Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The radicalization of the Cuban...
 Traditional separatism resurrected:...
 Traditional separatism challenged:...
 The nationalist alternative during...
 The Cuban independence movement,...
 Cubans in Florida: Demographic...
 Challenges to the independence...
 Forging political unity in the...
 Workers, blacks, and the revolutionary...
 Biographical sketch

Title: Cuban emigre communities in the United States and the independence of their homeland, 1852-1895 /
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098265/00001
 Material Information
Title: Cuban emigre communities in the United States and the independence of their homeland, 1852-1895 /
Physical Description: viii, 385 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Poyo, Gerald Eugene, 1950-
Publication Date: 1983
Copyright Date: 1983
Subject: Cubans -- United States   ( lcsh )
History -- Cuba -- 1810-1899   ( lcsh )
History thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- History -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1983.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 364-384.
Statement of Responsibility: by Gerald Eugene Poyo.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098265
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000427136
oclc - 11103334
notis - ACH5880


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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
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        Page ii
        Page iii
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    Table of Contents
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        Page 1
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    The radicalization of the Cuban separatist movement in the United States, 1852-1868
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    Traditional separatism resurrected: The New York revolutionary junta, 1869-1870
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    Traditional separatism challenged: Factionalization and opposition to a diplomatic settlement of the ten years war
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    The nationalist alternative during the ten years war: Absolute independence and unconditional revolution
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    The Cuban independence movement, the 1880s: Revolutionary activism and political debates
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    Cubans in Florida: Demographic characteristics, economic development, and social tensions, 1870-1887
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    Challenges to the independence movement, 1886-1890: Anarchism and annexationism
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    Forging political unity in the emigre communities, 1890-1895: El partido revolucionario Cubano
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    Workers, blacks, and the revolutionary movement, 1890-1895
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    Biographical sketch
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Full Text







To Betty Kay, Jeremy, and Noel


This study is the result of several years of research at

the University of Florida, the University of Texas at Austin, the

Library of Congress, and the Archivo Nacional de Cuba and Biblioteca

Nacional Jose Marti in Habana. Funds for research in Cuba during

January-June 1982 were generously provided by the Fulbright-Hays

Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad program sponsored by the U.S.

Department of Education. Since this dissertation would not have

been possible without the support and encouragement of many, I would

like to express my gratitude to the following individuals and insti-


Dr. Andres Suarez, Dr. David Bushnell, and Dr. George
Pozzetta of the University of Florida History Department
who not only patiently read the manuscript and offered
excellent comments, criticisms, and suggestions, but of-
fered encouragement and backing when my continuation in
the doctoral program seemed all but impossible.

Rosa Q. Mesa, Director of the Latin American Collection at
the University of Florida, for her interest in my project
and the great wealth of bibliographic information at her
disposal that she readily shared with me.

Dr. Robert Glover, Director of the Center for the Study of
Human Resources at the University of Texas at Austin, who
granted me a six-month leave of absence from my job to
return to Gainesville and complete my course requirements
during 1979/1980.

Dr. Helen Safa, Dr. Franklin Knight, and Dr. Richard
Sinkin for their recommendations on my behalf to the
Fulbright-Hays program and the Cuban authorities.


Dr. L. Glenn Westfall and Dr. Louis A. Perez, Jr., for
sharing research information with me over the years.

Dr. Julio Le Riverend, Director of the Biblioteca Nacional
Jose Marti, for taking time from his busy schedule to
discuss my dissertation topic with me. His courtesies are
greatly appreciated.

The staffs of the Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti and the
Archive Nacional de Cuba, especially Luis Alpizar, Nieves
Arencibia Martinez, Ramon de Armas, Israel Echevarria, and
Tomas Fernandez. They helped me at every opportunity.

Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP) and
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (MINREX), which spon-
sored my visit to Cuba.

Jorge Ibarra, Rafael Cepeda, Walterio Carbonell, Roberto
Friol, Luis Toledo Sande, Diana Abad, Olga Cabrera, and
Emilio Godinez. My conversations with these Cuban academics
helped clarify my topic, locate important sources, and
deepen my interest in Cuba and its history.

Finally, I want to express special gratitude to my family.

They, above all else, made this study possible. My wife, Betty K.

Bradfield, and two children, Jeremy and Noel, were heroic in their

patience and loving in their encouragement. My parents, Sergio and

Gerry Poyo, were always there to provide much needed moral and

financial support. Tom and Laura Bradfield shared their home and

our poverty with us for six months. Lastly, none of this would have

occurred without the influence of Sergia Alvarez y Rodriguez, my

grandmother, who taught me to love Cuba and its history.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS...................................... iii

ABSTRACT .............................................. vii

INTRODUCTION.......................................... 1

NOTES ................................................. 6

NOTES..................................... 49

NOTES..................................... 90

NOTES..................................... 130

CONDITIONAL REVOLUTION.................... 136
NOTES..................................... 167

DEBATES................................... 172
NOTES..................................... 200

TENSTIONS, 1870-1887...................... 205
NOTES..................................... 239

NOTES..................................... 279

CIONARIO CUBANO........................... 284
NOTES..................................... 313

MOVEMENT, 1890-1895....................... 319
NOTES..................................... 350

CONCLUSION............................................ 354

NOTES................................................. 363

BIBLIOGRAPHY.......................................... 364

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH................................... 385

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Gerald Eugene Poyo

August 1983

Chariman: Andres Suarez

Major Department: History

Throughout the final half of the nineteenth century,

Cuban emigre communities in the United States served as guardians

and propagandists for the Cuban separatist ideal. Between mid-

century and 1895 the movement to eject Spain from Cuba underwent a

radical political and social transformation. While Cubans rejected

Narciso Lopez in the 1850s, they greeted enthusiastically Jose Marti,

Maximo Gomez, and Antonio Maceo in 1895.

Politically, emigre separatism evolved from a conserva-

tive, annexationist, and diplomatically oriented thinking in the

1840s and 1850s, to a populist, pro-independence, and self-reliant

force in the 1890s. This reflected a changein the social composi-

tion of the movement. While during the forties and fifties expatriate

separatism was led by Habana "aristocrats" and the island's liberal

socioeconomic elite, during the eighties and nineties its leadership

was of middle-class and working-class extraction. Also, for the

first time, the movement reflected the racial composition of Cuban


This transformation in the emigre movement, of course,

did not occur without considerable conflict. Differences over separa-

tist strategy and the slavery question caused rifts in the emigre

communities during the 1850s and 1860s. Bitter polemics between

annexationists and independentistas paralyzed exile efforts in

support of the Revolucion de Yara during the 1870s. And, during the

next decade, class and racial animosities reflected Inconfrontations

between Cuban anarchists and nationalists in the Florida colonies

kept the expatriate movement divided.

Despite these bitter conflicts, groups of activists in New

York and Florida reorganized the emigre colonies in the late 1880s,

but only with the emergence of Jose Marti as the most effective

separatist propagandist, was the movement's enthusiasm reignited.

Founded in 1892, the new revolutionary organization, the Partido

Revolucionario Cubano, relied on the working-class and military

veterans in the Florida communities. Based on a populist and highly

nationalistic ideology, Marti's new movement succeeded in defusing the

political and social tensions among emigres sufficiently to launch the

final assault on Spanish authority in Cuba during 1895.



A cursory survey of Cuban historiography reveals that a

primary concern of historians has been with the independence process

of the nineteenth century. Literally hundreds of published ma-

terials, including studies, memoirs, diaries, correspondence, and

other documentation, focus on the almost century long effort by

Cubans to evict the Spanish from their homeland.1 It is noteworthy,

however, that few of these studies treat the emigre communities,

which served as the organizing centers for the separatist movement

throughout most of its history. The importance of the Cuban expa-

triate centers in maintaining and developing the movement is noted

in study after study, but the traditional research has examined them

only briefly and very superficially, emphasizing their patriotism

and commitment to Cuban separation from Spain while ignoring the

colonies' ideological and socioeconomic character, diversities, and


Throughout the final half of the nineteenth century, Cuban

emigre communities in New York, New Orleans, Key West, Tampa, and

numerous other cities in the United States served as guardians and

propagandists for the separatist ideal. They maintained separa-

tisms' political viability even when on the island the movement

seemed inactive and unpopular. Most of the primary separatist

leaders at one time or another travelled to or resided in the exile

centers of the United States, and many of the movements' political

ideas emerged from these communities. Since political conditions in

Cuba throughout the century did not allow dissidents to air their

grievances, they were expressed in a vigorous exile press that was

active as early as the 1820s. Moreover, the various communities in

the United States included all segments of Cuban society, providing

the researcher with a unique opportunity not only to trace the

development of separatist thinking over the years, but to examine

the role of the socioeconomic forces within the movement and under-

stand their attitudes toward the various political currents. This

dissertation, then, seeks to increase our understanding of the Cuban

independence process through studying the political, economic, and

social dynamics of the Cuban communities in the United States from

1852 through 1895.

In tracing the ideological evolution of separatism,

existing literature has failed to consider the development of

separatist thinking from the 1840s through the 1890s as a single,

evolving process. There are numerous works that relate to each

distinct historical period (e.g., the annexationist years, 1840s-

1850s; the Ten Years War, 1868-1878; the inter-war years, 1878-1895;

and the War of Independence, 1895-1898), but there has been a ten-

dency to view each in isolation of the rest. The ideological devel-

opment and transformation of the separatist movement from one period

to the next has been conspicuously overlooked, or considered only


In one of his classic works, the prominent Cuban historian

Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring argued that the war of independence was

a thirty year struggle that began in 1868. This was an important

observation in that he recognized a political continuity between

1868 and 1898, but unfortunately he failed to develop the theme in

detail. Other studies suggest that the date should be set back

another twenty years. In their studies, Vidal Morales y Morales and

Herminio Portell Vila characterize the annexationist years as the

initiation of the independence process. They both insist that the

rebels of the 1840s and 1850s were the ideological precursors of the

insurgents of the 1870s.3 Although this view is unpopular in more

recent Cuban historiography, it seems inescapable that the political

thinking of the earlier rebels influenced the latter. To what

extent and how that influence manifested itself is the pertinent

question. It is also clear that the dominant ideology and political

dissensions in the emigre communities during the .1880s had their

roots in the experiences of the previous decade when exiles fought

bitterly over separatist political definition and strategic consid-

erations. Although the era from the late 1840s through 1895 has

been viewed traditionally as three distinct periods in the history

of Cuban separatism, in reality, it was one active, evolving pro-

cess. The emergence of the unified nationalist political movement

during the first half of the 1890s that launched the war of indepen-

dence in 1895 is better understood in the context of the experiences

of the previous forty years.

This understanding is not achieved simply by tracing the

development of political thinking in the emigre colonies, however.

Of equal importance is understanding the role of the social forces

driving that ideological dynamic. Existing literature of the sepa-

ratist movement reveals an almost exclusive concern with political

affairs and biographies, to the detriment of research aimed at

identifying the socioeconomic elements composing the movement and

understanding the relationship between the ideas and the social


The traditional research, of course, is essential and

provides a framework within which to pursue the latter. Separa-

tism's perennial inability to present a unified front against the

Spanish, for example, is consistently noted in the traditional

studies, but no major work has yet undertaken to specifically ex-

plain the underlying causes of the factional disputes. Marxist

historians Raul Cepero Bonilla and Jorge Ibarra were the first to

argue that social tensions within the movement were primarily re-

sponsible for divisions during the Ten Years War, but they offer

only scattered references to support their arguments.4 It is also

noteworthy that little has been written regarding the bitter social

disputes in the Florida communities during the decade after 1885

that pitted social radicals against the traditional patriot

leadership. Class and racial animosities were sharp, yet the effect

of this on the separatist ideology of the 1890s has never been

examined. The socioeconomic interpretations offered by Cepero

Bonilla, Ibarra, and others are provocative and provide a not yet

effectively utilized framework within which to examine the Cuban

separatist movement.

Despite the abundant literature available on the subject

at hand, it is primarily episodic in nature. This study attempts to

synthesize much of the existing literature and combine it with fresh

research on politics and socioeconomic developments in the emigre

centers of the United States to produce a better understanding of

the process by which Cuba attained her independence from Spain.

Since the focus is the exile communities, political and economic

developments in Cuba are unfortunately slighted, although an effort

has been made to provide basic information regarding affairs on the

island. This study represents only the beginning of a broader

effort to provide eventually a comprehensive history of the Cuban

independence process. Should it encourage others to undertake simi-

lar research and raise historiographical issues that further clarify

this important period in Cuban history, one of the project's goals

shall have been accomplished.


1See the following reference sources: Jose Manuel Perez
Cabrera, Historiografia de Cuba (Mexico: Instituto Panamericano de
Geografia e Historia, 1962Y Luis Marino Perez, Bibliografia de la
Revolucion de Yara (Habana: Imprenta Avisador Comercial, 19087T
Aleida Plasencia, ed., Bibliografia de la Guerra de los Diez Anos
(Habana: Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti, 1968); Biblioteca Nacional
Jose Marti, Bibliografia de la Guerra Chiquita (Habana: Instituto
Cubano del Libro, Editorial Orbe, 975); Biblioteca Nacional Jose
Marti, Bibliografia de la Guerra de Independencia, 1895-1898
(Habana: Instituto Cubano del Libro, Editorial Orbe, 1976);
Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (MINFAR), Historia de Cuba. Biblio-
grafia (Habana: Editorial Pueblo y Educacion, n.d.j)

2The only study that has had the emigre communities as its
central theme is Juan J. E. Casasus, La emigracion cubana y la
independencia de la patria (Habana: Editorial Leax, 1953). Three
important community studies of Key West and Tampa are Gerardo Cas-
tellanos y Garcia, Motivos de Cayo Hueso (Habana: UCAR, Garcia y
Cia., 1935); Manuel Deulofeu, Heroes del destierro. La emigracion.
Notes historical (Cienfuegos, Cuba: Imprenta de M. Mestre, 1904);
Jose Rivero Muniz, "Los cubanos en Tampa," Revista Bimeatre Cubana,
74 (January-June 1958).

3Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring, La guerra libertadora de los
treinta anos (Habana: Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad de la
Habana, 1952); Vidal Morales y Morales, Inicidores primeros mar-
tires de la revolution cubana (Habana: Imprenta Avisador Comercial,
1901); Herminio Portell Vila, Narciao Lopez y au epoca, 3 vols.
(Habana: Cultural, S.A. and Compania Editora de Libros y Folletoa,

4Raul Cepero Bonilla, Azucar y abolicion: Apuntes para
una historic critical del abolicionismo (Habana: Editorial Ciencias
Sociales, 1971); Jorge Ibarra, Ideologia mambisa (Habana: Instituto
Cubano del Libro, 1967); Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (MINFAR),
Hietoria de Cuba (Habana: Direccion political de laa FAR, 1967).
This MINFAR study was written by Jorge Ibarra.



During the course of the 19th century, the economic rela-

tionships between Cuba and the United States, combined with in-

creasing political and economic dissatisfaction on the island, gave

rise to small but flourishing Cuban communities in Gulf and Atlantic

coastal cities of the United States. While numerically insignifi-

cant in the context of United States immigration experience, these

Cuban centers came to exert substantial influence on the island's

political development and on North American-Spanish relations

throughout the century. Originally settling in New York, Philadel-

phia, and New OrLeans, Cubans arrived as early as the 1820s as the

political and economic destinies of the two nations became inter-

twined. Already by 1830 Cuban exports to the United States exceeded

the island's exports to Spain, and by the late 1850s almost fifty

percent of Cuba's exports were shipped north. This commercial

relationship not only prompted North Americans to establish them-

selves in Cuba, but encouraged Cubans to move north, where many

founded commercial houses in New Orleans and New York. Also,

breaking with tradition, Cubans increasingly sent children to the

United States for their education, although Europe was still

preferred by most of the Creole elite.1 Those Cubans moving to the

United States for economic and educational purposes were joined by

numerous political dissidents whose vocal propagandizing gave the

Cuban emigre colonies reputations as centers of separatist agita-

tion. Many of these individuals also established commercial enter-

prises whose profits they used to fund the conspiratorial and or-

ganizing activities of the constantly growing nucleus of Cuban

separatists in the United States.

By 1860 some 1,957 West Indians resided in New York, 1,154

in Louisiana, and 709 in Pennsylvania. One can assume a significant

number were white Cubans and Puerto Ricans since the status of

Negroes in the United States on the eve of the Civil War likely

discouraged immigration from the predominantly black British and

French possessions in the Caribbean. In any case, these figures

represent the maximum number of Cubans in those three states in


Not until after the termination of the Civil War, how-

ever, did Cubans begin to arrive in the Unites States in significant

numbers. This later migration represented a broader cross-section

of the island's urban society. While prior to the 1860s most Cuban

emigres were predominantly white professionals, merchants, land-

owners, and students, after 1865 workers began migrating north to

seek employment in the growing post-war cigar industry. In this

market the Havana cigar was considered one of the finest products; a

reputation enhanced by Spanish and Cuban tobacco entrepreneurs who

established cigar factories in New York, New Orleans, and Key West.

Discouraging the importation of manufactured cigars from Cuba while

allowing Cuban tobacco leaf virtually free access to the North

American market, the United States' tariff structure was an

important force in drawing the island's tobacco capitalists and

workers north.3 This migration received additional impetus when

civil war erupted in Cuba during late 1868, sending a flood of

political refugees of all economic classes and races to the tradi-

tional Cuban emigre centers, to south Florida, and to numerous

cities along the east coast of the United States. Of the approxi-

mately 12,000 Cubans living in the United States by the mid-1870s,

an estimated 4,500 were in New York, while about 3,000 lived in New

Orleans and another 2,000 in Key West. At least an additional 2,500

were scattered in cities along the east coast, including Jackson-

ville, Savannah, Charleston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadel-

phia, Jersey City, Wilmington, and Boston.4

During the 1870s New York's Cuban colony was the most

important, economically as well as politically, and its socio-

economic composition to a great extent reflected that of Havana.

New York's community included prominent members of Havana's socio-

economic elite, a large number of middle-class professionals and

merchants, and a multi-racial working-class community employed

primarily in the cigar trade. Of the 1,526 activists enrolled in

the Cuban rebel Junta's directory during the decade, 499 were tobac-

co workers, while 85 listed themselves as obreros (workers), consti-

tuting 31% of the politically active Cubans in the city. Two hun-

dred and seventy-one others in the directory (17%) listed other

occupations, including 80 merchants, 12 manufacturers, 24 physicians

and dentists, 17 journalists and publishers, 19 clerks, 24 students,

10 military men, 7 propietarios (property owners), and 24 in miscel-

laneous trades such as cooks, engineers, sailors, conductors,

coopers, runners, and pilots. Almost 43% in the directory, however,

failed to specify an occupation, making it impossible to determine

whether most of the political activists were of working-class of

middle-class origins.

The establishment and growth of these communities through-

out the century were a source of great concern to Spanish authorities

in Cuba since they served as the guardians of the separatist ideal

during times of repression on the island. With the final surrender

of Spain's imperial army in Peru in 1826, Spanish authority had been

dislodged from the entire western hemisphere, except for Cuba and

Puerto Rico. Although Cuban separatists conspired throughout the

period 1810 to 1830 to lead the island along the path blazed by

Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin, they were consistently


During 1824 and 1825 the first Cuban separatist newspaper

published in the United States, El Habanero, called on the island's

inhabitants to organize, revolt, and establish an independent repub-

lic. Edited by an exiled priest, Felix Varela, the newspaper became

a symbol of Cuban separatism, but the forces of continuity on the

island and international resistance to rebellion in Cuba ensured

continued Spanish dominance. In the midst of a sugar boom and a

prosperous slave trade, Cuban and Spanish planters and merchants had

no desire to break with the metropolis. Added to this was the

widespread fear that any effort to initiate a rebellion might easily

lead to repetition of the tumultuous social revolution that had

devastated Haiti. Just as important, however, was the attitude of

the United States. Convinced the island would eventually become a

North American possession, the United States opposed plans by Latin

American patriots to invade the island. Once independent, Cuba

would be lost forever; thus until Spain was ready to cede the is-

land, as it had Florida in 1819, North American administrations

preferred Spanish control.7

As a result, it was not until the late 1840s that separa-

tism again constituted a viable threat to Spanish authority in Cuba,

but unlike the conspiracies of the 1820s, the new movement was

dominated by advocates desiring annexation of the island to the

United States. For many Cubans an association with the United

States was a more practical and safe solution because this goal

could probably be achieved without massive political and social

turmoil. The idea had been advanced during the Spanish-American

wars for independence and by the 1840s enjoyed substantial support

among the island's creole elite, leading to the emergence of a

militant movement largely financed by Cuban and North American slave

interests. It was also backed by the island's liberal socioeconomic

elite who were interested in ending the slave trade and eventually

the institution of slavery itself.8

Slaveholders viewed annexation as a guarantee of their

slave property. Throughout the 1840s and the first half of the next

decade, Great Britain's aggressive international posture against the

slave trade, and slavery itself, frightened the Cuban slave in-

terests. Also, in 1844 Spanish authorities had discovered a con-

spiracy inspired by the British consul in Habana. Its goal was to

mobilize Cubans in support of the island's independence and the

abolition of slavery. Although the plan failed to attract the

backing of many whites, it caused a great deal of unrest among free

blacks and slaves, leading to a harsh Spanish reaction that resulted

in the execution of many. This incident--known as the Escalera

conspiracy--and British pressures on the Spanish to act against the

slave trade, mobilized the Cuban slaveholders in favor of the annex-

ation plan.9 At the same time, Cuban liberals also viewed the is-

land's incorporation into the United States as an acceptable alter-

native to Spanish rule. Although ideologically opposed to slavery,

liberals feared British involvement in the "social question" on the

island, especially after the Escalera affair. Many believed that,

as part of the United States, Cuba would gradually rid itself of

slavery without the risk of slave rebellions. One of the most

prominent liberal annexationists in New York, Gaspar Betancourt

Cisneros (El Lugareno), was especially optimistic regarding the

slave problem in the United States:

Y los Estados Unidos no son los que estan resolviendo sabiamente
el problema humanitario de la libertad de los esclavos? Hoi
tiene mas Estados libres que los primitives confederados. El
ano entrante tendras al Delaware libre de esta plaga vergonzosa
para la Republica. Pronto seguira la Virginia . En fin, la
esclavitud tendra su termino, pero lo tendra como debe tenerlo:
se amputara un miembro gangrenado, pero la amputara un expert
cirujano, i no el hacha de un carnicero.10

In addition to this self-delusion, annexation was attrac-

tive to liberals for other reasons. Under North American tutelage,

they believed Cuba would enjoy the benefits of a freer economic

environment and would avoid what they considered was the inevitable

political chaos characterizing an independent Cuban state. The

Latin American experience since 1810 convinced many that only within

the constitutional framework of the North American confederation

could civil strife be avoided. In any case, argued El Lugareno,

Cubans did not possess a particularly impressive or distinct na-

tional heritage. The strong Negro influence, he believed, had so

bastardized Cuba's cultural heritage that it precluded the possi-

bility of a dynamic, independent Cuban nationality.11

In this way the liberals rationalized their collaboration

with the slave interests to ensure Cuba's annexation to the United

States. The movement publicly called for annexation and suppression

of the slave trade, but rejected all suggestions that social changes

constituted a part of the separatist program. A liberal call for

even a gradual abolition of slavery would have divided the movement,

so the social issue was simply avoided in public debates. As one

group of Cuban liberals in New York emphasized in a resolution reas-

serting the rebel program in 1853, "se ha dicho ya . la revolu-

cion no va a herir de muerte intereses creados; va a protegerlos; no

va a exitar conflagraciones desastrosas y salvajes; va a reprimir-

las, a destruirlas, sofocando en su origen y con mano fuerte, la

barbara amenaza del tiranico Gobierno Colonial."12 The threat they

spoke of was the plan announced by Spanish authorities to emancipate

all slaves acquired illegally and to allow the importation of free

Negro apprentices from Africa to fill the island's labor needs.

Cuban liberals opposed the plan, considering it a first step to

radical abolition and an effort to "Africanize" the island.13 In

theory, they wanted slavery abolished, but in practice they feared

any plan not firmly grounded on the concepts of gradual emancipation

and indemnification of slave property.

Although the separatist movement of the late 1840s and

early 1850s contained abolitionist elements, in practice the program

served the interests of Cuban and North American slave interests, a

reality that was not lost on one sector of the liberal separatists.

With the demise of the last annexationist initiative between 1852

and 1855 it became clear to them that their coalition with the

slaveholders had not only failed to dislodge Spain from Cuba, but

had given the entire movement a reactionary character and reputa-

tion. This plunged the separatist cause into an ideological crisis

that prompted some to reconsider the movement's basic program. As a

result, by 1866 Cuban separatism was transformed from an essentially

conservative force dominated by pro-slavery elements into a genuine-

ly revolutionary movement openly dedicated to a radical abolition of

slavery. Moreover, for the first time since the 1820s the emigre

separatist program included the possibility of establishing Cuba as

an independent republic.14

The transformation began subsequent to the abandonment of

the separatist movement by its most conservative partisans through-

out the decade of the fifties, leaving it in the hands of its most

progressive element. By 1855 the changing international situation

combined with domestic developments in the United States and Cuba to

convince many in the separatist camp that annexation was no longer a

possibility or even a necessity. Already by that year most of the

prominent Cuban slave interests had withdrawn from the movement.

Great Britain relaxed efforts to pressure for Spanish action against

slavery, recognizing that their activities only fueled the annexa-

tionist cause, a political movement they naturally strongly op-

posed.15 Many Cuban liberals then left the separatist cause when it

became evident North American sectional politics made annexation a

virtual impossibility and after receiving indications from Spain

that significant reforms on the island would be forthcoming. The

withdrawal of these elements also resulted in a major loss of finan-

cial resources and decline of the movements' political credibility.

By 1856, Cuban separatism was no longer a threat to Spanish


During the next decade, those remaining in the separatist

camp quietly reflected on their experiences and in 1865 revived the

movement. Led by the sympathizers and closest associates of the

noted rebel chieftain, Narciso Lopez, who died at the hands of the

Spanish in 1851 when his invasion of the island failed, Cuban exiles

in New York founded La Sociedad Republicana de Cuba I Puerto Rico,

to "poner en ejercicio los medios que estan a nuestro alcance para

separar a Cuba y Puerto Rico de la dominacion espanola y adquirir

una patria libre e independiente."16 The reemergence of separatist

activism in New York was predictable given the animosity of the

emigre communities to Spanish control in their homeland. It was

prompted, however, by Spain's aggressive posture toward Latin

America during the early 1860s and the growth of a reformist politi-

cal alternative in Cuba that threatened to permanently destroy the

separatist vision as a viable political force on the island.

