of Marshal Romanzow, distinguishing himself in the campaign waged by the empress. Then he studied the science of government in Paris; but as soon as Spain was once more engaged in war, he joined the expedition of O'Reilly against Argel. His conduct at the capture of Minorca earned for him the title of Field Marshal and Commandant-General of Oran. He also took a gallant part in the unfortunate attempt to recover Gibraltar. On being appointed to the governorship of Cuba, he arrived in Havana the eighth of July, 1796, and on the following day took charge of his office.

One of his first official measures was to have a new census taken, for when the results of the one taken by la Torre were published, many questioned the correctness of the figures. It was said, not without some justice, that, if the population of the island in the year of the British invasion, 1762, was one hundred and forty thousand, it should have been more in 1775 than one hundred and seventy-one thousand six hundred and twenty, since the number of negroes that had been added to the population was in itself enormous, and there were also the immigrants from Florida that had settled on the island. Profiting by the criticism of his predecessor's work, Las Casas took great pains so to systematize the work of the census takers, that their investigations would be unexceptionally thorough and conclusive. When the result became known two years later, the population of the island was found to be two hundred and seventy-two thousand five hundred and one inhabitants.

In the second year of his administration, Governor Las Casas had an opportunity to show his generosity and his executive ability when Cuba was visited by another typical West Indian hurricane. It broke upon the island on the twenty-first of June and lasted fully twenty-four hours. The terrible windstorm was accompanied by a deluge of rain, which caused the overflow of the Almendares and its tributaries, uprooted the trees in orchards and nurseries, inundated plantations and damaged houses to such an extent, that great numbers of residents in the districts of Wajay, San Antonio, Managua and others were rendered homeless and reduced to poverty. The governor not only effectively organized the work of relief, but spent freely of his private funds to alleviate the suffering of the people. He showed the same spirit a year later, when Trinidad was visited by a conflagration which consumed property valued at six hundred thousand pesos. The establishment of the Real Casa de Beneficiencia was another work that proved his sincere concern for the welfare of the people, and especially those unfortunates who were dependent upon public charity. The founding of this asylum for destitute orphans of both sexes, including a school, in which they were to be taught a trade to make them self-supporting on reaching maturity, was first proposed by him in a meeting of citizens on the twenty-second of March, 1792. So warm and rousing was his appeal, that large subscriptions to defray its expenses were immediately signed. A royal patent of the fifteenth of December conferred upon the plan official approval. There was connected with the asylum a hospital, and both were temporarily organized and began their work in a provisional building, until on the eighth of December they were transferred to the structure erected for them.

Cuba's commerce, though still laboring under difficulties due to unreasonable trade laws of Spain, was gradually becoming so extensive that it needed some central organization to protect and promote its interests. The citizens had so far let things take their course as they might; lack of initiative was perhaps natural with a people under the strict paternal supervision which Spain exercised over colonies. Governor Las Casas roused their latent energies and induced them to organize for mutual profit and for the general progress of the island's commerce. For this purpose was established the Tribunal of Commerce or Consulado, which was also to act as a court of justice for mercantile litigants and bankrupts. The Consulado was founded on the sixth of June, 1795, and within a short time settled more than three hundred and twenty such cases.

But the most important step towards the internal reform and improvement of the island was taken by Las Casas when on the second of January, 1793, he presided at the foundation of the "Real Sociedad Patriotica o Economica," which later changed its name to Junta de Fomento, or Society of Progress. Among his associates in this most significant enterprise were the marquises de Casa Calvo, Casa Penalver and San Felipe, the counts de Casa Bayona, Lagunillas, Buenavista, O'Farrel and Jaurequi, distinguished citizens like Romany, Sequeira and Caballero, and that greatest patriot among them all, Sr. D. Francisco Arango y Pareno, to whom credit is due for the inception of this organization. The different sections, into which this society was divided, devoted themselves to the development of agriculture, stockbreeding, industry, commerce, science and art, and were of inestimable service to the people. Reports of the meeting held on the twenty-first of December, 1796, showed a clearness and seriousness of purpose which commanded respect and augured well for the future of the undertaking.

In those first four years of its existence it was the medium through which were established some much needed improvements for the facilitation of traffic. Within a few months after its foundation it invested some of its funds in the highway of Horcon which cost about thirty thousand seven hundred pesos. Then it built the Guadalupe road and finished the principal pier of that place. To introduce indigo culture on the island, it lent to the administration three thousand five hundred pesos without interest. When the royal professor of botany, D. Martin Sese, suggested to take with him a young native of Havana to study that science in its application to agriculture, the society again defrayed the expenses. There was hardly a work of public utility that was not materially assisted by this corporation.

Its efforts at promoting the cultural progress of the population were no less remarkable. A number of its members united in editing the Papel Periodico, which was published every Thursday and Sunday at a cost of fourteen reales per month and was of the size of a half sheet of Spanish paper. As the work of the society expanded, it gave to the press its "Memorias," a collection of original writing and translations by the members, covering a variety of subjects, among them contributions to Cuban history which contain valuable data. Some forty years after its foundation, it published at its expense the history of D. José Martin Felix de Arrate, which is one of the earliest works on the history of Cuba. But even more important were the constant and vigorous efforts of the Society to reform and improve public education. It founded many establishments of free instruction and offered special inducements to teachers, who could show a certain number of children with a more solid knowledge of grammar and the four fundamental principles of arithmetic than the schools had so far produced. The university, too, was encouraged in its work; the textbooks were improved and the curriculum was enlarged so as to include courses in geography, physics, history and Spanish literature.

The first director of the Society was Sr. D. Luis Penalver, bishop of New Orleans, and later archbishop of Guatemala, a man who was closely identified with the work of the Casa de la Benficiencia and other institutions. But, although all members were men distinguished for their gifts and their achievements, the soul and moving spirit was D. Francisco Arango, of whom we shall hear much more in our later narrative.

A worthy fellow-worker of Arango was D. José Pablo Valiente, who as Intendente organized the Royal Exchequer, and with no little risk to himself, permitted and encouraged commerce with neutral and friendly nations, regardless of still existing restrictions. He assisted in the establishment of the Consulado and the Sociedad Economica, made a gift of seven thousand pesos to the Casa de Beneficencia, encouraged the progress of public instruction and in many lawsuits brought before the Consulado played the role of a noble conciliator. With such men as these to assist him, the administration of Las Casas was soon regarded as the most glorious in the history of the island. For though Havana was the principal scene of the activities of these men, Las Casas did not fail to extend the blessing of his reforms and improvements to other communities. The towns of Santa Maria del Rosario, Santiago de las Vegas and others soon showed considerable growth; in the districts of Guanajey, Alquiza, Quivican, Managua and others, the territory under cultivation was steadily expanding; the village of Casa Blanca and the town of Manzanillo were founded, and the port of Nuevitas essentially improved. An excellent cooperator of Governor Las Casas was D. Juan Bautista Valiente, governor of Santiago de Cuba, who protected agriculture, founded primary and Latin schools, introduced a system of lighting in his city, started to pave its streets, and invested his savings in an edifice, which served to house the Ayuntamiento, the governor's and other offices and also contained the jail.

The first revolution in Santo Domingo in 1791 had warned Las Casas and brought home to the administration of Cuba the necessity of looking once more after the defences of the island. He was aided in this task by the chief of the navy yard, D. Juan Araoz, who hastened the work of naval constructions, and in a short time turned out six war vessels, four frigates and a number of boats of lesser tonnage. They proved of great usefulness in the operations against Santo Domingo and Guarico during the second uprising when in order to protect Spanish interests and inhabitants there were sent from Havana the regiment bearing the name of the city and from Cuba a piquet of artillery. That revolt is so closely associated with the problem of slavery, which had become the cause of grave apprehension to the government that it will be referred to in the following chapter. The massacre of French and other colonists in that unfortunate island brought a multitude of refugees to Cuba and materially increased its population.

An event in the last year of the administration of Las Casas gave rise to festivities of a memorable character. When the war between Spain and the French Republic broke out, General D. Gabriel Aristizabal, who operated in Hayti, did not want the ashes of Columbus to be lost during the ensuing disturbances. It seemed more appropriate, too, that they should not remain in the place where he had been slandered and persecuted and where the villain Bobadilla had put him in fetters, but in the island that had always smiled upon him. On the fifteenth of January, 1796, there entered into the port of Havana the warship San Lorenzo, carrying the casket. It was received by Governor Las Casas and General Araoz, the bishops Penalver and Tres Palacios, and between two lines of soldiers was carried to the cathedral, where it was deposited in a humble niche. Though the first city of the island did not then raise a monument to Columbus it was done by a much smaller town, Cardenas, which for this act alone deserves to be mentioned.

The inscription upon the stone, under which the remains of Columbus found rest, reads:

D. O. M. Clares     Heros.     Ligustin.
Christophorus Columbus
A Se, Rei Nautic. Scient. Insign.
Niv.     Orb.     Detect.
Araque Castell. Et Legin. Regib. Subject.
Vallice. Occub.
XIII Kal.     Jun.     A.M.     DVI
Cartusianor.     Hispal.     Cadav.     Custod.     Tradit.
Transfer.    Nam.     Ipse Praescrips.
Hinc Pace Sancit.    Galliae Reipub.    Cess
In Hanc V. Mar. Concept. Imm. Cath. Ossa Trans.
Maxim.    Om.    Frequent.    Sepult.    Mand.
XIV.    Kal.    Feb. A. Md. C. C. X. C. V. I.
Tant.    Vir.    Meritor.     In Se Non Immen.
Pretros.    Exux.    In Optat Diem Tuitur.
Hocce Monum.    Erex.
Praesul.    Ill. D. D.    Philippo    Iph Trespalacios
Civic AC Militar.    Rei.     Gen.    Praef.    Exme

When the administration of Las Casas came to an end, the municipality of Havana called a testimonial meeting for the sixteenth of December, 1796, which gave proof of the high esteem in which the extraordinary man was held by the people. Four years after his retirement, on the nineteenth of November, 1800, he died of poison. He had not escaped criticism by those who saw in his enforcement of forgotten laws and in many of his new ordinances the manifestation of an arbitrary spirit; but it was universally conceded that during his government Cuba reached a high-water mark in her development. Though the corruption and degradation of the court at Madrid had a baneful influence upon the Spanish colonies, the island which had enjoyed the blessings of his rule and caught a breath of the spirit of such men as Arango and Montalvo could never again be contented unquestioningly to accept the dictates of that court. The flood of new liberal ideas which, coming from France, swept over the whole world, could not be turned back at el Morro. They found their way into the hearts and the minds of the people and slowly but surely taught them to see where their ultimate salvation lay.


The French Revolution set the pace for the world's movements in the last decade of the eighteenth century and spread the seeds of many more in the century to come. Pamphlets, books and proclamations coming to Spain from France opened the eyes of the people to evils, which in their loyalty to the throne and to the traditions of the country they had never dared to perceive. The corruption of her court, the ruin of her finances, the incompetency of her statesmen and her generals were revealed to the population and stirred sullen resentment. Demoralization seemed to have set in and threatened to dismember the once all-powerful kingdom. To the profligate Godoy was in a great measure attributed the degradation of the country and an atmosphere of conspiracy pervaded even the royal palace, from which patriotic plotters, resentful of Spain's humiliation, hoped soon to chase the favorite of the queen, who with supreme unconcern continued to fill his pockets from the royal treasury and to live in his wonted extravagance and dissipation. The forces of the French Republic had occupied the frontier forts and seemed to find little or no resistance. The fate of the royal Bourbons of France struck terror in the souls of the royal Bourbons of Spain, and the flight of the king and his family from Madrid was daily expected.

Even to the overseas possessions of France and Spain had the influence of the liberating movement extended and awakened the indolent and indifferent creoles to the realization of wrongs they had suffered at the hands of their mother countries. Moreover, the gospel of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity had reached the ears of those who had for centuries silently borne oppression and had been made to believe that serfdom was to be their fate forever. Already in 1791 the news of the outbreak of the Revolution had been acclaimed by the slaves in Santo Domingo and followed by revolt and violence against the life and the property of their masters. When in 1794 the Convention declared the abolition of slavery in the colonies of the Republic, the floodgates of insurrection were opened. For Old Hispaniola, divided between two foreign powers, populated by races antagonistic to one another, was a fertile soil for any revolutionary propaganda. As early as 1762 there were three negroes to one Frenchman in the northern part of the island; and these negroes whom a Jesuit priest of the time declared to be fit only for slavery, hated all other races and castes: the whites, the free negroes and the mulattoes.

But even among this ignorant and superstitious race there were individuals that rose far above the average in intelligence and had by association with the more advanced and privileged castes and races acquired certain achievements. They were men who had done some thinking of their own and perhaps by their relation of servant to master learned to know the faults and weaknesses of the latter far better than they knew their own. When these men caught the ring of the magic three words, a world of possibilities opened before them, and they embraced the message they conveyed with the eagerness of people desperate from and resentful of iniquities, real and imaginary. Their brains were afire with hatred and revenge and it needed only a great leader to organize this powerful army of malcontents into a horde of fiends. That leader came to them in the person of the ex-coachman, Toussaint L'Ouverture, a man of exceptional gifts and abilities, who with the one-track mind of the idealist-fanatic had but one aim and pursued but one goal: the liberation of his race.

The war between the French republic and Spain had naturally called forth hostilities between the two parts of the island inhabited on one side by French, on the other by Spaniards. The negro insurgents saw their opportunity and did not let it go by without exploiting it for their purposes. The unfortunate jealousies between the President and Captain-General of Santo Domingo and the General of the Navy, Aristizabel, who had captured Bayaja, had weakened the Spanish forces, and when they attempted to take Guarico, they had to retire at Yazique before a force of five hundred undisciplined negroes. This encouraged the negro commanders and in quick succession they captured San Rafael and Las Caobas, and had the satisfaction to see San Miguel, Bonica and Incha evacuated before they even reached these places. Bayaja was strongly fortified and garrisoned; but the climate of that place being very unhealthy, the Spanish troops were decimated by sickness, until they numbered only about four hundred men. The negro general Juan Francisco on the other hand could increase his troops at will. In order to enforce the Spanish it was proposed to send them a regiment of white Frenchmen. Seven legions of these men arrived at Bayaja on the morning of the seventh of July, 1794. But Juan Francisco surprised the place half an hour before, and placing artillery in the principal streets and squares, informed the commandant that all white Frenchmen were to leave Bayaja before three o'clock that afternoon. When the commandant remonstrated saying that the time was too short to provide barges for their transportation, the negro leader left the government house and gave the signal for the massacre of all Frenchmen in the place. The terrible slaughter lasted until far into the afternoon, when the governor and the venerable priest of the place so urgently implored the negro troops to have mercy, that they moderated their savage rage.

While this wholesale murder, which cost the lives of seven hundred and forty-two Frenchmen, not counting those who were drowned in flight, was going on in the streets, military conferences were held at which, after some irresolute wrangling, it was decided to withdraw to Fuerte Dolfin, about five hundred varas (rods) distant from Bayaja, in order to save the garrison from being at the mercy of a negro mob, intoxicated with the victory won over their adversaries. They succeeded in holding Fuerte Dolfin, until Bayaja itself was evacuated by Juan Francisco on the thirteenth of July. The loss of the Spanish troops, including deserters and those that died from privations, was about three thousand men. The national treasury suffered during the revolt a defalcation of some fifty thousand pesos. The negroes were at first charged with the embezzlement of that sum, but there were rumors to the contrary, which in view of the only too well-known turpitude of many colonial officials, were quite plausible.

The peace concluded between Spain and the French republic at Basilea (Basle) on the twenty-second of July, 1795, and published in Madrid on the sixth of November, terminated Spanish rule on the island, Spain ceding her part of Santo Domingo to the French Republic. The people of Spain welcomed this peace, as they would have hailed any other. To the part played in the negotiations by Manuel Godoy was due his title "Prince of Peace." In the elation of the moment the court even remembered Aranda, Florida Blanca, Cabarrus and Jovellanos, the able statesmen and faithful patriots who had been imprisoned or exiled, and granted them full amnesty. Yet this treaty of Basilea was the official admission of the decline of Spain's power. It heralded the gradual disintegration of her colonial possessions, where, as some authorities assert, British intrigue sowed the seeds of discord and discontent. When two years later, in February, 1797, the Spanish fleet, although superior in vessels and artillery, was defeated by the British in the battle of Cape St. Vincent off the south point of Portugal, the ruin of the kingdom was complete. The total income between 1793 and 1796 was twenty-four hundred and forty-five millions of reals; the total expenses, thirty-seven hundred and fourteen millions; the debt amounted to more than twelve hundred millions. The annual deficit was eight hundred millions. The paper money in circulation amounted to nineteen hundred and eighty millions. Such was the financial status of the royal bankrupt.

If the peace of Basilea had temporarily brought satisfaction and lightened the burden of anxiety, the defeat at Cape St. Vincent sufficed once more to cloud the horizon. The capture of Rome by the French in 1798 and the proclamation of a republic in place of the papal sovereignty, plunged Spain into a state of panic. Cabinet ministers succeeded one another with bewildering rapidity. Even Jovellanos, who had been recalled to restore order in the disorganized department of justice, was unable to cope with the chaotic situation. Enormous sums were being continually wasted. Of eighteen hundred and thirty-three millions spent in 1799, the royal court alone had used one hundred and five, the department of war nine hundred and thirty-five, finance four hundred and twenty-eight, foreign affairs forty-six, and the department of justice only seven! Every branch of the administration was filled with the minions of Godoy, who was now related to the royal house, having espoused the daughter of the Infante Don Luis. His annual revenues amounted to one million reals. The elements themselves seemed to be in conspiracy against what had once been the greatest power in Europe. The failure of crops, famine, epidemics and earthquakes filled the minds of the superstitious with vague terrors.

Cuba was at that time too much engrossed in the attempt to continue on the path of progress to be seriously affected by the fate of Spain. The insurrection of Santo Domingo had brought the eventuality of internal trouble so close to her door, that she did not dare to look across the ocean for more sources of apprehension. Yet the revolt of the neighboring island had also its advantages for Cuba. At the first outbreak of hostilities against the French, many French refugees had fled to Cuba. They were followed by others and after the massacre of Bayaja even by Spaniards and by colored women. This French element which settled in Santiago and Havana became a valuable factor in the population of the island. A French traveler and writer, Vicomte Gustave d'Hespel d'Harponville, says about it in his book "La Reine des Antilles":

"They brought to Cuba the remnants of their wealth, some slaves, but especially their knowledge, their experience and their activity. From that moment the two great Antilles changed rôles: San Domingo lapsed into barbarism, Cuba placed her foot in the chariot of fortune."

The French settlers were industrious laborers and skilled artisans and as such were highly valued by economists who had been anxious to increase Cuba's insufficient labor supply by the introduction of white labor. Even the women among them were workers, in strange contrast to the Cuban women, who were given to tropical indolence. Many of these French "Dominicans" established themselves as nurses, laundresses and seamstresses. In education, too, these newcomers were far above the average Havanese; a difference which foreign travelers were quick to detect and to comment upon. The French settlements southeast of Havana, in the environs of Matanzas, Santiago and Baracoa, became such centers of activity, industrial and otherwise, that the Spanish, who had persisted in their habitual indolence and indifference, became jealous, which in time resulted in some friction and unpleasant disturbances.

The definite loss of Santo Domingo to Spain caused also a great change in ecclesiastical affairs. The archbishopric was removed to Santiago de Cuba. Havana and Puerto Rico remained "suffragans," i.e. subject to the other. About that time there was established a territorial tribunal in Puerto Principe.



One of the foremost figures in the great Cuban awakening at the close of the eighteenth century was Dr. Tomas Romay, physician and scientist, who was born in Havana on December 21, 1764, and died on March 30, 1849. He greatly aided the two good Governors, Las Casas and Someruelos, in their labors for the betterment of Cuba; with the help of Bishop Espada he introduced vaccination into the island; he was prominent in the Society of Friends of Peace, and did much for education, agriculture, and other interests of the Cuban people. Among his writings was a monograph on yellow fever which attracted world-wide attention. His earnest patriotism involved him in violent controversies in the troublous times of 1820-1823, from which he emerged in triumph and in universal honor.

Everything seemed to combine at that period to promote the growth and assure the future welfare of Cuba. The government of Las Casas, with its wonderful awakening among the citizens of a sense of civic responsibility and opportunity, was one of those epochs which seem to form a pivot around which past and future revolve. It was impossible to consider it in its full value and significance without comparing it with the past out of which it had developed, and taking note of the progress it signalized. Nor was it possible to forecast the future, without projecting into it the lines of evolution along which the work of Las Casas and his associates seemed to have prepared the progress of the island. Compared with the passive inertia which had all through the history of the Spanish West Indies retarded individual and communal advancement, it was like a sudden birth of aspirations and endeavors all directed towards a lofty goal, perhaps still vague to the multitude, but clearly and strongly defined in the minds of the men who with a singular unity of purpose, forgetting for once all the petty jealousies that had clouded so many big issues in previous periods, combined for concerted action for the common good.

They were men who had at heart the interests of the island, who had inquired into the causes for its backwardness and who had thought deeply about the measures that might provide a means to rouse the whole population to the realization of the gigantic task before them. They were men of extraordinary intelligence, of thorough knowledge, of unblemished character and of wide experience. Never before had Cuba been able at any one period to point to such a galaxy of names as Las Casas, Arango, Romay, Montalvo, Pedro Espinola, Caballero, and others. Never before had it at any one time a like number of men combining all the qualifications that seemed to destine them to be the leaders in a great movement of revival and reconstruction. For the task they accomplished was not only that of rousing the inhabitants, who had lingered for several generations in apathy and indolence, but to reconstruct the whole decadent edifice of provincial management, in order to start anew on a solid foundation.

Individually considered almost every one of those men stood for some achievement, some work the benefits of which the future was to reap. Towering above them all, Arango seemed to combine all these efforts, seemed to be the center from which radiated all the plans that had for their ultimate aim the happiness of all. As one looks back upon that brilliant epoch, this man of noble birth, of rare gifts and of considerable means, seemed to dominate them all. Surely no other could have accomplished what he did; for his youth, his affability, his distinguished manners, these invaluable social qualities impressed and attracted those in the highest positions at the Spanish court and won for him a hearing, which would have been refused to many others. Once this was gained, his general learning, and his special knowledge of the economic and financial problems of his native island, backed by an array of conclusive statistics and conveyed to his listeners with forcible logic and convincing oratory, compelled the attention even of the most recalcitrant conservatives that had steadily opposed reforms in the colonies. By this rare combination of qualities Arango had succeeded in obtaining from the royal government greater concessions for Cuba than it had ever made to any of her colonial possessions. The effect of Arango's work, though at intervals clouded by periodical relapses of the government into the old evil ways, was felt during more than a generation, and his name remained identified in the memory of the people with the great strides that the island was henceforth to make in agriculture, industry and commerce, as no less in matters of education.

Among his associates, the name of Dr. D. Thomas Romay was to be remembered by future generations for the great blessing which his medical skill and foresight secured for the island. He had been identified with many measures promoting public health, when Dr. Maria Bustamente of la Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, brought to Havana the first consignment of vaccine. Following the example of Dr. Bustamente, who had vaccinated his little son and two mulatto servants, Dr. Romay at once introduced vaccination in Havana and gradually checked the ravages which small-pox epidemics had caused. The Count de Montalvo was forever to be remembered for his wise and humane adjustment of judicial conflicts in connection with the tribunal of commerce. Pedro Espinola's memory was to be cherished by all those concerned with the cause of education. Nicolas Calvo's efforts at introducing timely innovations in the sugar industry could never be forgotten in the island. Lastly there was Governor Las Casas himself, who, had he been a man of smaller calibre, could have clogged the wheels of progress by administrative red tape and obfuscated the larger issues of his time by petty official considerations. But, unlike some of his predecessors, who did not suffer any citizens in the community to rise to such eminence as to rival them, he had appreciated the spirit of those men and to further their aims had brought to bear all the weight of his official position.

Rarely in the history of any country did so many fortuitous circumstances combine at one and the same period to call out what was best in the latent forces of the population, as in Cuba during the administration of Governor Las Casas. The future never seemed to smile so brightly upon that island, so richly endowed by nature and so long indifferently treated by men. Setbacks and even relapses into previous errors might occur, but it seemed unthinkable that the work accomplished by Las Casas and his associates, individually and collectively, could ever be undone.

Such periods of extraordinary growth are infallibly followed by a standstill during which individuals as communities seem to gather strength for new efforts. Nor is it likely that a country will successively produce men of such marked individuality and forceful character. The governor that followed Las Casas could not reasonably be expected to come up to the high standard of his predecessor. The Lieutenant-Governor Conde de Santa Clara, who was inaugurated on the sixteenth of December, 1796, was a man of generous character and agreeable manners towards all classes of society, but he was not a man of that broad culture which distinguished Las Casas and his associates in the famous Sociedad. D. Juan Procopio Barsicourt de Santa Clara was a native of Barcelona, and had come to Havana at a critical moment. The colonies of the West Indies and the Gulf coast were deeply worried about the slave revolt of Santo Domingo. The Cuban forces that had taken part in the attempt to quell the uprising, and the French and Spanish immigrants that had fled to Cuba from the terrors of the insurrection had brought with them tales of the doings of the insurgents which filled with vague apprehensions all territories that contained a numerous slave population. Moreover, the favorite of the queen of Spain, Manuel Godoy, had by his blunders involved Spain in a new war with Great Britain, and Spanish America was once more threatened by her old enemy.

This menace forced the new Governor to turn his attention first towards the defenses of the island. He constructed between San Lazaro and la Chorrera the battery known as Santa Clara, and took other measures for the protection of Havana as well as Santiago. Among the municipal improvements which he effected the most important for Havana was his removal of the principal matadero (slaughterhouse), from the city to a place outside of its walls. The existence of this establishment had long been considered a public nuisance; for the foul smells which it spread in the neighborhood and which the wind sometimes carried over the whole town were a menace to the health of the inhabitants, and the frequent commotion caused by bulls that escaped from the enclosures was also a feature that made a most unfavorable impression. Both the suburb of Jesus Maria and el Horcon being without any direct water supply, Santa Clara had a fountain constructed in each place.

Santa Clara was a man of generous instincts. The Casa del Beneficencia, the fortunes of which had been declining, owed him many a rich supply of provisions and some large donations. Both he and his wife, who was said to be a perfect model of womanly virtues, were interested in the hospital of San Paula. They also gave material aid to the hospital of San Francisco, which had progressed very slowly since its foundation. Within one year after Santa Clara's arrival, the number of beds was raised from thirty-two to seventy-eight. The governor's lady also succeeded in enlisting the cooperation of the clergy and many other wealthy and influential people in the San Antonio Hospital, which was increased to a capacity of one hundred and nine beds. Though the more ambitious cultural work which had been begun under the previous administration was not promoted by him, Santa Clara proved himself possessed of no little executive power and tact.

This last quality was especially needed at the time when Havana was honored by the visit of three French notables, the Dukes of Orleans and Montpensier, and Count de Beaujolais. Santa Clara received them most courteously and an opulent lady of Havana, Doña Leonor Herrera de Contreras, gave up to them her home, placed at their disposal her servants and defrayed all their expenses. Refugees from their country, which was suffering from the terrors of the Revolution, they remained in Havana and enjoyed this sumptuous hospitality for almost four months, when even the famous "Prince of Peace," Godoy, in order to avoid further disagreements with the French Republic, indicated to them the propriety of removing to other dominions.

In the meantime the British had declared war and made an auspicious beginning by the capture of Trinidad. They had demanded the surrender of the vessels commanded by D. Sebastian Ruiz de Apodoca, a high-spirited mariner, but he preferred reducing them to ashes before giving them up to the enemy. This first loss was, however, amply retrieved at San Juan of Porto Rico. The city had been attacked by over ten thousand trained soldiers under the command of Gen. Abercrombie, but the attack was repulsed and the British lost over one thousand men and two thousand prisoners, besides a stock of provisions and equipment. At Santa Cruz de Teneriffe the Spaniards defeated even the celebrated Nelson and seized a number of vessels that tried to take other points. But there was more trouble in sight for the Spanish colonies. For the South American revolutionist Miranda who had emigrated to London by clever intrigues induced the British government to stir up insurrections in the Spanish-American possessions. These intrigues resulted in revolts that broke out in Puerto Cabello, Caracas, Panama and Maracaibo. Their prompt suppression was due to the firmness and energy of the Captain-General of Caracas, D. Manuel de Guevara y Basconcelos.

These disquieting occurrences made the Spanish government fear for the safety of Cuba and decided the court to give the island a governor more capable of coping with the eventuality of invasion. The Field Marshal D. Salvador de Muro y Salazar, Marques de Someruelos was appointed on the second of March, 1799, and ordered secretly and immediately to repair to the place of his destination. Accordingly there appeared in Havana on the thirteenth of May a distinguished stranger who delivered to the governor important messages from the court and proved to be no less than the new governor. Santa Clara immediately retired in favor of his successor and Someruelos entered upon the functions of his office. The Intendente Valiente was promoted to the position of Counselor of the Indies and his place was taken by D. Luis Viyuri. Colonel D. Sebastian de Kindelan was appointed to the governorship of Santiago.

The administration of Someruelos beginning on the threshold of a new century, it seems meet to cast a backward look upon the condition of the island and the great changes which had taken place during the hundred years just closing. The great need for reform was urged upon the government immediately after the British occupation of Havana, which had opened the eyes of the authorities to mistakes made not only in the political and military, but especially in the economic management of the colony. Revenues had to be created in order to meet the increased expenses of the administration and defray the cost of much needed improvements. Hence upon the proposal of Count Ricla the king had ordered a thorough reorganization of the administration and especially of the treasury department. In the attempt of solving the problem of taxation, Spain had followed a suggestion of M. Choiseul, minister of foreign affairs in France, which was conceived with little knowledge of colonial conditions and legislation and hastily accepted by the supreme government. This change in the tax system then in force in the Indies produced great commotion in the island of Cuba and other Spanish possessions in America.

Guiteras reports that many real estate owners of Puerto Principe and the southern territory designated in the island by the name of la Vuelta de Abajo were especially bitter in complaining against the innovation, but neither the intendant nor the Brigadier Cisneros could modify dispositions decreed by the supreme government. Discontent increased and some men were so exasperated that they preferred to destroy their own products rather than pay the tax which was to go to the public treasury. By the influence of D. Pedro Calvo de la Puerta, D. Penalver and other land-owners, some of the people were pacified, before disorder ensued. But others rose in open revolt and had to be dispersed by the militia hastily mobilized for their repression. Although hardly any blood was shed, the opposition which the authorities had met gave them cause for anxiety, and upon their urgent appeal the supreme government renounced the enforcement of the new taxes.

After the establishment of the Intendencia and the creation of a weekly Junta, D. Juan de Alda drew up a budget of expenditure for the year 1768, which amounted to 1,681,452 pesos. Of this sum the army consumed only 665,655 pesos. Approved by the supreme government and taken as a basis for figuring the annual expenditure, 1,200,000 pesos were consigned to the treasury of Mexico with the assumption that the public revenues would cover the eventual difference. According to Ramon de la Sagra, the general revenues of the island from 1764 to 1794 amounted to 20,286,173 pesos, and the sums which besides came to the treasury under the name of situados (duties assigned upon certain goods or effects) and other classifications amounted from 1766 to 1788 to 101,735,350 pesos. The revenues of the island for the same period were, according to Alcazar, 50,000,000 pesos, but he adds that the decree of the seventeenth of August, 1790, by which farmers and merchants were allowed to pay with promissory notes, resulted in some loss to the import duties. On the other hand, the system of tax collection was open to dishonest practices, which were checked during the administration of Someruelos.

The objections which had been raised against the new taxation having chiefly come from people engaged in agriculture, the government found on investigation that the existing commercial laws were at fault. Inclined as was the court of Spain during the rule of Carlos III. to yield in favor of the people, the new measures only mitigated but did not remove the evils complained of, which were founded on institutions and ordinances so thoroughly antiquated as no longer to be of any benefit to the population. The commerce of Cuba had since the year 1740 been carried on by the Real Compania of Havana. Although its institution was based upon the old and faulty principle of monopoly and privilege, and discriminated against foreign goods that came to Cuba via Spanish ports, the exportations of the island which at the beginning of the eighteenth century were confined to timber, hides and a small amount of cattle, soon began to include other products, such as sugar, honey, brandy and wax.

After the founding of the Intendencia there was opened by way of experiment a small commerce with the principal ports of Spain; but the regulations required the collection in the Peninsula of two custom duties on manufactures embarked at Cuba and destined for Spain, one being called entry, the other exit duty, to which was later added a consumer's duty. These extraordinary charges destroyed the profits hoped for by the extension of commerce, and were the source of more discontent, until in the year 1767 the king authorized the abolition of the Compania of Havana "in case of urgent necessity for Cuba" and at the same time inaugurated some franchises which tended to relieve the much restricted commerce of the island. As has been recorded at the time, it was not until the twelfth of October, 1778, that the king issued an order calling for free commerce and abolishing the monopolies of the larger ports.

The effects of this measure made themselves felt in a sudden revival of commercial activities which led to such an expansion of Cuba's commerce, that the island was forced to ask concessions and obtained from the court more favors than any other of Spain's American possessions. When the War of Independence paralyzed the commerce of the British colonies with the island, the king granted still greater franchises and a new decree opened the entry of the Port of Havana to the flags of all nations, provided their ships introduced provisions only. But while these new decrees favored the commerce of the colony, they reacted unfavorably upon the commerce of Spain, the merchant navy of which had been annihilated during the many wars, until there were not enough vessels to transport the goods the colonies needed. The imports of foreign products which the monopoly permitted Spain to make were in value superior to the exports from America. Direct commerce with friendly nations was more convenient inasmuch as the foreigners could in turn export all the fruits of the country. The only remedy for the evils confronting Spanish commerce would have been the reestablishment of the merchant fleet; but in their short-sightedness Spanish merchants turned back to the old monopoly and at the foot of the throne begged for return to the old system. Under such pressure were exacted from the king the decrees of the twentieth of January and the fifteenth of April, 1784, which once more closed the ports of Spanish America to the friendly nations, carrying the prohibition to the extreme of denying merchant vessels entry, even if they were foundering!

Owing to this confusing and irritating condition of commercial legislation the growth and progress of the colonies received another setback, and probably caused the decrease in population which the Countess de Merlin mentions. It also seriously affected the agriculture of the island. For Spain had not enough inhabitants on her own soil to colonize her vast overseas territories; and even if her legislation in respect to commerce had been more liberal, her constant opposition to the admittance of foreigners to her provinces discouraged white immigration. Even during the reign of Carlos III., which seemed to inaugurate a new and more enlightened era, the distrust of the government towards foreigners is manifested in the new and abridged version of the law of the Indies, published in the year 1778, which decrees that in no port nor part of the West Indies, either the islands or the continent to the north and south, shall any kind of traffic with foreigners be admitted, even by way of barter or any other mode of commerce, those violating this order being liable to forfeit life and property.

The slave trade was therefore the means Cuba was forced to adopt to supply the lack of white laborers and artisans. It was subject to the same restrictions as all maritime commerce, with the important difference that it could not be carried on without a special permission from the king, which usually fixed the number of years in which a certain number of slaves should be granted certain individuals, companies or corporations. These permissions were called licenses, later assientos, and finally contracts and privileges, until in the year 1789 they entirely ceased to exist. A British concern, called the South Sea Company, had been the first to receive such a privilege, when in 1713 it was allowed to introduce into the colonies of Latin America, with absolute exclusion of Spaniards and foreigners, four thousand eight hundred negroes in the course of thirty years. Next came the permiso obtained by the Compania Mercantil of Havana in the year 1740, of which use was made until 1766. Then came the contract concluded with the Marquis de Casa Enrile, which lasted from 1773 to 1779; and finally the permission granted in the year 1780 on account of the war with England, that most Spaniards in America could have recourse to the French colonies for their supply of slaves.

The manner in which this trade in human flesh was carried on reflects sadly upon those engaged in this traffic. Loaded into vessels that were hardly considered fit for carrying freight, thousands were known to have perished in shipwrecks. Crowded into the dark, unventilated holds of these rotten hulks, more thousands succumbed to disease and were thrown overboard. Of the trades associated with cruel exploitation and inhuman abuses, that of the slavetrader ranked first, for the sufferings to which the poor victims were subjected in the transit from their native home to the foreign land defied description. There were captains of slave ships who loathed their task. One is quoted in a book by the Jesuit Sandeval as confessing his misgivings about the business; he had just suffered a shipwreck in which only thirty out of nine hundred on board escaped!

On their arrival in Cuba the poor wretches who survived the ordeal began to fare better. E. M. Masse, a French traveler and writer, in his work "L'Isle de Cuba et la Havane" describes the quarters in which they were lodged. They were the baracones, the famous barracks originally destined for the troops which were to take Pensacola, and that had cost four million pesos, though they could have been put up for a few thousand. At the time of his visit to Havana, some of the contractors who had made this handsome profit on the buildings were still in jail. He goes on to say that immediately on landing the negroes were taken to these barracks, waiting to be sold. They contained one immense room, covered with straw and divided into three compartments. The first was for the employees or jailers; the second for the women slaves, the third for the men. There was a spacious court or yard with a kitchen in one corner. In this yard they spent their days, shielded from the sun and the rain by tents. They were permitted to bathe in the sea. The writer looked at the spectacle with an artist's eye. For he remarks that he had always considered the pose of the Venus of Milo unnatural, until by observing these women slaves at their bath in the surf, he found that the identical pose was frequently assumed by them, and hence must have been natural. The only garment obligatory as long as a slave was not sold, was a kerchief; if somebody made them a gift of another kerchief, they made of it a turban or wore it like a sash.

The freedom which they enjoyed in this brief interval between landing in Havana and being sold, may in the lives of the majority have been the only freedom they were to know. Being merchandise, it was of course in the interest of the slave traders to have them appear well when put on the market. Hence the food they received was wholesome. They were also encouraged to indulge in their wonted amusements and could be seen marching or dancing around in the yard, as they raised their voices in song. The African who had just arrived and spoke only his native tongue, was called bosale; the slave who was born in Africa, but spoke Spanish and knew the trade he was destined for, was called ladino. Children of African or European origin born in Spanish America, were called criolles, from which the French derived the term in use today: creole.

Miscegenation was not favored in Cuba. When the immigration from Santo Domingo brought into the island a great number of mulattoes, quadroons and octoroons, the color line was severely drawn. A woman of colored origin with a perfectly white and very beautiful daughter was known to have denied her child in order to make it possible for her to marry a Havanese. Many of these women were far better educated than the native Cubans; M. Masse says that the art of conversation, unknown in Havana society, flourished only in their homes. But they were rigidly barred from the drawing-rooms of the wealthy Havanese.

According to the data available, the number of slaves introduced into the island from the beginning of its colonization until the year 1789 was probably not below 100,000. It is estimated that in the two hundred years between 1550 and 1750 the annual importations of the assientists into Spanish America averaged at least three thousand a year. In the census taken by Governor la Torre about 1772 Cuba was found to have 45,633 slaves. In 1775 their number had risen to forty-six thousand and that of free colored people to about thirty thousand. The relaxation of the commercial restrictions gave a strong impulse to all sorts of enterprises, mercantile and otherwise, and especially to building, and the laboring forces employed on all the new constructions were mostly slaves. By the year 1775 their proportion to the free colored population was four and sixth tenths to three. As the value of slave labor began to be recognized in that period of internal improvements and general progress, the number of slave importations steadily increased. According to Blanchet, Cuba acquired in the years 1783 and 1784 one thousand and five hundred negroes through contracts between the government and various French and Spanish firms, as also the British house of Baker and Dawson and the private shipowners D. Vicente Espon and Col. D. Gonzalo O'Farrel. Armas y Cespedes gives the number of slaves for the year 1774 as 44,333; for the year 1792 as 84,590. In the enormous number of negroes imported between 1791 and 1816 there were counted 132,000 imported legitimately, 168,000 by contraband means.

A more systematized and conclusive estimate of the number of negroes gradually introduced in Cuba was made by D. Francisco de Arango, the high-minded patriot of the period of Governor Las Casas. It covers the time from the beginning of the sixteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century. D. José Antonio Saco, author of "Collecion de papeles cientifices, historicos, politicos y de etros ramos sobre la isle de Cuba, ya publicados ya ineditos," and "Historia de la Esclavitud," did the same for the eastern part of the island from 1764 to 1789. These estimates furnish the following figures:

Imported on the whole island from 1523 to 1763 60,000
By the Compania de la Habana in 1764, 1765, 1766 4,957
By the Marquis de Casa Enrile from 1773 to 1779 14,132
By the permiso of 1780 authorizing the supply
  of negroes from French colonies during the
  war ending 1783
By the house of Baker & Dawson from 1786 to 1789 8,318
From the eastern part of the island, 1764 to 1789 6,000
    Total 100,000

Humboldt remarks in his "Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial regions of America during the years 1799-1809, "that the British West Indies then contained seven hundred thousand negroes and mulattoes, free and slave, while the custom-house registers proved that from 1680 to 1786 two million one hundred and thirty thousand negroes had been imported from Africa, which suggests a rather high mortality. In Cuba the annual death rate of the recently imported negroes was seven per cent. Hence the current assumption that the African negro was particularly adapted for and could stand the climate of Cuba, does not seem to be well founded.

About this time the social conscience of mankind seemed to be suddenly awakened and philanthropic ideas began to modify the general conception of slavery. Nations whose political organization made the government dependent upon public opinion, had already begun to yield to the demand of abolishing slave trade. The United States had auspiciously inaugurated that movement. The state of Virginia had closed her ports to the traffic in 1778; Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts followed in 1780, 1787 and 1788. The Third Congress of the American Republic proclaimed negro traffic as contrary to the civilization of Christian peoples and condemned it before the end of the eighteenth century. At the same time the Convention of the French Republic declared its abolition in the colonies of France, and the events in Santo Domingo, like a seismic disturbance made all slave-owning nations tremble. Stimulated by the example of America and stirred by the noble words of her own great humanitarians, Howard and Wilberforce, England, too, began from 1787 on to discuss that problem.

In the course of the serious debates that took place in the British parliament in May, 1788, it was said that a decree abolishing the traffic would in a short time paralyze the commerce carried on by British merchants with Africa. In her isolation from the current tides of thought in Europe and other countries, Cuba had so far been untouched by the humanitarian aspect of the question and looked upon it merely from her utilitarian viewpoint. Fearing that the house of Baker & Dawson, which had been her main source of supply for negro labor, would no longer be able to furnish her the hands she needed in her deserted fields, she hastened through her representative in the Ayuntamiento to solicit from the king permission to continue the traffic. Hence on the twenty-eighth of February, 1788, a royal decree permitted the Spaniards, and foreigners in general for the term of two years, to introduce negroes, exempt from duties, in Cuba, Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico and in the province of Caracas.

Guiteras, in his "Historia de la Isla de Cuba" speaks of the slavery problem with a remarkable display of native fervor. He says:

"The slavery question met with political difficulties of an even graver character in the rapid progress made by the ideas of the abolitionists, which inflamed and inspired those foreign nations who had filled their own colonies with slaves. Imprudent exaltation of the republican ideals of France finally led the children of Hayti to rise in a horrible revolution. A race of men that had come to the coasts of America not in royal vessels and clad in steel to plant standards with the sign of Redemption, but locked up in the stench of a closed hold, the body naked and in chains, to irrigate with their sweat and blood the land of slavery, rose in defence of the natural laws, demolished the banner at the sight of which the most powerful nations of Europe had trembled, and conquered the outraged rights of humanity. One should think that the beam of light which radiated through all the sea of the Antilles would have dissuaded the Cubans and the government from promoting African colonization on the island of Cuba; nevertheless a lamentable error, though based upon the best intentions, caused Cuba to invite that evil and Spain filled the island with African slaves."

It may seem incongruous that a man of D. Francisco de Arango's liberal ideas should have been instrumental in securing for Cuba from the court at Madrid a privilege which the enlightened humane viewpoint of his time began to consider a disgrace. But as pointed out in a previous chapter, this measure was resorted to by Arango only as a temporary expediency. As soon as the immediate shortage of hands was relieved, he himself recommended the substitution of free white labor for negro slavery. For the enormous influx of negroes as compared with the very minimum increase of white inhabitants began even then to fill with vague apprehensions for the future of Cuba's population those most earnestly concerned with the welfare of the island. To the Spaniards of Florida the great percentage of negroes was repulsive. More than five hundred Floridians, who in 1763 had come to Cuba to escape British rule, returned to their old home in 1784. When after the reign of terror in Santo Domingo French refugees settled in Cuba, they, too, were opponents of the slave traffic and their influence contributed no little towards changing the attitude of the Spaniards towards negro slavery.

One of the disturbing features in this large negro population was the small proportion of women. Planters refused to invest in the latter, because they considered them unfit for the hard labor required. The result was such a surplus of male slaves that in some communities there were five hundred men to one negro woman. At first the negro slaves were employed mostly in the mines, where the native Indians had proved inefficient. Later they entered also domestic service. But with the development of agriculture, they began to be largely employed in the fields and on the plantations. Edward Gaylord Bourne says in his work on "Spain in America," the third volume in the historical series "The American Nation," in the chapter on Negro Slaves (p. 272):

"The development of the sugar industry and the growth of slavery were dependent upon each other, especially after the mines of the Antilles gave out. Each trapiche, or sugar-mill, run by horses or mules, required thirty or forty negroes, and each water-mill eight at the least. Had the commerce of the islands been reasonably free, plantation slavery on a large scale would have rapidly developed, and the history of Hayti and the English islands would have been anticipated a century by the Spaniards."

While Howard, Wilberforce, Judge Sewall and the Quakers are usually considered the pioneers of the abolition of slavery, the first voice raised against this institution came from Peru and was that of a Jesuit, Alfonso Sandoval, a native of Seville, but a resident of Peru, where his father held an important position in the royal administration. Sandoval wrote a work on negro slavery entitled "De Instauranda Aethiopum Salute," which was published in Madrid in 1647 and contains valuable data concerning the traffic, frequently quoted by historians. Nor can it be denied that the Spaniards knew better how to treat the negroes than either the French or the British. Evidences to the contrary suggest that whatever may have been the wrongs under which the negro slaves of the Spanish colonies suffered, they were not as much due to the cruelty of the masters, as to their ignorance and carelessness.

The humane attitude of the Spaniard towards the negro slave made the Royal Cedula issued by King Carlos III. in 1789 a unique document. For in this royal decree are set forth the rights of the slaves with a precision which in an eventual dispute with the masters could admit of no doubt. By that decree the Spanish king earned for himself a niche in the gallery of human benefactors. For the individual paragraphs as compared with the civic code of Spain show little or no discrimination between the black and the white elements of the colonial population. These laws agreed perfectly with the spirit of the period which had produced Howard, Wilberforce, Sewall and others. They were conceived in a remarkable spirit of equity, whatever violations and abuses may have occurred in individual practice. According to this cedula, a slave, if ill-treated, had the right to choose another master, provided he could induce this new master to buy him. He could buy his liberty at the lowest market-price. He could buy wife and children and marry the wife of his choice. If he suffered cruel treatment, he could appeal to the courts and in some instances might be set free. If negroes were in doubt about the lawfulness of their enslavement, they also had the right to bring their case to the notice of the courts. By that same cedula negro slaves were granted the right to hold property which opened for them opportunities for eventual emancipation. Moreover that law declared that fugitive slaves who by righteous means had gained their freedom were not to be returned to their masters.

In accordance with these humane slave laws, the colored population of Cuba enjoyed greater latitude than in many other colonies. Although converted to Catholicism, they were known to revert to their heathen practices at certain times and to have chanted invocations to the saints in the African dialect of their forefathers. Numerous clans existed among them, which were supposed to have for their aim the perpetuation of their ancestral customs. Among them was the manigo, which was frequently the source of grave apprehension on the part of the authorities and, surviving in the cabildos, societies, which are both religious and social, had in a later period to be suppressed. The rites of these organizations were a grotesquely uncanny mixture of Roman Catholicism and African paganism. One day in the year the negroes of the island had almost unlimited liberty to celebrate in their barbaric fashion. It was the sixth of January or All Kings' Day, and was the occasion for a spectacle as weirdly fascinating as any carnival. That day belonged to the negroes. Dressed in the gaudiest costumes, carrying huge poles with mysterious transparencies, they paraded through the streets to the beat of drums, shouting and gesticulating, or singing as they went along. At the squares they stopped and indulged in a dance. Melodious as were their songs, the rhythms betrayed the African origin. The dances, too, even after several generations, retained their African characteristics. As the day progressed, hilarity became more and more boisterous, and the holiday frequently ended in riotous demonstrations and street brawls. The white population of Havana and other towns, in which this day was celebrated by the blacks, remained indoors, and even suspended business for fear of disturbances.

There is no doubt that the important service which negro labor performed for the agriculture of the country induced the Cubans to allow the negroes this great amount of freedom. For without them, as D. Francisco de Arango and others knew only too well, the fields and the plantations of the island could never have yielded that abundance of products upon which depended the wealth of Cuba.


The prosperity of a new country and the happiness of the people depend largely upon a just apportionment of the land of that country and the opportunity to exploit the resources of the soil and sell the products thereof at the greatest possible profit to the producer. Had this simple truth been recognized as the cornerstone of Cuban colonization the island would have been spared centuries of hard up-hill struggle for healthy economic conditions.

From the standpoint of the agrarian reformer, the land problem was at the bottom of all the evils that retarded the development of the colony, so richly endowed by nature that it should have been a paradise for those who came there to settle. The noble Spanish adventurers of Castilian blood, who had accompanied the early explorers and in a spirit of romance followed in their wake, were the first to obtain grants of land. They returned to Spain, brought with them their families and servants and settled upon the land, which became their new home. But they were hardly of a type willing to rough it after the first glamor of romance and novelty had faded, or able by hard labor to transform the wilderness into richly yielding fields and gardens. Stockbreeding was very much easier and according to their ideas required no particular exertion on their part. They let nature take care of the increase of their herds and flocks. A few of them retained the land, made their haciendas the home of generations to come, and attained to some rank and standing by virtue of these great holdings. Essentially domestic by nature, they lived there sometimes two or three generations under one roof, frugally and contentedly all the year round.

Among the earliest Cuban landholders were nobles, Castilian, Andalusian and others, who received great grants of land in recognition of some services to the crown. These people, who had not known the spell of adventure in strange tropical climes, did not settle permanently on the island, but became absentee landlords. They owned perhaps a residence in Havana, which they visited briefly during the winter. They had a hacienda, which saw them even less frequently and more briefly. The traditions and conventions of their caste did not allow them to work, even if they had been able and willing; so they left the management of their land to an agent, whose paramount concern was to hold his position long enough to fill his pockets and who beyond that was no more interested in the colony than was his master. Whatever profits the latter made on the products of his Cuban estate, did not accrue to the benefit of the island; they were spent in the old country. Madrid was the place where these absentee landlords of Cuba wasted their wealth in extravagance and dissipation, instead of investing it in improvements of their estates and works of civic importance and advantage to the island. These property-holders looked out only for the revenues they could get out of their Cuban estates; but they were not concerned with the problem of revenues for the island. They have their counterpart today and not only in Cuba, but in other countries where vast tracts were acquired by foreigners, some for the hunting they afforded, some for speculative purposes, while native citizens had to go without the little plot of land that could insure them a home and sometimes even a living.

Thus were the best tracts of land apportioned among or pre-empted by people having no vital interest in the development of the island's resources. When the real workers came, peasants from the Basque provinces, from Catalonia and other parts of the Peninsula, they again had no capital to invest in the necessary improvements, and being obliged to content themselves with a small plot of land and to work it with their own hands, soon drifted into a deadly indifference towards anything beyond the satisfaction of their most urgent daily needs. Even if their land had produced more than they needed for their own consumption, they would have been at a loss how to dispose of their products, since there were no transportation facilities and since every movement of the producer was subject to local customs and other restrictions, limiting the possibilities of creating a market and from the profits realized to set aside a fund to spend on current improvements or to insure their future.

There is little doubt that much of the indolence attributed to the climate was gradually developed in the people by the lack of opportunities to market their products and to get into touch with the outside world. The Cuban settler of that class had in course of time to acquire a habitual indifference toward the morrow, which developed into shiftlessness. His initiative being paralyzed at the beginning, he never could rouse himself to conceive of another life. His children growing up about him under these same circumstances, true to the clannishness of Spanish family life, remained with the parents and followed in their footsteps. This may explain the lack of backbone with which the Cuban has been reproached. Official repression, even if founded upon a sort of paternal solicitude, is bound to stunt the growth of individuals as of nations; and of this repression the people of Cuba were for centuries the victims.

The French traveler and writer quoted before, E. M. Masse, describes the life of Cuban rustics at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century. He calls them monteros, which means huntsmen, and they were probably the more shiftless descendants of this first class of settlers. For he speaks of their simple, frugal and indolent ways; tells how satisfied they are just to own a little plot of ground, with a bananery beside the hut, or a rice or corn-field, and perhaps a few cows. They were happiest when they could afford a slave, who would go fishing and hunting for them; for that would allow the master to lie in the hammock and smoke cigarettes. It seems natural that the home of such a montero was usually a wretched little "cabane," a shack of one room in which he dwelt with his family, which was sometimes numerous, and in close companionship with a pig, and other domestic animals. Yet this same man, preferring to lie in the hammock rather than to exert himself in some much needed work, was very fond of lively sports, as horseback-riding. Even the women of the monteros were splendid horse-women.

The dress of these people was extremely simple. The men wore trousers of oiled linen extending to the ankles; shoes of raw leather, a short shirt of the same material as the trousers, a kerchief wound tightly about the head and a big straw hat with a black ribbon or one of felt with gold braid. An indispensable article of accoutrement was the machete, cutlass, in his belt. The women wore a calico skirt, a white shirt with a bracelet at the elbow to hold the sleeves and a fichu on the head. When they went to mass, they dressed their hair, wore a mantilla on their head and put on shoes with big silver buckles. At dances they donned a round hat woven out of the tissue of plantain leaves, trimmed with gay ribbons, or a black hat with gold braid. Modest as was the montero in his demands upon life, there was one entertainment he could not forego: the feria de gallo, cock-fight. Many a one saved up his money for months to spend it on that day.

This description by M. Masse, of the montero of Cuba at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century, tallies well with the description of the guajiro of today by Forbes Lindsay in "Cuba and Her People Today." Lindsay sees in that Cuban rustic a descendant of Catalonian and Andalusian settlers:

"Time was when he occasionally owned slaves and a fair extent of land, but nowadays he is more often than not a squatter in a little corner of that no man's land which seems to be so extensive in the central and eastern portions of the Island. In comparatively few instances he has title to a few acres, lives in a passably comfortable cabana, possesses a yoke of oxen, a good horse, half a dozen pigs, and plenty of poultry. Much more often he lives in a ramshackle bohio, the one apartment of which affords indifferent shelter to a large family and is fairly shared by a lean hog and a few scrawny chickens. There is nothing deserving the name of furniture in the house and the clothing of the family is of the scantiest. A nag of some sort, usually a sorry specimen of its kind, is almost always owned by the guajiro, who loves a horse and rides like the gaucho of the Argentine pampas."

That montero of a hundred and more years ago and the guajiro of today have so much in common that it seems safe to consider the latter a descendant of the former.

The lack of proper facilities for the exchange of commodities between city and country caused the fact that Havana up to the beginning of the nineteenth century raised almost all her necessities on her own soil. The economical cassava was still generally used. The ground in the environs of the capital, though not the best soil on the island, within a short time attained considerable value. The administration of the navy yard opposed the cultivation of ground rich in trees that it could use for shipbuilding. By this monopoly alone many people were barred from owning and cultivating land. The preference of the earlier Spanish settlers for stockbreeding also limited the agricultural area. Besides, real estate conventions and regulations were as rigid as other customs of the country, and were never changed, be the need for a change ever so pressing.

From the first days of the colony the circular form of plot had been adopted, the extent of a hatos being fixed at two miles and that of the corrales at one mile in circumference. This curious system of measurement gave rise not only to difficulties in computing the area of contiguous properties, but to misunderstandings and disputes which caused much litigation. It was difficult to buy a plot of ground that was not in some way subject to legal controversy. The great number of lawyers on the island had probably a certain reason for existence owing to the innumerable boundary and other land disputes. It is evident, too, that complicated boundaries and questionable titles were a rich source of dubious activity for unscrupulous members of the profession. Land cases were wont to drag on from one generation to the other, and while the lawyers representing the interests of the clients waxed rich, the clients themselves had often to sacrifice the land itself in order to settle their claims.

The changes brought on by gradual cultivation of unimproved lands on the other hand enriched the owners of such lands quite out of proportion to their original value. When pastures were converted into farm plots, the price was augmented. A hato contained more than sixteen hundred caballerias at thirty-three acres per caballeria. The corral contained more than four hundred. The caballeria pasture land cost from ten to twenty-five pesos; as soon as it was cultivated, its lowest price was three hundred pesos. Thus a hato, worth at most forty thousand pesos, was in its new state worth more than four hundred and eighty-four thousand. Likewise a corral, originally valued at most at ten thousand pesos, rose in price to one hundred and twenty thousand. The same was true of building lots. A caballeria in the suburbs, divided into solares, house plots, could sometimes bring eighty-five thousand pesos. A caballeria to the southwest of Havana was worth three thousand pesos, one in the neighborhood of Matanzas only five hundred. The extraordinary wealth of certain convents, frequently commented upon by economists and historians, was due to the gradual and enormous increase in the price of the land which had originally been given to them. From these early grants and concessions were derived the privileges which some private properties and some convents enjoyed; they had for instance the right to forbid the building in their neighborhood of houses beyond a certain height, a precious privilege in a city where the circulation of air had not been overencouraged.

M. Masse comments at length upon these conditions in his book on Havana. He says:

"The immense fortunes of certain Havana families are thus explained. The sobriety of the Spaniards, the very limited taste and luxury found in their residences and their furnishings, a commercial management which favored agricultural products, would have ended in concentrating in a few hands fortunes rivalling those of kings, had not libertinism, the rage of lawsuits and the passion for gambling produced that instability, which some moralists would have liked to secure by other means, though these were not easily found."

The prospect of becoming hopelessly entangled in interminable lawsuits, and of having large tracts of land on one's hands without the certainty that the products of this land would find a market and bring a price commensurate with the amount of money and labor spent upon it, prevented many residents of the island from becoming landholders. Only when the conflict between the landholders and the monopoly that robbed them of their profits became acute, did certain patriots concerned with the welfare of Cuba unite to secure a radical reform in the legislation of the Indies. The demand for an extension of maritime commerce was the first to be urged upon the authorities, and the first to be granted. As has been related in a previous chapter, the British occupation of Havana opened the eyes of the Spaniards to the benefits of free commerce with and among the colonies, and led to a gradual relaxation of the law which gave to one or two Spanish ports the monopoly of transatlantic trade. When greater freedom of maritime commerce had been secured, and agriculture began to be carried on on a larger scale, not only for home consumption, but for export, the questions of repartition of land, of introducing different standards of measurement, of diminution of taxes on the fruits of the country and of duties on articles of importation, and lastly of securing the labor needed for these larger enterprises, began to occupy the minds of the leaders.

The chief branches of Cuban agriculture were the raising of live stock and the cultivation of tobacco and sugar. Until the beginning of the eighteenth century the breeding of cattle was the principal occupation of the Cuban farmer. It suited the taste of the Castilian and Andalusian immigrant, for it required comparatively little work and lent itself to the acquirement of habits of idleness which the climate of the country tended to confirm. Guiteras is right, when he says:

"Had our ganaderos (ranch owners) cultivated the plains for the alimentation of the animals and established a regular order in the care of breeds and in the management of their haciendas, this branch would have made greater progress and served as a powerful stimulus and been of great benefit for our agriculture. It would have supplied fertilizer for the fields, furnished the markets with meat for consumption by employers and laborers, and moreover, would have supplied oxen for our ploughs."

But it seems that the Cuban farmer, as are many in other countries, was too short-sighted to perceive the advantages of a well-organized system of production, and indulged in a laissez-faire policy which did not much advance his interests or those of the community.

The product next in importance was tobacco. The sections of the island best adapted for the cultivation of tobacco are the sandy fields west of Havana in the district of la Vuelta Baja, a country bathed by the waters of the San Sebastian, Richondo and the Consolacion of the south, and the Cuyaguateje or Mantua; also those in the palm belt running between Sierra Madre and the southern coast which forms a rectangle of twenty-eight leagues in length and seven in breadth. Other tobacco belts of great value are las Virtudes, between San Cristobal and Guanajas in the same Vuelta Baja, and in the east that nearest to Holguin and Cuba. The tobacco harvest of the year 1720 was six hundred thousand arrobas. But, as the historians say, "a severe system of monopoly, odious examinations and vexatious regulations and restrictions limited the profits, and the excessive cost of indispensable tools and the distance of the tobacco fields from the capital, discouraged the production of tobacco and visibly diminished the cultivation of this most important product of the island." The frequent disputes between the vegueros and the factoria, as the royal agency which owned the tobacco monopoly was called, abundantly prove the existence of conditions which were not likely to benefit the colony.

The most valuable product of the island was sugar; and the cultivation of sugar cane was in such a backward state that it reflected upon the intelligence and enterprise of the native farmers. It revealed their ignorance, habitual indifference and lack of resources most lamentably. One of the oldest sugar planters of the island, Captain D. José Nicolas Perez Garvey, presented a series of memorials to the Sociedad Economica of Santiago de Cuba, which give a fair idea of the processes employed in the elaboration of this precious product. Sr. Garvey was a pioneer in demonstrating the imperfections of the existing methods and in advising the introduction of innovations. But his recommendation of modern inventions horrified the majority of the farmers and was violently objected to by the laborers.

At first in order to press the juice out of the cane the same means were employed as for the grinding of wheat. They were cylinders set in motion by mules or oxen, a process in which half of the juice was wasted. At the beginning of the eighteenth century a more efficacious process was employed in imitation of that which was in use in Hayti. Not until the government itself took the initiative and encouraged the use of implements and machines that had proved of advantage in other sugar-raising colonies, was a change gradually effected. The great planter and landowner of Havana, D. Nicolas Calvo de la Puerta, was the man through whose influence and insistence upon certain innovations the sugar production was slowly improved. Finally there was the problem of converting the guarapo or fermented cane juice into sugar, which was at first also very primitive and slowly yielded to more productive and profitable methods. Lastly the sugar production of the island developed another product, which was not only popular on the island, but became an article of exportation. From 1760 to 1767 Havana, which was the only port qualified to export sweetmeats, sent out annually thirteen thousand cases of sixteen arrobas each. In the period of five years from 1791 to 1795 inclusive, the export was 7,572,600 arrobas. White sugar was then worth thirty-two reals per arroba, brown sugar twenty-eight. The French immigrants from Santo Domingo were an element that contributed to the improvement and promotion of the sugar industry.

Though they furnished a far smaller proportion of the island's wealth, hides, cane, brandy, refined honey and wax also began to figure in the economic records of Cuba. Wax became a valuable product about the year 1764 when Bishop Morell brought a few swarms of bees from his Florida exile. It was exported to the ports of the Gulf of Mexico where it was highly esteemed for its superior quality. The indigo plant which was introduced during the administration of Governor Las Casas proved in time a new source of Cuban wealth. Coffee plantations and cocoa groves had also multiplied in number, and were slowly furnishing new products for home consumption as for exportation.

The following figures will give a limited but reliable survey of the growth of agriculture towards the end of the century. Before the year 1761 there were only between sixty and seventy sugar refineries on the island. By the end of the century there were four hundred and eighty. Before the year 1796 there were only eight or ten coffee plantations, so that the island barely produced enough coffee for its own consumption. By the end of the century there were three hundred and twenty-six "cafeyeres." At the same time the island had two thousand four hundred and thirty-nine vegas, or tobacco fields, and one thousand two hundred and twenty-three colmenares or apiaries. The revenues of the island from 1793, when they amounted to over one million pesos, rose steadily until at the beginning of the century they were about three million pesos annually. The sugar plantations yielded great profits, but they also required big investments of money and labor. One of the most prominent sugar planters on the island, D. José Ignacio Echegoyen, calculated that to produce ten thousand arrobas of sugar, an expenditure of twelve thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven pesos was needed, besides a capital of sixty thousand. He was one of the foremost citizens that protested against the tax of one tenth on sugar. Work on the sugar plantations was the hardest imaginable; even the negro slaves could not stand it longer than ten years. Then their working capacity was completely exhausted and they were given their liberty.

Though the importation of negro slaves essentially helped the development of agriculture and the industries connected with it, there still existed restrictions and regulations which acted as a continual check upon the growth of the population, and had a paralyzing effect upon the intellectual development of the colonists. A favorable solution of these important questions offered great obstacles. Although the principles on which Spain founded her restrictive system had been relaxed, there existed a great number of interests that had been created through this system and were unwilling to give up their privileges. Derogation of these restrictions would have meant loss and injury to some peninsular subjects that had grown rich and powerful through them.

The historian Guiteras elucidates this point when he says that higher state reasons, supported by the right that, according to the notions of the epoch gave them the international law and the famous bull of Alexander VI. and was sustained by a great and expensive war against the nations that attempted to colonize America, had influenced the conduct of the government for nearly three centuries. The government only agreed by force of invincible circumstances to have the British and the French establish themselves in and continue in possession of a part of North America and a few islands of the Antilles; but it always insisted on maintaining the vast possessions that recognized its authority closed to the commerce of the allies according to the agreement. With the existence of a new and independent nation near these states, whose political organization, religious principles and national character were diametrically opposed to those of the Spanish government, these possessions and dominions of the crown seemed to be in danger. The imprudent demonstration in the state of Georgia had already shown the spirit of hostility which when the republic of the United States was barely established began to manifest itself against the neighboring possessions of a country which in her diplomatic relations had from the beginning of the Revolution always showed herself friendly. Such considerations very likely increased the aversion of the monarch as of his court towards Britain and the British race, in whose favor they had yielded more than to any other power concessions demanded by the interests of their subjects in America.

These were some of the great impediments which the champions of progress encountered in their valiant endeavors to free the economic development of Cuba and to help its much hampered industries. But one of the most serious obstacles was the restriction of Spanish and especially foreign immigration.