Spain never quite accepted the loss of its American empire

and during the 1860s took advantage of the United States' preoccupa-

tion with its civil conflict to increase its own influence in the

hemisphere. During 1861, the Spanish fleet joined the French navy

in occupying Veracruz, an action taken to force the payment of

Mexican debts, but resulting in the French occupation of Mexico and

the installation of Maximillian as Emperor. During the same year,

Spain agreed to annex her former colony of Santo Domingo on the

request of the sitting President, but a substantial opposition in

the country made the action impolitic from the very outset. Within

two years a major rebellion forced a humiliating Spanish withdrawal

from the island, allowing the Dominicans to reestablish their repub-

lic. These Spanish activities drew the attention of Latin Ameri-

cans, but not until the appearance of a Spanish fleet on the Pacific

coast of South America in 1863 did fears concerning the intentions

of the Spaniards become acute.

The fleet's original mission was to investigate debt

claims by Spain against the Peruvian government and to undertake

scientific studies, but a series of incidents resulted in the

Spanish occupation of Peru's guano-rich Chincha Islands in 1864.

Subsequent political tensions culminated in the fleet's bombardment

of the Chilean coastal city of Valparaiso and a declaration of war

by Chile, Peru, and Bolivia against Spain. Outraged by Spain's

aggressions, delegates from Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia,

Venezuela, and Peru met in October 1864 to call for an evacuation of

the Spanish fleet from the Chinchas, initiating a continent-wide

campaign condemning Spain's apparent disregard for the sovereignty

of her former colonies.17 These concerns regarding Spanish aggres-

sions underly the creation in New York during 1864 of La Sociedad

Democratic de Amigos de America, dedicated to defending the "repub-

lican-democratic institutions in the American hemisphere,"

counteracting European aggression in America, and more specifically,

providing support to the Dominican rebels. Although open to all

enemies of Spain, the society's leadership was in fact composed

primarily of Cuban and Puerto Rican exiles. With the independence

of the Dominican Republic, however, the organization lost its impe-

tus and soon reappeared as the Sociedad Republicana.18

While the international situation provided the initial

stimulus for renewed separatist activity, political developments in

Cuba also contributed to goading the exiles into action. Beginning

in 1859 under Captain General Francisco Serrano and extended by his

successor in 1862, Domingo Dulce, Spanish colonial policy gave

strong indications that significant changes would be instituted in

the Antilles. Encouraged by Spain's new politicala de atraccion,"

leading creoles--many formerly of the separatist cause--organized a

reform movement to lobby for tariff reductions, political liberali-

zation on the island, Cuban representation in the Spanish Cortes,

and the definitive suppression of the slave trade. Responding to

these initiatives, the Spanish government issued a royal decree in

November 1865 establishing a Junta de Informacion de Ultramar to

study the reform proposals. Much to Spain's surprise, the refor-

mists swept the elections for representatives to the Informacion,

confirming their popularity among the Cuban electorate.

These developments threatened to bury the already waning

political appeal of separatism. The defection of so many prominent

separatists to reformism and the apparent new flexibility of the

Spanish government did not augur well for the future of the separa-

tist cause. Accordingly, separatists in exile initiated a vigorous

and shrill campaign to discredit the reformist position as well as

its representatives to the Junta de Informacion, for if successful

reformism would undoubtedly sound the death knell for efforts to

terminate Spanish domination in Cuba.

By the mid-1860s, then, Cuban exiles in New York were

working fervently to translate the hemisphere-wide animosity against

the Spanish into a revolutionary situation in their homeland. Their

activities gained impetus with the arrival in that city during late

1865 of Benjamin Vicuna Mackenna, a prominent Chilean political and

literary figure, carrying a commission from his government to do

whatever possible to discredit Spain before the North American peo-

ple. He was to act as an agitator and draw United States support to

the Chilean and Peruvian cause against Spain.

Within two weeks after arriving in New York, Vicuna deter-

mined that in addition to his propaganda activities in the North

American press, a newspaper directed at the Hispanic peoples of the

Americas could well serve to combat the Spanish threat. Indeed,

Vicuna saw New York as the perfect location for such an enterprise:

"Desde New York estabamos pues como en una encumbrada tribune donde

nos oirian los pueblos de nuestra raza i los ajenos . el punto

estrategico mas important . para las operaciones de esa gran

fuerza modern que se llama la publicidad."19 Without delay two

members of the Sociedad Republicana, Juan Manuel Macias and Jose F.

Bassora, approached the Chilean agent offering their writings on

Cuba and Puerto Rico. The presiding officer of the Sociedad,

Macias, had arrived in the United States in the mid-1840s presumably

to attend school. When the annexationist agitations began, however,

he joined El Lugareno in publishing the exile newspaper, La Verdad,

in New York. He later joined Narciso Lopez when the rebel leader

arrived in the United States to organize his expeditionary forces.

A Puerto Rican surgeon residing in New York, Bassora was also a

separatist activist and served as Vice-President of the Sociedad.

Recognizing the benefit to Chile if internal strife could

be fomented in Spain's Caribbean possessions, Vicuna opened the

pages of his newspaper, La Voz de America, to Cuban and Puerto Rican

separatists. Furthermore, the Chilean agent provided funds to equip

a privateer to harass Spanish shipping in the Caribbean, but prior

to the vessel's departure, United States authorities embargoed it

and placed Vicuna under arrest for violation of neutrality laws.

Displeased at adverse publicity caused by the arrest, the Chilean

government recalled their agent, but before departing for home

Vicuna turned La Voz de America over to Macias and Bassora, who

continued to edit it in conjunction with Cirilo Villaverde until its

demise in early 1867. Judging from the newspaper's tone, Villaverde

became its primary editor. A long-time separatist, Villaverde was

another participant in Lopez' early conspiracies in Cuba and accom-

panied him into exile as his personal secretary. A great admirer of

Lopez, Villaverde believed in the general's revolutionary activism

during the 1850s and was now ready to ressurect his name and praise

his accomplishments. Once under the editorship of the Cubans, La

Voz de America turned its attention primarily to Cuban affairs and

the separatist cause.20

Led by Villaverde, Macias, Bassora, and other long-time

separatists, the Sociedad Republicana and La Voz de America devel-

oped an activist, revolutionary separatism inspired by the boldness

and militancy of Lopez' activities fifteen years before. Indeed,

the activists of the 1860s viewed themselves as continuing his work,

although modified to avoid the many errors in attitude and strategy

they considered the rebel chieftain committed. La Voz de America

published numerous lengthy articles extolling Lopez' virtues and

critically analyzing his political program and activities, from

which emerged a new revolutionary ideology that carried its formula-

tors into the Revolucion de Yara, the civil conflict that erupted in


Fundamental to the strategy advanced by the new separatist

party was the need for unconditional revolutionary militancy. The

Spanish were not about to retire from the island voluntarily, so

like their martyred leader, the separatists emphasized armed insur-

rection as the only means available to destroy Spanish authority in

Cuba. During the 1850s the commitment to armed struggle was a

source of controversy within the separatist cause, resulting in the

political factionalization of the emigre communities. Based in New

Orleans, Lopez and his followers, including Villaverde, Macias, Jose

Sanchez Iznaga, Jose A. Gonzalez, Domingo Goicuria, Jose E. Hernan-

dez, and Plutarco Gonzalez, to name just a few, insisted on imme-

diate armed action to be accomplished by launching several expedi-

tionary forces against the island. Their views were in sharp con-

trast to the more conservative group of emigres in New York who

consistently feared the consequences of armed rebellion. Composed

of liberals like El Lugareno, El Conde de Pozos Dulce, and Porfirio

Valiente, and slaveholders such as Cristobal Madan and Jose Luis

Alfonso, the New Yorkers were essentially cautious men who preferred i

a peaceful diplomatic solution to the Cuban problem. Their hope was

to arrange an outright sale of the island to the United States.

Moreover, they enjoyed the confidence of a group of wealthy con-

spirators in Cuba who formed a secret organization known as the Club

de La Habana. The Habana club provided the vast majority of funds

for the exile movement thus giving the New Yorkers political control

of the emigre effort.21

Although initially the New York and Habana annexationists

accepted the necessity of launching expeditionary forces, after

Lopez' first failure they withdrew their support, considering him a

dangerous adventurer they could not control. In a letter to Jose A.

Saco during October 1850, for example, a leading figure of the New

York faction, Alfonso, wrote, "Lo que se corre en la Habana sobre la

nueva expedicion de Lopez es falso, o por lo menos exagerado en

estremo. Nosotros los que estamos aqui sabemos que Lopez

tiene a su disposicion armas y hombres cuantos quiera; pero le falta

lo principal, que es dinero para llevar la expedicion a la isla . .

de manera que si Lopez lleva otra expedicion, no podra ser sino

una pequena y de todos modos no le sera facil desembarcar en la

Isla. Yo no tengo por consiguiente muchos temores por este lado."22

Already by 1850, then, some influential New York separatists had

become strongly opposed to the revolutionary option.

During 1852, subsequent to Lopez' death, the emigre fac-

tions in New York and New Orleans initiated negotiations to esta-

blish a unified organization, hoping to reinvigorate the movement.

The martyred general's followers insisted they would join a unified

Junta only if its program contained three main points: first, that

the object of the Junta seraa la independencia de Cuba por medio de

la revolution"; second, that the rebellion would be launched by a

strong expeditionary force free of foreign influence, that is,

commanded by a Cuban; and finally, that revolutionary organizing

would not be suspended or slowed in favor of negotiations with the

Spanish for reforms on the island or with the United States for an

international treaty aimed at purchasing the island.23 Initially,

prospects for unifying the emigres were bleak since the Lopistas

were convinced the New Yorkers had no intention of backing such a

program. During September, J. L. O'Sullivan, a North American

sympathizer of the separatist cause and member of the Junta organiz-

ing committee, complained that the New York-based emigres had little

interest in the revolutionary option. "I have learned positively,

by the frank declarations of Mr. Betancourt [Cisneros] what I had of

late strongly suspected," he noted, "that . an expedition is

only a secondary and ulterior object of that Junta; that its primary

object is a negotiation for purchase, either by, or through the

mediation of the U. S., and that its policy is to collect the means

adequate for a formidable expedition, with the double and divided

view; 1st, of thereby influencing the two governments in favor of

the desired purchase, and 2nd, of eventually making an expedition

only in case of the failure of the former alternative." O'Sullivan

resigned from the organizing committee, declaring, "I am in great

doubt whether either the body of Cuban patriots in exile in this

country, or those in the island, would be willing to place the

reigns of the revolution in the hands of a junta thus diplomatic

rather than revolutionary."24 During that month, however, a repre-

sentative of the Club de la Habana, Porfirio Valiente, arrived in

New York and succeeded in uniting the emigres by insisting the

Habaneros supported the revolutionary avenue.25 Although the newly

established Junta included Hernandez and Goicuria, representatives

of the Lopista faction, three of its five members, El Lugareno,

Valiente and Manuel de Jesus Arango, were of the New York and Habana

groups, and very shortly it became apparent they had not closed the

door to the diplomatic possibilities. Writing to Macias during June

1853, Villaverde asked, "Que hacen los junteros en sus viajes de N.

York a Washington i de W. a N. York? Se maneja la cosa por hechos i

diplomacia, 0 por diplomacia solamente con hechos en amago?",

adding, "se me hacen los sesos agua pensando en lo que tenga que ver

el gobierno americano con la revolution de los cubanos."26 The

Lopistas became even more concerned when the United States

government dispatched Pierre Soule, a Louisiana politician known for

his strong annexationist sympathies, to Madrid to negotiate a

purchase of the island. The New York Junta gave him a grand send-

off, proclaiming its support for the administration's efforts.27

Villaverde again complained to Macias, bitterly objecting to the

Junta's public demonstrations of support for Soule's mission. "Yo

traduciendo he dicho que todo eso no significa mas que los cubanos

apesar de sus compromises . esperan i quieren que sus paisanos

en Cuba esperen, que la question se resuelva pacificamente, en dos o

tres papeladas diplomaticas."28

Although the Junta began organizing an expeditionary

force, the Lopistas continued to suspect what O'Sullivan had earlier

suggested--that any effort to launch an expedition would come only

after all United States diplomatic efforts to arrange a sale had

failed. But even the plans for the expedition were suspect. The

Junta had contracted with a pro-slavery annexationist from Mis-

sissippi, General John Quitman, to organize and command the force.

The Lopistas considered this a mistake since as a North American

Quitman's interests were quite different from those of the Cubans,

and indeed, their worst fears were confirmed during early 1855 when

Quitman resigned his commission after it became clear he did not

have the support or encouragement of the United States government.

Quitman's withdrawal left the emigres with little chance of laun-

ching a force to Cuba. The outnumbered Lopista members of the

Junta, Hernandez and Goicuria, bitterly charged the other three with

duplicity, suggesting they never intended to send an expedition.