It seems that these restrictions which dated from the accession of Philip II. had two definite objects; the first was to preserve the purity of the Spanish stock in the West Indies and other possessions of Spanish America; the second was to prevent foreigners from learning the extent and the resources of Spain's American colonies. Edward Gaylord Bourne says in "Spain in America":

"In regard to Spaniards, the policy adopted was one of restriction and rigid supervision. No one, either native or foreigner, was allowed to go to the Indies without a permit from the crown (or in some cases from the Casa de Contracion) under penalty of forfeiting his property. Officers of the fleets or vessels were held strictly responsible for infractions of this rule. In the code the details of these restrictions are amplified in seventy-three laws. The reasons for such strict regulations covering emigration was to protect the Indies from being overrun with idle and turbulent adventurers anxious only 'to get rich quickly and not content with food and clothing, which every moderately industrious man was assured of.'"

Another reason for this strict supervision is given in a law enacted in the year 1602, which directs the deportation of foreigners from the ports of the Indies, because "the ports are not safe in the things of our holy Catholic faith, and great care should be taken that no error creep in among the Indians." An exception to the rule was made twenty years later, when expert mechanics were allowed, but traders in the cities remained excluded. So rigidly was this policy upheld that Humboldt during five years of travel in Spanish America met only one German resident.

It is more difficult to understand the object of this policy than to realize its effect upon the country's growth and progress. M. Masse says in his book "L'Isle de Cuba et la Havane":

"No Spaniard was allowed to sail for America without permission of the king, a permission granted only for well-defined business reasons, and for a period limited to two years. The agreement to settle there was even more difficult to obtain. A special permission was needed even to pass from the province first chosen to another. Priests and nuns were subject to the same rule."

These restrictions were enforced even at the beginning of the nineteenth century. M. Masse continues to say that travelers were detained on board several days before they were allowed to land in Havana. They had to present a passport, a certificate of birth and baptism and a certificate of respectable life and good conduct, all signed by a consul of Spain.

In individual cases these severe requirements may have been evaded—M. Masse mentions the fact that minor functionaries were ready to do the foreigners any favor—for a consideration. But upon the whole it must be admitted that their observance tended to keep up a certain moral standard in the colonies, which may not have been without some good influence in moulding the character of the people. While other powers of Europe allowed—and even encouraged—their colonies to become dumping-grounds for human refuse, to populate them with their derelicts and those of other nations, until America was spoken of by the Germans as the big reformatory, Spain made an attempt at what some centuries later, in our scientific age, might have been called "race culture."


The conditions which we have described did not, however, prevent the colony, when prosperity came to her, from succumbing to the evils which invariably follow in the wake of new wealth. The historian Blanchet reports that there existed in Cuba towards the end of the century a strange mixture of immorality and piety. Religious enthusiasm rose to an unusual degree of fervor in Villa Clara in the year 1790. Two Capuchin missionaries had been there a month, and the church was crowded from early morning until late at night with men and women spellbound by their words. After the orisons there was a sermon, and at times, immediately after the sermon, the women left, the building was closed and darkened and the men remained inside. Prayers alternated with flagellations, until some individuals were exhausted with pain and the loss of blood. In the penitential procession, which took place on some evenings, the two missionaries and the priests of the town were followed by a multitude in which both sexes were represented. The members of the Ayuntamiento took part, bare-legged and bare-foot; some marched with the head and face concealed by a white cowl, the body uncovered to the waist, and from the waist down wrapped in sack-cloth. Some staggered under the weight of a heavy cross; others walked straight and attempted to inflict wounds upon themselves with the point of a sword. It seems, however, that this religious exaltation was at times carried too far, for flagellation assumed such proportions at burials that it had to be forbidden.

In contrast to this religious revival was the wave of frivolity and immorality that seemed simultaneously to sweep over the island. The streets of the towns resounded with ribald speech and lascivious songs. The Bishop was scandalized to see Cuban women discard their veils when they went on the street. When they wore décolleté gowns, they did not even close the blinds, but openly showed themselves at the windows. There is little doubt that increase of overseas traffic in the ports of the island contributed to the growing laxity of morals. M. Masse considered the navy yard a special source of the corruption which wealth had brought. "For the money needed by that enterprise circulated in the city at the same time as the vices and the passions of its employees and sailors." With a remarkable psychological insight he gives a most plausible explanation how the change in the life of the island affected the women of Cuba, and especially of Havana.

For these women had so far been brought up in strict conformity to the conventions of their female ancestors in Spain. They had been sent to a girls' school, always escorted, and had never until they were married even talked alone with a man. In the narrow confines of their home, either before or after marriage, their beauty was taken for granted and passed uncommented. For the Cuban women were always unusually handsome, having the same regular features and rich coloring as the Spanish, the same large black eyes and bluish black hair, perhaps even accentuated by their placid immobility of expression. A strange type, bound to attract attention anywhere, they struck the strangers landing in this tropical city like rare exotic flowers, and they suddenly found themselves the objects of an admiration which manifested itself in ways that were new and irresistible. The Cuban husband was known not to be as loyal as his wife was expected to be; why should they not accept the homage offered them? To this host of admirers, ever changing, ever ready to shower them with favors, M. Masse, the keen psychologist, attributes the change in the attitude of the women and the gradual change in the tone of Cuban, especially Havanese, society. As more and more of these industrious foreigners, who might have been as good Spaniards as their own ancestors, settled on the island, the difference between them and the native Cubans manifested itself, not always to the latter's advantage. Women began to prefer them as husbands, and there was one more cause for antagonism between these scions of a common stock, whom different environment and conditions of existence had caused to drift apart, and become irreconcilably estranged.

Of Havana that subtle student of life has this to say:

"The need of forgetting the many privations of a prolonged sea voyage, with gold always in abundance for those who do not know how to manage their affairs and to whom each voyage seems a new adventure, the influence of a climate which makes for voluptuousness, all this combines to make Havana a new Cythera placed at the port of long journeys even as the ancient cradle of pleasure was at that end of the long voyage of that time."

Thus Havana, like other capitals of the world, became gradually not only the cradle of Cuban culture, but also of that corruption of the simpler and purer instincts of human nature which seems to be inseparable from a certain degree of material comfort. The man of Havana had in centuries of repression and restriction lost the power of initiative; the end of the century which gave the colonists of North America their independence made them free to think and act, and work for themselves, and above everything else, to govern themselves, found him still under a rigorous paternal supervision by representatives of a king whom he perhaps never saw. Centuries of such guardianship had robbed him of all incentive and made him drift along the line of least resistance.

Physically and morally a product of the country which was politically and economically a victim of that type of government, the Cuban of that period had no interests save the quest of comfort and such pleasurable excitement as certain entertainments offered. The women divided their attention between their church and their home, indulged in deadly idleness and senseless extravagance, dressed luxuriantly, but with bad taste, and sought distraction in gossip or gambling. The men, who had caught faint echoes of Voltaire and ideas of the Revolution and were estranged from the church, divided their interests between their business and their friends of both sexes, and also sought distraction in gambling. There was gambling in the home circle, in the houses of friends, in the clubs, even in the convents. It was estimated that ten thousand games of cards were annually imported into Havana.

Of places of amusement there was no lack at that time. M. Villiet d'Arignon, who visited Havana fifty years before and was bored by the provincial monotony of Cuban life, could not have complained of lack of entertainment, had he seen Havana at the threshold of the nineteenth century, though his fastidious Gallic taste would perhaps not have been satisfied with the quality of the attractions the Cuban metropolis offered her guests. The native Cuban, and the Spaniard who had settled there, did not wish for anything more fascinating and more exciting than the national fiesta of the bull-fight, the corrida de toros. No true Cuban could resist the trumpet call summoning the population to that most sumptuous spectacle.

"These costumes of the age of chivalry, those richly harnessed palfreys, those banderillos (small darts with a bandorol) or stilets trimmed with the colors, with which the neck of the poor beast is seen magnificently larded; this martial music, these cheers of the mousquetaires rendering homage unto the victors, this most eminent magistrate presiding at the feast, this vast arena, this wealth of beautiful women, who have the opportunity of hearing the most drastic, disgusting and obscene exclamations, into which the vulgarity of spectators and toreadors lapses in the heat of the combat. And yet I would not advise the Spanish government to attempt to abolish at least in Havana this sort of spectacle. A revolt might cause the authorities to repent of their temerity."

Thus does the French author quoted before paint the picture of the greatest entertainment the Cuban of that time knew. But there were others, for instance the caroussel, the circus, the magicians, and there was always the cock-pit, offering almost as much excitement as the bull-ring. Here, too, the gambling craze of the people asserted itself. For not only the prosperous man about town spent his money in betting at the cock-fight, as he did at the bull-fight. Every little town had its cock-pit and every montero or guajiro sacrificed his wages to taste the excitement of that spectacle. Surely Cuba at that century's end had already learned what the hosts of strangers needed, when after a long and tedious voyage they landed on the island.

One cannot help being reminded of the impressions M. Villiet d'Arignon carried with him from his visit to Cuba as recorded in Jean Baptiste Nougaret's "Voyages interessans," when after a month's sojourn he sailed for Vera Cruz on the same vessel that took D. Juan Guemez y Horcasitas from the governorship of Cuba to the vice-regency of Mexico. Then already was gambling the favorite, and, as the island lacked such places of amusement as were established later, probably the only pastime. The Frenchman noticed also the total absence of any interest in literature, art and music, and the impossibility of finding a circle of people where he could enjoy an animated conversation on subjects outside of the commonplace and of current local gossip, made him reflect rather unfavorably upon West Indian society of that time.

Such reflections must, however, be accepted with some reservation. For if the West Indian and especially the Cuban of the eighteenth century lacked interest in those things that make for culture, it must be remembered that the country in which he was living was still young, and that the people's paramount interest had of necessity to be for the things material. There has perhaps never been a colony of settlers in a foreign and primitive land that has not been so thoroughly absorbed in the task of founding a home and making a living, that all other things, for the time being, did not seem to matter. All pioneer settlers are bound for at least one or two generations to be so engrossed in rude manual labor or in plans to establish a trade, that they lose touch with the current intellectual life of their mother country and fall behind. When those most urgent duties are performed and allow them brief spells of leisure, in which they look about and try to pick up the threads they had dropped, they find that the mother country has in the meantime advanced so far beyond them that they are unable to catch up with it.

Spanish America was no exception to this rule. While the sons of Spain that had settled in the New World were engaged in cultivating the soil, making roads in the rough country and laying the foundations of commerce and trade in the cities founded by their fathers or grandfathers, Spain had entered upon the heritage of many centuries of European culture, which on her soil had a rich admixture of Arabian elements. The literature of Spain had given to the world an immortal epic, the story of Cervantes, "Don Quixote," the deep significance of which was not perhaps grasped at that time, but the human essence and the humor of which were not lost upon his generation. It had given to the world a drama, which was far in advance of anything the continent had so far produced, and was comparable only to the works of that unparalleled British genius, Shakespeare. The plays of Lopé de Vega were performed all over Europe and found their way even into the seraglio of Constantinople; and those of Calderon de la Barca have survived the changes of time and taste and are even today occasionally performed.

Of all this the Spaniard of Cuba was hardly aware. Even if he had not been so engrossed in his rude task, he could barely have known anything about it, because the limited communication with the mother country and the restrictions upon travel kept Spanish America in a state of isolation, that made for stagnation rather than progress. When the period of material prosperity came to Cuba with the relaxation of Spain's commercial restrictions, the Cuban awoke to the realization that he had lost contact with Spain's intellectual life, and had been left at least two centuries behind. Out of this knowledge, depressing and discouraging as it must have been, grew the attempt to centralize and organize a gradual revival of literary and scientific activity on the island.

Whether the Sociedad Economica Patriotica which was later called Junta di Fomento is identical with the Sociedad de Amigos del Real Pais, is not made clear by the historians. The Spaniards' fondness for long and sonorous names and titles may have added the second name. However, both this organization and a society founded about the same time in Santiago for the purpose of organizing the literary activities of that place, and similar societies in Sancti Spiritus and Puerto Principe were an expression of the earnest desire of at least a part of the people to turn their attention towards other things than those material. To Governor La Torre, Havana owed the foundation of its first theatre. That this establishment was encouraged and effectively patronized by Governor Las Casas and other men closely identified with the cultural work of the Sociedad, goes without saying.

But it is perfectly natural in view of the long period of indifference towards anything like the drama that the classical Spanish dramas, the masterpieces of Lopé de Vega and of the inimitable Calderon, did not immediately find their way upon the stage of Havana. The audiences had gradually to grow up to their standard and the directors of the enterprise wisely refrained from forcing them upon a people that had so long been ignorant of the strides Spain had made in the interval since their ancestors settled in the New World. Hence the repertoire of the theatre of Havana towards the end of the century catered to the Spaniard's love of music and favored the best comic operas then produced in the theatres of Europe. The ballet was very popular, as it was everywhere at that period. But that subtle observer, M. Masse, was not favorably impressed with it.

"The ballet is of that kind which carries far the art of varying the most voluptuous attitudes and the expression of the least equivocal sentiment."

He suspected the fandango, supposed to be typically Havanese, of being originally a negro dance, saying "The difference is in the embroidery, which civilization, or if one wishes, corruption, has introduced."

Very popular were at the time little comedies of domestic life, called Saynetes, and offering pretty truthful pictures of social customs and habits on the island, and especially glimpses of the society of Havana. A Cuban writer of the period, D. José Rodriguez, is credited with the authorship of a comedy, "El Principe Jardinero," The Prince Gardener, which by its complicated plot held the attention of the audience and was performed with great success in 1791. A comedian of considerable ability and fame, then very popular with the Havanese, D. Francisco Covarrubas, was the author of farces, which were very warmly received and drew large audiences. The theatre of New Orleans, much older and better equipped than that of Havana, sometimes sent its company of actors for a short season of more serious drama. Among other plays which this company produced was the tragedy "Les Templiers." Although undoubtedly still in its beginnings, the theatre of Havana was upon the whole doing good work. Anglo-Americans who visited Havana about the century's end are said to have admitted that it was superior in building, stage setting, acting and music to the American theatres of that period.

The regular company which played in Havana at the time of Governor Las Casas was under the direction of Sr. Luis Saez. The performances were given twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays, and mostly offered a program in which drama and music alternated. If a play of several acts was given, these musical numbers came between the acts. The program would usually begin with a dramatic composition; in the first intermission a short play was acted, in the second a tonadilla (musical composition) was played or a few Seguidillas (merry Spanish song or dance tunes). At times the pieces between the acts were suppressed and the performance ended with a tonadilla or a farce. In the bill of January twenty-ninth, 1792, it is announced that "this performance will conclude with a new duly censored piece entitled 'Elijir con discrecion i amante privilegiado' (The privileged lover chosen with discretion), by an inhabitant of this city, D. Miguel Gonzales."


They did not know then, in Havana, the lyric theatre, although the Havanese were fond of music and the members of Havana society in their gatherings usually provided some musical entertainment by having an instrumentalist perform on the piano, guitar or harp. However, there seems to have existed an Academy of Music, where concerts were given. There is an article in an issue of the Havana paper of that time, the Papel Periodico, which refers to a concert given by Senora Maria Josefa Castellanos, whose performance on the harpsichord called forth not only a tribute in verse, but a glowing description of her "rare skill and mastery of which she has given proof in the Academy, with the sweetest harmonies of the best composers." This eulogy is contained in the Sunday issue of January twenty-second, 1792. Besides Senora Castellanos and other skilled amateurs, there was a Senora Doña Maria O'Farrell, who distinguished herself by her musical accomplishments, for another issue of the Papel Periodico contains a sapphic ode dedicated to her by an admirer, who signed the pseudonym Filesimolpos.

It appears that balls as an amusement were not approved of, which seems a contradiction in a society which was by no means puritanical. Although social evenings in private houses frequently ended in a dance, there were few indications that large affairs consisting mainly of dancing took place in the public assembly halls. The Papel Periodico of December sixteenth, 1792, contains an announcement which for its brevity gives room to manifold interpretation. "The gentlemen are informed that there will be a dance today" is so laconic, that one is almost induced to believe that these dances were given at places known only to the initiated. In this particular instance it was subsequently learned that this dance of the sixteenth of December, 1792, took place at the house of a man who was considered "a dangerous reformer of the customs of Havana." Did this dangerous reformer perhaps admit to his dance the ravishingly beautiful and cultured women that had come from Santo Domingo, where they freely moved in society, but were barred in Havana, because they had a white father or grandfather and a colored mother or grandmother? Foreign visitors to Havana at that period were so warm in their praise of these refined unfortunate victims of miscegenation, that they may have converted some of the gilded youth of the smart set or the Bohemia of Havana to their point of view.

The fine arts were not at first considered in the planning and building of the city of Havana. Though much money was spent upon public buildings, no artistic effect whatever was aimed at and the impression of a crude utilitarianism prevailed. The churches, too, did not possess the noble dignity of the great cathedrals of France, Italy and Spain. The most ambitious ecclesiastical edifice in Havana, the church of San Francisco, was architecturally mediocre in style and barbarously overornamented.

In all the churches the sculpture and the wood-carving on the altars were over-elaborate and bewildered by their decorative details. Besides all these buildings were too low and narrow, and by their endless decoration diminished the sense of space and produced one of oppression. On special saints' days the decorations were pathetically crude and primitive. Angels of paper tissue, artificial flowers, birds, lambs, etc., were displayed with a profusion which was distracting, instead of adding to the fervor of religious sentiment.


The Church de la Concepcion, built about 1795, was the only church edifice which by a certain classic simplicity approached the solemn beauty of a Greek temple. The Carmelite Church was interesting for the tomb of Bishop Compostele with the epitaph, which expressed his wish to be laid to rest "between the lilies of Carmel and the choirs of the virgins." None of these churches had pews or chairs, the seating capacity being limited to two rows of stalls or benches along the nave. This made for an admirable democracy in a society which otherwise rigorously segregated the castes for it happened not infrequently that men of rank and ladies of position found themselves beside a poor negro. Occasionally, however, one could see a lady going to mass with her family of children, accompanied by a negro, carrying a rug and a small chair; and when such a handsome senora seated herself in the center of the rug with her offspring grouped about her, the effect was so picturesque as to call for the brush of a Velasquez. But this privilege was limited to white ladies of rank only. The music in the churches, on the other hand, was exclusively furnished by the musically gifted negroes. Though it sometimes occurred in Cuba, as in other colonies of America, that owing to the lack of printed church music sacred words were adopted to secular tunes, and frequently to those of popular comic opera, the master works of the old church composers were sometimes heard at special occasions.

Among the streets of Havana the most metropolitan was the Calle de la Muralla, so called from the muralla or rampart built by Governor Ricla. This was the Rue de la Paix for the women of Havana. It was lined with "tiendas de ropas," shops displaying all the latest importations of dress goods and wearing apparel. At that time, as at the present, the fashionable ladies of the Cuban capital insisted upon keeping pace with the styles of dress and adornment which prevailed in the great cities of Europe, as their pecuniary means, their taste and their natural gifts abundantly enabled them to do. Every morning the street was crowded with the carriages of ladies engaged in shopping. For no white woman, unless she belonged to what in the southern states of North America would have been called "poor white trash" was allowed to go on foot during the day, unless she was going to mass. Up to the twenties of the new century and beyond, this convention was rigidly observed. Those who had to go on foot were not seen on the Calle de la Muralla until the evening hours. Then it was crowded with as gay and handsome a multitude of women, white, black and of all the intervening shades, as ever trod the pavement of a southern capital.

At such times the relation between the white and the colored women of the city could be observed in little incidents that were an unending source of amusement to the student of life. The lithe and willowy form of the young girl of Spain, which Montaigne has called "un corps bien espagnole," was frequently to be found among the Cuban women. The almost regal dignity and grace of carriage, for which the Spanish women were noted, had also been transmitted to their descendants in the colonies. Now it was nothing unusual for any one to follow with his eyes the perfect form and the graceful movements of some woman in the crowd of such nights, and on coming up and catching a glimpse of the face to find a negress. For the imitative faculty of the colored race is extraordinary, and the negro maids of the white ladies of Havana copied faithfully every detail of the gait and gestures of their mistresses. The dress worn by the Havanese on the streets was the national basquina, a black skirt, with a waist according to the prevailing fashion, and under that basquina was often worn a white petticoat trimmed with lace, which most unconcernedly was being dragged through the dust. But the most important article of a Cuban woman's dress was the mantilla, also often trimmed with the rarest lace, that indispensable covering for head and shoulders, which made an effective frame for a face in which shone a pair of luminous black eyes. That mantilla, like the fan, was a medium of expression and spoke an eloquent language to those that understood.

The cafés, which were sadly missed by M. Villiet d'Arignon in the middle of the century, had begun to appear in the streets of Havana, but never became as popular as in European capitals. The Cuban did not particularly care for coffee as a beverage; he preferred chocolate, which he took at home. He did not care to go out, unless it was for a game of cards, a feria di gallo, or cock-fight, or the bull-ring. He was essentially a domestic creature, though Havana had a smart set the masculine members of which furnished ample material for gossip of a more or less scandalous nature. He spent his time at home smoking; in fact, everybody in Cuba smoked, men, women, children, priests, masters and slaves. It was not an infrequent sight to see a negro maid about her work with a cigar in her mouth or behind her ear. Small favors and services were paid in cigars.

Outside of the cultural endeavors of the Sociedad little was done in Cuba for the cause of education. As the Countess de Merlin reported in her book on Havana, there was only one school in that city in the year 1791, that taught grammar and orthography, the instructor being the mulatto Melendez. The children of the monteros and guajiros in the country grew up in almost complete illiteracy. As was mentioned in a previous chapter Governor Las Casas devoted from eleven to twelve thousand pesos of his private fortune for primary instruction, but it is not clear whether this was to be extended throughout the island or limited to Havana. At any rate there were at the beginning of his administration thirty-nine schools in the city, seven of which were for males only, the others for children of both sexes. In many of these schools, which were in charge of mulattos or free negroes, only reading was taught; in the better schools arithmetic as far as fractions; thus prepared young men were expected to enter upon a university course. The smallest fee for primary instruction was four reales a month; for higher instruction two pesos. To two hundred white and colored children the P. P. de Belen (Fathers of Bethlehem) gave lessons free of cost; it is reported that their class surpassed in writing. Towards the end of the administration of Las Casas there were seventy schools, with about two thousand pupils. But they seemed to have a hard fight for their existence and the number is reported to have been later reduced to seven hundred and thirty-one pupils.

The low intellectual standard of the average Havanese woman of that period is easily understood by a glance at these data. The education of girls even in the cities was considered of such minor importance, that as late as 1793 it was not deemed necessary for them to learn to read. The daughters of the Havanese patricians were taught accomplishments regarded as inseparable from an ideal of refined womanhood, such as embroidery and a little music. But as work of any kind was not on the program of their lives, serious occupation, even with household duties, was unheard of. The matronly senoras, who were frequently held up as models of womanhood and especially of motherhood, were woefully ignorant of the simplest cooking and other branches of what is today called home economics. The orphans and poor children admitted to the Casa de Beneficiencia were better prepared for life. They were all taught the alphabet, the girls sewing, embroidery and the making of artificial flowers, and the boys learned the cigar-makers' trade.

From these premises it can be easily inferred that the standard of literary activity in Cuba could not have been very high. That great democratic medium for the diffusion of information, the printing press, was an institution which in Cuba was also limited by royal decrees. According to Sr. La Torre the first printing press was established in Havana in 1747; there were printed the decrees and reports and other official documents of the government, and sometimes matters of general interest were published on loose sheets. Some authorities claim for Santiago de Cuba the honor of priority, stating that it had a printing press before the year 1700. But Sr. Hernandez in his Ensayos literarios declares that he could find no foundation for this statement. Nor do Valdes, Arrate or Pezuela contain any definite data on that subject.

It is safe to presume that the work of the press established in 1747 produced some good results in spreading information otherwise withheld from the public; for in the year 1776 a royal decree forbade the establishment of any other printing press besides that devoted to governmental work. It is possible, too, that some speculator had attempted to found another printing establishment. For Sr. Saco tells us that in the year 1766 there was in Havana a printing concern under the name of Computo Ecclesiastico and in 1773 another under the direction of D. Blas de los Olivos. But there are no data to show that these concerns existed at the time of the royal decree of 1776.

The establishment of a periodical has usually been deferred to the administration of Governor Las Casas. But there is reason to believe that the note contained in the fourth book of the history of Cuba by Valles rests upon fact; it speaks of a "Gaceta de la Habana" as being in existence in the year 1782. An issue of that Gaceta, dated May 16, 1783, was said to contain a report of the festivals with which the Duke of Lancaster was honored in Havana. In that issue the publisher said:

"Since in the preceding Gaceta the arrival in this town of the Infante William Duke of Lancaster, third son of King George of England, could hardly be indicated, we suppressed for one week the circulation of other news, in order to offer to our readers the details of his entry into Havana."

Besides those printing concerns no other is known to have existed in Havana until the opening of that of Bolona, in the year 1792, which is referred to in an advertisement in the Papel Periodico of Sunday, August 26th of that year. This advertisement read:

"Another negress about 20 or 21 years old, good cook and laundress, healthy and without defects, for three hundred pesos. He who wants her will apply to the printing office of D. Estaven Joseph Bolona, where her master will be found."

That this press was not identical with the government printing establishment is inferred from the fact that in this number of the Papel Periodico as well as other issues are contained many advertisements referring to the printing office, where information will be given.

The Gaceta de la Habana was a weekly, which probably contained the government announcements and news of the most important events of the time. The space of the Gaceta was too limited to admit of the publication of communications from readers on matters concerning the community, hence such effusions, as also the lyrics coming from the pens of poetically inclined dilettanti, were published on separate sheets to be circulated among their admiring friends. But at the time of Governor Las Casas the desire of improving this publication of the government made itself felt; the space was enlarged and the old time Gaceta seems to have been merged in the Papel Periodico, which began to circulate from the twenty-fourth of October, 1790. It appeared once a week and was edited by D. Diego de la Barrera.

This publication was the only medium through which those desirous of knowing something of the current life of the island at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century could obtain a fair picture of the customs and occupations of that time, described by the individual contributors with the warmth and the florid exuberance then in style and occasionally, when coming from a more critical mind, with a touch of satire. The following extract from the periodical will give an idea of its contents and character. In an issue of the year 1792, the writer speaks of the lamentable ignorance reigning in the country districts of Cuba and hampering the development of agriculture. He attacks the current opinion that the climate is the source of the Cuban's indifference and indolence, saying that this assumption would give ground to deny even the possibility of progress. He says:

"Many opine that the laziness of the inhabitants of this country is the effect of the climate. They take it for granted that the lassitude of the muscles and tendons is due to the heat and makes the bodies lose their tenseness and hence their capacity for exertion. They also give as cause the excessive evaporation of elements needed for the growth and the strength of the organism, asserting that this loss owing to weak constitution of the stomach cannot be repaired by fatty and abundant food.

"These reasons founded upon the organic mechanism of our bodies seem quite conclusive. There is no doubt that the intense heat which we suffer during the greatest part of the year in the countries near the equator promotes evaporation too much. But I dare to assert that the excess is being insensibly recovered by the bodies through the particles produced by perspiration. This does not seem chimerical, when we reflect that by our constant respiration the air in which we are living enters and is being constantly renewed in our liquids, and that this air is impregnated with innumerable corpuscles extracted from the solids. The same is true of a fountain, the surplus flows off to fertilize the near forest, while at the same time is restored to its bosom through different means an equal quantity, which incessant infiltration also supplies from other water sources."

After comparing the physical and intellectual aptitude of the children of the tropics with those of Greenland and the progress made by the French of Hayti in science, agriculture and art, which is in diametrical contrast to that of the Spanish West Indians, he continues:

"Therefore, as indolence or laziness do not proceed from external causes, we must admit that they proceed from ourselves. I find no other source. It is a voluntary habit, or speaking more plainly, a vice propagated like the pestilence and causing incalculable harm to the social structure. But as I propose to combat this enemy, I shall show the most visible injuries it produces in those who yield to its insidious charm.

"Every living body without movement goes into corruption. This is a well established principle and in the hot countries which are usually humid, the effect is quickly seen. We have a sad experience in this city, where the inhabitants are frequently afflicted with dropsy, internal and external tumors, hypochondria, nervous diseases and many other ailments, the origin of which is inaction or want of movement and circulation. While in this respect indolence conspires against our very existence, the injury is no less when it manifests itself in the vices to which professional idlers are subject. Incessant gambling, excessive sensuality, late hours, unreasonable food and drink and other correlative features are the means by which health is ruined, life is shortened; and he who succeeds in prolonging it, does so at the cost of a variety of aches and pains.

"Prisons and other dismal places are the final abode of idleness. Those liable to get there for theft, debt and other offences curse their unhappy lot; but they will not admit that their laziness is the chief source of their misfortunes. Celibacy, depopulation, the languishing of commerce, the backwardness of science, art, agriculture, etc., are all the results of idleness.

"When I see on this island a city of so large a population, the greater part of which is living in ill-concealed poverty, while her fertile and beautiful fields around are uncultivated and deserted, painful reflections suggest themselves to me. If this oldest and most wholesome occupation, agriculture, is an inexhaustible source of wealth even in countries less favored for it, how much wealth might not be produced in this country. It is evident that the difference in its favor would be as great as the superiority of our fields which in fertility are unrivalled by those of any other country.

"I therefore conclude by saying that even those living in opulence have no excuse for giving themselves up to shameful inaction. When their riches exempt them from ordinary occupations, they should devote themselves to the cultivation of the mind."

This somewhat predicatory article, published in Nos. 11, 13 and 14 of the Papel Periodico, proves how seriously the men at the head of the great intellectual revival of the century's end took their task of rousing the people from their torpor. Nevertheless there is little documentary proof that much was produced by the pens of that generation.

The question of promoting agriculture seems to have preoccupied the minds of the readers at that time. In another article the author says:

"I must state that no country can progress unless it produces in abundance fruits for exportation; if it confines itself to the amount used for home consumption, it will never come out of her poverty. The beautiful climate, the fertile soil, and the location of our island offer much richer resources than any other country; but unfortunately we are hampered by various conditions, mainly in the attitude of the people themselves. There are those whose notions do not permit them to take a great part in the community of laborers; these, again, living in poverty, are afraid to change their work, thinking that what they are doing is the best for them. What is needed is to remove some of the prejudices that prevent people from seeing the advantages that would result from their devoting themselves to the cultivation of fruits for exportation.

"There is no doubt that there are in this island physical and moral causes that hamper the progress of agriculture. The physical are: the distribution of the grounds in large portions to individual owners, the condition of the roads, almost impassable during the rainy season; the lack of bridges, the lack of labor, and lastly the lack of concerted action among the inhabitants. The moral reasons are: insufficient instruction and education of the laboring people, the contempt for farming peculiar to the young, and especially the unmarried landholder; the great number of idlers and the small population."

The measures adopted by the supreme government in 1784 had checked the progress of Cuba and even diminished the population. In that epoch the allowances from Mexico decreased and the authorities of the island found themselves without means to perform the every day business of the island. The evils produced by these new decrees were set forth in a petition to the king and were amply discussed in the paper.

The excitement of the authorities and the population is reflected in various articles of the Papel Periodico which have not only the merit of showing the state of the public mind, but also of proving that the authorities in Cuba itself favored reforms. They certainly would not have been published had they not been approved of by Governor Las Casas. There are interesting communications in the paper from foreigners then visiting in Havana. One of them signing himself "El Europeo imparcial" gives a very appreciative account of the character and customs of the Havanese. He praises their religion, their piety, their zeal for divine worship and devotion to the saints; their courteous and affable conduct, the refinement of their leaders, the magnificence of their festivities and assemblies, both sacred and secular, their streets and promenades, where multitudes of brilliant carriages are to be seen, and other features of public life which in all countries are the first to strike the foreign visitor.

A most ambitious and for the time extraordinary work appeared in the year 1787. It was a book by D. Antonio Parra on the fish and crustacea of the island, illustrated by the Cuban Baez. It was the first scientific work written and published in Cuba, and seems for some time to have remained the only one. For until the end of the century the literature produced had a distinctly dilettante character. The fable, epigram and satire occasionally relieved the flood of lyric verse. Most of this appeared anonymously; or the writers used pseudonyms or signed their names in anagrams. P. José Rodriguez, the author of "The Prince Gardener," the comedy popular in Havana at that time, wrote under the pen-name "Capucho" a number of gay decimas, poems in the Spanish form of ten lines of eight syllables each. But none of these works were of a quality to call for serious criticism and had no merits that insured for them a permanent place in what was ultimately to be known as Cuban literature; for this literature dates only from the nineteenth century.


"Cuba; America: America; Cuba. The two names are inseparable." So we said at the beginning of our history of the "Pearl of the Antilles." So we must say at the beginning of a new era, the third, in these annals. At the beginning the connection was between Cuba and America as a whole—the continents of the western hemisphere. In this second case it is between Cuba and America in the more restricted meaning of the United States. There was a significant and to some degree influential forecast of this relationship in the preceding era, in which Cuba was in contact with England and with the rising British power in the New World. For what was afterward to become the United States was then a group of British colonies, and it was inevitable that relations begun in Colonial times should be inherited by the independent nation which succeeded. Moreover, Cuba was in those days brought to the attention of the future United States in a peculiarly forcible manner by the very important participation of Colonial troops, particularly from Connecticut and New Jersey, in that British conquest of Havana which we have recorded in preceding chapters.

It was nearly half a century, however, after the establishment of American independence that any practical interest began to be taken in Cuba by the great continental republic at the north. The purchase of the Louisiana territory and the opening to unrestrained American commerce of that Mississippi River which a former Governor of Cuba had discovered and partially explored, had greatly increased American interest in the Gulf of Mexico and had created some commercial interest in the great Island which forms its southern boundary. Later the acquisition of Florida called attention acutely to the passing away of Spain's American Empire and to the concern which the United States might well feel in the disposition of its remaining fragments. Already, in the case of Florida in 1811 the United States Government had enunciated the principle that it could not permit the transfer of an adjacent colony from one European power to another. It will be pertinent to this narrative to recall that action in fuller detail. The time was in the later Napoleonic wars, when Spain was almost at the mercy of any despoiler. There was imminent danger that Spain would transfer Florida to some other power, as she had done a few years before with the Louisiana territory, or that it would be taken from her. In these circumstances the Congress of the United States on January 15, 1811, adopted a joint resolution in these terms:

"Taking into view the peculiar situation of Spain, and of her American provinces; and considering the influence which the destiny of the territory adjoining the southern border of the United States may have upon their security, tranquility and commerce,

"Be it Resolved: That the United States, under the peculiar circumstances of the existing crisis, cannot without serious inquietude see any part of the said territory pass into the hands of any foreign power; and that a due regard for their own safety compels them to provide under certain contingencies for the temporary occupation of the said territory; they at the same time declaring that the said territory shall, in their hands, remain subject to future negotiations."

Then the same Congress enacted a law authorizing the President to take possession of Florida or of any part of it, in case of any attempt of a European power other than Spain herself to occupy it, and to use to that end the Army and Navy of the United States. Nothing of the sort needed to be done at that time, though a little later, during the War of 1812, Florida was invaded by a British force and immediately thereafter was occupied by an American army.

The enunciation of this principle by Congress marked an epoch in American foreign policy, leading directly to the Monroe Doctrine a dozen years later. It also marked an epoch in the history of Cuba, especially so far as the relations of the Island with the United States were concerned. For while this declaration by Congress applied only to Florida, because Florida abutted directly upon the United States, the logic of events presently compelled it to be extended to Cuba. This was done a little more than a dozen years after the declaration concerning Florida. By this time Florida had been annexed to the United States and Mexico, Central America and South America had revolted against Spain and declared their independence. Only the "Ever Faithful Isle," as Cuba then began to be called, and Porto Rico remained to Spain of an empire which once nominally comprised the entire western hemisphere. Cuba was not like Florida geographically, abutting upon the United States. But it lay almost within sight from the coast of Florida and commanded the southern side of the Florida channel through which all American commerce from the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean must pass, and thus it was invested with peculiar importance to the United States. Nor was it lacking in importance to Great Britain and France. Those powers possessed extensive and valuable holdings in the West Indies and they were rivals for the reversionary title to these remaining Spanish Islands, Cuba and Porto Rico. Each of them realized that whichever of them should secure those two great Islands would, by virtue of that circumstance, become the dominant power in the West Indies. Moreover they both felt sure that Spain would soon have to relinquish her hold upon them. This latter belief prevailed widely also in the United States, and was by no means absent from Cuba itself. Indeed a party was organized in Cuba in the spring of 1822, for the express purpose of seeking annexation to the United States, and in September of that year did make direct overtures to that end to the American Government. The President of the United States, James Monroe, received these overtures in a cautious and non-committal manner. He sent a confidential agent to Cuba to examine into conditions there and to report upon them, but gave no direct encouragement to the annexation movement.

At about this time the direction of the foreign affairs of Great Britain came into the hands of George Canning, a statesman of exceptional vision and aggressive patriotism, and one specially concerned with the welfare of British interests in the New World. He was well aware of the condition and trend of affairs in Cuba, and felt that the transfer of that Island from Spain to any other power would be unfortunate for British interests in the West Indies. When he learned of the Cuban overtures for annexation to the United States, therefore, in December, 1822, he brought the matter to the careful consideration of the British Cabinet and suggested to his colleagues that such annexation of Cuba by the United States would be a very serious detriment to the British Empire in the western hemisphere. He made no diplomatic representation upon the subject either to Spain or to the United States, but he did send a considerable naval force to the coastal waters of Cuba and Porto Rico, apparently with the purpose of preventing, if necessary, any such change in the sovereignty and occupancy of those Islands.


In this Canning was probably over-anxious, since there is no indication whatever that the American Government contemplated any such step or that it would have attempted to take possession of Cuba if the Island had been left unguarded. On the other hand, this action of Canning's very naturally aroused American concern and provoked the suspicion that England was planning the seizure or purchase of the Island. The result was the formal application to Cuba of the principle which had already been enunciated by Congress in respect to Florida. It was the legislative branch of the United States Government that took that action toward Florida. It was the executive and diplomatic branch which took the action toward Cuba. This was done in a memorable state document which formed a land-mark in the history of American foreign policy.

The American Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, on April 28, 1823, wrote an official letter to Hugh Nelson, who at the beginning of that year had become American minister to Spain. This letter contained official instructions to Nelson concerning his conduct in the war which was impending between Spain and France, because of the latter power's intervention in Spanish affairs in behalf of King Ferdinand VII. It then turned to the subject of Cuba and continued as follows:


"Whatever may be the issue of this war, it may be taken for granted that the dominion of Spain upon the American continents, north and south, is irrevocably gone. But the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico still remain nominally, and so far really, dependent upon her, that she yet possesses the power of transferring her own dominion over them, together with the possession of them, to others. These islands are natural appendages to the North American continent, and one of them almost in sight of our shores, from a multitude of considerations has become an object of transcendent importance to the commercial and political interests of our Union. Its commanding position with reference to the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indian seas, its situation midway between our southern coast and the island of San Domingo, its safe and capacious harbor of the Havana, fronting a long line of our shores destitute of the same advantages, the nature of its production and of its wants, furnishing the supplies and needing the returns of a commerce immensely profitable and mutually beneficial give it an importance in the sum of our national interests with which that of no other foreign territory can be compared, and little inferior to that which binds the different members of this Union together. Such indeed are, between the interests of that island and of this country, the geographical, commercial, moral and political relations formed by nature, gathering in the process of time, and even now verging to maturity, that in looking forward to the probable course of events for the short period of half a century, it is scarcely possible to resist the conviction that the annexation of Cuba to our Federal Republic will be indispensable to the continuance and integrity of the Union itself.... There are laws of political as well as of physical gravitation. And if an apple, severed by the tempest from its native tree, cannot choose but to fall to the ground, Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain, and incapable of self-support, can gravitate only toward the North American Union, which, by the same law of nature cannot cast her off from her bosom. The transfer of Cuba to Great Britain would be an event unpropitious to the interests of this Union.... The question both of our right and of our power to prevent it, if necessary, by force, already obtrudes itself upon our councils, and the Administration is called upon, in the performance of its duties to the nation, at least, to use all the means within its competency to guard against and forefend it."

That was the beginning of the policy of the United States toward Cuba. In making that declaration Adams had general support and little or no opposition. A few weeks afterward the ex-President, Thomas Jefferson, writing to Monroe, expressed in part the same view, though he coupled it with the suggestion of an alliance with Great Britain. He wrote:

"Cuba alone seems at present to hold up a speck of war to us. Its possession by Great Britain would indeed be a great calamity to us. Could we induce her to join us in guaranteeing its independence against all the world, except Spain, it would be nearly as valuable as if it were our own. But should she take it, I would not immediately go to war for it; because the first war on other accounts will give it to us, or the island will give herself to us when able to do so."

Two years later, in 1825, Henry Clay, then Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President John Quincy Adams, instructed the American ministers at the chief European capitals to make it known that the United States for itself desired no change in the political condition of Cuba; that it was satisfied to have it remain open to American commerce; but that it "could not with indifference see it passing from Spain to any other European power." A little later he added, referring to Cuba and Porto Rico, that "we could not consent to the occupation of those islands by any other European power than Spain, under any contingency whatever."

This attitude of the American Government was sufficient to accomplish the purpose desired. Although the power of Spain continued to decline, no attempt was made by either France or England to acquire possession of Cuba by either conquest or purchase. But in August, 1825, the British Government laid before the American minister in London a proposal that the United States should unite with Great Britain and France in a tripartite agreement for the protection of Spain in her possession of Cuba to the effect that none of the three would take Cuba for itself or would acquiesce in the taking of it by either of the others. The American minister reported this to the President, who promptly and emphatically declined it. It was then that Henry Clay made the pronouncement already quoted, that the United States could not consent to the occupation of Cuba by any other European power than Spain, under any contingency whatever.

A little later in the same year American interest in Cuba was again appealed to from another source. Several of the former Spanish colonies which had declared their independence, particularly Mexico and Colombia, expressed much dissatisfaction that Cuba and Porto Rico should remain in the possession of Spain. They desired to see the Spanish power entirely expelled from the western hemisphere. They therefore began intriguing for revolutions in those islands, and failing that prepared themselves to take forcible possession of them. These plans encountered the serious disapproval of the United States government, and on December 20, 1825, Henry Clay wrote to the representatives of the Mexican and Colombian governments urgently requesting them to refrain from sending the military expeditions to Cuba which were being prepared; a request with which they complied, Colombia readily but Mexico more reluctantly. Those two countries had been specially moved to their proposed action by the declaration of the famous Panama Congress, then in session, in favor of "the freeing of the islands of Porto Rico and Cuba from the Spanish yoke." It is interesting to recall, too, that in his instructions to the United States delegates to that Congress, who unfortunately did not arrive in time to participate in its deliberations, Clay declared that "even Spain has not such a deep interest in the future fate of Cuba as the United States."

Justice requires us, unfortunately, in concluding our consideration of this early phase of Cuban-American relations, to confess that the motives of the United States were not at that time altogether of the highest character. To put it very plainly, there was much opposition to the extension of Mexican or Colombian influence to Cuba because that would have meant the abolition of human slavery in the island, and that would have been offensive to the slave states of the southern United States. Also some of the earliest movements in the United States toward the annexation of Cuba were inspired by the wish to maintain the institution of slavery in that island and to add it to the slave holding area of the United States. It was on such ground that Senator Hayne and others declared in the American Congress that the United States "would not permit Mexico or Colombia to take or to revolutionize Cuba." James Buchanan declared that under the control of one of those countries Cuba would become a dangerous explosive magazine for the southern slave States because Mexico and Colombia were free countries and "always conquered by proclaiming liberty to the slave."

We have recalled these facts and circumstances in this place somewhat in advance of their strict chronological order, by way of introduction to the history of Cuba in the Nineteenth Century, because they really dominate in spirit the whole story. It will be necessary to recur to them again, briefly, in their proper place. But it is essential to bear them in mind from the beginning, even through this anticipatory review of them. Every page and line and letter of Cuban history in the Nineteenth Century is colored by the Declaration of Independence of 1776, by the fact that the United States of America had arisen as the foremost power in the Western Hemisphere. Through the inspiration which it gave to the French Revolution, the United States was chiefly responsible, as an alien force, for the complete collapse of Spain as a great European power. Through its example and potential influence as a protector it was responsible for the revolt and independence of the Spanish colonies in Central and South America. Then through its assertion of special interests in Cuba, because of propinquity, and through the tangible influence of commercial and social intercourse, together with a constantly increasing and formidable, though generally concealed, political sway, it determined the future destinies of the Queen of the Antilles.


We must consider, in order rightly to understand the situation of Cuba at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the momentous train of incidents in her history which then began, the salient features of the history of Spain at that time. The reign of Charles III. had temporarily restored Spain to a place in the front rank of European powers, with particularly close relations, through the Bourbon crowns of the two countries, with France. But that rank was of brief duration. In 1788 Charles IV. came to the throne, one of the weakest, most vacillating and most ignoble of princes, who was content to let his kingdom be governed for him by his wife's notorious lover. A few years later the Bourbon crown of France was sent to the guillotine, and then came the deluge, in which Spain was overwhelmed and entirely wrecked.

The first Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1796 made Spain little better than the vassal of France in the latter's war against Great Britain. That was the work of Godoy, the "Prince of the Peace" and the paramour of the queen. Against him Spain revolted in 1798 and he was forced to retire from office, only to be restored to it by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1800. Then came the second secret and scandalous Treaty of San Ildefonso, in which Spain was the merest tool and dupe of France, or of Napoleon; and in 1803 there followed another international compact under which Spain agreed to pay France a considerable yearly subsidy. A few years later occurred the French invasion, the abdication of Charles IV., the accession, then merely nominal, of Ferdinand VII., the imposition of Joseph Bonaparte, and the Peninsular War.

The effect of these events was two-fold, the two parts strongly contrasting. On the one hand, the Spanish national spirit was aroused as it had not been for many years. Napoleon's aggressions went too far. His ambition overleaped itself. In their resistance and resentment the Spanish people "found themselves" and rose to heights of patriotism which they had not scaled before. Concurrently they began the development of a liberal and progressive spirit of inestimable significance. They demanded a constitution and the abolition of old abuses which for generations had been stifling the life of the Peninsula.

On the other hand, the prestige of Spain in her trans-Atlantic colonies was hopelessly impaired, and her physical power to maintain her authority in them was destroyed. With French and British armies making the Peninsula their fighting ground, Spain had no armies to spare for the suppression of Central and South American rebellions. Thus while there was an auspicious renascence of national vigor at home, there was an ominous decline of imperial authority abroad. The work of Miranda, San Martin and Bolivar was thus facilitated and assured of success.

In domestic affairs, Spain showed some progress, even under her worst rulers. Godoy, vile as he was, abolished the savagery of bull-fighting and promoted the policing of cities and the paving and cleaning of streets, some advance was made in popular education, and the intellectual life of the nation began to emerge from the eclipse which it had been suffering. Possibly the most significant achievement of all was the development of an approximation to popular government, with an attempt to unify Spain and the colonies; which latter came too late. The Junta Central in January, 1809, declared that the American colonies were an integral part of the Spanish Kingdom, and were not mere appanages of the crown. This was revolutionary, but it was insisted upon by the Junta, and practical steps were taken to make the principle effective. The Junta was driven from Seville by Napoleon, whereupon it fled to Cadiz, and there, in superb defiance of the invader and oppressor, arranged for the assembling of a Cortes, or National Parliament, in which the colonies should be fully represented. This body, a single chamber, met in September, 1810, with elected representatives from the American colonies, including Cuba. Owing to the difficulty of getting deputies from America in time, however, men were selected in Spain to represent the colonies at the opening of the session.

A tangled skein of history followed. The Cortes, though far from radical in tone, was progressive and was sincerely devoted to the principle of popular government, and it insisted upon the adoption of the Constitution of 1812, under which the people were made supreme, with the crown and the church in subordinate places. All Spaniards, in America as well as in Europe, were citizens of the kingdom, and were entitled to vote for members of the Cortes and were protected by a bill of rights. In many respects it was one of the most liberal and enlightened constitutions then existing in the world.

The first act of the wretched Ferdinand VII., however, when Napoleon permitted him to return to Spain, was to decree the abrogation of this constitution and the establishment of a most repressive and reactionary régime which liberals were cruelly persecuted. The result of this was to promote the revolution which had already begun in America, and to provoke a revolution in the Peninsula itself; in the face of which latter Ferdinand pretended to yield and to consent to the summoning of another Cortes and the reestablishment of the Constitution of 1812. These things were effected in 1820. But the false and fickle Ferdinand made his appeal to the reactionary sovereigns of the Holy Alliance, with the result that in 1823 the French invaded Spain to suppress Liberalism, and those preparations were made for the resubjugation of Spain's American colonies which were frustrated by the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine in the United States.

Meantime all the Spanish colonies on the American continents had not only declared but had actually achieved their independence. There were left to Spain in all the Western Hemisphere, therefore, only the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico; and they remained intensely loyal. When the legitimate King of Spain was deposed in favor of Joseph Bonaparte, Cuba made it plain and emphatic that she would not recognize the French usurper, but would remain true to Ferdinand VII. Again, when the colonies of Central and South America seceded and declared their independence, Cuba remained loyal to the kingdom. It was because of these two acts that Cuba became known at the Spanish Court as "Our Ever Faithful Isle."

For this contrast between Cuba and the rest of Spanish America there were three major reasons. One was, the insular position of Cuba, which separated her from the other Spanish provinces and their direct influence and cooperation, and which thus placed her at an enormous disadvantage for any revolutionary undertakings. The second was the character of the people. The Spanish settlers of Cuba had come chiefly from Andalusia and Estremadura, and were the very flower of the Iberian race, and from them had descended those who after three centuries were entitled to be regarded as the Cuban people. They retained unimpaired the finest qualities of the great race that in the sixteenth century had made Spain all but the mistress of the world, and they still cherished a chivalric loyalty to the spirit and the traditions of that wondrous age. In other colonies the settlement was more varied. Men had flocked in from Galicia and Catalonia, with a spirit radically different from that of Andalusians and Estremadurans. To this day the contrast between Cubans and the people of any other Latin-American state is obvious and unmistakable.

The third reason was this, that in the years, perhaps a full generation, preceding the South and Central American revolt, Spain had manifested toward Cuba a disposition and actual practices well calculated to confirm that country in its loyalty and in its expectation of enjoying liberty and prosperity under the Spanish crown in an age of Spanish renascence. With the brief English occupation, indeed, the modern history of Cuba began in circumstances of the most auspicious character. The English opened Havana to the trade of the world and caused it to realize what its possibilities were of future expansion and greatness. Then the Spanish government, reestablished throughout the island, for a time showed Cuba marked favor. The old-time trade monopoly, which had been destroyed by the English, was abandoned in favor of a liberal and enlightened policy. Commerce, industry and agriculture were encouraged, even with bounties. Cuba was made to feel that there were very practical advantages in being a colony of Spain.

Moreover, the island enjoyed a succession of capable and liberal governors, or captains-general; notably Luis de las Casas at the end of the eighteenth century, and the Marquis de Someruelos in the first dozen years of the nineteenth century. Under benevolent administrators and beneficent laws, and with Spain herself adopting the liberal constitution of 1812, Cuba had good cause to remain loyal to the Spanish connection.

But these very same conditions and circumstances ultimately made Cuba supremely resolute in her efforts for independence. The men of Andalusian and Estremaduran ancestry had been loyal to Spain, but they were just as resolute in their loyalty to Cuba when they were once convinced that there must be a breach of relations. The same characteristics that made their ancestors the leaders of the Spanish race in adventure and in conquest made them now equally ready to be leaders in the great adventure of conquering the independence of Cuba from Spain. And if the liberal laws and policy of Spain, and the Constitution of 1812, had greatly commended Spanish government to them, the restored Spanish king's flat repudiation of all those things equally condemned that government.

We must therefore reckon the rise of the spirit of Cuban independence from the date on which Ferdinand VII. repudiated the constitution which he had sworn to defend. From 1812 to 1820 that spirit passed through the period of gestation, and in the years following the latter date it was born and began to make its vitality manifest. The king's pretended repentance and readoption of the Constitution of 1812 in 1820 came too late, and when it was followed by several years of alternating weakness and violence, and by the French intervention in 1823, the Cuban resolution for independence was formed. To that resolution, once formed, Cuba clung with a persistence which for the third time entitled her to the name of "Ever Faithful Isle." But now it was to herself that she was faithful.



Born at Arroyave, Spain, on April 20, 1756, and educated at Salamanca, Juan José Diaz Espada y Landa entered the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church, and on January 1, 1800, was Bishop of Cuba. Much more than a mere churchman, he applied himself with singular ability and energy to the promotion of the mental and physical welfare of the people as well as to their religious culture. He strongly assisted Dr. Tomas Romay in introducing vaccination into the island and in the prosecution of other sanitary measures, and was one of the foremost patrons of education. He also gave much attention to the correction of abuses which had grown up in the ecclesiastical administration. He died on August 13, 1832, leaving a record for good works second to that of no other ecclesiastic in the history of Cuba.

Seldom, indeed, has there been an era in the history of the world more strongly suited to cause the rise of a revolutionary spirit in such a people as the Cubans, than was the early part of the nineteenth century. We have already referred to the United States of America and its attitude toward Cuba and Cuban affairs. That country had achieved its independence in circumstances scarcely more favorable than would be those of a Cuban revolt; and it presently waged another war which made it formidable among the nations. On the other hand, all Europe was in war-ridden chaos, with the rights of peoples to self-determination made a sport of autocrats. There was nothing more evident than that republicanism was the policy of order, stability and progress. The United States had just forced Spain to sell Louisiana to France, and then had forced France to sell it to itself. That was an object lesson which was not lost upon thoughtful Cubans any more than upon the peoples of Central and South America. It demonstrated that the power of Spain was waning, and that the dominant power in the western world was that of Republicanism. And Cubans, as well as others, were not blind to the practical advantages of being on the winning side.

Indeed, before that Cuba had had another great object lesson. At the middle of the eighteenth century the English had seized Havana. That in itself indicated clearly the decline of Spain and her inability to protect or even to hold her own colonies. But the English force which achieved that stroke was by no means purely English. It was largely composed of Americans, soldiers from the British Colonies in North America who were, of course, British subjects but who were more and more calling themselves Americans; and who in course of time altogether rejected British rule and established an independent republic. First, then, Spain was beaten by England; and next England was beaten by the United States. Obviously the latter was the power to whom to look for guidance and support.

There were still other circumstances making toward the same end. We have remarked upon the puissant opulence of Spanish intellectuality in the first century of her possession of Cuba, and upon, also, the paucity of native Cuban achievements in letters. But in the seventeenth century a decline of Spanish letters and art began, with ominous progression, until at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth the very nadir of intellectual life had been reached. This was the more noteworthy and the more significant because of the contrast which the Peninsula thus presented to other lands. Elsewhere throughout Europe and in America that was an era of great and splendid intellectual activity. In almost every department of letters, science and art fine deeds, original and creative, were being done. The colossal military operations that convulsed the world from the beginning of the American Revolution to the fall of Napoleon sometimes blind our eyes and deaden our ears to what was then done in the higher walks of life; but the fact is that probably in no other equal space of time in the world's history was the mind of man more fecund, in both theory and practice.

In science that era was adorned with the names of Priestly, Jenner, Herschel, Montgolfier, Fulton, Whitney, Volta, Pestalozzi, Piazzi, Davy, Cuvier, Oersted, Stevenson, Humboldt, Lavoisier, Buffon, Linnaeus. In music, Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven. In literature the annals of those days read like a recapitulation of universal genius: Goethe, Kant, Herder, Lessing, Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, De Stael, Chateaubriand, Beranger, Lamartine, Burns, Scott, Goldsmith, Johnson, Adam Smith, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Colderidge, Lamb, Alfieri, Richter, Niebuhr, Derzhavin. The steamboat and the railroad came into existence. The Institute of France, the University of France, and the University of Berlin were founded. As on more than one other occasion political and military activity, in the direction of liberal revolution, stimulated intellectuality and made invention and letters vie with arms.

Amid all this, Spain alone stood singular in her decline. Not one name of the first rank adorned her annals. In the two departments of letters which perhaps most of all reflect the national mind and spirit, lyrical poetry and the drama, she was almost entirely lacking. Most of such writers as she had seemed content to copy weakly French examples. And even when the Spanish people rose with splendid patriotic energy against the tyranny of Napoleon, fought their war of independence, and strove to establish their liberal Constitution of 1812 upon the wreck of broken Bourbonism, there was scarcely a glimmer of intellectual inspiration such as those deeds might have been expected to produce. It was reserved for later years, even for our own time, for Spanish letters to regain a place of mastery amid the foremost of the world.

Meantime the intellectual life of Cuba was beginning to dawn. As early as 1790 a purely literary journal of fine rank, El Papel Periodico, was founded in Havana, and during many years contained contributions of sterling merit. As these were all unsigned, their authorship remains chiefly unknown. We know, however, that among them were two poets of real note, Manuel Justo de Rubalcava and Manuel de Zequiera y Arango. These were not, it is true, native Cubans. They were Spaniards from New Granada. But with many others from the South and Central American provinces they became fully identified with Cuban life and Cuban aspirations. In the third year of the nineteenth century, too, there was born of Spanish refugee parents from Santo Domingo, Cuba's greatest poet and indeed the greatest poet in Spanish literature in that century, José Maria Heredia. True, he called himself a Spaniard, in the spirit of the "Ever Faithful Isle," and referred to Spain as his "Alma Mater." He was in his youth a passionate partisan of the liberal movement in the Peninsula, especially of the revolution led by Riego, and his earliest poems were written in support of that ill-fated struggle and in scathing denunciation of the French oppressor of Spain and of those unworthy Spaniards who consented to the suppression in blood of the rising cause of liberty. A little later these very poems were equally applicable to the situation in Cuba, when the people of that island began to rise against their Spanish oppressors, and when a certain element among them consented to oppression. Thereafter his writings were largely the literary inspiration of Cuban patriotism; and he himself was doomed by Spain to perpetual banishment from the island of his birth.

One other factor in the situation must be recalled. During the period which we are now considering Cuba was the asylum for a strangely mingled company of both loyalists and revolutionists; with the former probably predominating. When Spain lost Santo Domingo to France, many of the Spanish inhabitants of that island removed to Cuba; and when the island under Toussaint rose against Spain, there was a flight of both Spanish and French in the same direction. Also, when one after another of the Spanish provinces on the continent began to revolt, Cuba was sought as an asylum. Spanish loyalists came hither to escape the revolution which they did not approve; and it is quite possible that they were in sufficient numbers materially to affect the course and determination of the island, first in standing by Ferdinand against Napoleon and later in declining to join the revolutionists of the American continents. Yet not a few of these became in a short time imbued with Cuban patriotism and cast in their lot with the natives of the island.

There were also many revolutionary refugees, who sought asylum in Cuba when their cause seemed not to be prospering in other lands. As we shall see, the first important Cuban revolutionist, Narciso Lopez, came from Venezuela; and there were others from that country, and from Guatemala and Mexico; sufficient to exert much influence in insular affairs.

It was in these strangely diverse and complex circumstances that Cuba entered the third great era of her existence. She was still a Spanish colony, and she was still a potential pawn in the international games of diplomacy and war. But she had at last gravitated politically toward the American rather than the European system, and she had begun to develop a spirit of individual nationality which was destined after many years and many labors to assure her a place among the sovereign states of the Western Hemisphere.


For a correct understanding of the internal dissensions and uprisings which played so large a part in the history of Cuba during the greater part of the nineteenth century, it is necessary to have clearly in mind an idea of the number, nature and distribution of her population during this period.

The first record of anything like a satisfactory enumeration of the people of the island is that of the census of 1775. It was known as that of the Abbe Raynal, and was taken under the direction and by order of the Marquis de la Torre. It was so far from being accurate and complete that it can hardly be regarded as much more than a fair estimate. Indeed, most authorities are of the opinion that its figures are far below the actual facts. It showed a population of 170,370, for the entire island, with 75,604 of this number residing in the district of Havana.

The population of Cuba at that time was made up almost entirely of two races, the whites and the blacks, the native Indians having long ago practically disappeared. The following table gives a brief resumé of the result of the census of 1775:

  Men  Women  
Whites 54,555 40,864  
Free colored  15,980 14,635  
Slaves 28,774 15,562  
  99,309 71,061
Total     170,370

The spirit in which this census was taken was admirable. It sought not only to present statistics as to the age, race, sex and social condition of the population, but also, so far as possible, to indicate something of its distribution. It is not difficult to imagine, however, what a momentous undertaking such a work must have been with the meagre facilities then in the hands of the authorities, and it is not astonishing that the results left much to be desired. The failure was not one of intent but of the means by which the information might be acquired.

In 1791 a second attempt to enumerate and classify the population of Cuba was made by order of Don Luis de las Casas. This showed a population of 272,141. This apparently great increase, however, is to be attributed to a more accurate compilation, rather than to any unusual immigration to Cuba during this period. Indeed careful statisticians, notably Baron Humboldt, have reached the conclusion that even these figures fell far below the truth, and that in reality the population of the island at this period numbered at least 362,700 adult persons. Humboldt's conclusions merit quotation. He says:

"In 1804 I discussed the census of Don Luis de las Casas with persons who possessed great knowledge of the locality. Examining the proportions of the numbers omitted in the partial comparisons, it seemed to us that the population of the island, in 1791, could not have been less than 362,700 souls. This has been augmented, during the years between 1791 and 1804, by the number of African negroes imported, which, according to the custom-house returns for that period, amounted to 60,393; by the immigration from Europe and St. Domingo (5,000); and by the excess of births over deaths, which, in truth, is indeed small in a country where one-fourth or one-fifth of the entire population is condemned to live in celibacy. The result of these three causes of increase was reckoned to be 60,000, estimating an annual loss of seven per cent, on the newly imported negroes; this gives approximately, for the year 1804, a minimum of 432,080 inhabitants. I estimated this number for the year 1804, to comprise, whites, 234,000, free-colored, 90,000, slaves, 180,000. I estimated the slave population, graduating the production of sugar at 80 to 100 arrobas for each negro on the sugar plantations, and 82 slaves as the mean population of each plantation. There were then, 250 of these. In the seven parishes, Guanajay, Managua, Batabano, Guines, Cano, Bejucal, and Guanabacoa, there were found, by an exact census, 15,130 slaves on 183 sugar plantations."

After expatiating on the difficulty of ascertaining with absolute accuracy the ratio of the production of sugar to the number of negroes employed on the different estates, Humboldt continues:

"The number of whites can be estimated by the rolls of the militia, of which, in 1804, there were 2,680 disciplined, and 27,000 rural, notwithstanding the great facilities for avoiding the service, and innumerable exemptions granted to lawyers, physicians, apothecaries, notaries, clergy and church servants, schoolmasters, overseers, traders and all who are styled noble."

Accepting, however, for the moment the figures of the census of 1791, merely for the sake of future comparison, let us see how the population of the island was distributed at this period. Of the 272,141 inhabitants shown by the census over half, or 137,800, were in the district of Havana, and almost one third of the latter number in the city itself. These were divided as follows:

Whites, both sexes 73,000
Free colored, both sexes 27,600
Slaves, both sexes 37,200

One of the best reasons for believing that this 1791 census does not tell the whole story is that the proportion of white persons to the black slaves is practically two to one, while as a matter of fact the most eminent authorities are agreed that during the first half of the nineteenth century, and for some years previous, it was about 100 to 83, a matter which, as we shall see, was of grave concern to the Spanish colonists.

It should be noted in passing that the greediness with which the Spanish conquerors regarded their possessions in the New World had marked effect on the difficulties of numbering the people. For too well the plantation owners had learned that a record of an increase in their possessions, an added number of slaves or signs of growing prosperity, meant that the long arm of the crown would stretch out to despoil by further taxation, added to the already heavy toll. It is no wonder, therefore, that the efforts of the census takers were impeded rather than furthered.

In 1811, when the slave trade and the consequent increase of the black population was giving great concern to the more intelligent and far-seeing of the Cuban patriots, pressure was brought to bear on the Spanish government and on March 26 of that year, Señors Alcocer and Arguelles made a motion in the Spanish Cortes against the African slave-trade and the continuation of slavery in the Spanish colonies. A little later in the same year Don Francisco de Arango, an exceedingly erudite statesman, also made a remonstrance to the Cortes upon the same subject. This was in the name of the Ayuntamiento, the Consulado and the Patriotic Society of Havana. The text of this representation or remonstrance may be found in the "Documents relative to the slave-trade, 1814."

Unfortunately in compiling the tables which were published in 1811 no new census was taken, and the increases in population from 1791 to 1811 were merely estimated. These estimates show a population of 600,000—a greater number, it is interesting to note, by many thousands than was shown by the census of 1817, with which we shall deal later. This population was distributed as follows:

Western Part of the
Whites Free
Slaves Total
Surrounding Country 118,000 15,000 119,000 252,000
Havana and Suburbs 43,000 27,000 28,000 98,000
  161,000 42,000 147,000 350,000
Eastern Part of the Island.
Santiago de Cuba 40,000 38,000 32,000 110,000
Puerto Principe 38,000 14,000 18,000 70,000
Cinco Villas 35,000 20,000 15,000 70,000
113,000 72,000 65,000 250,000
Totals 274,000 114,000 212,000 600,000

From the above we can see that at this time there were only 62,000 more white people in Cuba than there were slaves, and if we take into consideration the free blacks, then the negroes exceeded the white population by 52,000. This was perhaps inevitable when we consider that there must be labor to develop the plantations and that that labor was almost entirely provided by the slave trade. Nevertheless, the white population of Cuba lived in somewhat the same state of subconscious terror of the possibilities of a black uprising which tormented the planters in portions of the United States. But "that is another story" of which we shall hear more later.