Hernandez noted: "en mi opinion la verdadera causa de los males que

deploramos consist en que la mayoria conservadora de la junta no se

cuidaba tanto de llevar a Cuba la revolution como de la manera de

impedir que la revolution produjese estragos." Goicuria suggested

that the Junta's designation of Quitman to organize the expedition

had doomed it from the very outset.29

During 1853, El Filibustero, a New York newspaper critical

of the Junta, edited by Juan and Francisco Bellido de Luna, had

characterized the body as dominated by "negociadores," warning; "Su

gran problems politico se reduce pues, a combinar las cosas de modo

que la patria se convierta en objeto vendible, a fin de que alguno

pueda comprarla, y ganar ellos asi, sin arriesgar nada en el cam-

bio."30 As far as the Lopistas were concerned, El Filibustero had

assessed the situation correctly and they suggested that only a bold

rebel leader like Narciso Lopez could successfully take the revolu-

tion to Cuba. Lopez, argued Macias in early 1856, was the revolu-

tionary figure Cubans should emulate, "porque ejecutaba en vez de

perorar y escribir lindos discursos; porque en vez de comprar popu-

laridad a peso de oro, hacia ganarla a fuerza de sacrificios per-

sonales; por que en vez de pasarse a consultar a los politicos, se

iba derecho a los hombres de accion, sinceros hombres de Cuba . .;

porque en vez de perder tiempo en sondear la political de los

gobiernos, se dirigia a su fin con la inflexible tenacidad del jenio

. . ; porque en vez de mal gastar el dinero y el calor natural en

obsequios publicos a ministros Americanos y en pasear banderas por

las calls de N.Y., buscaba recursos . En una palabra, Lopez fue

caudillo de la revolution, heroe de los verdaderos revolucionarios


This commitment to armed insurrection by the Lopistas--

composed of annexationists as well as independentistas--reflected

their belief in the right of the Cuban people to self-determination.

A purchase of the island by the United States through, an internatio-

nal treaty clearly violated this principle, prompting the emergence

of a coalition between "revolutionary annexationists" and advocates

of absolute independence. Both insisted that the future political

status of the island be determined by a popular referendum once the

Spanish were evicted, while those seeking a diplomatic solution were

apparently not much concerned with popular will. The revolutionary

annexationists believed that most Cubans desired some association

with the United States, but they were ready to accept the establish-

ment of a sovereign republic should the Cuban people choose that

alternative. Annexationists such as Juan Bellido de Luna joined

independentistas like Francisco Aguero Estrada in combatting the New

York and Habana activists seeking to ensure a purchase of the island

by the United States. During 1854, Bellido's El Filibustero pub-

lished a resolution by a group critical of the Junta, declaring the

separatists' "primer objeto es la libertad conquistada por las

armas: . y la proclamacion de la Soberania Popular," adding, "La

anexion misma a los Estados Unidos es para nosotros como question

aplazada, y la discutiremos solo en teorias y bajo el aspect de una

probabilidad fundada en la future seguridad de los destinos de Cuba:

a la voluntad del pueblo toca despues la via de los hechos."32

These critics accepted only a revolutionary solution to the Cuban

question, believing a purchase of the island by the United States a

crime against the right of the Cuban people to self-determination.

Although the separatist movement was dominated by annexa-

tionists between 1848 and 1855, the cause did include advocates of a

sovereign Cuba. The independentistas, however, did not often engage

the annexationists in public debate over the political question,

believing it would only divide the movement. They no doubt felt

that once put to the test of a referendum, the independence ideal

would triumph among the Cuban people, so they directed their ener-

gies to making common cause with revolutionary annexationists who

also insisted on Cuban self-determination. The two groups differed

only in that the annexationists believed Cubans would vote for

statehood in the North American republic.

By 1855, however, some independentistas began to take a

more aggressive attitude and made their political sentiments known.

Aguero Estrada's El Pueblo, for example, argued it had always ques-

tioned the need for annexation, while Goicuria published a pamphlet

openly calling for the island's independence. Both suggested that

the United States' opposition to the Cuban revolutionaries deter-

mined the need for a pro-independence position. Not only had the

United States opposed Cuban separation from Spain during the Spanish

American wars for independence, noted El Pueblo, but it actively

undermined the Lopez and Quitman expeditions as well. "[L]os E.

Unidos han perdido para siempre a Cuba," the rebel newspaper con-

cluded.33 Many annexationists saw the logic of El Pueblo's argu-

ments and became convinced the United States would never sacrifice

for Cuba; that is, risk damaging relations with Spain and Europe for

the sake of acquiring the island. The North Americans would only

annex Cuba under their own terms and at minimal political risk:

peacefully through an international treaty. The New York Junta also

lost confidence in its own policy of relying on North American

support after it became clear no help for the movement would be

forthcoming, even subsequent to Spain's refusal to sell the island.

By the end of the 1850s, the staunchest annexationist newspaper in

exile, La Verdad, had also embraced the concept of self-determina-

tion: "El periodic La Verdad quiere que los cubanos conquisten

luchando au independencia; que rompan de una vez para siempre con

Espana, y que duenos enteramente de su destino, decidan, en uso del

derecho . lo que mas puede convenirles para el porvenir. La

Verdad no combatira el deseo de los cubanos."34

It was not only the United States' negative attitude

toward the Cuban rebel movement that made many question annexa-

tionism however. It also began to be questioned on other grounds.

Some argued that annexation was the political solution of the

island's wealthy who feared losing their dominant social position

were the Spanish to be evicted without the stabilizing influence of

North American involvement. This perception was seemingly confirmed

by the socioeconomic elite's withdrawal from the movement in favor of

reformism when it became clear the United States would not force the

Spaniards to cede the island. Finally, annexationism was indirect

contradiction to a growing nationalist sentiment among Cubans, most

eloquently expressed by Saco in his anti-annexationist tracts of the

1840s and 1850s. Although a committed supporter of a reformist

solution for his homeland and tainted by racist attitudes that

excluded non-whites from his concept of nationality, Saco forcefully

argued his preference for independence over incorporation into the

United States. Annexation, he argued, would result in the destruc-

tion of the island's Latin heritage and in the domination of politi-

cal and social life by Anglos. He often pointed to the French

experience in Louisiana as evidence of what Cuba could expect as

part of the North American union.35 While cultural nationalism was

not a major force among separatists before the 1860s, it would in-

creasingly come to the forefront of separatist ideology, causing

many to abandon annexationism in favor of the establishment of an

independent Cuban republic.

The various calls for a sovereign Cuba in 1855 signalled

the emergence of absolute independence as a major force in separa-

tist circles. Cuban separatism in the United States continued to

include annexationists, but annexationists who recognized the right

of the Cuban people to self-determination. Those seeking a United

States purchase of the island or direct intervention abandoned

separatism when it was clear neither would occur. The Sociedad

Republican's membership included individuals of both political

persuasions. Vicuna informed his government the Sociedad's members

favored Cuba's independence, and undoubtedly its most influential

leaders, Macias, Villaverde and Bassora, did, but Agustin Arango and

Plutarco Gonzalez, for example, appear to have held annexationist

sympathies throughout the 1860s.36 Publicly, La Voz de America

adopted a policy of neutrality to avoid divisive debates. The

newspaper sometimes pointed to the benefits of independence while

other times praised annexation, but it invariably upheld the doc-

trine of self-determination.37

During the 1860s, then, the Lopista leadership of the

Sociedad Republicana blamed the failure of the rebel movement of the

1850s on the New York and Habana separatists. They attributed the

wealthy Habaneros' timidity to their personal unwillingness to risk

sacrificing wealth and position in an effort to forcefully evict the

Spanish from Cuba. Lopez' major mistake, argued La Voz, was depend-

ing on the financial support of the island's socioeconomic elite

because their concern was economic continuity, not separatism.

Writing in 1853, Macias expressed little surprise that popular

support could not be raised among the mass of the exiled Cubans for

the Junta's activities, noting:

No me sorprende . porque es muy natural que asi suceda en un
pueblo virgen en revoluciones que todavia no saben elegir sus
jefes y companeros mas propioa para la accion, y que solo fian
empress tan importantes y vitales a hombres que por su carac-
ter, edad, position social y education espanola son los menos
apropiados para dirigir esa clase de negocios en que se necesi-
tan actividad, valor, independencia, y firm resolution de
afrontar el peligro cuando este present. Esta submision casi
natural de los pueblos, a ciertos y ciertos hombres muchas veces
les es funesta y siempre perjudicial y como tal es necesario
combatirla y destruirla si fuese posibe. Trabajar con este fin
es trabajar por el bien de la patria.3

When it was no longer in their interests to support Lopez and other

revolutionary activists, the Habaneros withdrew their resources,

leaving the separatist movement to die in its own inactivity. La

Voz concluded:

Aquellos aristocratas revolucionarios odiaban el despotismo
espanol, querian de veras efectuar un cambio en el regimen del
pais, creian que echados los dominadores por un golpe de mano,
la anexion a los Estados Unidos seria un escudo fortisimo contra
los desordenes interiores i las maquinaciones de afuera . .
pero le tienen horror serval a la revolution.39

What, then, was the alternative to a separatist revolution

financed and directed by Habana's socioeconomic elite? An answer

was suggested during the 1850s by the Junta's critics, and reasser-

ted in the rebel program developed by La Sociedad. As early as

1855, many separatist newspapers in exile called for a revolutionary

program based on a broader cross-section of Cuban society and led by

different social elements. One of the former Lopista members of the

Junta, Hernandez, suggested that "es precise que la revolution se

haga 'por el pueblo cubano y para el pueble cubano' . y para

esto . es preciso sacar las riendas de las manos de unos pocos

viejos ricos y de sus fieles servidores y mandatarios," while El

Filibustero argued that "los hombres ilustrados, el pueblo, y la

clase media son la palanca de toda revolution."40 El Pueblo noted

that a revolution should be a mass movement, "de cualquier clase,

condition, i nacionalidad que sean," adding, "no dudamos tampoco ni

aun echar mano de los esclavos, si lo demand asi la circunstancia,"

and El Cometa, edited by Jose Mesa and Miguel Tolon, declared: "La

causa de la liberation de Cuba no es ni puede ser empress exclusive

de tales o cuales hombres, ni monopolio de tal o cual Club o Cor-

poracion; la causa de Cuba pertenece al Pueblo Cubano."41

Like these publicists of the 1850s, La Sociadad suggested

the revolutionary party look to the Cuban people, of all classes and

races. According to La Voz, "La Sociedad Republicana ha reconocido

el error i ha procurado i conseguido levantar el espiritu del

PUEBLO, i hacer por fin que la REVOLUCION no sea aspiracion del

egoismo esclavocrata, sino la manifestacion ostensible de los deseos

del PUEBLO en general."42 The revolution, the newspaper argued, had

to be broad based and required the incorporation of "el ignorante,

el guajiro, el tabaquero, el liberto, el esclavo, el verdadero

PUEBLO," and not just the rich and literate. Indeed, the great

triumph of the Sociedad Republicana, proclaimed one exiled publicist

in La Voz in September 1866, was "haber logrado elevar la REVOLUCION

al corazon de las masas."43 This rhetoric, of course, was not in

the tradition of the "aristocratic" annexationist movement of the

1850s and represented a deep ideological transformation regarding

which social classes were now responsible for initiating the separa-

tist revolution. As we will see, La Voz's positions were even more

radical than those of the critics of the 1850s, as it called for the

active participation of the working classes and slaves. The Fili-

bustero had emphasized the middle classes and rejected the incor-

poration of slaves, believing they would turn against whites at

first opportunity, and even the most radical opposition newspaper of

the 1850s, El Pueblo, only called for using slaves if circumstances

required. La Voz suggested that without slaves the insurrection

would be impossible.

Faithfulness to this position, of course, required a radi-

cally different attitude on the slavery question itself. As we have

seen, Cuban liberals of the 1850s ideologically supported an indem-

nified, gradual abolition of slavery, but because of their political

alliance with the pro-slavery interests, they did not often raise

the issue. Not until 1854 did some elements of the separatist

movement openly question their association with slave interests,

demanding that the rebel cause publicly and assertively proclaim its

opposition to the institution. Edited by Carlos Collins and suppor-

ted by Lorenzo Allo, Juan C. Zenea, and Aguero Estrada, an aboli-

tionist newspaper, El Mulato, appeared on February 20, declaring its

intention to "atacar la esclavitud de cualquier modo que se la

disfrace, por creerla funesta, incompatible con la legitima y verda-

dera libertad," adding, "Un pueblo que como el de Cuba, ha jemido

largo tiempo en la mas dura tirania, un pueblo . por cuya

independencia se hicieron tantos sacrificios y derramandose abun-

dante sangre, no puede ser grande, fuerte y feliz, conservando en su

seno mas de medio million de eaclavos." Although the newspaper

agreed that a gradual emancipation would be necessary, it insisted

that the issue be debated actively and that steps be taken promptly

to initiate the emancipation process.44

Some considered El Mulato's proposition counterrevolu-

tionary. At a mass meeting called to condemn El Mulato, attended by

such prominent liberal separatists as Francisco de Armas, Jose Mesa,

and Juan and Francisco Bellido de Luna, a resolution passed de-

claring the newspaper's ideals not representative of the rebel

ideology of the emigre communities, warning, "Y como esas insidiosas

publicaciones pueden bajarse al nivel de las classes abyectas de la

poblacion difundiendo en ellas maximas alarmantes y perniciosas, no

es dificil que aquellos escritos prepare el horrible asesinato de

la patria . Los cubanos aqui reunidos desechamos y condenamos

todos los concepts de ese prospecto."5 Nevertheless, at a public

lecture in March at the prominent emigre socio-political organiza-

tion in New York, the Ateneo Democratico Cubano, Allo condemned

slavery and offered a gradual emancipation plan. Allo noted, "si

obedeciera solo a los deseos de mi alma, la ley de manumision para

los esclavos de Cuba seria muy sencilla--se declaran libres a todos

los esclavos de Cuba," but because of political and economic reali-

ties, in his view a gradual plan was necessary. The plan was well

received by most in attendance. El Mulato's propaganda gained

support among many within the emigre communities and, after 1855,

never again would a pro-slavery position be associated with the

separatist movement.46

The separatist activists of the 1860s in New York took the

issue a step further. Although initially the rebel leadership

argued that a gradual transition to free labor might be acceptable

in principle, they noted that Spanish and Cuban slave interests

could never be trusted to implement it faithfully. La Voz therefore

criticized the reformistas' plan for gradual abolition in no uncer-

tain terms. In questioning the logic of gradual emancipation, the

rebel newspaper referred to a story President Lincoln had been fond

of telling, "el cual refiere haber conocido a un hombre de Illinois,

que teniendo que cortarle la cola a su perro, discurrio que lo mejor

seria ir cortandosela a pedasos de cuando en cuando para hacerlo

padecer lo menos possible"4 7 La Voz presented its argument for

abolition, not only pointing to the moral imperatives, but to cer-

tain practical realities. It suggested the abolition of slavery in

the United States had initiated a process that would inevitably lead

to a world-wide demise of the institution, adding that the slaves in

Cuba were perfectly aware of these developments. Thus, the threat

of slave uprisings now came not from efforts to bring slavery to an

end, but from policies attempting to keep the institution intact.