In 1813 the Spanish Cortes passed certain measures, which, together with the necessity for as accurate as possible an enumeration of the population of the island for the purpose of an equitable establishment of electoral juntas of provinces, partidas and parishes, made a new census obligatory. This was taken in 1817. The results of this new census were as follows:

Districts White Free colored Slaves
Western Department:
  Havana 135,177 40,419 112,122
  Matanzas 10,617 1,675 9,594
  Trinidad (with
    Sancti Spiritus,
    Remedios, and
    Villa Clara)
51,864 16,411 14,497
Eastern Department:
  Santiago (with
    Bayamo, Holguin,
    and Baracoa)
33,733 50,230 46,500
  Puerto Principe 25,989 6,955 16,579
  257,380 115,691 199,292
Total 572,363

The census of 1817 was without doubt the most perfect which had up to that time been taken; but, for the reasons before given, it was far from being an accurate enumeration. To these figures, before transmitting them to Spain, the Provincial Deputation added 32,641 transients of various kinds, and 25,967 negroes imported during the year in which the census was taken. These additions made the report read as follows:

Whites 290,021
Free Colored  115,691
Slaves 225,259
Total 630,971

It would seem that these various censuses and the estimate of 1811 show great discrepancies, but on this point we have the sage observations of no less an authority than Baron Humboldt to guide us. He says:

"We shall not be surprised at the partial contradiction found in the tables of population when we taken into consideration all the difficulties that have been encountered in the centres of European civilization, England and France, whenever the great operation of a general census is attempted. No one is ignorant, for example, of the fact that the population of Paris, in 1820, was 714,000, and from the number of deaths, and supposed proportion of births to the total population, it is believed to have been 520,000, at the beginning of the eighteenth century; yet during the administration of M. Necker, the ascertained population was one-sixth less than this number."

The process of census taking even in this twentieth century is an enormous undertaking and not free from error. How much more difficult must it have been in a country where it was to the interest of the intelligent to suppress the facts, where a large proportion of the population was still in slavery, and where means of communication from place to place were far from adequate!

Baron Humboldt after very careful calculation estimated the population at the close of 1825 to be as follows:

Whites 325,000
Free colored  130,000
Slaves 260,000
Total 715,000

This was nearly equal to that of the British Antilles, and about twice that of Jamaica.

During the first half of the nineteenth century three additional censuses were taken:

Census of 1827
  Whites Free Colored Slaves Total
Department Male Female Male Female Male Female  
Western 89,526 75,532 21,235 24,829 125,388 72,027 408,537
Central 53,447 44,776 13,296 10,950 28,398 13,630 164,497
Eastern 25,680 22,090 17,431 18,753 29,504 17,995 131,353
Total 168,653 142,398 51,962 54,532 183,290 103,652 704,487
Census of 1841
  Whites Free Colored Slaves Total
Department Male Female Male Female Male Female  
Western 135,079 108,944 32,726 33,737 207,954 113,320 631,760
Central 60,035 53,838 15,525 16,054 34,939 15,217 195,608
Eastern 32,030 28,365 27,452 27,344 38,357 25,708 180,256
Total 227,144 191,147 75,703 77,135 281,250 155,245 1,007,624
Census for 1846
  Whites Free Colored Slaves Total
Department Male Female Male Female Male Female  
Western 133,968 110,141 28,964 32,730 140,131 87,682 533,617
Central 62,262 52,692 17,041 17,074 32,425 14,560 196,954
Eastern 34,753 31,951 26,646 26,771 28,455 20,506 169,082
Total 230,983 194,784 72,651 76,575 201,011 122,748 898,752

J. S. Thrasher, translator of Baron Humboldt's admirable work on Cuba, and himself an authority of note, offers the following interesting and suggestive discussion of the census of 1846:

"The slightest examination leads to the belief that there is some error in the figures of the census of 1846; and we are inclined to doubt its results, for the following reasons:

"1st—During the period between 1841 and 1846, no great cause, as epidemic, or emigration on a large scale, existed to check the hitherto steady increase of the slave population, and cause a decrease of 112,736 in its numbers, being nearly twenty six per cent. of the returns of 1841; which apparent decrease and the annihilation of former rate of increase (3.7 per cent. yearly), amount together to a loss of 47 per cent., in six years.

"2d.—During this period the material prosperity of the country experienced no decrease, except the loss of part of one crop, consequent upon the hurricane of 1845.

"3d.—During the period from 1842 to 1846, the church returns of christenings and interments were as follows:

  White Colored Total
Christenings 87,049 74,302 161,349
Interments 51,456 57,762 109,218
Increase 35,591 16,540 52,131

"4th.—And because ... a capitation tax upon house servants was imposed in 1844, and a very general fear existed that it would be extended to other classes."

Incorrect as we have seen these various censuses to be, they do furnish us with very interesting means of analysis. We can see by the foregoing tables that the free population (black and white) was nearly two thirds of the entire population of the island; and also that, according to the last census given above, the blacks on the island exceeded the white people by many thousands. The balance of power then lay with the free blacks.

But this was not as dangerous as it may seem—as it often appeared to the Cubans. At this stage of his history the negro was not even one generation removed from his native jungle. He was imitating the white man not so much in his quiet virtues as in his glaring and showy vices. The negro is naturally sociable and happy-go-lucky. The island of Cuba has not a climate which is conducive to arduous labors.

The natural tendency of the colored freed man was to gravitate away from the plantations, into the cities and villages. This made it necessary constantly to be importing new slaves to take the place of the freed man. Frequently, however, the latter improved in his new surroundings. His freedom, his increased obligations, his new sense of self-respect, made him desire to throw his fortunes, not with his enslaved black brothers but with the free born white man. This was the more easy of accomplishment because there is no place in the world where people are more democratic in matters of race than in Cuba. A free black man who improved his opportunities was sure of being received as the equal of the white man in the same station of life. This even extended to intermarriage with white women. Miscegenation was very common, but curiously enough, more common in plantation life, on the same basis that the American planter in the southern part of the United States conducted his relations with his women slaves. The tendency of the free colored man, in spite of his new opportunities, was to marry one of his own race.

In 1820 the slave-trade with Africa was legally abolished, and undoubtedly if this law had been enforced the negro population would have diminished rapidly, because the mortality of the negro race in slavery is very high. Even in Cuba, a land where the climate is more similar to that of his own country than that of any part of the United States, the negro is all too frequently a victim of tuberculosis. Indeed, although in the Custom House between 1811 and 1817, 67,000 negroes were registered as imported, and the real number must have been far greater, in 1817 there were only 13,300 more slaves than in 1811.

Another reason, too, would have contributed very quickly to the diminishing of the negro population. Spain, always greedy for the main chance, never far-seeing in her relations with her American possessions, had urged the importation of male slaves in preference to females. Of course this meant a preponderance of laborers, but it also militated against the increase of the race in Cuba by natural means. There was far from being a sufficient number of young women of child-bearing age. On the plantations the proportion of women to men was one to four; in the cities the rate was better, 1 to 1.4; in Havana 1 to 1.2; and in the island considered as a whole 1 to 1.7. For a normal and proper birth rate there must be a preponderance of women over men.

But, although the laws forbade the slave traffic, by illicit means it continued to be carried on. Between 1811 and 1825 no fewer than 185,000 African negroes were imported into Cuba; 60,000 of these subsequent to the passage of the measure of 1820.

The ratio of population to the square league is a very interesting and illuminating study. On this point J. S. Thrasher gives us some excellent deductions:

"Supposing the population to be 715,000 (which I believe to be within the minimum number) the ratio of population in Cuba, in 1825, was 197 individuals to the square league, and, consequently, nearly twice less than that of San Domingo, and four times smaller than that of Jamaica. If Cuba were as well cultivated as the latter island, or, more properly speaking, if the density of population were the same, it would contain 3,515 x 974, or 3,159,000 inhabitants."

In 1811, at the time the population was estimated, we find the negroes to have been distributed as follows; the figures indicating percentages:

  Western Department   Free   Slave   Total
In towns 11 11½ 22½
In rural districts 34 35½
Eastern Department
In towns 11 20½
In rural districts 11 10½ 21½
  34½ 65½ 100

The foregoing indicates that sixty per cent. of the black population at this period lived in the district of Havana, and that there were about equal numbers of freedmen and slaves, that the total black population in that portion of the island was distributed between towns and country in the ratio of two to three, while in the eastern part of the island the distribution between towns and country was about equal. We shall find the foregoing compilations of inestimable value in consideration of the problem which was such a source of concern to the white population and which played so large a part in this period of the history of Cuba; namely, slavery.


The first records of the slave trade in Cuba—so far as the eastern part of the island is concerned—were in 1521. Curiously enough it was begun by Portuguese rather than Spanish settlers. It was a well recognized institution, licensed by the government. The first license was held by one Gasper Peralta, and covered the trade with the entire Spanish America. Later French traders visited Havana and took tobacco in trade for their slaves. The English, during their possession of the island, far from frowning on the traffic, encouraged it; yet in the latter part of the eighteenth century the number of slaves in Cuba was estimated not to exceed 32,000. This was previous to 1790. Of these 32,000, 25,000 were in the district of Havana.

Baron Humboldt is authority for some interesting figures on the traffic. "The number of Africans imported from 1521 to 1763 was probably 60,000, whose descendants exist" (he writes in 1856) "among the free mulattoes, the greater part of which inhabit the eastern part of the island. From 1763 to 1790 when the trade in negroes was thrown open, Havana received 24,875 (by the Tobacco Company, 4,957 from 1763 to 1766; by the contract with the Marquis de Casa Enrile, 14,132, from 1773 to 1779; by the contract with Baker and Dawson, 5,786 from 1786 to 1789). If we estimate the importation of slaves in the eastern part of the island during these twenty-seven years (1763 to 1790) at 6,000, we have a total importation of 80,875 from the time of the discovery of Cuba, or more properly speaking, from 1521 to 1790."

It was in the period of which we are writing, particularly in the very early years of the nineteenth century, that the slave trade most flourished in Cuba. It is estimated that more slaves were bought and sold from 1790 to 1820 than in all the preceding history of the Spanish possession of the island.

England, possibly seeing what an enormous power for developing the natural wealth of the island an influx of free labor would give to Spain, entered into an arrangement with Ferdinand VII.—whose sole animating motive in dealing with his foreign possessions seems to have been to grab the reward in hand and let the future take care of itself—whereby, upon the payment by England to the king of four hundred thousand pounds sterling, to compensate for the estimated loss which the cessation of the slave trade would mean to the colonies, Ferdinand agreed that the slave trade north of the equator should be restricted from November 22, 1817, and totally abolished on May 30, 1820. Ferdinand accepted the money, but as we have seen he did not fulfil his contract and winked at the continuation of the importation of labor from Africa.

The following table shows an importation into the district of Havana alone, for a period of 31 years, of 225,574 Africans:

1790 2,534           1806 4,395
1791 8,498 1807 2,565
1792 8,528 1808 1,607
1793 3,777 1809 1,152
1794 4,164 1810 6,672
1795 5,832 1811 6,349
1796 5,711 1812 6,081
1797 4,552 1813 4,770
1798 2,001 1814 4,321
1799 4,919 1815 9,111
1800 4,145 1816 17,737
1801 1,659 1817 25,841
1802 13,832 1818 19,902
1803 9,671 1819 17,194
1804 8,923 1820 4,122
1805 4,999    
    Total 225,574

But Havana was not the only port through which slaves entered Cuba, and the recognized channels were not the only ones through which they came. Therefore, to provide for the illicit importations and those made at Trinidad and Santiago these figures should be increased by at least one fourth to cover the importations for the whole island. This gives us the following results:

  From 1521 to 1763 60,000
    1764             33,409
  From 1791 to 1805 91,211
    1806 to 1820     131,829
Secret trade and trade in other parts of the island 56,000

As we have seen, the trade did not stop when it was made illegal. We have the authority of one of the British commissioners at Havana that in 1821 twenty-six vessels engaged in the slave trade landed 6,415 slaves; and this gentleman also states that only about fifty per cent. of such arrivals ever reached the attention of the commissioners, so that to this number an equal amount should be added to provide for the slaves imported by "underground" methods.

The yearly reports of these British commissioners furnish some food for thought on this subject. They report the following data:

1822, 10 vessels arrived, bringing—estimated—3,000 slaves
1823,   4 vessels arrived, bringing—estimated—1,200 "
1824, 17 vessels arrived, bringing—estimated—5,100 "
1825, 14 vessels arrived, bringing—estimated—4,200 "
1826, 11 vessels arrived, bringing—estimated—3,000 "
1827, 10 vessels arrived, bringing—estimated—3,500 "
1828, 28 vessels arrived, bringing—estimated—7,000 "
  27,000 "
Adding the estimated one half for the number not reported     13,500 "
  40,500 "

In 1838, the British consul at Havana reported to the foreign office in London, regarding slave importations into Cuba for the previous nine years:

1829 8,600
1830 9,800
1831 10,400
1832 8,200
1833 9,000
1834 11,400
1835 14,800
1836 14,200
1837 15,200
Total     101,600
Add 1/5 20,320

It will be observed that the consulate adds only one fifth to cover the secret importations during this period.

From 1838 to 1853 the importations, according to records laid before the British House of Commons, were as follows:

1838 10,495   1846 419
1839 10,995   1847 1,450
1840 10,104   1848 1,500
1841 8,893   1849 8,700
1842 3,630   1850 3,500
1843 8,000   1851 5,000
1844 10,000   1852 7,924
1845 1,300 1st half 1853 7,329

During the early years of the slave trade, the Spanish masters treated their slaves not so well as they treated their work animals. But gradually they began to realize that after all it was cheaper to keep the slaves that they had in good physical condition than to be continually buying new ones, especially when the trade had fallen off because of legal restrictions.

A greater number of colored women were imported; the moral condition of the negroes, especially as to marriage, became a subject of greater interest to the plantation owners; the negroes were encouraged to marry, and wives were recruited from among the mulattoes as well as those of pure black blood. Some efforts were made for better sanitary conditions toward the middle of the century, and persons were employed on the estates whose business it was to look after the sick slaves and nurse them. In the last analysis, however, the conditions under which the slaves lived on each plantation rested entirely—as it did in the United States—on the kind of overseers under whom they were employed.

There are many touching stories of the devotion of the slaves to their master. This was quite as great as among the old southern families in the United States. The Cuban was naturally a kind master—we wish the Spanish-born planter might always be as well spoken of—and he inspired in his slaves a feeling of real affection. This often developed into a single hearted devotion so great that the slave grew to count his master's enemies as his own.

This is not extraordinary when we consider that the African, torn from his own home and family ties and transported to a strange country, among a strange people, took the name of his master and became a part of the big household, identified not only with the working life but also with the social life of the little community represented by the plantation. Fierce as he may have been in his native surroundings, he was naturally affectionate and clung eagerly to the one who, holding the slave's whole destiny in his hand, yet was kind to him. The women slaves, especially those of mixed blood, were bound to their masters often by ties of consanguinity. They attended the master's wife when her children were born, nursed the babies at their own breasts, and served and waited upon the second generation as foster mothers. They were like grown up children. The places where they lived, the food that they ate and the clothing that they wore were all under the control of the one whom they served. When he fell ill, they were devoted nurses, and when he died, they buried him, and manifested their grief in their own primitive fashion.

The slave owner who treated his slaves well, until other factors began to enter the situation, had little to fear from them. But masters were not always kindly. There were as many different varieties of human disposition in those days as in these. The negro can hate as fiercely as he can love, and gradually, as he acquired more knowledge and understanding, on the estates where kindness was not the law, there grew up mutterings of discontent and hatred, and hints of possible uprisings.

It was the excessive mortality among the black population which first, perhaps, influenced their owners to favor better laws and more natural and healthful conditions for them. Curiously enough, up to the opening of the nineteenth century there were "religious scruples" against the introduction of female slaves on the plantations, although the colored women were much less expensive to purchase than the men. The colored men were condemned to celibacy, as Baron Humboldt told us, "under the pretext that vicious habits were thus avoided." They were worked in the day time, and locked in at night to avoid their having any chance for female companionship. And yet, in spite of the fact that these "scruples" were "religious," we find the paradoxical situation that the Jesuit and Bethlehemite friars were the only planters who encouraged the importation of women slaves.

Don Francisco de Arango, being a clear sighted man, endeavored to bring about the imposition of a tax upon such plantations as did not have at least one third as many women as men among their slaves. He also tried to have a duty of $6 levied upon every male negro imported from Africa. In both of these efforts he was defeated, but they had the excellent effect of stirring public opinion. While the juntas were opposed, as always, to enacting any such drastic measures, yet there began to be a disposition to encourage the mating of the slaves, to increase the number of marriages, to give each negro a little cabin of his own that he might call home, and, when children came, to see that they were properly cared for. Then, too, efforts were made to insure lighter work for the women during pregnancy, with a total relief as the time for the birth of the coming child grew nearer.

How much of this came about because the slave owners were forced to see that a continuation of the early conditions would compass their own ruin, and how much because they were naturally inclined to be humane when their duty was brought home to them, it is difficult to determine; but judging from the Cuban's naturally kindly disposition, we are inclined to believe that in many instances the master was glad to treat his slaves as well as he could, when he began to realize that after all they were not merely property—cheap labor—but human beings with emotions and longings very much like his own. Under these bettered conditions the rate of negro mortality fell as low as from eight to six per cent. on the best plantations.

Another element, however, which was not conducive to the betterment of the conditions of the negroes was the introduction of thousands of Chinese laborers. They contracted to work for a number of years at prices far below those usually estimated as fair, on the island. They were the very lowest type of Chinese, and brought with them many vicious influences and practices. No Chinese women were imported, and the Chinese men mingled freely with the negro women. The very worst kind of miscegenation was thus promoted, and the effect on the morals of the negroes on the estates where these Chinese were employed was very bad indeed.

In no other of the foreign colonies in America did the free negro so predominate as in Cuba. It was not at all a difficult matter for a black to gain freedom, since almost no real obstacles were placed in his way. Every slave who did not like his "condition of servitude" had a right to seek a new master, or to purchase his liberty, on payment only of the price paid for him.

Then, too, the religious education of the slaves came to be recognized as a matter of great importance. Religion played an important part in the life of the Spanish colonies in general. It was therefore only natural that they should employ every available means to convert the African slave from his "false heathen superstitions" to their own "true faith." Besides, it had long been the theory of tyrants that if men were imbued with religious fervor and taught self-immolation, they were thus rendered more docile under oppression. The slave code accordingly required every master to instruct his slaves in religion.

One of the first and most marked results of this encouragement of religious feeling was quite different from what had been expected or intended. That was, to arouse a strong and increasing repugnance to the legal continuance of the institution of slavery. This prevailed among the better class of owners as well as among the slaves themselves. More and more frequent became the custom of providing by will for the emancipation of slaves at the death of their masters. The natural affection, also, to which we have referred, which arose between slaves who acted as domestic or body servants and the owners who enjoyed such faithful service, conduced to the same end. The natural inclination of the humane master was to grant such servitors their freedom.

Despite these palliating circumstances, slavery was odious, and persistent negro insurrections began to cause serious concern to the white population. In hope of checking them by kindness, new laws were enacted. Legal restrictions were placed upon the hours of labor. It was decreed that except under certain stated conditions a master should not work his slaves more than nine or ten hours a day. When the exigencies of the season required greater efforts, sixteen hours were prescribed as the extreme limit, and the master was required to give extra pay for the extra time. But these regulations were difficult if not impossible to enforce. Indeed, we must assume that they were not meant to be enforced. They were for show and nothing more; and they remained practically a dead letter.

Religious scruples could not and of course did not prevent the performance of much labor on Sundays, and the needs of agriculture often made work necessary on holidays. There were routine duties to be performed every day. For these, two hours were regarded as sufficient, and to such time the code restricted the labor of Sundays and holidays. There was also a general provision under which slaves were granted the right to labor on their own account, paying a certain part of their wages to the masters and retaining the remainder from which they might, if they desired, create a fund looking toward their own eventual freedom.

One cannot escape the conclusion that during the periods of slavery, either in the United States or the Spanish colonies, the African negro was never really regarded—no matter how close and friendly his relations with his master—in the last analysis, as anything more than a sort of higher animal or at best a child. Men do not thrash their employes for disobedience, when there is any pretence of equality between master and servant. Animals are whipped to teach them obedience, and a child is chastised when he is naughty. The last was ever the corrective which the white master wielded against his disobedient or lazy slaves. It is true that nominally the laws of Cuba did not permit its brutal misuse. The slave code limited the amount of punishment for any offense to twenty-five lashes. Any more severe measures, if known, were the subject of careful judicial investigation, and the penalty for them on conviction was a fine of from $20 to $200. Unfortunately, however, these laws were not effective. It is obvious that a strong man can do much damage to a human being with 25 lashes. Infractions of the law were seldom reported. The frightened African, subject to his master, feared the results of reporting a violation of the law. He would have to stand trial before a jury, not of his peers but of white men, one of whose number was the aggressor. The other slaves—his witnesses—were far too afraid of what might befall them if they upheld the testimony of the complainant. Even the sluggish brain of the slave could picture, with dreadful anticipation, the anger of the master, and the subsequent retribution, much more severe than the original beating, should by any extraordinary chance the slave be triumphant and his master be compelled to pay a fine.

And so, in spite of the fact that in none of the colonies was the condition of the black freedman better than in Cuba,—far better than in Martinique, where free negroes were prohibited from receiving gifts from white people, and where they might be apprehended and returned to servitude if they could be convicted of the very natural act of aiding any of their less fortunate brothers to escape—and in spite of the laws which might, if not dead letters, have safeguarded the interests of the slaves, a feeling of dissatisfaction and unrest among the blacks was seething beneath the surface. The more knowledge they gained, and, curiously enough, the more concessions there were granted them, the stronger it grew, breeding trouble and bad blood between the white owners and the blacks, both enslaved and free, destroying mutual confidence and engendering a spirit of fear and distrust which was presently to break forth into open revolt.

The negroes hated the Spanish authorities, too, because they recognized them to be cowards and hypocrites, pretending one thing and doing another; oppressing the weak for their own gain, and siding with the powerful because it served their interests to do so. In such circumstances the drift toward slave insurrections was inevitable.


Perhaps it is a wise Providence that decrees that even government shall be subject to that rhythm by which the tides of human affairs rise and fall. Who shall say? In 1796, Las Casas, who had tried to do so much for Cuba, was succeeded, as Captain-General, by the Conde de Santa Clara. The latter was of a different type from Las Casas. In spite of his aristocratic birth, he was a man of little education, and indifferent to it. The result was, since he had no taste for letters, and social elegance did not appeal to him, that the impetus was withdrawn from the development of the finer arts in Cuba. His influence was all the more deleterious since he was a man of generous, hearty, open-handed nature and personally was immensely popular. Naturally, but unhappily, culture in Cuba quickly fell from the high standards maintained by his predecessor.

Santa Clara's interests were military and he did a great deal to improve the forts of Cuba—a much needed work. Almost all of the new fortifications on the island, which aided in its defense during the latter part of the nineteenth century, were originated by him, and the Bateria de Santa Clara, outside of Havana, was named in recognition of his services.

Previous to 1796 there had been a great navy yard on the Bay of Havana, and more than a hundred war vessels or convoys for Spanish treasure ships had there been built. The same year that Santa Clara became Captain-General, the Spanish ship-builders, realizing that they were losing the large profits from this work, demanded that the navy yard at Havana be closed, and that the work be done in Spain. Influence was finally brought to bear on the crown, and an order was issued closing the Cuban navy yards.

The rule of Santa Clara was, however, a short one; which was well for the island. In 1799, the Marquis de Someruelos succeeded him. By Spanish law the term of Captain-General was limited to five years. The Conde de Santa Clara failed to complete his term, but the Marquis de Someruelos served for a much longer period. He remained in Cuba until 1812, and he sought by every means in his power to efface the bad effects of the rule of Santa Clara and to reestablish the régime of progress which had flourished under Las Casas.

In 1802 Havana was visited by a devastating conflagration. As frequently happens in such disasters, it was the poorer people who suffered the most severely. Over 11,000 of the poorer inhabitants of the suburb of Jesus Maria were rendered destitute. The Marquis de Someruelos lent his personal efforts to their succor, to excellent effect, and his kindness of heart quickly endeared him to rich and poor alike. He tried hard to rule impartially, to dispense justice to all classes without distinction, and attained a gratifying measure of success.

The improvement of the island from an architectural point of view also interested him, and he left behind him two public memorials. The first was intended to give an impetus to art. It was a great public theatre; perhaps not great for these days, it is true, but an undertaking of note for that time. The second showed his interest in sanitary measures. It was a public cemetery, a huge burying-ground, 22,000 square yards in size, where the dead might be gathered, rather than to permit their being buried in small plots on estates or in yards. The walls, gateway and chapel were good examples of the Cuban architecture of the period, and the mortuary chapel contained a beautiful fresco depicting the Resurrection.

Early in the nineteenth century, in 1807, the people of the island began to manifest a fear, which indeed was well founded, of hostile invasion. Both England and France had long cast appraising and jealous eyes on the Spanish possessions in America. The Spanish trade was valuable, and England was eager to seize as much as possible of it. In view of this peril the defenses of Havana were materially strengthened. Troops were carefully drilled, and the army was increased by the addition of recruits. Several coast towns were attacked and sacked by the English, but no large invasion took place and the damage was small.

But the Cubans soon learned that the enemy whom they had real cause to fear was not England but France. Spain and France were at war, and the French colonists in America stood ready to take up the quarrel. To avert this peril "Juntas" or Committees were organized for national defense. War was unofficially declared on the unnaturalized Frenchmen on the Island, many of whom were killed and their plantations wrecked, while 6,000 were expelled from the island. Even these drastic measures did not prevent a French invasion, although it was rather an opera bouffe performance. A motley company of soldiers of fortune, adventurers, and refugees from Santo Domingo tried to take Santiago and failed; they did, however, effect a landing at Batabano.

The Cuban army hastened to defend the country, but found that the invaders were not particularly enthusiastic about fighting. They wanted to colonize. They endeavored to "build homes and make their residences in uninhabited portions of Cuba, just as they had done in Santo Domingo. The Cubans, however, realized that this apparently peaceful effort might well be a menace in disguise. If the French were allowed to settle portions of the island, soon France, who also appreciated the value of the Spanish possessions, might endeavor to claim the island, or at least a portion of it, as her territory.

The Captain-General was equal to the occasion. He did not resort to arms. He plainly but firmly impressed upon the invaders the fact that it was unthinkable that they should be allowed to take as their own any portion of Cuba. He told them that if they were dissatisfied with Santo Domingo, he would see that transportation was furnished them to France. On the other hand, if they wanted to return to Santo Domingo, he would insure their being taken thither. But on no account could they remain as inhabitants of Cuba. His persuasions were partially successful and numbers of them peacefully left the country.

For a long time, Spain had paid but meagre attention to her American possessions, save to mulct them for revenue. They had no representation, and their messages to and requests of the mother country received but scanty attention. Spain herself was passing through stormy times. The country was in turmoil. Revolution was impending. Napoleon, whose greedy glance embraced almost the whole of Europe, had turned his attention to the Peninsula. In 1808 the royal family of Spain was abducted, and held virtually prisoners by Napoleon, while a new government was set up.

When the news of Napoleon's action reached Cuba, the Cabildo was in session. At once, each and every member took a solemn oath to make every effort to retain the island "for their lawful sovereign." Don Juan de Aguilar arrived in Cuba on the American ship Dispatch, and the government at once declared war against Napoleon and reaffirmed the loyalty of Cuba to Spain. On July 20, 1808, they proclaimed King Ferdinand VII as their lawful sovereign. This conduct, so little appreciated and so cruelly repaid by the mother country, won for Cuba the title of the "Ever-Faithful Isle."

The internal troubles in Spain naturally had a most disastrous effect upon the Cuban trade and prosperity. The exports to Spain fell off to an alarming degree. The products of the country had, for a time, lost their natural market. Only statesmen of vision were able to understand the causes of the trouble. The common people looked upon the results only, and a strong feeling of unrest was engendered. The colony was practically independent of the mother country at this time, so far as any guidance or aid was concerned. The King was exiled and Joseph Bonaparte held sway in the Spanish capital.

But now a new difficulty showed its head. Not all the French had returned to Santo Domingo or France. There were numbers of French settlers in the rural districts. The people were discontented, and soon a movement arose—on March 21, 1809, it came to a crisis—to endeavor to persuade the French colonists, who had been so easily disposed of by Someruelos, to return. This movement took on almost the aspect of a revolution. It seemed as if France, not content with obtaining control of Spain, was again stretching out a clutching hand to grab Cuba as well.

The heads of the Cuban government were thoroughly aroused. Summary measures were taken, and the uprising, which had bid fair to be so serious, was subdued in two days. It was due, probably, to the firmness, decision and resourcefulness of those at the helm of Cuba at that time, that Cuba did not then and there become the victim of a movement which might have resulted in her becoming subject to France instead of Spain. The attitude of the United States toward French aggression also lent Cuba moral support, as we shall see.

The encounters which took place in putting down this trouble were practically bloodless. Almost no lives were lost, but much property was destroyed. A more serious result was that dissatisfied colonists, some of them of the most desirable type, to the number of many thousands, were driven to seek their fortunes and find new homes away from Cuba.

Napoleon was not satisfied to leave Spain in possession of Cuba, but soon instigated another effort to get possession of the island for France. In 1810, a young man arrived in Cuba from the United States. He was Don Manuel Aleman. His mission was apparently private business of his own, but the Cuban government had confidential information to the effect that he was an emissary of Napoleon. He was not allowed to land unapprehended, but was arrested on the ship on which he had come, and he was thrust into a none too pleasant Cuban prison. A council of war was assembled, but this was merely a form. Aleman's fate was predetermined. On the following morning, July 13, 1810, he was taken to the Campo de la Punta and there publicly hanged as a traitor to Spain.

No account of events in Cuba at this time would be complete without some record of one whom Las Casas called "a jewel of priceless value to the glory of the nation, a protector for Cuba, an accomplished statesman for the monarchy," Don Francisco de Arango, the bearer of the "most illustrious name in Cuban annals."

Arango, to whom we have previously made reference, was born on May 22, 1765, at Havana. In early boy-hood he was left an orphan, but he managed the large estate which had been left him with all the skill and judgment of a mature mind. He studied law, and was admitted to practice in Spain, and he there acted, for a number of years, as agent for the municipality of Cuba. He was thoroughly familiar with the wrongs and needs of his country, and it is probable that no one of his time was more suited by nature, training and sympathies to act for Cuba. He succeeded in fact in obtaining from the crown some very valuable concessions for the island. In Cuba itself he worked hard to bring about an increase of staples. He exerted his influence among the planters to the end that the fertile soil should be worked to its utmost productiveness. It was necessary that not only should Cuba be self-supporting, and be able to pay her enormous taxes, but that there should be a large surplus to feed the royal exchequer. No one realized this more than Arango, whose years at the Spanish court had made him familiar with the greed of the Spanish government. His work was fruitful, and Cuban production at this period came almost up to the wild expectations of the Spanish government, which regarded Cuba as a land of inexhaustible riches. Arango was moreover a humanitarian at heart. The wrongs of the slaves and the evils of the slave trade appealed to his sense of justice. On the other hand, he saw very clearly the difficulty of obtaining the proper amount of labor for the Cuban plantations if the slave trade was abolished, and so his efforts on behalf of the slaves took the form of attempts toward their protection by wise laws.

The attitude of Spain toward her colonies was at this time, as indeed always, grossly illogical. She wanted to take everything and give nothing. She could not foresee that a present of constant depletion meant a future of want; that in order to produce in quality the proper facilities must be provided. Arango, who was a diplomat as well as a statesman, by persuasion and by constant but gentle pressure at last won some of those in authority at the court to his point of view. If Cuba was to be a source of wealth to Spain, she must be endowed with the most efficient equipment to produce that wealth. Through Arango's efforts machinery was allowed to be imported into the island, free of duty. This, of course, furnished the means for industrial expansion. He also obtained the removal of the duty on coffee, liquors and cotton, for a period of ten years.

But Arango saw as clearly as Las Casas had seen that Cuba to show progress must have facilities for uplift, and for the improvement of the mental and moral status of the inhabitants. He accordingly started a movement which resulted in the formation of the "Junta de Fomento," or Society for Improvement, which was long a power for good in the island, until later the Spanish Captains-General saw in it a means to further their own designs, and it became an instrument for oppression. Its object was avowedly to protect and to promote the progress of agriculture and commerce. The formation of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce was another benefit which Arango conferred upon Cuba. For a long time he was the Syndic of the Chamber of Commerce. There were certain perquisites of this office which Arango steadily refused to accept, and he also declined the salary which the office carried with it. In all his long and useful life he never accepted remuneration in any office which he held under the Cuban government.

Now the real power at the court of Spain at this time was the infamous Godoy, the personal favorite of the king and the queen's lover; who seemed to be so firmly entrenched that no one would dare to oppose him. This creature turned greedy eyes toward Cuba. It was quite the fashion of those times for Spanish courtiers to consider Cuba as a source of revenue to bolster up their own fortunes. So Godoy claimed to be protector of the Chamber of Commerce, and demanded that the receipts of the custom house at Havana be turned over to him. He immediately met with the opposition of Arango, who bitterly opposed his every move and stood firmly against his plans for mulcting Cuba; in which conflict it is a pleasure to relate that for once virtue was triumphant. Godoy was unable to carry out his designs, and Arango was not only victor but he gained a still further point for Cuba, the relinquishment of the royal monopoly of tobacco.

There is another curious and interesting phase of this matter, which speaks highly for the remarkably forceful personality of Arango. Although he at all times stood firmly as the inflexible opponent of any schemes which the court at Madrid might father for the oppression of Cuba, he was always an object of respect and esteem in high political circles in Spain, and he was offered a title of nobility. Possibly he looked upon this as a bribe. At any rate he declined it. However, when the Cross of the Order of Charles III. was offered him he accepted the decoration.

In 1813 Cuba, by the adoption of the constitution of 1812, became entitled to representation in the Spanish Cortes, and Arango was unanimously chosen for this office. There was no person in Cuban politics more fitted for the honor. He proved himself worthy, for, as deputy to the Cortes, he achieved the greatest victory of his long fight for the good of Cuba, the opening of Cuban ports to foreign trade. New honors awaited him, for he was awarded the Grand Cross of Isabella, and when in 1817 he returned to Cuba, he was accorded the rank of Counsellor of State, and Financial Intendente of Cuba. Arango died in 1837, having lived seventy-two years, and having faithfully served his country for the greater portion of them. He bequeathed a large portion of his considerable fortune for public purposes and charitable objects, all for the betterment of the land that he loved.

In the darkest hours of tyranny, while suffering wrongs that would have inflamed other peoples to rebellion, Cuba remained "The Ever-Faithful Isle" for many years, until forced to rebellion. Against the background of injustice, as contrasted with the Spanish Captains-General who were to follow, and whose sole interest in Cuba was to extract as much as they could from her, acting on the principle of "after us the deluge," and caring nothing for her ultimate fate, the figure of Arango, the native Cuban, fighting at home and abroad for Cuba, stands out in bold and happy relief. It is not a matter for surprise that his name has been written on the annals of Cuba, with all the love and respect with which the other South American countries revere Bolivar. Here was a man who could not be tempted by honors, who refused remuneration for his services, and who against the greatest odds stood staunchly for everything which would help his travailing country.

Among Spain's other possessions in America unrest was now beginning to manifest itself. They were sick of Spanish rule, and the period when Spain was occupied with troubles at home seemed to be a good opportunity to thrown off the yoke. Revolution was in the air in those days. Independence had arisen like a new star on the horizon, and had become the object of popular worship. It was therefore greatly to the credit of Someruelos that in such troublous times he maintained a relatively peaceful government. The better class of Cubans recognized his ability. They realized that he of all men was best fitted to keep Cuba free from disturbances which would hinder her advancement. Consequently when his term of office was ended, a petition was sent to the Spanish government, requesting that he be retained for a longer period. We have, however, only to study the dealings, not only of Spain but of all the European nations with the colonies in the New World, to understand that not the good of the subject country, but the supposed interests of the mother country, were what determined the destiny of the colonies. The very fact that Someruelos was so popular in Cuba apparently seemed to those in power in Spain an excellent excuse for his removal. They reasoned that if he had the interests of Cuba at heart, he might not be loyal to the government in Spain. And so, when multitudes of the best citizens of Cuba petitioned that he be retained longer in office, not only was the petition denied, but the petitioners were severely reprimanded by a mandate of the Spanish government.

Hurricanes are not unusual in the southern seas, but now and then one of exceptional severity leaves so devastating a trail that it is worthy of chronicle even in a country where the elements are always more or less to be reckoned with. Such a hurricane visited the western coast of Cuba in 1810. Valuable shipping in the harbor of Havana was sunk. Sixty merchant vessels and many ships of war were torn from their anchors and swallowed up by the sea. Property all along the coast was destroyed, and a large number of lives were lost. That same year an uprising occurred among the negro population of the island. It bade fair to be far reaching in effect and occasioned much alarm among the white population. The most drastic and even cruel methods were taken to check it, and finally it was subdued.


On April 14, 1812, Don Juan Ruiz de Apodaca, afterwards the Conde de Benadito, assumed the post of Captain-General, in place of the Marquis de Someruelos. His assumption of power was marked by the gift of additional authority to the office of Captain-General. For the first time, the Captain-General was also the commander of the naval forces. His initial act was to proclaim the Constitution of Cadiz. This was far from popular in Cuba, but the citizens realized the futility of resistance. His action created a sensation and caused much talk, but it met with no open opposition. De Apodaca's tenure of office was short. He retained the office of Captain-General for only two years, when he was sent to Mexico by the Spanish government.

Next, Lieutenant-General Don José Cienfuegos was installed at Havana as Captain-General, on July 18, 1816. It was under his direction, in 1817, that the third census of the island was taken. Cienfuegos was most unpopular with the Cubans. He instituted many reforms which did not find favor in the eyes of those he governed.


An economist and statesman of three countries, Alejandro Ramirez was born in Spain in 1777. He began his career in Guatemala as an agricultural reformer and promoter; thence in 1813 went to Puerto Rico as Intendente and saved that island from bankruptcy. In 1816 he became Intendente of Cuba, where he effected great reforms in land-holding and in education. Despite his excellent services he was bitterly attacked, and largely because of grief over the ungrateful injustice thus shown him he sickened and died on May 20, 1821.

The entire policing forces of Havana were revolutionized and put under new rules. We are told that his most unpopular move was to have the streets of that city lighted at night, and that this was "thoroughly resented." Just why such a move should be resented is not told us, but it certainly might be the subject of fruitful and romantic conjecture. His action is said to have caused "consternation."

A second measure was even more distasteful to the Cubans, and they regarded it as an infringement of personal liberty. Cienfuegos ordered that, as soon as the public services in the churches in the evenings were over, all public thoroughfares be closed. Now this was the time of day when all Cuba was most bent on amusement and enjoyment, and this decree of the Captain-General made it impossible for any man to stray far from his own door with hope of returning the same night. The populace was up in arms with indignation. Cienfuegos had intended the command to have a quieting effect, but its result was exactly the reverse. It gave rise to the very disturbances which the Captain-General was endeavoring to restrain.

It would be hard to conjecture what might have been the result of a continuance of Cienfuegos's arbitrary methods. They certainly boded no good for the peace of Cuba. Fortunately before he could resort to any more of what the Cubans termed "these outrages against liberty," he fell ill, and thereupon the administration of the government fell into the hands of Don Juan Maria Echeverria, as a temporary substitute. This officer had no time to formulate new rules for the government of the Cubans, being kept very busy laboring against the troubles caused by his predecessor's doings. Then, too, his stay was short, for on August 29, 1819, the Spanish ship of war Sabrina brought Cuba a new Captain-General, Don Juan Manuel Cagigal.

In "Cuba and the Cubans," published in 1850, we are told that "The political changes adopted in Spain in 1812 and 1820 were productive of similar changes in the island: and when in both instances the constitution was proclaimed, the perpetual members of the municipalities were at once deprived of office, and their successors elected by the people. The provincial assembly was called, and held its sessions. The militia was organized; the press made entirely free, the verdict of a jury deciding actions for its abuses; and the same courts of justice were in no instance to decide a case a second time. But if the institution of the consulate was very beneficial during Ferdinand's absolute sway, the ultra-popular grants of the constitutional system, which could hardly be exercised with quiet in Spain, were ill-adapted to Cuba, though more advanced in civilization, stained with all those vices that are the legitimate curse of a country long under despotic sway. That system was so democratic that the king was deprived of all political authority. No intermediate house of nobility or senators tempered the enactments of a single elective assembly. This sudden change from an absolute government, with its usual concomitant, a corrupt and debased public sentiment, to the full enjoyment of republican privileges, served only to loosen the ties of decency and decorum throughout the Spanish community. Infidelity resulted from it; and that veil of respect for the religion of their fathers, which had covered the deformity of such a state of society, was imprudently thrown aside. As the natural consequence of placing the instruments of freedom in the hands of an ignorant multitude, their minds were filled with visions of that chimerical equality which the world is never to realize. The rich found themselves deprived of their accustomed influence, and felt that there was little chance of obtaining justice from the common people (in no place so formidable as in Cuba, from the heterogeneous nature of the population), and who were now, in a manner, arrayed against them throughout the land. They, of course, eagerly wished the return of the old system of absolute rule. But the proprietors only asked for the liberal policy which they had enjoyed at the hands of the Spanish monarch; not, most surely, that oppressive and nondescript government, which, by separating the interest of the country from that of her nearest rulers, and destroying all means of redress or complaint, thrust the last offspring of Spain into an abyss of bloodshed and ruin, during the recent disgusting exercise of military rule, in publishing by the most arbitrary and cruel measures, persons suspected of engaging in an apprehended servile insurrection."

This not altogether coherent statement gives an idea of how the rule of the Spanish Captains-General of this period, and how the so-called reforms which were instituted during the early part of the nineteenth century, were regarded thirty-five or forty years afterward.

Senor Cagigal was accompanied by troops, ostensibly to supply the local garrison, and it would be strange if they were not also imported to fill the native hearts with respect for the government and to help in quelling any threatened uprisings. History furnishes strange paradoxes, and so in 1820 we have the spectacle of Cagigal's own troops rising in revolt against him and compelling him to proclaim the constitution of 1812. It is true that he soon quelled this rebellion, set aside his proclamation, and restored the old order, but that does not detract from the grim humor of the situation in which he for a time found himself.

But Cagigal was a diplomat of a high order, and he did make efforts to accomplish well the difficult task of governing Cuba. His decisions and decrees were generally impartial. He had a charming social manner, and a delightfully conciliatory way; always suave, affable and approachable. He placated trouble makers, and dispensed justice in an endeavor to give universal satisfaction. He was accordingly held in the highest esteem by the majority of the Cubans. And Cuba apparently found favor in his eyes. He grew to love the beautiful island, and perhaps his heart was touched by her patience under the galling Spanish yoke. At any rate, he applied to the crown for special permission to spend the rest of his life in Cuba. This request was granted and he made for himself a home at Guanabacoa, where he lived until his death, some years later.

Cagigal was succeeded in 1821 by Nicholas Mahy, an old man, of a distrustful and arbitrary disposition, who was entirely out of sympathy with the liberal movement in Cuba. He could see no way of retaining her for Spain except by keeping her people in subjection under an absolute despotism. He proceeded to carry out his ideas with a high hand, and it is a matter of speculation to what lengths he might have gone, had not death speedily cut short his career. He ruled for only a single year, after which no new Captain-General was sent out from Spain but Sebastian Kindelan, Mahy's subordinate, took command. He was a sterner disciplinarian than even his former master. His sole object seemed to be to reunite the military and civil power in the hands of the Captain-General. He was willing to stoop to any means to accomplish his purpose, and he was backed up by a large body of troops imported from Spain. Feeling ran high between these—as the Cubans termed them—"interlopers and troublemakers" and the local militia, and serious trouble was with difficulty avoided. Then in 1823 Ferdinand VII. was again in power in Spain; weak, crafty, scheming, malicious, and grasping; and it is needless to say that Cuba was visited with new oppression.


It was on May 2, 1823, that Don Francisco Vives, afterward Conde de Cuba, arrived in Cuba to take over the office of Captain-General. Let us first contemplate the good which he accomplished for Cuba, before scanning the darker pages of his high-handed rule.

Vives reorganized the rural militia, and he caused the construction of a number of important fortresses and the completion of others already begun. He divided the island into three military departments. Under his instructions two asylums for the insane, el Departmento de Dementes, and the Casa de Beneficencia, were constructed. He made an effort to mark the historic spots of the island, and under his auspices a temple was built on the spot in the city of Havana where was reputed to have been celebrated the first mass. So much for the good done by Vives. Now we come to a different story.

This Captain-General was a despot of the most pronounced type, the kind dear to the hearts of the rulers in the mother country. He obtained from his royal master, in 1825, an order placing Cuba under martial law, and giving the Captain-General complete control of her destiny. It reads as follows:

"The King, our master, in whose royal mind great confidence has been inspired by your excellency's proved fidelity, indefatigable zeal in his majesty's service, judicious and well-concerted steps taken since Y. E. had charge of the government, in order to keep in quietude his faithful inhabitants, confine within the proper limits such as would deviate from the path of honor, and punish such as forgetting their duty would dare commit excesses in opposition to our wise laws; well convinced as H. M. feels, that at no time and under no circumstances whatever will the principles of rectitude and love toward H. M. royal person be weakened which now distinguish Y. E.; and being at the same time desirous of preventing the embarrassments which under ordinary circumstances might arise a division in the command, and from the complicated authority and powers of the different officers of government, for the important end of maintaining in that island his sovereign authority and the public quiet, it has pleased H. M., in conformity with the advice of his council of ministers, to authorize your excellency, fully investing you with the whole extent of power which by the royal ordinances is granted to the governors of besieged towns. In consequence thereof H. M. most amply and unrestrictedly authorizes Y. E. not only to remove from that island such persons, holding offices from government or not, whatever their occupation, rank, class or situation in life may be, whose residence there you may believe prejudicial, or whose public or private conduct may appear suspicious to you, employing in their stead faithful servants of H. M. who shall fully deserve your excellency's confidence; but also to suspend the execution of whatever royal orders or general decrees in all the different branches of the administration, or in any part of them, as Y, E. may think conducive to the royal service; it being in any case required that these measures be temporary, and that Y. E. make report of them for his majesty's sovereign approval.

"In granting Y. E. this marked proof of his royal esteem, and of the high trust your proven loyalty deserves, H. M. expects that in due correspondence to the same, Y. E. will use the most wakeful prudence and reserve, joined to an indefatigable activity and unyielding firmness, in the exercise of your excellency's authority, and trusts that as your excellency shall by this very pleasure and graciousness of H. M. be held to a more strict responsibility, Y. E. will redouble his vigilance that the laws be observed, that justice be administered, that H. M. faithful vassals be protected and rewarded, and punishment without partiality or indulgence inflicted on those who, forgetful of their duty and their obligations to the best and most benevolent of monarchs, shall oppose those laws, decidedly abetting sinister plots, with infraction of them and disregard of the decrees from them issuing. And I therefore, by royal order, inform Y. E. of the same for Y. E.'s intelligence, satisfaction, and exact observance thereof. God preserve your excellency's life. Madrid, 28 May, 1825."

As a marvel of unconscious irony this is a unique document. Evidently both the King and his minister lacked a sense of humor. Here is a document purporting to be issued "to keep in quietude" "faithful inhabitants." Why the "Ever-Faithful" needed a curb or why if such measures were necessary the insurgents were referred to as "Faithful," only a stupid king through the mouth of an equally pig-headed minister could determine. This royal order, we may relate with satisfaction, proved a boomerang. It gave the Captain-General—just why it is hard to decide—absolute power, not only to govern by military force, but to depose from office those who offended him, whether they were the king's minions or not. It also made inoperative all royal decrees unless the Captain-General chose to sanction them. Now Cuba, at this time, was saddled with hosts of fortune seekers, court favorites who were temporarily and voluntarily exiles from the sunshine of the monarch's smiles, that they might line their pockets and return to startle the Spanish grandees with their new splendor. Naturally they were seeking office and emoluments from the Spanish government. But then came their royal master and placed them, their positions, their fortunes, in the hands of a man who, should they offend him, could summarily degrade them, and force them to return home no richer than when they came. Truly the ways of kings are no less inscrutable than those of Providence. Naturally this royal order found little favor in Cuba. In vain, however, were efforts made to have it suspended, and to prove that it had never been intended to be anything but a temporary measure.

The trouble which was brewing for Spain, in Cuba, at this period was well forecast and described in an article, primarily on the dangers of the slave trade, which was published in a periodical in Havana, in 1832. After detailing some facts as to slave importations, it said:

"Thus far we have only considered the power which has its origin in the numbers of the colored population that surrounds us. What a picture we might draw, if we were to portray this immense body acting under the influence of political and moral causes, and presenting a spectacle unknown in history! We surely shall not do it. But we should be guilty of moral treason to our country, if we were to forget the efforts now making to effect a change in the conditions of the African race. Philanthropic laws, enacted by some of the European nations, associations of distinguished Englishmen, periodicals solely devoted to this subject, eloquent parlimentary debates whose echoes are constantly repeated on this side of the Atlantic, bold exhortations from the pulpits of religious sects, political principles which with lightning rapidity are spreading in both hemispheres, and very recent commotions in several parts of the West Indies, everything is calculated to awaken us from our profound slumber and remind us that we must save our country. And should this our beloved mother ask us what measures we have adopted to extricate her from her danger, what would those who boast themselves her dutiful sons, answer? The horrid traffic in human blood is carried on in defiance of the laws, and men who assume the name of patriots, being no other than parricides, cover the land with shackled victims. And as if this were not sufficiently fearful with criminal apathy, Africans freed and brought to this country by English policy, are permitted to reside in our midst. How different the conduct of our neighbors the Americans! Notwithstanding the rapid increase of their country; notwithstanding the white has constantly been four fifths more numerous than the colored population, and have ten and a half millions to offset two millions; notwithstanding the importation of the latter is prohibited from one end of the republic to the other, while European immigration is immense; notwithstanding the countries lying upon their boundaries have no slaves to inspire dread, they organize associations, raise funds, purchase lands in Africa, establish colonies, favor the emigration of the colored population to them, increasing their exertions as the exigency may require, not faltering in their course, and leaving no expedient untried which shall prove them friends of humanity and their country. Not satisfied with these general measures, some states have adopted very thorough and efficient measures. In December, 1831, Louisiana passed a law prohibiting importation of slaves even from other states of the Union.

"Behold the movement of a great people, who would secure their safety! Behold the model you should imitate! But we are told 'Your efforts are in vain. You cannot justly reproach us. Our plantations need hands and if we cannot obtain negroes, what shall we do?' We are far from wishing to offend a class equally deserving respect and esteem, including many we are happy to call friends. We are habitually indulgent and in no sense more so than in that before us. The notions and examples to which they have been accustomed justify in a great measure the part they act, and an immediate benefit and remote danger authorize in others a course of conduct which we wish may never be generally and permanently adopted. We would not rudely censure the motives of the planters. Our mission requires us only to remark, that it is necessary to adopt some plan, since the change in politics is inconsistent with and hostile to the much longer continuance of the illicit traffic in slaves. We all know that England has, both with selfish and humane motives, made and is still making great efforts against it by means of treaties. She is no longer the only power thus engaged, since France is also taking her share in the enterprise. The United States will soon appear in the field to vindicate down-trodden humanity. They will adopt strong measures, and perseveringly pursue the pirate negro-dealer. Will he then escape the vigilance of enemies so active and powerful? And even should some be able to do so, how enormously expensive must their piracy be! It is demonstrable that the number of imported negroes being then small, and their introduction subject to uncommon risks, their cost would be so enhanced as to destroy the motive for preferring slave labor. A proper regard to our true interests will lead us to consider henceforth other means of supplying our wants, since our present mode will ultimately paralyze our resources and be attended with baneful consequences. The equal distribution of the two sexes in the country, and an improved treatment of them, would alone be sufficient, not merely to prevent a diminution of their number, but greatly to increase it. But the existing disproportion of the sexes forbids our indulging in so pleasing a hope. We shall, however, do much to effect our purposes by discontinuing certain practices, and adopting a system more consonant to the good principles that should be our guide.

"Would it not be advisable to try some experiments that we may be able to compare the results of cultivating cane by slaves, with such other methods as we may find expedient to adopt?

"If the planters could realize the importance of these propositions to their welfare, we should see them striving to promote the introduction of white and the exclusion of colored hands. By forming associations, raising funds, and in various ways exerting themselves vigorously in a cause so eminently patriotic, they would at once overcome the obstacles to the introduction of white foreigners, and induce their immigration by the guarantees of good laws and thus assure the tranquillity of the country.

"We may be told that these are imaginary plans, and never to be realized. We answer that they are essays, not difficult or expensive, if undertaken, as we suggest, by a whole community. If we are not disposed to make the voluntary trial now, the day is at hand when we shall be obliged to attempt it, or abandon the cultivation of sugar! The prudent mariner on a boisterous ocean prepares betimes for the tempest, and defies it. He who recklessly abandons himself to the fury of the elements is likely to perish in the rage of the storm.

"'How imprudent,' some may exclaim, 'how imprudent to propose a subject which should be forever buried in "lasting oblivion."' Behold the general accusation raised against him who dares boldly avow new opinions respecting these matters. Unfortunately there is among us an opinion which insists that 'silence' is the true policy. All feel the evils which surround us, are acquainted with the dangers, and wish to avoid them. Let a remedy be suggested and a thousand confused voices be simultaneously raised; and a significant and imploring 'Hush!—hush!' is heard on every side. Such infatuation resembles his who conceals the disease which is hurrying him speedily to death, rather than hear its unpleasant history and mode of cure, from his only hope, the physician's saving science. Which betrays censurable apathy, he who obstinately rushes headlong to the brink of a mighty precipice, or he who gives the timely warning to beware? Who would not thus save a whole community perhaps from frightful destruction? If we knew most positively that the disease were beyond all hopes of cure, the knowledge of the fact would not stay the march of death, while it might serve but as a terrifying enunciation of his approach. If, however, the sick man is endowed with a strong constitution, that with timely prescription promises a probable return of health, it would be unpardonable to act the part of a passive spectator. We heed not that the selfish condemn, that the self-admiring wise censure, or the parricidal accuse us. Reflections of a higher nature guide us, and in the spirit of our responsible calling as a public writer, we will never cease to cry aloud, 'Let us save our country—let us save our country!'"

A subtle document that. Hidden carefully in the denunciation of slavery is a call to organization to form societies. We shall see later how important and potent those societies were and that their objects were something far different from the destruction of slavery. The paper closed with a clear cry for freedom for Cuba.

It cannot be disguised that those who had the real good of the island of Cuba at heart, patriots, Cubans who loved their country, men who longed to stand upright, to put off the yoke of Spain, and to look the inhabitants of free countries in the face as equals, were withdrawing their heartfelt allegiance from Spain, and were longing for independence. That this desire had been created by Spanish oppression, and nurtured by Spanish injustice, is a self-evident fact. The causes which led to the insurrections by which Cuba was torn from this time on until she obtained her independence, we must leave for another chapter. There are two matters most pertinent to this investigation, which we must first discuss: The attitude of the United States toward Cuba at this period, and the revolt of the other Spanish colonies, led by Simon Bolivar, "The Liberator."


Cuba, so rich and fertile, was an object of desire, not alone to America, but at least equally to the countries of Europe. Thus England cast covetous eyes at Cuba, and some of the English papers intimated that the United States was anxious to acquire the island, and that if England wished to save her West Indian trade, she had best look to her interests and, if possible, wrest Cuba from Spain. Probably the strongest feeling in the United States in the early part of the nineteenth century was that Cuba must not pass from the hands of Spain into those of any other power, and that if Cuba was to be separated from Spain it must be either as an independent country or by annexation to the United States. The desire for annexation, per se, did not appear to be so strong as the feeling that the United States must not allow either France or England to acquire Cuba, and there were, of course, strong political and geographical reasons for this decision. In a former chapter we have recalled some of the circumstances of that time, and have cited some of the authoritative utterances of American statesmen concerning Cuba in the first half of the nineteenth century. Let us now recur to that part of Cuban history in its chronological order.

Early in 1823, those Cubans who were more or less secretly in favor of independence sent an agent named Morales to Washington to try to discover what course the United States would pursue in case Cuba should declare her independence. It was intimated that in case Spain continued her oppressions, and did not grant Cuba a more liberal government, Cuba would ask for the protection of the United States, possibly for admission to the Union; and in case this was refused, she would appeal to England. While no definite promises were made to Cubans, it seemed to be the sentiment in Washington that, should Cuba thus offer herself, it would be tempting fate not to accept the gift. Indeed, a considerable portion of the United States was at this time eager for the annexation of Cuba. There seems moreover to have been in the American cabinet a strong feeling toward urging Cuba to declare her independence, and this might have resolved itself into promises if not into decided action, had it not been for the counter current of opinion that, should she do so, she could not maintain such a status. John Quincy Adams was sure of this, and although he felt that the time was not ripe in the United States for the adoption of a policy of annexation, yet if Cuba should fall to the United States by the mere gravitation of politics, he believed it would be folly to refuse to accept the gift, particularly since the occupation of Cuba by England would give her a base from which to proceed against the United States; and matters between England and her former possession were by no means yet settled on a basis of enduring friendship. Indeed, Adams believed that the future might make the annexation of Cuba almost indispensable to the destiny of the Union; as on April 28, 1823, he said in his instructions to the American minister at Madrid which we have already quoted.

It was practically certain at this time that France would intervene in the affairs of Spain, and would try to overthrow the liberal government of that country, and it seemed probable that England would take advantage of the opportunity in an endeavor to secure Cuba for herself. The island was seething with an undercurrent of revolt, and Washington was uneasy as to what England might do. Reports had it that orders had been sent to British troops to take possession of Cuba, by force if necessary, and that Spain, in return for certain secret concessions from England, had consented to this course. Adams wisely saw that if the Holy Alliance overthrew the Spanish constitution, Spain could not hope to retain Cuba, and since the island was believed to be incapable of self-government, the natural inference was that it would become a dependent of either England or the United States. We may be sure that Washington did not intend that this dependence should be upon England. About this time, Mr. Miralla, a man of affairs who had been for some ten years a resident of Cuba, told Jefferson in a conference in Washington that public sentiment in Cuba was against the country becoming an English territory, and that the Cubans would rise to resist it. He stated that Cuba would prefer to remain as she was rather than to change masters—jump from Scylla to Charybdis, as it were—and that if any change must come she desired independence; that she realized that unaided she could not maintain herself a separate nation, but that she hoped for the support of the United States or of Mexico, or both, to help her to maintain her freedom. Cuba had a secret fear that should she seek independence, the turbulent blacks would try to seize the government, and of course that would mean ruin.

On December 2, 1823, President Monroe delivered his epochal Doctrine:

"In the wars of European powers in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken any part nor does it comport with our policy to do so. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparations for defense. With the movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers. The political system of the Allied Powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America.... We should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies and dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have on great consideration and on just principles acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States."


This message had the desired effect. The Holy Alliance wisely kept its hands off from affairs in the southern Americas, including Cuba. But the United States naturally sought to cultivate closer relations with its neighbor. There were indeed practical reasons why it should do so; even for its own peace and comfort. For pirates preyed on United States shipping. A blockade was proposed to catch the offenders, but it did not find favor with the powers at the United States capital. Landing in Cuba, and reprisals on persons and property, were suggested, but it was considered unwise for the United States thus to take steps which would be opposed if any other power should assume a like attitude.

The United States government feared a secret transfer of Cuba by Spain and that such action would be taken before Washington could become cognizant of it. It therefore sought to be allowed to station consuls at Havana, and in Porto Rico, who were, of course, practically to be the eyes of the United States government, to detect any incipient plot to rid Spain of Cuba. This idea did not find favor at the Spanish court and a polite letter of demurrer was sent, stating that such a proposition was untenable at the time, owing to the turbulent condition of affairs on the island, but that later, when Cuba became more peaceful, it would be considered. The real reason for Spain's refusal doubtless was that she was still smarting from the United States's recognition of the independence of other South American countries, and she did not feel justified in allowing anyone who she felt would be a spy to have an official position on the island, particularly when that person came from a country which, having attained its own liberty, naturally had sympathy with those who had theirs yet to gain.

The state of affairs at this time was epigrammatically described by The London Courier, when it said: "Cuba is the Turkey of trans-Atlantic politics, tottering to its fall, and kept from falling only by the struggles of those who contend for the right of catching her in her descent."

Spain, always badly in need of money, made in 1838 a proposal to England to offer Cuba as security for a loan, which undoubtedly would have meant that England would eventually have to take Cuba in payment for the debt. The United States Minister at Madrid, hearing of the project, made it so clear that such a course would not be tolerated by his country, that the idea was abandoned. A few years later President Van Buren again expressed the American pro-slavery policy toward Cuban independence:

"The Government has always looked with the deepest interest upon the fate of these islands, but particularly of Cuba. Its geographical position, which places it almost in sight of our southern shores, and, as it were, gives it the command of the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indian seas, its safe and capacious harbors, its rich productions, the exchange of which for our surplus agricultural products and manufactures constitutes one of the most extensive and valuable branches of our foreign trade, render it of the utmost importance to the United States that no change should take place in its condition which might injuriously affect our political and commercial standing in that quarter. Other considerations connected with a certain class of our population made it to the interest of the southern section of the Union that no attempt should be made in that island to throw off the yoke of Spanish dependence, the first effect of which would be the sudden emancipation of a numerous slave population, which result could not but be very sensibly felt upon the adjacent shores of the United States."

The United States had a selfish interest in keeping Cuba in a state of peace and prosperity. In 1842 it was found that Spain could not pay the interest upon her debt to the United States. It was suggested that she make it a charge upon the revenues of Cuba, and the next year it was arranged that the entire claim be settled by a sum paid to the United States annually by the Captain-General of Cuba. Naturally if there were constant revolutions and uprisings in Cuba, these revenues would not be forthcoming. On the other hand, taxation for the purpose of settling Spain's debt to America was not looked on with favor among Cuban patriots.

From the foregoing it will be seen that while the United States did not urge annexation,—since it was against her avowed policy to do so—she would not have been unwilling to accept Cuba, had that country knocked at her door and offered herself as a free gift. It will be equally clear that the United States had no intention that Cuba should be transferred by Spain to any other country than herself, and that she stood ready to combat such a project by force of arms if necessary. It will also be seen that some of her statesmen would have smiled upon the idea of Cuba as an independent nation, if they had for a moment believed that Cuba could maintain her independence, and that surreptitiously the United States might have lent her aid to this end, if it could have been done without embroiling herself with Spain. However, there was a division of opinion in Washington as to the effects on the Southern States of any change of condition in Cuba.

It might also be observed that France and England—particularly the latter—would have been glad to add Cuba to their possessions, but they feared war with the United States if they made the attempt. And as for Cuba herself, her first choice was freedom, but if it were necessary, in order to escape Spanish tyranny, she would have accepted annexation to the United States, or at any rate a protectorate from that government.


The half century from 1776 to 1826 was afire with the spirit of revolution and freedom. During this period the United States won her independence from England; Belgium sought separation from Holland; France was in the throes of revolution; and Greece won her freedom from Turkey. This spirit of liberty penetrated to Central and South America and set the Spanish colonies there aflame.

A successful revolution must have a competent and daring leader. The South American revolt in Venezuela and surrounding countries was led by a romantic figure, a man of such tremendous personality, such high ideals, and such ability to carry them out, that, although he never set foot in Cuba, and never personally figured in her politics, his influence reached out from the other colonies and more than any other at this period swayed the destiny of the "Pearl of the Antilles." His desire for liberty was like a bright light which illumined the whole Latin-American atmosphere.

It has been said that "only an aristocrat can be truly democratic," for only an aristocrat has everything to lose and nothing to gain by espousing the cause of democracy and liberty. It is true that, like Washington, Simon Bolivar came of wealthy and aristocratic ancestry. His people were among the foremost of the Creoles. His parents died when he was still a child, and his passionate, wilful nature was allowed to go uncurbed. He developed a violent and hasty temper, but he was also openhearted, generous, and quick to sue for pardon. He had a charming personality, and the ability to make friends and hold them for life. In his later years his followers would have died for him. He was absolutely fearless, and it is said of him that at one time at a banquet, in the presence of the Governor of Venezuela—Bolivar's native country—he arose and proposed a toast to the "Independence of the Americas."


At an early age he went abroad. When in Spain he became friendly with Prince Ferdinand, afterwards King Ferdinand VII. of Spain—then a boy. They were both tennis enthusiasts, and it is told that Bolivar constantly beat the young prince on the courts at the royal palace at Madrid, just as later his armies prevailed against those of Ferdinand VII. He travelled in Italy and contrasted the progressive spirit of that country as compared with the turbidity and tendency to disintegration which dominated Spain. A sojourn in France made him an eye witness of some of the most frightful scenes of the French revolution. On his return home, he visited the United States and there beheld the actual, peaceful workings of a republic. All this time there was stirring within him the eager desire for freedom for his own country, which at last impelled him to cast aside the luxury and ease which his position and family gave him, and to accept the danger of exile and death, so that he might free South America.

The process of revolutionary organization in Venezuela and her sister states was much the same as that later adopted in Cuba. Secret societies were formed, the members of which were pledged to the cause of liberty. They grew, and waxed strong and powerful, and at length the fire of revolt was kindled. Bolivar's first active step toward the rescue of his country from the Spanish rule was an insurrection at Caracas in April, 1810. The governor was deposed and the freedom of Caracas was established without violence. The commerce of Venezuela was opened to the world, taxes to the crown were declared abolished, and a republic was formed. In recognition of Bolivar's services, he was given a commission as Colonel and with Louis Lopez Mendez went to England to try to get her aid. Great Britain, however, declined to be drawn into the controversy and declared her absolute neutrality.

On July 5, 1811, the flag of the new republic was unfurled to the world. But Spain was not inclined to relinquish what she considered her rights without a struggle, and Spanish troops were quickly dispatched to Venezuela. In a famous speech Bolivar, now returned to his native country, voiced the sentiments of the republic. He said:

"Why should we take into account Spain's intentions? What shall we care if she chooses to keep us as her slave or sell us to Bonaparte, since we have decided to be free? That great projects should be patiently weighed, I hear; but are not three hundred years of waiting long enough? Let us set without fear the foundation of South American independence. To tergiversate is to fail."

With Bolivar to Venezuela came General Francisco Miranda, who had fought under Washington for the independence of the United States and under Dumouriez for the freedom of the French people. He was an experienced and tried soldier and one who loved liberty as he loved his life, but he was unfamiliar with conditions in Venezuela, and he was a better fighter than an organizer. He was made general-in-chief of the Venezuelan army; but his campaigns against the Spaniards were unsuccessful and he was captured and flung into a dungeon, where he remained for the rest of his life. Bolivar escaped and went to Curacao, where he published a declaration to the effect that in order to make possible the liberty of the continent Venezuela must be again established as a republic; and to accomplish this end he called for men. Two hundred responded and with this small force he engaged an army ten times the size of his own, and fought twenty successive battles in fifteen days. His way led across mountains and through passes where death, not only from the foe but as the result of a single misstep, was ever imminent, but neither Bolivar nor his men were daunted. He was victorious over the Spaniards, took the city of Cucuta, and added a million dollars to the treasury. His army was constantly increased by volunteers. Over 750 miles were traversed, and fifty times the Spaniards were engaged. On August 6, 1813, Bolivar entered Caracas in triumph. The most beautiful women of the city crowned him with laurels; cries of "Long live our Liberator! Long live New Granada! Long live the Savior of Venezuela!" filled the air; the people wept for joy, and Bolivar himself, much moved, dismounted from his horse and knelt to give thanks to God for the victory which had attended his efforts.