A more pervasive line of reasoning, however, argued that

the revolution could not be successfully carried out without the

active support of the island's free men of color and slaves--a

support not forthcoming unless slavery was immediately abolished.

Writing to his wealthy and influential slaveholding brothers in

Camaguey soon after the outbreak of the Civil War in 1868, Dr.

Agustin Arango, a founding member of the Sociedad, insisted they

embrace the abolition of slavery. "Pues ademas de ser la esclavitud

incompatible con nuestra revolution," he wrote, "es de absolute

necisidad hacer soldados de los negros." "En fin," argued the

separatists in 1866, "la Sociedad Republicans trata de abolir la

esclavitud, porque el acto de emancipacion de los negros sera la

carta de libertad del pueblo de Cuba."48 The separatist emigres,

then, were one of the few organized political groups in Cuban poli-

tics prior to the outbreak of the rebellion which were adamant about

the immediate abolition of slavery. Indeed, when the Cuban revolu-

tion seemed to drag its feet on the issue in late 1868, the New York

Junta, organized by the former members of the Sociedad, sent a

statement with a departing expeditionary force encouraging the rebel

leadership to enact prompt abolition.49

In addition to advocating the broadening of the revolu-

tionary base through courting the people and abolishing slavery, the

Sociedad Republicana called on the separatist community to abandon

the traditional strategy of depending on the initiative of foreign

interests and exiles to bring about the insurrection-- another issue

raised in the 1850s by the critics of the New York Junta. The Lopez

expeditions had been composed primarily of North American adven-

turers and mercenaries and only a handful of Cubans, and as we have

seen, the Cuban Junta's proposed expedition after 1852 was entrusted

to the command of General Quitman. Many in the exile centers ques-

tioned the Junta's judgment in appointing a North American,

resulting in bitter disputes when Quitman abandoned the enterprise.

This experience not only convinced Cubans they should not depend on

foreign interests, but prompted them to question the entire idea

that by simply landing an expeditionary force they would guarantee a

successful revolution on the island. Lopez' fate obviously called

this into question. As Goicuria noted after resigning from the New

York Junta in 1855, "errada political fue, sin duda, de los que nos

precedieron en los trabajos revolucionarios, indicar como base nece-

saria del movimiento, y como garantia indispensable . el desem-

barco en Cuba de una expedicion."50 Having now proclaimed the

revolutionary movement a responsibility of the masses, the Sociedad

Republican in the mid-1860s also rejected the separatist filibus-

tering tradition in favor of creating a domestic political movement

capable of launching the rebellion internally. La Voz noted:

La idea de una espedicion del exterior que vays a comenzar la
revolution en Cuba es un pensamiento que mata el espiritu de
iniciativa, retarda la accion, trastorna los planes del patrio-
tismo i quit a los impulses del valor toda su fuerza vital.
Debe esperarse un auxilio, porque tenemos razones para confiar

en que no nos encontraremos solos i abandonados a nuestra suerte
en la hora de las pruebas, pero cualquiera que aconseja la
demora de todo proyecto hasta que se vean en el horizonte las
velas del extranjero que debe ir a prestarnos el apoyo de que
habremos menestar i de este modo someta lo primordial a lo
accesorio, ese no sabe lo que es lucha, ni ha meditado en lo que
son los pueblos, ni es hombre.51

To promote the internal revolt, the exile propagandists

directed articles to Cuban workers, primarily tobacco workers who

were viewed as possessing revolutionary potential. Moreover, noting

that a significant number of Cuban tobacco workers were migrating to

New York during the mid-1860s, the exile leadership called on them

to remain in Cuba and organize against the established authority:

bastaa organizarse pars estar en armonia con lo que todos desean

hacer; protegerse mutuamente para ser fuerte; armarse para tener con

que practicar la defense; comprometerse a conservar la union,"

adding, "lo que manifestamos respect a los tabaqueros se refiere

igualmente a todos los artesanos de nuestro pais."52

During June 1866, Captain General Francisco Lersundi, the

conservative governor who replaced Dulce, caused a great deal of

unrest among workers when he prohibited reading in the cigar fac-

tories. This was the traditional practice of allowing workers to

hire an individual to read aloud to them while they worked. The

authorities feared its revolutionary potential, for it was indeed

common practice to read clandestine newspapers and other literature

considered subversive by government officials. La Voz de America

quickly took up the issue and called for workers to resist the

decree banning reading. "No!", proclaimed the newspaper, "la obeden-

cia en este caso es una humillacion; no debe obedecerse i teneis el

derecho de la insureccion. Se os prohibe leer en el taller, pues

reunios en otra part i leed; os asaltan en vueatro hogar,pues

defenders, luchad i entonces sera vuestro triunfo." For the first

time in Cuban history, a rebel organization called for a mass move-

ment among Cubans to lead the rebellion instead of relying on "las

classes acomodadas y las jentes ricas."53 Ultimately, Cubans

achieved independence to a great extent through this reliance on

workers, but in the mid-1860s this position was anathema to those

who had traditionally led the separatist movement and now advocated

a reformist solution to the political question.

The reformist electoral victory for representatives to the

Junta de Informacion in March 1866 marked the culmination of re-

formism in Cuba, but it also prompted a vocal campaign against the

ideology of colonial reforms by La Voz. The campaign was charac-

terized by a vehement and highly personal tone against the Cuban

representatives in Madrid--a journalistic style that became dis-

tinctive of the more radical revolutionary newspapers in exile during

the Ten Years War.

In its articles, La Voz drew a sharp distinction between

the "evolucionarios" or "consesionistas" and themselves, the revolu-

tionary party: "En todos los paises i en todos las epocas ha ecis-

tido un partido enemigo a la revolution, es decir del progress,

compuesto en su mayor parte de privilegiados, ricachos i vividores.

Este partido esta representado hoi en Cuba por los reformists y los

negreros." More explicitly, the newspaper characterized the re-

formist group as the "Partido Oligarca," whose position with regard

to any given political movement was simply a function of how it

affected their economic interests. As to the individuals elected to

the Junta de Informacion, the newspaper charged they were not

representative of the nation's aspirations and "que ecepcion de tres

o cuatro de ellos todos los demas son personas vulgares; de mas i

menos fortune que van en busca de position personal y a remover el

asunto de los intereses de los amos de esclavos." The only praise

directed at any aspect of the Informacion came in the newspaper's

support for the Puerto Rican delegates who demanded immediate aboli-

tion of slavery.54

The antagonistic attitude of La Voz toward the reformist

leadership is basic to understanding at least part of the political

dissension that appeared in the exile communities after the outbreak

of the Revolucion de Yara. La Voz' concern with the basic dif-

ference in interests between the wealthy "concesionistas" and the

revolutionary masses--in effect, a class or social doctrine--was

equally apparent in portions of the emigre community in 1869 and

1870. However, the thesis that the island's established classes

were opposed to a popular revolutionary movement to evict the

Spanish was not based on a sophisticated socialist analysis, but on

the editors' experiences during the 1850s and 1860s. It was clear

to Villaverde and his associates in 1866 that Cuba's middle and

upper classes opposed armed insurrection and hoped for a solution

within the framework of the Spanish empire. Accordingly, in their

view, the separatist movement had little choice but to rely on the

workers, libertos (freedmen), and slaves as the basis of the revolu-

tionary party. These emigre leaders were intransigent activists who

considered any compromise of the separatist vision tantamount to

treason; a crime the Cuban liberals embracing reformism had commit-

ted and for which they would be held accountable even after they

eventually returned to separatism. A nationalist self-determinism

stood as the central feature of the separatist political program.

The Cuban rebels of the Sociedad Republicana had opposed efforts by

the island's established classes to arrange a North American pur-

chase of Cuba during the 1850s and now condemned their desire to

seek an accommodation within the Spanish empire.

It is interesting to speculate whether this appeal to

class distinction in the separatist program enjoyed the broad sup-

port of the emigre communities in the United States. Although the

majority of the expatriate Cubans no doubt supported the separatist

ideal, the many wealthy merchants and businessmen with substantial

interests on the island probably did not view the call for a

working-class uprising with much enthusiasm, as evidenced by criti-

cisms they directed at the newspaper. Many in New York were friends

and associates of the reformist leaders and they did not consider La

Voz' harsh personal attacks to be fair or even founded in truth;

thus they refused to provide the necessary funds after the Chilean

monies were no longer available, resulting in its demise in early

1867.55 It is probable, however, that the growing number of working

class Cubans in exile gave the radical separatists moral, if not

financial, support. For the first time Cuban separatist leaders were

suggesting that not only the traditional socioeconomic elite and the

middle-classes had something to offer in the political arena. It is

not surprising Cubans failed to rise in support of Lopez' expedi-

tions, for the invaders publicly offered only more of the same under

new masters. Recognizing this, the separatist movement of the 1860s

sought a broad base through a populist program promising a more

democratic future.

The effect of the Sociedad Republicana's radical propa-

ganda on affairs in Cuba is, of course, impossible to gauge, but it

is clear La Voz and other political literature successfully reached

the island. Clandestine groups in support of the radical exiles

formed, and a political flyer issued by one such group, signed La

Voz del Pueblo, appeared in Habana on the 1st of May 1866, calling

on Cubans to rise: "cubanos, blancos, negros, mulatos, hombres que

seais hombres, tomad las armas, incendiad, destruid, matad, obligad;

no tengais miedo; llegada es ya la hora de la lucha, del sacrificio y

de la verguenza."56

Despite the activities of the exiles, not until it became

apparent that the Junta de Informacion would yield nothing in the

way of reforms for Cuba did significant conspiratorial activities

appear on the island. Centered in the eastern provinces, by late

1867 organized groups led by disgruntled creole landholders had

emerged. One such group led by Francisco Vicente Aguilera, Carlos

Manuel de Cespedes, Pedro Figueredo, and others, in Bayamo, Oriente

province, approached the reformist leaders in Habana in an effort to

organize an island-wide conspiracy. The Habaneros, however, were

not yet interested in armed struggle. Finally, on October 10, 1868,

the conspirators in Bayamo launched the insurrection. Accompanied

by 37 men, Cespedes proclaimed Cuban independence on his plantation,

La Demajagua, near Yara. Organized into the Junta Revolucionaria de

la Isla de Cuba, the rebels issued a manifesto denouncing arbitrary

government, abusive taxation, corrupt administration, exclusion of

Cubans from government employment and the Cortes, and deprivation of

political, civil and religious liberties. In addition, the revolu-

tion decreed the gradual and indemnified abolition of slavery,

although Cespedes freed his slaves immediately and incorporated them

into his rebel force.

Although the insurrection did not immediately represent

the radical movement called for by La Voz, members of the Sociedad

Republican in New York gathered at Jose E. Hernandez' residence

during early November and formed a revolutionary committee to orga-

nize support for the rebellion. Another political activist of the

Lopista tradition, Serapio Recio, presided, and was joined on the

committee by Mantilla, Arango, Gonzalez, and Bassora, all founding

members of the Sociedad. Macias was in Buenos Aires and would not

arrive in New York until early the next year, but Villaverde lent

his support. By the end of the month a personal envoy from Ces-

pedes, Jose Valiente, arrived in New York and became President of

the newly established Junta Central Republicana de Cuba Z Puerto

Rico, constituting the body as the official representative of the

rebellion in exile. Another addition to the Junta, Francisco Javier

Cineros, represented the Junta Revolucionaria de la Habana.57

Between the end of November and March of the next year

this group organized the exile effort, wasting little time in orga-

nizing juntas in other emigre communities, establishing a newspaper,

and initiating the work of raising funds for an expeditionary force.

On December 10, the first issue of a periodic publication, El Bole-

tin de la Revolucion, appeared and before the end of the year the

steamer, Galvanic, reached Cuba with the first contingent of rebels

and arms for the revolution. In January, commissioned by the New

York Junta, Plutarco Gonzalez arrived in New Orleans and established

a revolutionary committee, and soon thereafter another agent from

Cespedes, Ambrosio Valiente, landed in Key West and organized a

political club there.

Taking the lead in forming the Galvanic expedition was

Manuel de Quesada, a veteran commander in Benito Juarez' campaigns

against the French, who after Maximillian's defeat moved to New York

and offered his support to the separatist cause. Attracted by the

Junta's activism, during September 1868 Quesada made a clandestine

trip to Camaguey, his home province, hoping to convince his com-

patriots to launch a rebellion, but meeting with little success, he

returned to New York. Commissioned by the rebel Junta in New York

to organize the first expedition, Quesada received funds from the

local emigres and the Habana rebels, and during mid-December he

departed Nassau commanding the Galvanic, landing on the coast of

Camaguey soon after. On disembarking, Quesada issued a manifesto

calling his countrymen to arms, concluding, "Nuestro lema es Union e

Independencia. Con union seremos fuertes. Con union seremos inven-


Unity, however, would be tragically elusive during this

phase of the Cuban separatist struggle. Although rebel factionalism

would be the result of a number of factors, in the coming months the

separatists of the former Sociedad Republicana and the Habana re-

formists joining the insurrection would compete for domination of

the insurrectionary movement in exile. Steeped in the revolutionary

tradition of Lopista activism, the New York separatists viewed

themselves as the initiators, the precursors of the Cespedes rebel-

lion, but the Habana liberals arriving in New York during 1869

suggested the insurrection was the logical consequence of the


frustrated reformist movement, not of what they characterized as the
pro-slavery and reactionary tradition of Narciso Lopez. The stage

was set for confrontation.


1Francisco Lopez Segrera, Cuba: Capitalismo dependiente x
subdesarollo, 1510-1959 (Habana: Casa de las Americas, 1972), 136;
Julio LeRiverend, Historia economic de Cuba (Habana: Editorial
Pueblo y Educacion, 19 74) 382-394; Leland Hamilton Jenks, Our Cuban
Colony: A Study of Sugar (New York: Vanguard Press, 19286, 18-21;
Manuel Moreno Fraginals, El ingenio, 3 vols. (Habana: Editorial
Ciencias Sociales, 1978), III, 80.
2U.S. Census Office. Population of the United States,
1860 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1864), 196,
346, 439. As with all census figures these should be viewed with

3La Voz de America (New York), January 20, August 20, 30,
1866; Willis Baer, The Economic Development of the Cigar Industry in
the United States FLancaster, PA., 1933), 106-110.

4These figures are estimates based on the following sour-
ces: El Pueblo (New York), August 9, 1876; "Expediente por nuestro
Consul en New Orleans," Boletin del Archivo Nacional (Habana), 19
(1920), 66; Aleida Plasencia, ed., Bibliografia de la Guerra de los
Diez Anos (Habana: Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti, 1968), 186-231.
For demographic information on the Florida communities see chapter 5
of this study. See also, Arturo Cuyas, Estudio sobre la inmigracion
en los Estados Unidos (New York: Thompson y Moreau, 1881), 15,
which states that 8,836 Cubans immigrated to the United States
between 1871 and 1880.

5"Libro indice de cubanos residents en Nueva York-
Documentos procedentes de la Junta Revolucionaria de New York, 1868-
1878," Archivo Nacional de Cuba, Donativos y Remisiones, (hereafter,
ANC, Donativos), Legajo 40, number 54.

6For information on the early separatist conspiracies see:
Jose Luciano Franco, La conspiracion de Aponte (Habana:
Publicaciones del Archivo Nacional, 58, 1963); Roque E. Garrigo
Salido, Hiatoria documentada de la conspiracion de los Soles y Rayos
de Bolivar, 2 vols. (Habana: Imprenta el Siglo XX, 1929); Adrian
Valle, Historia documentada de la conspiracion de la Gran Legion del
Aguila Negra (Habana: El Siglo XX, 1930).

7See Felix Varela, Escritos politicos (Habana: Editorial
de Ciencias Sociales, 1977) and Jose Ignacio Rodriguez, Vida del
presbitero Don Felix Varela (Nueva York: Imprenta de "0 Novo
Mundo," 18787j. The diplomatic complexities of the Cuban question
between 1808 and 1826 are included in Jesus F. de la Teja, "Cuba and
Caribbean Diplomacy, 1808-1826," Seton Hall University, M.A.
Thesis, 1981. The study argues that the United States, England, and
France all had an interest in the Cuban status quo during this
period. In addition, it suggests Columbia and Mexico had pressing
concerns and were unwilling to divert resources, for an invasion of

8This distinction between the annexationist slaveholders
and liberals is a variation on Herminio Portell Vila's "anexionistas
por motives economics" and "anexionistas por motives partioticos,"
in Narciso Lopez y su epoca, 3 vols. (Habana: Cultural, S.A. and
Compania Editors de Libros y Folletos, 1930-1958), I, 186-209.
Portell's distinction between "economic" and "patriotic" reasons for
supporting annexation is misleading since the liberals, of course,
had their own economic motives for backing annexation. Also, it
should be noted that it was Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros who original-
ly pointed to the existence of distinctions within the movement.
See letter, Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros to Jose Antonio Saco,
February 20, 1849, in Jose A. Fernandez de Castro, ed., Medic siglo
de historic colonial de Cuba, 1823-1879 (Habana: Ricardo Veloso,
1923), 99-102.

9David R. Murray, Odious Commerce: Britain, Spain and the
Abolition of the Cuban Slave Trade (London: Cambridge University
Press, 19807, chapter 11; Ramiro Guerra y Sanchez, Manual de his-
toria de Cuba, desde su descubrimiento hasta 1868 (Habana: Edi-
torial de Ciencias Sociales, 1971), 407-444.

10Letter, Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros to Jose Antonio Saco,
October 19, 1948, in Fernandez de Castro, ed., Medic siglo de
historic colonial, 93.

11Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros, Ideas sobre la incorporacion
de Cuba a los Eatados Unidos, en contraposicion a los que ha publi-
cado Don Jose Antonio Saco (New York, 1849). See also Betancourt
Cianeros' correspondence to Saco in Fernandez de Castro, ed., Medio
aiglo de historia colonial.
12El Filibustero (New York), February 15, 1854.

13C. Stanley Urban, "The Africanization of Cuba Scare,
1853-1855," Hispanic American Historical Review, 37 (February 1957);
El Filibustero, August-November 1855.

14The relationship between the separatist movement of the
1840s and 1850s and the separatism of the 1870s has been the subject
of dispute in Cuban historiography. Traditional studies view the
liberal annexationists of mid-century as precursors of the Ten Years
War, although they recognize the movement included reactionary pro-
slavery elements who used annexationism to advance their slave
interests. The participation of the reactionaries was short-lived,
however, and the movement's primary leaders are characterized in
this literature as individuals in principle opposed to slavery and
admirers of the North American republic's economic and political
system; patriots who considered Cuba's incorporation into the United
States as the only viable alternative to Spanish domination.
According to this view, the annexationist movement of the 1850s was
an early manifestation of Cuban patriotism leading directly to the
independentista ideology that emerged during the Ten Years War.
Prominent exponents of this interpretation are Portell Vila, Narciso
Lopex z su epoca, I, 210-216 and Vidal Morales y Morales,
Iniciadores Z primeros martires de la revolution cubana (Habana:
Imprenta Avisador Comercial, 1901). A revisionist literature,
however, distinguishes between what it considers the pro-slavery and
anti-nationalist annexationism of the 1850s and the abolitionist,
highly nationalistic and transitory annexationism of the late 1860s.
The first is characterized as essentially reactionary, an aberration
that can in no way be considered a precursor of the second. As
Jorge Ibarra's Ideologia mambisa (Habana: Instituto Cubano del
Libro, 1967), 44-461 explicitly states:

No es valido . hacer enfasis en la supuesta continui-
dad ideological que represents al 'anexionismo' de Ignacio
Agramonte con relacion al anexionismo de Betancourt Cis-
neros y Narciso Lopez . No puede haber . continui-
dad ideological entire los que aspiraban a constituir una
nacion y los que aspiraban a su desaparicion. No puede
haber continuidad ideological entire los que aspiraban unir
etnicamente a la nacion y los que aspiraban a suprimir las
minorias etnicas.

This chapter explores the ideological linkages between the emigre
separatists of the 1850s and the 1860s in an effort to shed light on
this historiographical problem.

15Murray, Odious Commerce, 231-240.

16Raul Roa, Con la plumsa el machete, 3 vole. (Habana:
Siglo XX, 1950), III, 164-165. The founding members were: Juan
Manuel Macias, President; Jose F. Bassora, Vice-President; Cirilo
Villaverde, 2nd Vice-President; Juan Clemente Zenea, Secretary;
Ramon I. Arnao, Vice-Secretary; Francisco de Paula Suarez,
Treasurer; Agustin Arango, Vice-Treasurer. Other founding members:
Plutarco Gonzalez, Antonio Jimenez, Luis Felipe Mantilla, Ramon Roa,
Juan Martinez Hernandez, Pedro Santacilia, Fernando Rodriguez. See
La Voz de America (New York), September 20, 30, 1866 for additional
information on La Sociedad Republicana.

17Guerra y Sanchez, Manual, 591-592.

18Raul Roa, Aventuras, ventures y desventuras de un mambi
en la lucha por la independencia de Cuba (Mexico: Siglo XXI, 1970),
20-21. La Sociedad Democratica's leadership included Macias, pre-
siding officer, Villaverde, Mantilla, P. Gonzalez, Bassora, Roa,
Angel Lono, and Francisco Javier Cisneros. Juan Bellido de Luna
established an affiliate in Matanzas, Cuba. See also, Constitucion
de la Sociedad Democratica de los Amigos de America (New York:
Imprenta de S. Hallete, 186477, in Library of Congress Manuscript
Division, Domingo Delmonte Manuscript Collection.

19Benjamin Vicuna Mackenna, Diez meses de mission a los
Estados Unidos de Norte America como agent confidencial de Chile, 2
vols. (Santiago de Chile: Imprenta La Libertad, 186771, -I1, 13,

20Vicuna Mackenna, Diez meses de mission, II, 130-131;
appendix, 136-151. The last issue of La Voz published under
Vicuna's editorship was June 21, 1866. See that issue for
biographical information on the new editor, Macias. Also, for
information on Villaverde's role in the newspaper see Portell Vila,
Narciso Lopez, III, 458.

21For detailed information on the differences between the
two groups see Portell Vila, Narciso Lopez, II, 93-127; III, 7-32.
See also, Guerra y Sanchez, Manual, 508.

22Letter, Jose L. Alfonso to Jose A. Saco, October 20,
1850, Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti, Coleccion Cubana (hereafter,
BNJM, CC), C. M. Alfonso, Legajo 29-33, numero 91.

23"Programa de Sanchez Iznaga," BNJM, CC, C. M. Ponce,
Legajo 2c.

24Letter, J. L. O'Sullivan to Mssers. E. Hernandez,
Betancourt, Goicuria and F. de Armas, September 7, 1852, BNJM, CC,
C. M. Ponce, Legajo 2c, numero 17.

25Letters, J. L. O'Sullivan to J. Elias Hernandez,
President of Committee of Conciliation, September 1852. BNJM, CC,
C. M. Ponce, Legajo 2c, numero 13.

26Letter, Cirilo Villaverde to Juan M. Macias, June 8,
1853, BNJM, CC, C. M. Villaverde, numero 23.

27See Basil Rauch, American Interest in Cuba, 1848-1855
(New York: Octagon Books, 1974), chapter 10, for a discussion of
United States efforts to purchase the island. Although on many
occasions members of the Junta, including El Lugareno, publicly
opposed achieving separation from Spain through a sale of the island
to the United States, evidence suggests that privately they accepted
such a solution as a guarantee against a destructive armed

28Letter, Cirilo Villaverde to Juan M. Macias, August 8,
1853, BNJM, CC, C. M. Villaverde, numero 26.

29E1 Eco de Cuba (New York), November 10, 1855; Domingo
Goicuria, Al pueblo de Cuba (Nueva York, Septiembre 20, 1855).

30El Filibustero, December 5, 1853.

31El1 Eco de Cuba, February 1, 1856.

32E1 Filibustero, February 15, 1854.

33El Pueblo, June 19, 1855; Guerra y Sanchez, Manual, 555.

34Guerra y Sanchez, Manual, 554-559; La Verdad (New
Orleans) October 10, 1859.

35Fernando Ortiz, ed., Contra la anexion: Jose Antonio
Saco (Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1974).

36Cesar Garcia del Pino, "Pugna entire independentistas y
anexoreformistas antes de la revolution de Yara," Revista de la
Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti 3rd series, 17 (September-December
1975), 64-65. Subsequent to the 1850s, Villaverde and Macias con-
sistently asserted that not only had they always supported absolute
independence, but so had Narciso Lopez. See La Voz de America, June
21, 1866 and La Independencia (New York), March 4, 1875. In his
extensive study of Lopez, Portell Vila argues the rebel leader had
always favored absolute independence for Cuba, but never emphasized
it publicly so as not to alienate the wealthy annexationists who
provided the needed financial resources. Other Cuban historians,
such as Sergio Aguirre in Eco de caminos (Habana: Editorial Cien-
cias Sociales, 1974), chapters 20 and 21, reject this view and
condemn Lopez as a willing agent of the pro-slavery annexationists.
However, rather than judging the separatists of this period on
whether they favored annexation or independence, given the context
of the times, it might be more useful to consider them in light of
their positions with regard to the concept of self-determination.
From this perspective, it can be argued that even annexationists
supporting Cuban self-determination may be considered precursors of
independentista ideology. For evidence of Arango's annexationism
see his letter to his brothers in Cuba, Vidal Morales y Morales,
Hombres del 68: Rafael Morales y Gonzalez (Habana: Editorial Cien-
cias Sociales, 1972), 191, while P. Gonzalez's position is clear in
his pamphlet, The Cuban Question and American Policy, in Light of
Common Sense (New York, 1869).