But while the patriots were showering honors upon their "Liberator" the Spanish were remarshalling their forces. On the plains lived the Llaneros, cattle breeders, men of the wildest nature, almost outlaws. They were reckless fighters and rode fearlessly. They were won over to the Spanish cause by the promise of booty, and soon, under the leadership of a Spaniard named Boves, were arrayed against Bolivar's little army.

The days that followed were dark for the patriots, with a long record of heart-breaking defeats. But no matter how the tide of battle went against them, their souls were unconquered. Rumors against the honor and integrity of Bolivar began to be circulated and he lost caste among those who had been his staunch supporters. Finally he was denounced as a traitor and driven into exile. In this, the darkest hour of his life, he made a farewell address to his people:

"I swear to you," he said, "that this title (Liberator) which your gratitude bestowed upon me when I broke your chains shall not be in vain. I swear to you that Liberator or dead, I shall ever merit the honor you have done me; no human power can turn me from my course."

Bolivar went to New Granada, where Camille Torres, the president of that Republic, was his staunch friend. He is said to have cried: "So long as Bolivar lives, Venezuela is not lost." There Bolivar never ceased to work for his country, even though he was unjustly exiled. The cause of liberty suffered severe reverses during these days. Ferdinand VII., who was once more securely seated on the throne of Spain, sent a great army to America, under the command of General Morillo, who had instructions to subdue the insurgent colonies even "if no patriot was left alive on the continent." New Granada was conquered and all the revolutionists on whom the Spanish could lay hands were massacred. Peru, Chili and Buenos Aires were also made to bow to the power of Spain, who outdid herself in cruel injustice to show the revolutionists that revolt was useless. Of the Spanish action in Venezuela, an official report says: "Provinces have ceased to exist. Towns inhabited by thousands now number scarcely a hundred. Others have been entirely wiped out. Roads are covered with dying, dead and unburied skeletons. Heaps of ashes mark the sites of villages. The trace of cultivated areas is obliterated."

Bolivar next banded his little following together on the island of Santo Domingo, and at the close of 1816 landed just off the coast of Venezuela, on the island of Margarita. He convened a congress, instituted a government, and issued a proclamation abolishing slavery in Venezuela; almost fifty years before the famous Emancipation Proclamation of Lincoln. Then he entered upon a two years' campaign, of fierce and fearless fighting against the huge forces of General Morillo. On July 17, 1817, his capture of Angostura marked the turning tide of his fortunes. In 1818 his followers were increased by a large number of soldiers of fortune who were seeking new employment in the pastime of fighting, now that the end of the Napoleonic wars had taken away their occupation. These men were an acquisition because they were skilled in warfare and used to its hardships.

A congress was convened at Angostura, in February, 1819, and Bolivar, as the unanimous choice for President, was given supreme power. He made an address which is famous in the annals of history. Among other things he said:

"A republican form of government has been, is and ought to be that of Venezuela; its basis ought to be the sovereignty of the people, the division of power, civil liberty, the prohibition of slavery and the abolition of monarchy and privilege—— I have been obliged to beg you to adopt centralization and the union of all the states in a republic, one and indivisible."

On August 7, 1819, the decisive battle of Boyaca was fought, and Bolivar entered the capital of New Granada again crowned with laurels. Bolivar believed that the colonies, to make a strong resistance to Spain, must be united. His dream was a confederacy of South American States. This was partially realized when he formed a union of Venezuela, New Granada and Ecuador, in 1819, as one republic, of which he was made president. He was also made commander in chief of the army, with full powers of organization of any new conquests which he might add to the union.

Now Spain cried for mercy, and when, in 1820, King Ferdinand was again deposed, she asked for a six months truce, which was granted, because Bolivar saw in this lull in hostilities a chance further to entrench himself and prepare for new conquests. His wisdom was demonstrated by the fact that in June, 1821, his army was triumphant at Carabobo, and he soon entered Caracas to cries of "El Libertador," his honor vindicated and his vow fulfilled. In victory he was generous, for in reviewing his army he greeted them with the words, "Salvadores de mi patria." In the period from 1821 to 1824, Bolivar fought for the freedom of Ecuador and Peru, and accomplished it. He was hailed as the South American Liberator, and a separate nation, formed from the territory of Upper Peru, became known as Bolivia, in honor of the great South American patriot. In 1826 Bolivar was at the height of his power, with his best dreams realized. He bore the titles, Perpetual Protector of Bolivia, President of Colombia and Dictator of Peru. The territory under his control was almost two-thirds the size of all Europe.

History is too often a record of ingratitude. One would think that in South America Bolivar would have remained first in the hearts of all the people. But jealous seekers after self-aggrandizement plotted against his rule and even attempted his life. Venezuela, which owed so much to him, was the first to withdraw, Ecuador became a separate republic and Bolivar was banished. At this his heart and his spirit were broken and he died at the age of only 47, on December 17, 1830. His last words were: "For my enemies I have only forgiveness. If my death shall contribute to the cessation of factions and the consolidation of the Union, I can go tranquilly to my grave."

No other single individual has left such a mark on the pages of South American history; and though he never even visited the island he greatly influenced Cuba as well as the countries in which he lived and struggled for freedom.

For the breath of revolt which was scorching the Spanish possessions on the main land, was no longer leaving Cuba untouched. It has ever been the history of tyranny that sooner or later the oppressed have found a leader and have risen against their tormentors, and also—we have only to contemplate French history, or to study the story of Russia under the Czars, to find confirmation—that such opposition was born first in secret gatherings, and gained strength under cover of concealment and darkness, until it grew strong enough to stand in the daylight.


Tales of Bolivar's triumphs in South America were not slow to penetrate to the knowledge of the Cubans. Liberty, which had seemed only a dream, now began to take on the aspect of a possible reality. Men expressed their opinions and desires furtively in their own homes, to tried and trusted friends. They began to assemble and exchange views. No one dared to come out openly at first, and so propaganda was carried on through veiled articles, by word of mouth, by the secret clasp or sign of union. Under pretext of meeting for amusement and social pleasure clubs whose members were all friends of liberty began to be formed, about 1820. The Free Masons, whose principles were far from inimical to what now began to become the aim of all Cubans who loved their country, organized societies, which immediately became hot-beds of revolt, of the fiercest kind of protest against Spanish rule, and the rendezvous of those who planned to overthrow it.

Other clubs, all of them masking their real purpose under some pretext, sprang into existence like magic. The best known of them all was called the "Soles de Bolivar" in which the influence of Bolivar had bridged the waters which separate Cuba from South America, and was leading the Cubans, in the inception of their fight for liberty. What the members of these societies most longed for was that the renowned "Liberator" would come at the head of an army and overthrow the Spanish rule in Cuba; though this was not to be.

Now if the Spanish rule was politically weak and tottering at this time, the evidence of this fact was strongly repressed, and financially the country was flourishing. At the head of the financial department was the Count de Villanueva. He made many reformations in the methods of collecting taxes—to enable Spain more readily to lay her hands on her spoils. He changed the methods of keeping accounts, and of checking up the books of the public treasury. His influence at the Spanish court was greater than that of the Captain-General, and so he was able to have him deposed as President of the Consulado and himself appointed in his stead. He exercised a despotic control over the functions of that body, and made them subservient to the improvement and development of Cuba for the enrichment of Spain. He saw to it that everything that could be taxed paid its share into the public treasury. As agriculture increased, its products were more heavily taxed. The plight of the Cuban who desired to own property and get on, was similar to that of a pieceworker who, when he speeded up productions, found the piece work price cut to take care of any surplus. The more the Cuban produced, the more he was taxed, and his last state was about the same as his first; the only ones who profited were the officials in Spain. Now for the first time taxes were imposed without even consulting those taxed, to say nothing of obtaining their consent. Villanueva was the friend of the Captain-General and his co-conspirator against Cuba's happiness, in spite of the fact that he wrested from him certain honors. He was naturally most popular with the Spanish court, and was cordially hated by all loyal Cubans.

Yet Villanueva did do some things for the improvement of Havana. He had many roads in and near the city paved, and devices erected to clear the anchorage of the harbor of the infiltrations of mud, and to preserve the wharves. He had the waters of the Husille brought into the city by an excellent method. He established a regular mail packet system between Spain and Cuba, and it was under his administration that the Guines railroad was built. This road ran from Havana to Guines, a distance of forty-five miles, and was built under the direction of an American engineer, Mr. Cruger. It was the nucleus of a system which in 1848 comprised 285 miles of rails in operation, and 85 more in process of construction. These lines connected Havana with Guines, Batabano, Cardenas and Matanzas; Cardenas with Juacaro, Matanzas with Sabanilla and Colisco, Nuevitas with Puerto Principe, and Santiago de Cuba with the copper mines. They represented an investment of between five and six million dollars.

Villanueva, however, oppressed and robbed the people in order that he might make frequent and munificent remittances to the treasury in Spain. The more they gave, the more they were urged to give. Spain cared nothing for the manner in which the money which she demanded was accumulated, only that by fair means or foul it might be forthcoming. Villanueva established the Bank of St. Ferdinand, but for all the good it did Cuba at this time, it might have remained unestablished. Its capital was seized by the crown as fast as it accumulated, and it proved to be just a new method for the extortioners. Spain had no more unscrupulous agent than her chief of the finance department.

The victims were not quiescent, except in appearance. The rack keys were being too tightly turned. In the "Soles de Bolivar" and in other assemblies patriots were crying out for vengeance. In vain Vives tried to suppress the societies. Known members were arrested and thrown into prison, and meetings were forbidden; but the movement was like a conflagration which has gained start in many parts of a city. When stamped out in one place—when one society was destroyed—it only made its appearance in another. The principal headquarters were at Matanzas. Very carefully and in secret the leaders laid their plans for a widespread revolt, the date of which was set for August 16, 1823. But Vives had secret agents in the societies, and there were traitors as there frequently are in such movements. When the day of the revolt dawned the leaders were seized and imprisoned. There were many eminent Cubans among the patriots, the best known being the greatest of Cuban poets, José Maria Heredia. Perhaps some appreciation not so much of this man's courage as of his genius influenced the Captain-General. At any rate, instead of being condemned to death, he was sent into perpetual exile. A few of the members of the society learned of the betrayal before they could be taken and made their escape from the island.

Those who were conspiring for the liberation of Cuba were not cowed, however, but simply temporarily overcome. One of the first acts of Vives under the royal decree of May 25, 1825, was to use every means possible to suppress and to annihilate the secret societies, but he simply made them more wary. The desire for liberty which had sprung up in the breasts of so many Cuban patriots was destined never again to be extinguished, and the history of the island from this time down to the War of Independence, in the closing decade of the century, is that of one long struggle for separation from Spain—sometimes open, more frequently secret but always continuous.

When the uprising of 1823 failed so signally, a number of the refugees who escaped prosecution fled to Mexico and Colombia. There was a settlement of these people in Caracas. They turned to "The Liberator" for support, and soon the invasion of Cuba, by a force composed of Mexicans and Colombians, either under the personal leadership, or under the direction of Bolivar, was planned. The leaders of this movement also sought aid in the United States. Now the slaveholders of the South were at this time opposed to the separation of Cuba from Spain, because under the lead of Bolivar it would mean the doom of the slave trade, the abolition of slavery, and such an achievement in Cuba would be inimical to their own interests. So the attempt to procure assistance in the United States was really the cause of the failure of the proposed expedition. Spanish spies were quickly informed of the proposed plan, and such strenuous efforts were openly made to make such an attempt ineffective, that it was never made. Bolivar had all he could attend to in South America, and he was too intelligent a leader to attempt the impossible, and at the same time leave his plans for the liberation of South America to meet certain defeat in his absence.

But Spain did not easily overlook the conspiracy, and she seized the leaders in Cuba who were conspiring with those in Colombia and Mexico. Two young men of fine families, Don Francisco de Aguero Velasco and Don Bernabe Sanchez, were apprehended by the aides of the Captain-General, imprisoned and most cruelly treated, and when their spirit was not broken by torture and they refused to divulge the secrets of their leaders, they were condemned to die for treason, and paid the penalty of their patriotism with their lives.

Still the love of freedom grew and waxed stronger in Cuba. In 1828, a secret society known as El Aguila Negra (The Black Eagle) was inaugurated in Colombia and Mexico, by those patriots who were escaping the vengeance of Spain by remaining in exile. This movement was splendidly organized. It had branches, not only in Colombia and Mexico, but also in the United States, where recruiting offices were openly established, and in Cuba where its operations were secret. But the organizers of The Black Eagle could not make a move which Spanish spies did not report to their master, the Captain-General of Cuba. Every plan was known to him as soon as it was formulated. He made no secret of his determination to deal summarily with those who were plotting against the power of Spain, but he waited in hope that he might be able to seize the real brains of the expedition. Besides this, the declaration of Bolivar for the freedom of the slaves as one of the principles for which he was fighting, and the fact that he was so closely connected with these revolutionary movements in Cuba, excited at this time the fears and animosity not only of the slave owners in the United States, but also of the most selfish, greedy and powerful of this class—particularly those of Spanish birth and sympathies—in Cuba. Before the expedition could be actually started, the leaders were apprehended and a farce of a trial followed. The Captain-General was beginning to fear the new spirit which was abroad in the land. Perhaps he had discovered that cruelty and fierce opposition only fanned the flame. At any rate he commuted the sentence of death, and imprisoned the conspirators.

Since Mexico had conspired against the Spanish occupation of Cuba, General Vives retaliated by a military expedition against Mexico, in 1828. A force of three thousand and five hundred men was sent against Mexico—not a large army, but General Vives expected that large numbers of Mexicans would join his soldiers, once they set foot on Mexican soil. A landing was made at Tampico, in August, 1828. Instead of being received with acclamations by the people of Mexico, the movement met with the most strenuous opposition. The expedition was surrounded by the Mexican army, and its members were glad to surrender and to make terms with the Mexicans by which they were allowed to return to Havana. In March, 1829, the would-be conquerors of Mexico arrived in Havana with none of the honors with which it had been planned to crown the victors.

Vives, while a stern governor, did not actually play the part of a despot. He held his office until May 15, 1832, when he was succeeded by Don Mariana Ricafort, a tyrant of the most pronounced type. His rule left one continuous record of oppression and misgovernment. No better person to encourage in the hearts of thinking Cubans an eagerness to be rid of Spain could have been chosen, for he was thoroughly hated and despised. His rule continued two years, and then, in 1834, the reins of government were taken into the hands of General Don Miguel Tacon. The eastern department of the island was commanded at this time by General Lorenzo.

Tacon, one of the most famous of the nineteenth century Captains-General, was a man of small mind and great stubbornness, shortsighted, narrow and jealous. He was exceedingly vain, grasping for power, and a tyrant of the most pronounced type. He took many privileges from the wealthy inhabitants of the island, and he seized for himself the power, which had theretofore been a municipal function, of naming the under-commissaries of police in Havana.

Like all people of extremely arbitrary nature, Tacon was an arrant coward at heart. He was perpetually in terror of being assassinated, and upon the slightest pretext had anyone whom he considered dangerous to his rule thrown into prison. The life of no Cuban who happened to offend the Captain-General was safe at this time.

In 1836 there occurred in Spain the revolution of La Granja, when the progressive triumphed over the moderate party, and the Queen Regent was obliged to proclaim the old Constitution of 1812, granting Cuba representation in the Spanish Cortes, and to summon deputies from Cuba. The news of this triumph reached Santiago de Cuba before it did Havana, whereupon General Lorenzo, in command there, immediately proclaimed the Code of Cadiz, and ordered an election for deputies to the Cortes. He reestablished the constitutional ayuntamiento, declared the press free, reorganized the national militia and put his department on the same footing that it had been in 1823.

Tacon was furious when knowledge of this action reached him. He had no power to compel General Lorenzo to retract, but he summarily cut off all communications with his department and laid his plans to invade that territory, and by military force to restore his own absolute government and do away with representation for Cuba in the Spanish Cortes. Perhaps nothing that he could have done could have added more to his unpopularity. He was hissed in the streets, and plots were made against his life.

For himself, Tacon paid no attention to the royal mandate which announced the reestablishment of the Constitution of 1812 and foreshadowed orders for election of deputies to the Cortes. Under the royal decree of 1825, which was still in force, Tacon had power to set aside any instructions which came from Spain, if it seemed to him to the best interests of Cuba. He did not hesitate to take advantage of this authority, which gave him the same rights as a Spanish governor over a city in a state of siege, allowed him to suspend any public functionary no matter what his rank, and to banish any resident of the island who opposed him, without trial, and even without the formal preferring of accusations, as well as to suspend any law or regulation emanating from Spain, should he see fit.

Under Tacon's orders, a column of soldiers, picked from the Spanish army of occupation, and chosen—much against their will and inclination—from the rural and provincial militia and cavalry, was placed under the command of General Gascue, in the town of Guines. Meanwhile, Tacon's secret agents were carrying on an active propaganda among the citizens of Santiago de Cuba, and endeavoring to seduce public sentiment from Lorenzo's to Tacon's side. They did not hesitate to tell the most unblushing falsehoods, and to make the most dishonest promises to win the people over, and by such means attained some degree of success.

If Tacon had had a different sort of opponent the story would have been written along very different lines. A strong commander of the large forces at Santiago de Cuba could easily have compelled him to withdraw from his position, and could have assured for Cuba greater freedom, and this course might in the long run at least have postponed her further efforts for separation from Spain. But General Lorenzo though well-meaning was fatally weak. Instead of resisting Tacon's tyranny he left Cuba for Spain, in an effort to make sure of the support of the Spanish crown, leaving Tacon to follow his own will, and to wreak his vengeance on those who had opposed him. Tacon was of course delighted with the success of his strategy. He sent some of the officers of his companies to Santiago and established a military commission to try all the people of prominence who under General Lorenzo had opposed him. Moya, the commandant, was the presiding judge, and Miret, a lawyer and a tool of Tacon's, acted as advocate. No greater travesty of justice has ever been staged than the proceedings of this precious body.

Now all the Creoles of wealth, education and family had welcomed the royal decree, and hastened to obey the commands of General Lorenzo and to take oath to uphold a constitution which was so beneficial to their interest. Their names were known to Tacon, and he seized not only such people, but anyone of whom he had the slightest suspicion. Men of the highest rank, or the best reputation for loyalty and honesty, of the finest education and standing, were among the number who were summoned before Tacon's tribunal. Even the church was not exempt, and several clergymen, with liberal leanings, and of known revolutionary sentiments, were arrested and imprisoned. This was an excellent time for Tacon to find a pretext to separate the sheep from the goats, and to put those who seemed likely to oppose him where he thought they belonged. Many of these people were confined in dungeons which were as barbarous as those of the middle ages, and were left there until they died of disease or of starvation. They were cut off from communications with their families and friends, and in darkness and filth suffered until death relieved them. A few considered themselves fortunate to get off with sentences of banishment, and those who had warning were glad to escape to another country. Families were separated and homes were broken up. Tacon was very thorough in his methods of putting down what he considered a menace to his government. Even the soldiers under General Lorenzo's command were made his victims. They had been guilty of no offence save that of obeying their superior officer, but this made no difference to Tacon. He decided to make an example of them. Over five hundred of them, with ball and chain dragging, were condemned to work on the streets of Havana like convicts.

The deputies to the Cortes whom Lorenzo had chosen, or who had been chosen under his rule, were among those who escaped from the island. They made their way to Spain, and, hoping that the Spanish crown would recognize the regularity of their election, and the irregularity of Tacon's action, presented their credentials to the Cortes. They were referred to a special committee composed of Spaniards whose only interest in Cuba was in what might be extracted from her, and who had no sympathy with her struggles or concern for her welfare or the good of her people. What few ideas they had of the best way to govern Cuba and make her pay the highest returns to Spain were derived from such intellects as those possessed by men of Tacon's ilk, and they were stoutly ranged on Tacon's side of the controversy. The deputies were refused seats in the Cortes, and it was decided that the Constitution of 1812 did not apply to Cuba. Cuba was thus placed under the despotic rule of the Captains-General, who were given absolute power, even precedence, over the will of the Spanish Cortes. The decree of the Cortes on this matter was framed in the following language:

"The Cortes, using the power which is conceded to them by the Constitution, have decreed: Not being in a position to apply the Constitution which has been adopted for the peninsula and adjacent to the ultramarine provinces of America and Asia, these shall be ruled and administered by special laws appropriate to their respective situations and circumstances, and proper to cause their happiness. Consequently, the Deputies for the designated provinces are not to take their seats in the present Cortes."

Tacon was exultant over this strengthening of his hand, and he began a regime even more cruel than his previous record. His agents were constantly busy stirring up strife and jealousy between the Spanish residents of the island and the native Cubans. He dominated the civil courts with his military officers, and justice became a mere chimera of fancy. In order to keep the police in line, he insisted that a certain number of arrests must be made within a given period. When there were not enough real offenders to make up the quota, the police naturally wreaked any little personal animosities which they might have against private citizens; and it has even been said that frequently they were paid by certain revengeful citizens who held grudges to prefer charges against men who were absolutely innocent of any offence.

Of course societies, whether political or social, came under the governmental ban. Citizens were not encouraged to assemble in groups for any purpose, and they feared to do so openly, lest the entire group might be apprehended and tried on some trumped up charge. All associations for education or personal betterment were discouraged, because if people came to know too much, they were harder to handle and more apt to revolt. Besides this, any society or institution which did not depend on the favor of the Captain-General might find means of denouncing his rule, and one could never tell how royal favor might be swayed. Tacon well knew it to be a very uncertain quantity, and meant to keep the wind blowing in his quarter, if possible.

In connection with his management of the police force, the whole attitude of justice was changed. No person was presumed innocent until his guilt was proved, but on the contrary his guilt was presumed unless he could beyond the shadow of a doubt prove his innocence; and if he had been unfortunate enough to incur the displeasure of one of the legion of sycophants from the court of Spain who hung around the palace of the Captain-General, seeking their own aggrandizement, his chances of having an opportunity to prove himself innocent were very small. Tacon encouraged rather than discouraged his subordinates in acts of injustice, and did not care to what lengths they went if they kept the people quiet. He roared at his officers, and demanded that they be vigilant against his enemies, and they were thoroughly cowed by him. To satisfy him, they invented accusations and thrust just men into prison, or had them condemned to death. A curious result of this regime, and one which shows how some good will often work out of the basest evils, was that thieves and banditti were much less active than under any other Captain-General. The long arm of Tacon reached out to subdue them, to fall upon the guilty as well as the innocent.

Tacon is said to have stated his own position in these words: "I am here, not to promote the interests of the people of Cuba, but to serve my master, the king." The press was muzzled, and the local ayuntamientos were deprived of their rights, and became merely the means for the collection and distribution of the funds of the municipalities. The prisons were overcrowded with Tacon's victims, and it became necessary to lodge some of the political prisoners in the dungeons of castles. Nearly 600 people, against whom there was no formal accusation, and about whom no treason could be proved, were lodged in cells and dungeons. No private citizen was safe, and no one had any personal liberty.

In spite of the lack of a free press, pamphlets denouncing the rule of Tacon were constantly being written, printed and circulated. One, entitled "Cuba y su Gobierno," contained the following assertions:

"With the political passions of Spaniards and Cubans excited; the island reduced from an integral part of the monarchy to the conditions of a colony, and with no other political code than the royal order, conferring unlimited power upon the chief authority; the country bowed down under the weighty tyranny of military commissions established in the capitals of the eastern and western departments; with the prisons filled with distinguished patriots; deprived of representation in the Cortes; the ayuntamientos prohibited the right of petition; the press forbidden to enunciate the state of public opinions; closed the administration of General Don Miguel Tacon in the island of Cuba, the most calamitous, beyond a question, that this country has suffered since its discovery by the Spaniards."

The party in Cuba which was struggling against her oppression decided that since they dared not give expression of their views in the local press, they would establish organs outside their distressed country. Two papers were accordingly issued, one at Paris, called El Correo de Ultramar, and one at Madrid called El Observador. These were both edited by able Cubans who were in exile. Later, in 1848, La Verdad, a paper devoted to Cuban interests, was started in New York and the copies given free distribution.

Tacon, like other despots, sought to cover his misdeeds by public works, with which he tried to placate those possible insurgents whom he had not imprisoned, and to deceive the Spanish government; for cruel and arbitrary as had been the Spanish attitude toward her colonies, it is doubtful whether the Spanish Cortes, had all the facts been known, would have countenanced some of the brutalities of which Tacon was guilty. There is a curious irony, a sort of paradox, about one of the improvements which Tacon made on the island. As we have seen, the prisons had never before been so full, and there had never before been such a demand for places to incarcerate political offenders. Tacon consequently caused a prison to be built, which has ever since been pointed to as a palliation of some of his misdeeds. It is situated near the gate of La Punta, and not far distant from the sea coast. It is well ventilated and airy, and open to the sea breezes. One point urged in its favor was that "its unfortunate inmates were protected from those pestilential fevers rising from crowded and ill-ventilated rooms." In other words, they were torn from squalor to well ventilated imprisonment. This would have been all very nice, were it not for the fact that numbers of the prisoners were from the best homes on the island, and had no need of a comfortable boarding house by the sea, watched over by an inhuman jailor. The prison had a capacity of five thousand prisoners, and very shortly after its erection it sheltered one thousand. It was built by the labor of convicts, and poor, unhappy political prisoners, and partly with funds which Tacon extracted from some of the officers who served under his predecessors, claiming that such funds had been by them unlawfully appropriated to their own use.

To give opportunities for "graft" to his followers, and work to their hangers-on, Tacon constructed a wall, high, level and massive, and for what purpose only he knew, right through the widest avenue of Havana. The Cubans were taxed to pay for the work, and subsequently were retaxed to pay for its removal. Tacon also established a public meat and fish market, for which he won popular approbation—outside of Cuba. It was in fact much to the detriment of the public and the public revenue, and greatly to his own gain and that of his friends. Even the contract for this market was not honestly let, but was given to the highest bidder for Tacon's enrichment, while honest bidders were ignored. The grant was obtained, whereupon the contractors came into their own, and commenced extorting large and valuable fees to which they were not entitled. Finally the matter became such a public scandal that even Tacon could not avert its being investigated, but when this investigation was completed, the record was taken possession of by Tacon, and mysteriously never again was discovered. The scandal of Tacon's administration at last became too great even for the Spanish court, which was supposed to be inclined to stand for anything, and the voice of Don Juan Montalvo y Castillo was raised in the Spanish Cortes in expostulation. But Tacon wrote artful reports, dodged the real issues, and cheerfully lied, and his utterances—perhaps better fitting the temper of the Cortes—found credence and his rule was continued.

Tacon caused the Governor's palace to be rebuilt, at great profit to himself and his favorites in the way of perquisites and bribes; he caused a military road to be constructed; and he had a spacious theatre erected, cynically saying, that "it would keep the people amused, and keep their minds off of matters which did not concern them." He also caused a large parade ground to be opened just outside the city. But in none of his improvements was he free from suspicion of having enriched his own purse, and having in some manner pulled the wool over the sadly strained eyes of the Cuban patriots.

A story which reads like a romance is told of Tacon's institution of the fish market. In those days pirates infested the waters around Cuba, and indeed were a menace to American and French vessels, as we have seen. The most daring pirate and smuggler of them all was said to be a man named Marti, of whom many exciting tales are related. He was a bold leader of desperadoes, and since the Isle of Pines was where his band most frequently had their headquarters, he was known as the "King of the Isle of Pines." Now Tacon was eager to suppress smuggling and piracy, probably because they interfered with his own plans. The Spanish ships of war lay in the harbors of Cuba at anchor, while the officers indulged in dancing on board with Cuban ladies, or took long period of leave on shore. This did not please Tacon, and he accordingly issued commands that they suppress the smugglers at all costs. But the smugglers carried on their operations from small coves and inlets, in little crafts which did not draw much water, and the clumsy and half-hearted efforts of the Spanish sailors to apprehend them filled their leaders with mirth. There are many tales of the impudent daring with which these outlaws operated under the very noses of those who were sent out to capture them.

At last Tacon, who had an abounding belief that every man had his price, and perhaps had heard enough of the character of the men he was hunting to gauge it correctly, offered a reward for anyone who would desert and inform the government of the pirates. A much larger and more tempting sum was offered for the delivery of Marti, dead or alive. These offers were posted throughout the country.

For some time nothing happened, and then one dark night, when it was raining copiously, a man evaded the sentinels before the main entrance to the governor's palace in Havana. He stole through the entrance, and hid himself among the pillars in the inner court. Next this man silently crept up the staircase to the governor's apartments. Here he met a guard, but he saluted, and passed on with such nonchalance that he was not challenged, and entering the reception room of the governor, found himself in the semi-royal presence. Tacon was alone, busily writing. He promptly inquired who his visitor might be, and was informed that he was one who had valuable information for the Captain-General.

"I am the Captain-General," said Tacon.

"Your excellency is desirous of apprehending the pirates who infest the coasts of the island?"

"You must have been reading the proclamations," jocosely suggested Tacon.

"And you wish to take Marti, dead or alive?"

Tacon signified that such was his purpose. His strange visitor then exacted the Captain-General's promise that he would be granted a free pardon in return for the valuable information which he was about to divulge. When this promise was given he said:

"I will lead you to the strongholds of the smugglers."

"You?" cried Tacon. "Who are you?"

"I am Marti!" was the reply.

Marti, who so calmly and unscrupulously betrayed his followers, was of course a welcome visitor to the Captain-General, and one worthy of his warmest co-operation and friendship. He was placed under surveillance, and was obliged to remain in the palace for the night, but the Captain-General refrained from telling anyone his identity. On the next day he acted as pilot for one of the Captain-General's boats, and after the course of several weeks he had exposed every hiding place of his men. The amount of money and property thus secured and appropriated by the Captain-General cannot be estimated, but it was very great. A great deal of it never found its way into the treasury. Marti was a scoundrel so much to his liking that the Captain-General decided not only to give him a free pardon, but an order on the treasury for a large sum of money. However, Marti had his own ideas of what he desired. In place of the money he chose the absolute right to fish the waters surrounding Havana, to the exclusion of all fishermen who were not in his employ. He had in his wild career marked for his own all the best fishing grounds in the harbor. This concession granted, there must naturally be found a market for his fish, and thus the fish market project was born. Then fishing made Marti so wealthy that he now had time for more elegant occupations, and turned his mind to theatricals. He is said to have obtained some sort of monopoly from the government over theatrical performances in the island, and then the public theatre idea was formed.

Tacon had as many press agents as an opera singer, albeit they had no methods of getting their material into public print and disseminated it by word of mouth. His agents told many stories of him to illustrate his love of justice, his wonderful generosity, and his many other admirable traits, for which he was in reality only negatively to be celebrated. The one which follows is merely illustrative of the others.

In the first year of his rule there was a young Creole girl, of surpassing beauty and modesty, of the name of Miralda Estalez. She was an orphan of seventeen, and kept a cigar store, which her beauty and grace made very popular with the young men of Havana. Miralda, like all proper heroines of fiction or fairy stories, was good as well as beautiful, and although many of the young bloods sighed for her, her glance fell with favor only on a handsome but, of course, poor and deserving young man, of the name of Pedro Mantenez. Pedro was a boatman, which is a most romantic and fitting occupation for an impoverished but righteous hero. He was more than this. By his wit and sagacity—which as we have seen failed to line his coffers, but if they had done so he would have been out of drawing in this affecting picture, since he would no longer have been poor but deserving—he was a leader among the other boatmen and beloved by all. The records of his noble and self-sacrificing deeds would have filled a volume as large as an unabridged dictionary. Miralda loved Pedro, and Pedro loved Miralda, and all was going as merry as a marriage bell, when entered the villain, a famous roué of the name of Count Almonte, who liked Miralda's cigars and cast melting glances at Miralda herself, but all in vain, because, as we have said, Miralda was good as well as beautiful. Finding that he would have to do something more substantial than make eyes, the worthy count offered Miralda a costly present which so affected her that she fainted, not with joy, but with horror. Then she ordered the count from her shop, but he refused to go and continued to hang around and buy her wares. Next the fine count offered her money and lands and rich clothes and what not, but the pure-minded young girl righteously spurned his offer. Acting quite in character the count then decided to kidnap her. His plans were ingenious, but in order to gain popularity for Tacon it was necessary that not far from this point he should get into the story.