37Annexationist sentiment is expressed in La Voz de
America, August 10, December 20, 1866, February 11, 1867, while pro-
independence sympathies are evident in June 11, 21, 1866.

38Letter, Juan M. Macias to Plutarco Gonzalez, September
19, 1853, BNJM, CC, C. M. Anexion, numero 51.

39La Voz de America, July 31, 1866.

40El Eco de Cuba, November 10, 1855; El Filibustero,
November 25, 1853.

41El Pueblo, July 20, 1855; El Cometa (New York), July 1,

42La Voz de America, September 30, 1866.

43La Voz de America, September 30, 1866.

44El Mulato (New York), February 20, 1854.

45E1 Filibustero, February 15, 1854.

46E1 Mulato, March 11, 1854.

47La Voz de America, December 31, 1867.

48La Voz de America, March 10, April 11, June 21,
September 20, 30, 1866; January 10, 20, 1867. Arango's letter
appears in Morales y Morales, Hombres del 68, 191-192.

49La Revolucion (New York), March 31, 1870.

50El Eco de Cuba, June 22, 1855.

51La Voz de America, August 20, 1866.

52La Voz de America, August 30, 1866.

53Ramiro Guerra y Sanchez, et al., ed., Historia de la
nacion cubana, 10 vols. (Habana: Editorial Historia de la Nacion
Cubana, 1952), VII, 251; La Voz de America, August 10, 1866.
54La Voz de America, March 10, May 11, July 10, October
10, 1866.

55La Voz de America, September 30, 1866.

56Guerra y Sanchez, et al., ed., Historia de la nacion
cubana, IV, 34-41. The political flyer is available in Library of
Congress Manuscript Division, Domingo Delmonte Manuscript

57Juan J. E. Casasus, La emigracion cubana I la
independencia de la patria (Habana: Editorial Lex, 1953T, 67-68.

58Carlos Manuel de Cespedes y Quesada, Manuel de Quesada y
Loynaz (Habana: Siglo XX, 1925), 8-11, 44-47; Morales y Morales,
Hombres del 68, 140-143; Juan Arnao, Paginas ara la historic de la
isla de CubaTHlabana: Imprenta La Nueva, 1900), 179; Letter, Cirilo
Villaverde to Jose Gabriel del Castillo, June 23, 1874, ANC, Dona-
tivos, Legajo 423, no. 21.


59La Revolucion, February 8, March 15, March 31, 1870.
See also, Angel Lono y Perez, Vindicacion de los patriots cubanos
mal juzgados por 'La Revolucion' de 8 de Febrero de 1870 (New York,
1870). Despite efforts since the 1870s to dismiss Lopez and his
followers as a reactionary force in Cuban intellectual history,
there is sufficient evidence to argue just the contrary.
During the 1840s and 1850s, they clearly operated within the ideo-
logical parameters of the time; that is, many were annexationists in
principle and supported only a gradual and indemnified abolition.
Their activist tradition placed them in the vanguard of the ideo-
logical evolution that gave birth to the Sociedad Republicana, the
most radical separatist organization of the 1860s. It is simply not
accurate to place Villaverde and Alfonso, for example, within the
same ideological framework. Regarding Lopez, although it was not
possible to definitively characterize him as an abolitionist and
independentista during 1848-1851, as Portell Vila would have us
believe, had he lived it is likely he would have been a Lopista of
the 1860s and not a reformist.



On the evening of January 21, 1869, pro-Spanish volun-

tarios in Habana stormed the Villanueva Theatre where a production

rumored to include sympathetic references to the Cuban rebellion was

in progress. The enraged voluntarios opened fire on the audience

inside the theatre and on the streets, initiating three days of

terror that marked the definitive end of efforts by Spanish authori-

ties to negotiate a solution to the insurrection begun on October 10

of the previous year. During the next six months, a mass exodus

from Cuba scattered Cubans all over the Americas and Europe, in-

cluding almost the entirety of the former reformist leadership.

Those reformists joining the rebellion went to New York where they

promptly took over direction of the revolutionary junta, becoming a

prominent force in the separatist movement.1

The political transition of these men to separatism was a

slow methodical process determined by the failure of the Junta de

Information and the subsequent reimposition of traditional Spanish

authoritarian colonial policy after the fall during July 1866 of the

liberal regime in Spain under Leopoldo O'Donnell. The successor

conservative government, the so-called Moderados, proved hostile to

colonial reforms, and their Captain-General in Cuba, Francisco Ler-

sundi, terminated the political concessions granted by Serrano and

Dulce that gave rise to the reformist initiatives. Although the

island's representatives to the Informacion returned to Cuba with

promises of political and economic reforms and the gradual abolition

of slavery, it soon became apparent that their work in Madrid had

been discarded. New taxes were imposed, political representation in

the Spanish Cortes did not materialize, and slavery continued undis-

turbed. In addition, the country had entered a period of economic

crisis, convincing many the time had arrived for drastic action.2

During 1867 and 1868, the reformist group disintegrated as

an organized force and political dissent spread across the island.

Spanish intransigence prompted a rash of conspiratorial organizing

in the eastern provinces during 1867, but the Habana reformist

leadership did not favor such activities until the following year

when it became clear that dissatisfaction was indeed rampant.

During August and September 1868, a group led by Jose Morales Lemus,

a prominent lawyer and reformist activist who had attended the

Information, commissioned Francisco Javier Cisneros to travel

through the interior to gauge the state of political opinion. Cis-

neros met with separatist conspirators in Camaguey who informed him

of similar groups in Tunas, Holguin, Manzanillo and Bayamo. On

returning to Habana, the envoy recommended that the western portion

of the island organize as well, a suggestion accepted by Morales

Lemus and others associated with the reformist cause.3 Many Habana

reformists had come to the conclusion the time was ripe to establish

a secret organization in the capital city to consider the separatist

alternative, but they were caught by surprise when news arrived that

on October 10 the separatists in Bayamo had declared Cuban indepen-

dence and initiated an armed rebellion.

Despite the reformists' flirtation with separatism during

the two months prior to the Grito de Yara, they did not abandon the

pursuit of a reform solution. In mid-September, an insurrection in

Spain brought to power a liberal regime under General Juan Prim

favoring a constitutional monarchy. Besides the prominent liberal,

Prim, the new government included Serrano and Dulce, the two well

known governors of Cuba whose liberalism encouraged the emergence of

the reformist movement on the island. Sweeping changes were insti-

tuted in Spain, including universal manhood suffrage, freedom of the

press, assembly, education, and religion, and indications appeared

that the long awaited reforms in Spanish colonial policy were immi-

nent, including action on slavery.4

Initially, the Habana reformists reacted in a mixed man-

ner. Some remained skeptical of Spanish intentions while others

expressed hope the liberals in Spain would act on Cuban grievances.

Writing from New York where he was vacationing, the prominent Habana

planter and reform leader, Miguel de Aldama, suggested to his col-

league, Jose Manuel Mestre, that "la revolution no tendra otro

resultado que conseguir un simple cambio de ministry Nosotros

los cubanos pagaremos los gastos de la guerra y cuando mas o menos

obtendremos alguna frase melosa de Serrano o Dulce."5 Less skepti-

cal, Mestre expressed confidence that if Cubans extended support to

the Spanish liberals, they would reciprocate. Whatever their perso-

nal convictions regarding liberal Spanish intentions in Cuba, most

prominent reformists joined in efforts to encourage the government

in Madrid to alter the traditionally repressive colonial system.

The Comite Republicano de la Habana appeared to agitate publicly for

suffrage, freedom of the press, speech, and association, and the

abolition of slavery and monopoly.6 It soon appeared, however, that

Aldama's assessment of Spanish intentions was not far from the

truth. During mid-October Mestre observed that the Spanish colonial

minister had assured the Cuban conservatives and slave interests

their position would not be undermined. Although the Spanish libe-

rals had little in common ideologically with the island's slave

interests, the latter group represented a strong political and

economic force the new peninsular government could not easily disre-

gard. "Si ese gobierno," wrote Mestre, "no quiere guardar concien-

cia en Cuba con el programs proclamado por Espana, los que no son

propietarios de negros, o los que saben ser fieles a los principios

del liberalism, sabran a que atenerse respect de nuestro conserva-

dores, y desentendiendose de ellos buscaran la salvacion en el

puerto que pueda prometersela."7

Finally, hoping to obtain assurances the Spanish gov-

ernment's liberal program would be applied to Cuba, the leading

reformists, including Morales Lemus, Mestre, and Jose Antonio Eche-

verria, requested a meeting with Captain-General Lersundi. The new

Spanish regime had not yet moved to replace the conservative Ler-

sundi who made clear his disdain for the revolution in his homeland

and opposition to the application of the liberal reforms on the

island. At the highly publicized October 24 meeting with the Cu-

bans, the Spanish governor virtually accused them of complicity with

the recent rebellion in Oriente and dismissed their demands for

reforms as sedition.8

Although the reformist leaders were in no way involved in

the Cespedes uprising, their initial reaction was one of cautious

interest. Their instincts dictated a continuing pursuit of a reform

solution, but evidence indicates they maintained a pragmatic atti-

tude, opening communications with the rebels, undoubtedly convinced

that a limited rebellion would serve to pressure the Spanish

authorities to grant reforms. Subsequent to the Lersundi meeting

several reformist leaders, most notably Morales Lemus and Mestre,

began actively supporting the insurgents under the umbrella of the

Comite Revolucionario de la Habana. During November the Habaneros

provided funds for an attempted rising in Vuelta Abajo, which was

discovered and repressed, and they sent Cisneros to join the rebel

junta in New York. In December monies were sent in support of

Quesada's Galvanic expedition.9

Seemingly, the reformists were finally committing to the

rebellion, but their enthusiasm for revolution waned at the end of

the year when news arrived that the liberal, Domingo Dulce, had been

appointed to replace Lersundi as Captain-General. The Spanish gov-

ernment had decided to placate the Cuban liberals. Dulce arrived in

Habana during early January, bringing with him full authority to

grant freedom of the press and assembly, and promises that Cuban

representatives would soon be admitted to the Cortes. Conspi-

cuously, however, the press freedom decree prohibited the discussion

of slavery and religion. Nevertheless, many Cuban liberals believed

their demands were finally being granted and they established a

newspaper, La Verdad, to support the new Captain General. The paper

praised Dulce's previous administration in Cuba, but called on

authorities to move swiftly in implementing the promised reforms

before the insurrection--a legitimate and just movement according to

the editorial--advanced to a point of no return. The editors warned

Dulce to "tratar franca y lealmente sin engano, ni double intention

con el gobierno de los insurrectos; y hacer encontrar a estos dentro

de la nacionalidad espanola cuanto pudieran aceptar como nacion

independiente ahorrando asi torrentes de sangre hermana y una lucha

sacrilega." Heeding this advice, Dulce declared a general amnesty

for political prisoners and all rebels who laid down their arms, and

dispatched two peace commissions to negotiate with the rebel

chiefs.10 Despite considerable dissent among some members of the

Comite Revolucionario, not at all convinced the Spanish were pro-

ceeding in good faith, the Habana rebel committee led by Morales

Lemus slowed its activities to give Dulce time to implement his

reforms. The Habaneros encouraged rebel organizers in Las Villas

and Matanzas to postpone their risings and they held up shipments of

arms to them. Morales Lemus also entered into negotiations with

Spanish liberals in Cuba, hoping to arrange a coalition in support

of the reformist Captain General.11

Dulce, however, had arrived in Cuba too late. The insur-

gent leaders rejected his offers of reform, refusing to negotiate

for anything less than absolute independence from Spain. Also, the

pro-Spanish elements had already organized militarily and they

called for unconditional repression of the insurgents in their

newspaper La Voz de Cuba. Dulce's conciliatory gestures toward the

insurgents enraged the voluntarios, prompting their campaign of

terror against all liberal voices toward the end of January. Soon

after the Villanueva Theatre incident, Aldama's palace in Habana was

stormed and burned, making it clear what the reformist leaders could

expect from the intransigent pro-Spanish party. Writing to Morales

Lemus in New York during mid-February, Aldama characterized the

reformist effort as hopeless: "Dulce pues tiene que luchar con la

revolution de Yara y con la actitud tomada por los voluntarios.

Como podra el manejarse en tan temible situation? Como podra el

salvarse de las consecuencias de una o otra. La situation pues es

muy critical"1 2 Without an effective military force to counter the

voluntarios, Dulce lost all authority on the island and in June the

pro-Spanish leaders placed him on a ship to Spain. By February it

was clear to the Cuban liberals in Habana that all hopes of ob-

taining effective reforms had died in the face of the intransigence

of both the separatist rebels and the voluntarios, prompting a

significant number to join the exodus into exile and separatist


The first of the now former reformists leaders to reach

New York was Morales Lemus who arrived in late January as an offi-

cial envoy of the Habana revolutionary committee. Prior to his

departure from the island, however, the Habana committee, the insur-

gent leader, Cespedes, and the head of the New York Junta, Valiente,

had agreed that upon arriving in New York, Morales Lemus would

become the rebellion's official representative in exile. Interested

in obtaining the support of the Habana liberal community for the

insurrection, Cespedes confirmed this in mid-March when he sent

Morales Lemus his credentials as "enviado extraordinario y ministry

plenipotenciario" before the North American authorities, a position

reaffirmed by the Cuban republic established at Guaimaro during

April.13 During the next few months, many of Morales' reformist

colleagues followed him north, most notably Aldama, Mestre and

Echeverria--the individuals who succeeded him as official represen-

tatives in exile after his death in June 1870.