One afternoon, just at twilight, that fine hour for abduction, a lieutenant—probably in Tacon's pay—stepped into the store and demanded that Miralda go with him, by order of the Captain-General; which does look like the cloven hoof in the velvet glove, or something of the sort. But instead of taking Miralda to the Captain-General she was conveyed to the count's country estates, where she was kept a prisoner, although of course not harmed—in fiction the villain never harms the heroine before the hero arrives even if he is a bit late at the appointment. Pedro, by that wit and sagacity which had made him a master boatman, discovered the count's treachery. He disguised himself as a friar and went to the count's gate every day and slipped notes through the cracks to Miralda, thus cheering her exceedingly. Then entered the most high excellency, the Captain-General, that defender of those who loved liberty in Cuba, that builder of prisons and master genius in filling them, that despoiler of rich and poor alike, and thus the man most likely to help defenseless virtue. Pedro's excess of wit and sagacity led him straight to the spotless Captain-General. After trying three times to get an audience, for governing the island and putting down rebellions kept Tacon reasonably busy, Pedro succeeded in getting into the presence of the lord of Cuba. When he had told his story, and sworn to his honorable intentions toward his fiancee, Tacon sent his soldiers to the count's estate to bring him and Miralda into the sacred presence. When the Captain-General had demanded to know, and the count had assured him, that Miralda was "as pure as when she came beneath my roof," Tacon immediately produced a priest and married Miralda to the count, much to the astonishment and chagrin of the faithful Pedro. But Tacon the Just was not through. He was ever on the side of the oppressed, when his own interests leaned that way. The count was ordered to return to his own plantation, without his bride. While on the way he was shot in the back, after Tacon's most pleasant manner and by his orders. In one record it is hinted that his estates were pleasant picking for Tacon, but the story which is most current leaves out that interesting detail. Tacon's version is that he gave the count's estate to the widow; and at any rate Pedro and Miralda were married and lived happily ever afterward, and Tacon gave them his blessing with the high-sounding pronouncement: "No man nor woman on this island is so humble but that they may claim the justice of Tacon."

Tacon's rule, one of the worst that the long-suffering Cubans had to endure, finally came to an end, on April 16, 1838, when he was succeeded by Don Joaquin de Espeleta. The latter had been born in Cuba, and it is a mystery why he was ever appointed, for Spain was not wont to accord honors to Cubans, or to confer the high rank of Captain-General on one who might naturally be expected to have Cuban sympathies. He had been for some time connected with the government in a subordinate capacity, being inspector-general of the troops, and second cabo-subalterno. From all accounts Espeleta was an excellent governor, and must have afforded the harassed Cubans a much needed breathing spell after the misrule of Tacon. But he was not long allowed to rule Cuba. Spain began to suspect that the Cubans were being treated too well, and that trouble might follow. Indeed, Espeleta was reported to be conciliating the people, and holding out hopes of great reforms. This in itself seemed to justify his removal, and so, in 1840, he was succeeded by the Prince de Aglona.

During this administration the Royal Pretorial Audience, a high court of appeal to which all civil cases might be taken, was established. If this had been kept free from deleterious influences, it would have been a most beneficial thing for the oppressed Cubans, but the royal favorites dominated it, as they did pretty much everything else.


General Geronimo Valdez, who succeeded the Prince de Aglona as Captain-General in 1840, probably endeavored to rule wisely, since he was by nature a rather gentle and just man; but he had absolutely no chance with the power of Spain against him. It was during his incumbency that the first of the alarming slave uprisings occurred, and the Spanish officials were so frightened that they counseled the most violent methods of subduing the offenders, to which as we shall see General Valdez at least shut his eyes. For he was weak and indecisive, and had not the power to rule insurgents or to keep his Spanish colleagues within bounds.

The British consul, David Turnbull, of whom we shall hear more later, was unpopular with the planters, who accused him of inciting their slaves to rebellion. Certainly he was an ardent advocate of emancipation, and a book which he wrote about this period was filled with denunciations of slavery. Valdez tried to placate both him and the planters, and between the two promptly fell down and won the enmity of both. His numerous grants of freedom to negroes were another cause for complaint. The planters combined and caused his downfall, and he yielded his office to one better suited to Spanish standards. Some years later they secured the recall of Turnbull. It is said of Valdez that he departed from Cuba no richer than when he had come, and if this is true,—it sounds almost impossible,—then he stands unique in an assembly of "grafters."

In 1843 George Leopold O'Donnell took office as Captain-General. No despot who had preceded him surpassed him in cruelty. He turned every possible happening to his personal advantage, and lined his pockets with Cuban money. It was during his tenure of office that the most wide-spread and most dangerous of the insurrections among the slaves happened. Of the methods used in subduing this we shall write in another chapter, but they were the most disgraceful that have blotted the pages of the history of any nation. General O'Donnell himself, his wife and daughter were said to have profited by the slave trade. The wife of the Captain-General, by the way, seems to have had a painfully itching palm. It is told of her that she had a number of loaves of bread left after a reception, and that she sent for the baker at three o'clock in the morning, to require him to take back the surplus. When he demurred, that he could only sell it for stale bread, and would thus lose money on it, she said: "Oh, I sent for you early because now you can mix it with the other bread, and sell it to the masses, and no one will know the difference." She is accused of having been engaged in all kinds of schemes by which she profited in an illegitimate way. She dabbled in the letting of contracts for the cleansing of sewers and for the removal of dirt and manure from the city streets, demanding her bonus from the one who secured the contract, and these municipal operations stained her hands with illgotten gains. It is said that O'Donnell, who had a large interest in marble quarries in the Isle of Pines, had his agents select able bodied laborers, and trump up charges of treason against them. They were then sentenced to deportation to work in the Captain-General's stone quarries, and thus solved the problem of low priced labor. O'Donnell was fertile also in inventing new taxes and new methods of extorting money, which of course brought him into high favor at court. So pleasing was his rule to his masters and to his aides that he was allowed to stay in office longer than usual, and was not succeeded until 1848.

One of the most ridiculous figures in Cuban history came next, in the person of General Frederico Roncali. Some 400 Americans had taken up their abode on an island far distant from Cuba. Rumors reached General Roncali that they intended to free Cuba from Spanish rule. He promptly marched 4,000 picked soldiers to garrisons in Cuba, and promised them double pay if they would fight bravely when the enemy landed. Of course, the enemy never came, and General Roncali presented a foolish figure. But after all there was a portent in this of the fear which the Spaniards were beginning to entertain, that the end of their rule in Cuba was at hand.

While the slave trade had been made illegal in 1820, it flourished with more or less vigor until the end of the Ten Years' War in the latter part of the century. Spain officially frowned upon it, but unofficially the Spanish crown is said to have been financially interested in the slave trading companies, and to have shared largely in their profits. To add to this incentive for the continuance of the trade, the Captain-General had his own reasons for not suppressing it. He was paid a fixed bonus for every slave imported. Indeed, the post of Captain-General of Cuba was one not to be despised by any soldier of fortune. The perquisites of the office are said to have been—of course, not from the slave trade alone—close to $500,000 a year. The Captain-General is said to have received "half an ounce of gold" for every "sack of charcoal," as they facetiously dubbed the negro, allowed to pass into the country.

Although no excuse of expediency can be urged for the enslavement of human beings, no matter what their color or race, it remains a fact that the sugar plantations of Cuba required laborers in great numbers for their development, and the easiest and most profitable way to obtain that labor was through the employment of black slaves. It would probably have been impossible to obtain a sufficient number of white men at that time to do the work required, especially since when an attempt was made to import white men for work on the plantations, the owners who were of Spanish birth brought every influence possible to bear on the government to make such laws and regulations for that kind of labor that, if it could be procured, its retention was well nigh impossible.

The blacks were naturally not satisfied with slavery. In their association with their masters they acquired just enough information and knowledge to make them dangerous. And at this time the blacks, free and slave, were a large majority of the population. The negro race in captivity was always difficult to manage. They were affectionate and responsive to good treatment but when their rage was aroused by hard and unjust treatment they reverted to habits of the jungle. The Spanish planters believed that the way to keep the negroes quiet was to keep them under with a strong hand and consequently overseers were frequently brutal.

There began to be a strong undercurrent of unrest among the negro population, and an equally strong fear of them among the whites. Sporadic uprisings occurred, which were like the overflowing of a boiling caldron, not organized, and not well prepared, and therefore easily put down by the authorities. A description of a typical uprising of this character is contained in a work called "The Slaves in the Spanish Colonies" by the Countess Merlin, published about 1840. It relates the experiences of one Don Rafael with a mutiny of his slaves.

"The slaves lately imported from Africa were mostly of the Luccommee tribe, and therefore excellent workmen, but of a violent and unwieldly temper, and always ready to hang themselves at the slightest opposition to their way.

"It was just after the bell had struck five, and the dawn of morning was scarcely visible. Don Rafael had gone over to another of his estates, within half an hour before, leaving behind him, and still in tranquil slumbers, his four children and his wife, who was in a state of pregnancy. Of a sudden the latter awaked, terrified by hideous cries and the sound of hurried steps. She jumped affrighted from her bed, and observed that all the negroes of the estate were making their way to the house. She was instantly surrounded by her children, weeping and crying at her side. Being attended solely by slaves, she thought herself inevitably lost; but scarcely had she time to canvass these ideas in her distracted mind, when one of her negro girls came in, saying, 'Child, your bounty need have no fears; we have fastened all the doors, and Michael is gone for the master.' Her companions placed themselves on all sides of their female owners, while the rebels advanced, tossing from hand to hand among themselves a bloody corpse, with cries as awful as the hissing of a serpent. The negro girls exclaimed, 'That's the overseer's body!' The rebels were already at the door, when Pepilla (this is the name of the lady) saw the carriage of her husband coming at full speed. That sweet soul, who, until that moment, had valiantly awaited death, was now overpowered at the sight of her husband coming unarmed toward the infuriated mob, and she fainted. In the mean time, Rafael descended from the vehicle, placed himself in front of them, and with only one severe look, and a single sign of the hand, designated the purging house for them to go to. The slaves suddenly became silent, abandoned the dead body of their overseer, and, with downcast faces, still holding their field-swords in their hands, they turned round and entered where they had been ordered. Well might it be said, that they beheld in the man who stood before them the exterminating angel.

"Although the movement had for a moment subsided, Rafael, who was not aware of its cause, and feared the results, selected the opportunity to hurry his family away from the danger. The quitrin or vehicle of the country could not hold more than two persons, and it would have been imprudent to wait till more conveyances were in readiness. Pepilla and the children were placed in it in the best possible manner; and they were on the point of starting, when a man, covered with wounds, with a haggard, deathlike look, approached the wheels of the quitrin, as if he meant to climb in by them. In his pale face the marks of despair and the symptoms of death could be traced, and fear and bitter anguish were the feelings which agitated his soul in the last moments of his life. He was the white accountant, who had been nearly murdered by the blacks, and having escaped from their ferocious hold, was making the last efforts to save a mere breath of life. His cries, his prayers, were calculated to make the heart faint. Rafael found himself in the cruel alternative of being deaf to the request of a dying man, or throwing his bloody and expiring corpse over his children: his pity conquered; the accountant was placed in the carriage as well as might be, and it moved away from the spot.

"While this was passing on the estate of Rafael, the Marquis of Cardenas, Pepilla's brother, whose plantations were two leagues off, who had been apprised through a slave of the danger with which his sister was threatened, hastened to her aid. On reaching the spot, he noticed a number of rebels who, impelled by a remnant of rage, or fear of punishment, were directing their course to the Savannas—large open plains, the last abodes resorted to by runaway slaves. The Marquis of Cardenas, whose sense of the danger of his sister had induced him to fly to her, had brought with him, in the hurry of the moment, no one to guard his person except a single slave. Scarcely had the fugitive band perceived a white man, when they went towards him. The marquis stopped his course and prepared to meet them; it was useless temerity in him against such odds. Turning his master's horse by the bridle, his own slave addressed him thus: 'My master, let your bounty get away from here; let me come to an understanding with them.' And he then whipped his master's horse, which went off at a gallop.

"The valiant José, for his name is worthy of being remembered as that of a hero, went on toward the savage mob, so as to gain time for his master to fly, and fell a victim to his devotedness, after receiving thirty-six sword-blows. This rising, which had not been premediated, had no other consequences. It had originated in a severe chastisement inflicted by the overseer, which had prompted the rebels to march toward the owner's dwelling to expound their complaint. They begged Rafael's pardon, which was granted, with the exception of two or three, who were delivered over to the tribunals."

This specimen of the fine writing of the period has hidden within it two truths which stand out in the history of the difficulties between the blacks and the whites on the island of Cuba. First, although we must discount a bit the Countess's account of Rafael's valor, and the ease with which he subdued the uprising, by taking into account the fact that he was her cousin, and that therefore she naturally looked at him with over-favorable eyes, nevertheless the fact remains that the blacks were usually amenable to the commands of their owners, unless aroused to an unusual pitch of ferocity, and were, through fear or respect, not difficult to reduce to control.

In the second place, it has been the history of the relations between the blacks and whites in every country that with anything like fair treatment those who worked about the house, or acted as body servants, became personally attached to their masters—to whom it is true there was often a tie of consanguinity—and showed the same spirit of loyalty which was displayed by Pepilla's women slaves.

Shortly after this insurrection, reported by the Countess Merlin, there was another near Aguacate, which was more formidable and more difficult to subdue. Meanwhile, the government was handling the matter of slave insurrections in a vacillating manner. Laws were made which granted the slaves a right to assemble and to establish societies, even to form military bodies for the public defense; actually giving them greater rights than white laborers; and this went hand in hand with such cruel injustice as public whipping posts. The white population, on the other hand, even in localities where there was a great preponderance of blacks, could not form a militia.

Turnbull, the English consul, fancied that he saw in these slave insurrections a chance to advance the interests of his country. It is claimed that he also had visions of a republic in which the blacks ruled with himself as president. He was persona non grata with the aristocracy of the island, and is supposed to have been actuated in part by a desire to avenge social slights. He was charged with planning to effect a huge black uprising, to seize and execute enough of the white population to cow the rest and then to set up his black republic. But it is impossible to determine the truth or falsity of these accusations. Turnbull had many enemies who were only too glad to charge him with any crime.

In 1842 there was an insurrection in Martiaro, and it was with difficulty suppressed. Then evidence began to be seen everywhere of a systematic propaganda among the slaves on plantations scattered in widely separated parts of the island. A negro mason accidentally dropped an incendiary proclamation from his pocket, and it finally reached the hands of the captain of the district. The negro was tortured, but would not divulge the source of the paper. An itinerant monk went through the country ostensibly begging alms for the church, but in reality prophesying to the blacks that in July, 1842, they would, on St. John's Day, rise and obtain their freedom. The wholesale insurrection did not occur, but there were uprisings in July in various parts of the island, and the slaves of an estate near Bemba murdered their master and a neighbor, and were only subdued when the militia had been called. In January, 1843, an official of the government was murdered by the blacks. A colored man secretly gave evidence against the slayers and in some manner fell under their suspicion, and soon after was assassinated by one of his own people, who afterward was tried for the crime, but committed suicide in jail, before he could pay the death penalty. In March, 1843, near Bemba five hundred negroes rose against their white masters, and it was only after considerable bloodshed that they were subdued. No sooner was this trouble quieted than there was another uprising on a plantation in the neighborhood, and still a third one the same year, the exact details of which are lacking. Then followed, at the close of 1843, the most serious trouble of all, when, in November, the negroes near Matanzas revolted and went on an orgy of murder and rape, ravishing and killing women, and murdering white men. Turnbull was accused of being the brains behind these troubles, but it was impossible to fix the guilt on him. If he was guilty he was not a good organizer, for none of the revolts had any national effect. They were all local in character, and all unsuccessful in attaining any lasting results.

After the insurrection of November, 1843, a meeting of planters was called in Matanzas, and the government was asked to take steps to make further revolts impossible. But in 1844, near Matanzas, occurred another serious insurrection, and it was reported that the negroes on all the plantations in the neighborhood were organized and were planning a wholesale revolt, which would bring about the realizations of Turnbull's dreams. It was then that the government decided to act ruthlessly, and methods which would have done credit to the old Spanish Inquisition were promptly introduced.

In March, 1844, the Captain-General, O'Donnell, addressed a letter to General Salas, who was the head of the military tribunal, in which he counseled drastic and violent measures against any insurgent blacks. He suggested that all blacks, slave or free, who were suspected of treason to their masters, should be apprehended, and if they refused to give information as to the extent of the organization and their associations, the knowledge must be wrung from them by torture. The slaves were to be tried in the district where they were taken. The officer in charge of each district was promptly given full power to apprehend and punish the plotters as he saw fit. The Spanish officers were often cruel and brutal men, who exercised their authority in the most revolting manner. The hue and cry went from hut to cabin and no black man was safe at his own hearth. Opportunity was taken in some cases to work out a personal grudge and gain freedom from an enemy. No one, not even a white man, dared publicly to raise his voice to expostulate, for he was promptly dubbed an abolitionist and thrown into prison. If a negro had a little money saved to buy his freedom, or, if he was a freedman, to obtain a little business, he stood a better chance of his life. He might buy his tormentors off, but all too frequently when he had paid, he was murdered lest he might tell of the man whom he had bribed.

One tender hearted Spanish judge, Don Ramon Gonzales, is reported to have condemned his victims to be taken to a room, the walls of which were already dripping with the blood and shredded flesh of previous victims. There they were tied head down to a ladder, and flogged by two Africans until they were dead. To make their torture the more excruciating, the thongs with which they were scourged had on the ends small buttons made of fine wire, which bit into the flesh. When several freedmen had been executed in this pleasant fashion, and when public opinion dared feebly to protest at such atrocities, death certificates were made out by unscrupulous physicians, reporting death from some simple disease, and under this authority the murdered negroes were quickly buried.

A second kind judge seized on some pretext a freeborn negro, an old man, who was gentle and inoffensive, but who had incurred the judicial displeasure, and had him tied to the ladder and flogged on three separate occasions, without even going to the trouble to bring an indictment against him or divulge the nature of his offense. Another free negro was taken by this same official, hung by his hands from the ceiling of the torture chamber, and left there all night, while he was at intervals whipped. At length this poor victim succumbed to the treatment and gave information of a comrade, who was promptly taken out and shot without a trial.

Another officer, Don Juan Costa, had a record of ninety-six negroes killed by the lash, of whom fifty-four were slaves and forty-two freedmen. The record shows the following entries, which gives an inkling of the colored man's powers of endurance and of what each must have suffered: "Lorenzo Sanchez, imprisoned on the first of April, died on the fourth. Joseph Cavallero, imprisoned on the fourth, died on the sixth. John Austin Molino, imprisoned on the ninth, died on the twelfth." There were similar laconic entries for the whole ninety-six. Don José del Piso, a fiscal officer, was responsible for the flogging to death of a negro a hundred and ten years of age, too old and infirm to be an active conspirator. This was within the walls of the Matanzas jail. The poor victim was so lacerated that he was hardly recognizable as a human being. This del Piso had a pleasant form of afternoon sport which he conducted to the great edification of his brother inquisitioners. He would have his victims tied to the high limb of a tree, and then cut the rope and watch them writhe when they fell. Don Ferdinand Percher fell slightly below the record of his colleague, Don Juan Costa, for he could boast of only seventy-two deaths to his credit.

Then there occurred to these just men and true a new and exceedingly fine way of adding to their revenue. Don Miguel Ballo de la Rore extorted from the negroes on a certain estate, in the absence of their owners, affidavits accusing their master of treason; and the latter was notified through his overseer that unless he paid two hundred ounces of gold forthwith he was a condemned man. However, the correspondence fell into the hands of General Salas who had the grace to put an end to the matter.

But not only the blacks were victims. A white man who had incurred the displeasure of the minions of the government was never safe. One Spanish officer had a grudge against a young Englishman and accused him of inciting the negroes on an estate to poison their master; and the Englishman paid the forfeit of his life for a crime of which he was entirely guiltless. The fiscal officers ranged the island, looking for chances to murder, obtaining false testimony, seizing property, cattle, furniture, horses, the property of freed blacks, which they sold, converting the proceeds to their own use. This record seems incredible, but it is vouched for beyond question. Furthermore, at this time no comely colored woman was safe. If she happened to attract the lustful eyes of a Spanish general, her husband or father or brothers were seized, and she herself was delivered up to be ravished and then slain. One of the episodes of this campaign was a largely attended ball, at which no white woman was present, and at which all the colored women were obliged to appear in the garb of Eve before the Fall.



One of the greatest of Cuban publicists, José Antonio Saco was born at Bayamo on May 7, 1797; studied philosophy and politics, and succeeded Varela as Professor of Philosophy at the San Carlos Seminary, Havana. In 1828 he founded in New York the "Mensajero Quincenal," and four years later in Havana became editor of the Revista Bimestre Cubana. Because of his defense of the Academy of Literature, Captain-General Tacon banished him to the island of Trinidad. In 1836 he represented Cuba in the Spanish Cortes, and afterward travelled in Europe. In Paris he published a treatise of Cuban annexation to the United States, and after the Lopex expedition he wrote again on the political situation in Cuba. He was a member of the Junta of Information in 1866, and a Deputy to the Cortes from Santiago de Cuba. He died at Barcelona, Spain, on September 26, 1879, and his body was returned to Cuba for burial. His greatest literary work was a monumental "History of Slavery," but he wrote many others on political, economical, social and literary subjects.

The fiscal officers were able to carry out these infamies because they were at once prosecuting attorney, judge and jury. They obtained testimony, apprehended, imprisoned, condemned and executed. The testimony which they extorted was taken without witnesses. They themselves wrote down the declarations, distorting them to suit their own purposes. The blacks seldom knew how to read or write, and they were obliged to set their mark to anything which the fiscal officer chose to record. Not even the notary who swore the witness was allowed to check up the declaration with his knowledge of the statements. The Spanish government had for a long time played the most corrupt and petty of politics in apportioning the smaller offices on the island. Political hangers-on, with little education, no moral sense and no honor, were paid for their loyalty to Spain with these positions. The records show that during this reign of terror one thousand three hundred and forty-six people were victims of the inquisition.

But Spain in her campaigns of cruelty was only laying up trouble for herself. She was raising a storm which would never again be completely quelled until Cuba was free. The abolitionists and the liberals, or those who longed for freedom from Spanish rule, began joining forces. The cause of freedom for the slaves, and of separation from Spain, were curiously interlaced. The country was worn out with turmoil and eager for peace, but there could be no peace, it was believed, while Spain and the Spaniards on Cuban soil ruled with such cruel measures.

The problem of how separation might be obtained was capable of either of two solutions, by annexation to some other country, or by independence. The cause of independence had at this time for its leader a Cuban of the highest type, José Antonio Saco, who had traveled all over the world, and was a man of fine education and great culture. The larger proportion of those Cubans who were intelligent, and who were thinking out for themselves the problem of the fate of Cuba, accepted him as their leader. Of course, it is understood that all organization, all plans and almost all conversation, except in whispers behind closed doors, or in corners of cafes which seemed safe from surveillance, had to be secret. To come out openly for the salvation of Cuba from Spanish rule meant banishment or death.

Saco's ideas were well known to the Spanish governor, for in 1834 he had been exiled because of them. But he was prudent, and was not disposed to do anything that would hurl Cuba into the throes of revolution. He felt that a revolution at this time, with the blacks subdued but not conquered, might mean a race war which would be the most disastrous thing that could happen to the island. He also opposed annexation to any other country, particularly to the United States, because he felt that Cuba, being in such close proximity to the latter country, would lose her individuality, be absorbed and become Anglo-Saxon. In 1845 he wrote on this subject, as follows:

"If the slave trade continues, there will be in Cuba neither peace nor security. Their risings have occurred at all times; but they have always been partial, confined to one or two forms, without plan or political result. Very different is the character of the risings which at brief intervals have occurred in 1842-43; and the conspiracy last discovered is the most frightful which has even been planned in Cuba, at once on account of its vast ramifications among slaves and free negroes, and on account of its origin and purpose. It is not necessary that the negroes should rise all at once all over the island; it is not necessary that its fields should blaze in conflagration from one end to the other in a single day; partial movements repeated here and there are enough to destroy faith and confidence. Then emigration will begin, capital will flee, agriculture and commerce will rapidly diminish, public revenues will lessen, the poverty of these and the fresh demands imposed by a continual state of alarm, will cause taxes to rise; and, with expenses on the one hand increased, but with receipts diminished, the situation of the island will grow more involved until there comes the most terrible catastrophe."


Again we find in a letter to a friend, Caspar Betancourt Cisneros, written a little later than the former communication:


Scion of a distinguished stock, Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros was born in Camaguey in 1803 and was educated in the United States. In 1823 he went with other Cubans to Colombia to confer with Bolivar on the theme of Cuban independence, and remained there for many years. In 1837 he began a notable series of papers in the Cuban press, on familiar economic and educational topics, signing them El Lugareno; under which pen name he became famous. He established schools and agricultural colonies, and built the second railroad in Cuba. In 1846 while he was in Europe he was suspected of revolutionary conspiracy, and his property was confiscated. He then became a teacher in the United States, but returned to Cuba in 1861 and became a journalist. He was too ill to accept election to the Junta of Information, and died in 1866.

"Let there be neither war nor conspiracies of any kind in Cuba. In our critical situation either one means the desolation of the country. Let us bear the yoke of Spain. But let us bear it so as to leave to our children, if not a country of liberty, at least one peaceful and hopeful. Let us try with all our energies to put down the infamous traffic in slaves; let us diminish without violence or injustice the number of these; let us do what we can to increase the white population; let us do all which you have always done, giving a good example to our own fellow countrymen, and Cuba, our beloved Cuba, shall some day be Cuba indeed!"

On the other hand the Annexationists were waging a vigorous though quiet campaign. On April 20, 1848, a proclamation urging the Cubans to make every effort to add their island to the United States appeared. It was signed simply "Unos Cubanos," and urged opposition to Saco and his sympathizers and a concerted effort to gain the political and civil rights which were enjoyed by Americans. "Amalgamation of the races," ran the proclamation, "would not extinguish Cuban nationality, for every child born in Cuba would be at once a Cuban and an American. Cuba united to this strong and respected nation, whose southern interests would be identified with hers, would be assured quiet and future success; her wealth would increase, doubling the value of her farms and slaves, trebling that of her whole territory; liberty would be given to individual action, and the system of hateful and harmful restrictions which paralyze commerce and agriculture could be destroyed."

But no matter what the Cubans themselves might dream of or hope for, Spain had not the slightest intention of surrendering Cuba without a struggle. No country, not even one more altruistic in its policies, and more highly civilized than Spain had shown herself to be at this time, would be eager to relinquish a colony which brought her in a revenue of three and a half millions clear, and which in the twenty years from 1830 to 1850 had poured over $50,000,000 into her coffers. Spain therefore cast around for any expedient which would enable her to retain her last possession in the new world. Roncali during his term as Captain-General very clearly expressed his views as to where the Spanish interests in Cuba lay:

"Among the considerable elements of power with which Spain counts in this island, ought to be mentioned slavery. Permit me, your excellency, to explain my belief in this regard. The interest in preserving their fortunes and in developing the rich crops from which they spring causes all the wealthy inhabitants of the country to fear the first whisper of conflict which may relax the discipline of the slaves, or threaten emancipation. From this fact I infer that slavery is the rein which, through fear and interest, will keep in submission the great majority of the white population. But if the event should arrive of foreign war and of inner commotions such as to threaten the dependence of the island, what should be the conduct of the Captain-General toward slavery? I, my noble lord, state my solemn belief that this terrible weapon which the government holds in its hand might in the last extremity prevent the loss of the island, and that if the inhabitants are persuaded that it will be used they will trouble and renounce every fond illusion rather than draw down such an anathema. The chance is remote without doubt, but that very fact makes me express myself clearly: the liberty of all the slaves in a day of gravest peril, proclaimed by Her Majesty's representative in these territories, would re-establish superiority and even strengthen our power in a very real way, based as it would then be on that very class which it seems best today to keep submerged. But if that last resort should prove insufficient, or if it did not suit Spain afterward to retain her hold, it may always be brought about that the conquerors shall acquire Hayti instead of the rich and prosperous Cuba and that the bastard sons who have brought down that calamity by their rebellion shall meet in their complete ruin, punishment and disillusionment. A principle of retributive justice or of harmony with the maxims of modern civilization, to which it is so customary now to appeal, would also call for general emancipation, at the moment when, for whatever reason, Spain should decide to renounce the island.... So far this trans-Atlantic province is still strongly attached to the mother land, and thanks to the wisdom and material solicitude of Her Majesty, I believe that the bonds of union will be still more strengthened; but if the fate of nations brings to this land a day pregnant with such circumstances as to threaten its loss, their national honor and interest alike would demand that every recourse and means be exhausted, without saving anything. If, even then, fortune should abandon us, we should at least leave it written in history that our departure from America corresponded to the heroic story of its acquisition."


The era of Cuban history which embraced part of the seventeenth, the eighteenth, and part of the nineteenth centuries, and which we have endeavored to review in this volume, presents a striking and almost unique contrast to the customary course of human affairs. The normal order of civic development begins with the rise and confirmation of nationality, and thence proceeds to international relationships and cosmopolitan interests and activities. Such was the record of other American states which grew up contemporaneously with Cuba. Such was notably the course of the United States of North America. In their colonial period they were intensely local, parochial, in sentiment and spirit. In their revolutionary era they began to manifest a national entity. It was not until long after their establishment of national independence that they fully realized their international status.

In Cuba the order was reversed. At first, as a colony of triumphant and masterful Spain, the island had neither national sentiment nor international interests. In the second stage, however, it became a pawn in the great international game which was being played between declining Spain and her increasingly powerful neighbors, actually for a time passing from Spanish to British possession, and often being regarded as likely to pass permanently into the hands of some other power than Spain.

These circumstances had a marked effect upon the whole genius of the Cuban people. It gave them international vision before they had learned to discern themselves even as a potential nation. It gave them a degree of cosmopolitanism such as few comparable colonies have ever known. It divorced them in sentiment from the Mother Country to an exceptional degree. They were made to feel that Spain meant little or nothing to them. She had planted them, it is true. But she had given them little cultivation, little protection. She had looked to them for more help for herself than she had herself given to them. She was unable to save them from the danger of being passed from hand to hand, from owner to owner.

At the north, England had not governed her Thirteen Colonies well. But she had at least protected them. There had never been on their part any fear that she would abandon them to some other conqueror, or that they would be taken from her by force, or sold or traded away. The British colonists knew that in the last emergency the whole power of the United Kingdom would be exerted for their protection. Yet even so they revolted against misgovernment, and declared their independence.

How much more, almost infinitely more, cause had Cubans for alienation from Spain! She had given them no such protection. Her policy suggested always the possibility of their transfer in some way to some other sovereignty. And her misgovernment had been immeasurably worse than that of England. If Cuba was more patient than the Thirteen Colonies at the north, that was another of the paradoxes of history—that the impulsive, hot-blooded Latin of the south should be more deliberate and conservative than the cool and phlegmatic Anglo-Saxon of the north.

This very quality of patience was, indeed, the saving virtue of the Cuban character. Quijano Otero wrote of Colombia, at the very time of her revolt against Spain and the establishment of her independence, that she "had lived so fast in her years of glory and great deeds that, though still a child, she was already entering a premature decrepitude." Not so Cuba. It is true that, as we have seen, she had imbibed enough of the spirit of Spain and of other lands to be measurably saturated with their customs, even their luxurious vices and follies. Yet she did not live fast. She did not grow prematurely old. In so far as she adopted the customs of Europe, she adapted them to herself, not herself to them. The result was that after three centuries, she still had the ingenuousness and spontaneity of youth. She might almost have said, in paraphrase of a great captain's epigram, "I have not yet begun to live!"

Half unconsciously, however, she had made an exceptionally complete preparation for the life that was to come as a nation. She had already become international in the scope of her vision, in the range of her sympathies, and in her intellectual and social culture. Many of her sons had studied abroad, acquiring the learning of the best European schools. If the world at large knew little about Cuba, Cuba knew much about the world at large.

Though indeed the world did know something about Cuba, and took a lively and intelligent interest in her. This we have endeavored to indicate in these pages by our numerous citations of authorities, observers and writers of various lands, who found in the Queen of the Antilles a theme worthy of their most interested attention. More and more, as the unimproved estates of the world were partitioned among the powers, the transcendent value of this island was recognized, and more and more covetous gaze was fixed upon it by the nations which were extending their empires instead of losing them.

So at the close of the eighteenth century it was apparent that another epoch in Cuban history was at hand. North America had been swept by revolution. South America was at the brink of revolution. Europe was convulsed with revolution. Amid all these, Cuba was like the calm spot at the centre of a whirlpool. Changes had occurred on every side, but she had been left unchanged. Yet every one of those changes had, deeply and irrevocably, though perhaps imperceptibly, wrought its effect upon her.

The potency and the promise of national life were within her. Thus far everything that she had accomplished had been accredited to Spain. But the time was at hand when she would claim her own. During three centuries Cuba had produced the flower of the Spanish race; as indeed from time immemorial colonies had been wont to produce stronger men, in their comparatively primitive and healthful conditions, than the more sophisticated and often decadent Mother Countries. But they had all been reckoned Spaniards. Now the time was coming, and was at hand, when Cubans would be reckoned Cubans, by all the world as well as by themselves.

The errors of Spain were not of Cuba's choosing. The disasters of Spain were not of Cuba's inviting. The decadence of Spain was not of Cuba's working. If in the downfall of Spanish power Cuba saw the opportunity for her own uprising, it was not that she herself had compassed that downfall, but only that she chose not needlessly to let herself be involved therein. As Spain weakened, Cuba girded and strengthened herself, and made herself ready to stand alone.


INDEX for Volumes 1 thru 4







Hellenica World - Scientific Library