The new arrivals in New York reorganized the exile com-

munity, establishing five officially recognized entities as the

heart of the revolutionary effort outside of Cuba: the offices of

Agent General and Diplomatic Envoy, the Junta Central Revolucionaria

de Cuba Z Puerto Rico, the Club Politico Cubano, and the official

newspaper, La Revolucion. The Agent General undertook the responsi-

bility of organizing the revolutionary activities, including naming

agents in other Cuban communities abroad, centralizing fund raising

activities, and coordinating the formation of expeditions. The

Diplomatic Envoy, on the other hand, was responsible for represen-

ting the Cuban government-in-arms before the international com-

munity, but in practice, primarily before the United States gov-

ernment. Initially, Morales Lemus held both positions, but as

Diplomatic Envoy he found it awkward to be involved in launching

expeditionary forces in direct violation of North American neutrali-

ty laws. Recognizing this incompatibility, after Morales Lemus'

death the Cuban government formally separated the offices, naming

Aldama the Agent General and Mestre and Echeverria, diplomatic


Although the Junta Central Republicana de Cuba y Puerto

Rico initially established itself as the authority in exile during

November 1868, subsequent to Morales Lemus' arrival it became an

advisory body to the official representative, under his authority.14

During the first several months the Agent sat as the Junta's Presi-

dent, but in June its members were arrested in New York for viola-

tion of United States' neutrality laws. Consequently, the Agent

withdrew from the Junta, naming Aldama as its presiding officer when

it organized again in November--in this way, the rebellion's offi-

cial representatives could not be directly implicated in future

Junta activities.15 Finally, during September 1870, in his capacity

as Agent General after Morales Lemus' death, Aldama dissolved the

Juntal Central, believing it only hindered the activities of the

exile representatives. Thereafter, he and his closest associates

functioned as an informal group known as the Junta Cubana.16

On reorganizing in March 1869, the Junta Central desig-

nated La Revolucion as its official mouthpiece. Established by

Nestor Ponce de Leon, the former editor of the last reformist

newspaper in Habana, La Verdad, the organ received a portion of its

operating funds from the Junta. The editor and his associates

managed the day-to-day affairs of the paper, but they clearly looked

to the Junta for editorial policy. Ponce de Leon served as editor

until September 1869, when he was followed by Enrique Pineyro. The

following September Rafael Merchan assumed editorial responsibili-

ties. Like Ponce de Leon, Pineyro and Merchan had supported re-

formism through January 1869. A distinguished and experienced jour-

nalist, Merchan co-edited the original reformist newspaper, El

Siglo, and its short-lived successor El Pais, through 1868, and then

collaborated with La Verdad. In April 1870 he founded El Diario

Cubano in New York, but it ceased publication shortly before he

assumed the editorship of La Revolucion. On the other hand, it

appears Pineyro had little journalistic experience, although he was

active in literary circles in Habana and served as Morales Lemus'

personal secretary in exile.17

Finally, in an effort to mobilize and involve the mass of

the emigre community without expanding the Junta Central to an

unmanageable size, the exile representatives encouraged the forma-

tion of the Club Politico Cubano in October 1869, which Aldama

presided over as President.18 Theoretically, the club was to sup-

port the Junta and provide a forum for communication with the com-

munity in general.

By the end of 1869, the former reformists dominated the

entire exile revolutionary structure, including the Junta Central

and the Club Politico Cubano. On reorganizing the advisory body in

March, Morales Lemus initially retained four members of the original

Junta established the previous November, but by year's end it was

composed entirely of Habaneros, except for one, all prominent former

activists of the reform movement.19 Also, at least four of five

executive officers of the Club Politico were Habaneros of the same

political background.20 Within a period of nine months, the leader-

ship of the exile community changed from the traditional separatists

of New York, inspired by the Lopista revolutionary tradition, to the

former reformists from Habana who brought with them a mandate from

the rebel government to pursue diplomatic negotiations with the

United States authorities and to seek the annexation of the island.

The new leadership in exile represented a sector of

Habana's liberal socioeconomic elite who, faced with a choice be-

tween joining the insurrection or supporting the status quo on the

island, opted for the former although their clear preference was

peaceful reform within the Spanish empire. Some historians have

suggested that as a group they were wealthy and even after February

1869 not wholly committed to the separatist cause and the abolition

of slavery.21 In fact, however, they were primarily liberal,

middle-class professionals--lawyers, physicians, merchants, profes-

sors, entrepreneurs, journalists, and bureaucrats--though closely

associated with the island's established and wealthy classes. In-

deed, these professionals provided their services to the socio-

economic elite, and, on that basis, enjoyed a great deal of social

and political prestige and influence, but they were a socioeconomic

group distinct from the large landowners and slaveholders; they were

"La gente liberal."22

There were important exceptions, however. The exile

leadership in New York did include a group of very wealthy indivi-

duals who broke ranks with the majority of Habana's socioeconomic

elite to openly join the rebellion. Among the propertied, with

slaves, were Domingo and Miguel de Aldama, Jose and Antonio Mora,

Federico Galvez, Ramon Fernandez Criado, and Jose G. Angarica. By

far the wealthiest were the Aldamas who controlled four ingenios,

three potreros (pastures or ranches), 1037 slaves, and 544 Chinese

contract laborers. Together the others listed above owned seven

ingenios, three additional rural holdings, 1,246 slaves and 684

contract workers from China. Others with rural holdings but no

slaves included Miguel Embil, Carlos del Castillo and Francisco

Valdez Mendoza, with nine holdings ranging from pastures and ranches

to ingenios.

Interestingly, however, a greater portion of the New York

exiles' wealth was in the form of stocks in the island's financial

institutions, railroads, shipping lines and warehouses. Although

these assets were associated with the sugar industry, their in-

terests were not directly in slave property; a fact that no doubt

made them more flexible on the slave question. Again, the Aldamas

were the wealthiest, with stock values in excess of $840,000, while

those with holdings of more than $100,000 included Fernandez Criado

($278,500), Francisco Fesser ($272,600), Carlos del Castillo

($121,600), Morales Lemus ($119,000), and Leonardo Delmonte

($105,000). In addition, all the individuals mentioned above owned

some forty-five urban dwellings, mostly in the Habana area.23

Even among the wealthy in New York, then, excepting the

Aldamas, the Moras, and Fernandez Criado, their assets were not

dominated by slave property. The New York emigres only controlled

some 2,300 of the approximately 300,000 slaves on the island. Ac-

cordingly, from the standpoint of the Cuban liberals in New York,

since reformism was no longer an option, the sooner Spanish rule was

terminated and slavery abolished, the more quickly they could estab-

lish a stable, laissez-faire economic system in which they would

figure as the most dynamic sector.

Traditionally, these Cuban liberals had feared the conse-

quences of a long drawn-out civil conflict that could threaten their

position and possibly unleash slave rebellions. After years of

dedication to seeking an acceptable accommodation with their Spanish

rulers, however, they finally despaired and threw their support to

separatism--a decision, it should be noted, not embraced by all the

reform leaders. The Conde de Pozos Dulce and Nicolas Azcarate, for

example, condemned the insurrection and continued their quest for

changes in Spanish colonial policy in Paris and Madrid respectively.

What prompted the New York reformist exiles to embrace the insurrec-

tionary route, an option they had for years characterized as certain

ruin for Cuba? Their analysis of the situation was quite different

from that of those reformists who either condemned the rebellion or

simply slipped off to Paris and Madrid to await developments. The

reform leaders joining Cespedes indeed viewed the insurrection as

compatible with their own political and economic goals, once refor-

mism had been eliminated as a viable option. Specifically, the

reformers shared the rebellion's initial positions on slavery, an-

nexation, and diplomacy, and viewed favorably Cespedes' willingness

to give them a prominent place in the rebel camp.

As we have seen, as far back as the annexationist period,

Cuban liberals had traditionally placed political and economic

matters, that is, political representation, administrative reforms

and reduction of taxes and tariffs, above the "social question" on

their agenda for change, although in principle they opposed slavery

and hoped for its eventual abolition. Interested in obtaining the

conservative slave interests' support for their political and econom-

ic reforms, liberals tended to deemphasize the slave issue, and

even at the Junta de Informacion only took a public stand favoring

gradual emancipation with indemnification to counter the radical

abolitionist position taken by the Puerto Rican delegates.24 The

rise of liberalism in Spain and the outbreak of the October 10

revolt in Cuba, however, drove a wedge into this long-standing

political coalition. Fearing the Spanish government intended a

radical abolition, the conservative slaveholders took a firm stand

with Lersundi against all reforms, alienating the liberals, who con-

cluded their coalition with the conservatives was at an end.25

Still driven by their primary concern for political change and free-

trade economics, the liberals shifted their support to the separa-

tist cause, well aware this could lead to a radical emancipation

rather than the gradual process they wanted, but, representative of

an emerging financial and capitalist elite with the bulk of their

assets not directly in slave property, they were willing to take the


To their satisfaction, Cespedes' initial pronouncements on

slavery were cautious. The rebel chieftain's first manifesto on

October 10 stated only that "We desire a gradual and indemnified

abolition of slavery," a position reaffirmed in a December proclama-

tion that, while stating slavery was incompatible with the revolu-

tion, added that the issue would be confronted and dealt with upon

the attainment of independence. The statement also recognized the

principle of indemnification and ruled out the confiscation of slave

property for those supporting the rebellion. This policy, of

course, was perfectly acceptable to the Habana liberals who had long

called for such a program. Also, Cespedes' pronouncements gave the

rebellion a generally moderate tone, a factor not likely overlooked

by the wavering reformists.26

Soon after the reformists embraced the rebellion, however,

a more radical position on the slave question emerged. The Cuban

constitution written at Guaimaro in April 1869 stated simply that

all Cubans were free, and although the legislative chamber subse-

quently enacted labor laws to control the emancipation process, in

practice the measures were unworkable. In effect, a radical aboli-

tion had been declared, with no provisions for indemnification.

Nevertheless, this radicalization of the slavery policy did not

alienate the former reformists now in control of the exile rebel

effort. In fact, the New York Junta expressed strong support for

the Cuban constitution, and even went so far as to reject the

concepts of indemnification and labor legislation. Once in New

York, involved in the diplomatic manuevering to attain support for

their cause, the former reformists recognized the importance of

taking a strongly abolitionist position. They were sensitive to the

criticisms of abolitionist societies which viewed the rebels' ini-

tial stance on slavery as no more progressive than the Spaniards'.

They knew that a forthright abolitionist policy would be needed to

attain the support of the North American public and government.27

During 1870, La Revolucion carried on a propaganda cam-

paign in defense of the Cuban revolution's slavery policies,

prompted by the liberal Spanish regime's efforts to enact emancipa-

tion legislation. Faced with a strong opposition from Cuban slave-

holders, however, only a modest plan known as the Moret Law cleared

the Spanish Cortes. Its primary article was a free-birth provision

declaring all Negroes born on Spanish soil free, but a tutelage

system leaving them in the hands of the planters until age eighteen

diluted even that provision. For all practical purposes slavery as

an institution remained unchanged in Cuba.28 La Revolucion ridi-

culed the law, pointing out that in free Cuba slavery no longer

existed. Virtually no one in the exile centers opposed the revolu-

tion's policy on slavery, but some called for indemnification and

effective labor legislation to protect against the collapse of the

Cuban economy once the Spaniards were evicted; a view advanced by a

group in New Orleans whose primary political purpose was to combat

annexationist ideology. After thoroughly denouncing slavery as "la

mancha mas asquerosa que tendra todavia que lavar much tiempo la

humanidad," one of their political pamphlets continued: "El ser que

acaba de soltar la cadena del esclavo queda indeciso, desconfiado,

temeroso: la primer idea que ilumina su frente es la de huir del

lugar que has sido testigo de su pasada ignomina. Es preciso

detenerlo para que reciba el bautismo de la civilizacion." For the

slaves' own good, argued the New Orleans group, labor legislation

should be enacted. "No nos hagamos ilusiones," continued the argu-

ment, "la emancipacion complete del hombre llega en el moment en

que adquiere la double masculinidad de fuerza bruta y la fuerza

intellectual, es decir, cuando puede conducirse sin ayuda y posee el

conocimiento pleno de sus deberes y de sus derechos. Nadie nace

libre, todos nacemos para la libertad." In addition, the pamphlet

called for indemnification. To ensure the absolute independence of

Cuba, a viable economy had to be maintained and this was only possi-

ble by providing working capital to the planters who were about to

lose their labor force. In essence, the author suggested, Cuba

could achieve absolute independence only if social chaos and econom-

ic collapse were avoided; otherwise annexation would be all but

unavoidable. On a more philosophical note, the inviolability of

property rights was also raised, and only through indemnification

could this basic liberal tenet be respected.29

In an editorial on June 4, La Revolucion took issue with

the New Orleans group. Regarding indemnification, the newspaper

suggested the legitimate need for capital could be provided by

financial institutions, and compensation of the former slaveholders

was clearly not a requirement for ensuring a viable economy. It

also noted that defending indemnification on the basis of inviola-

bility of property rights was irrelevant in this case since by de-

finition human beings were not property. Furthermore, the article

attacked the concept of labor legislation, arguing that despots have

always utilized the reasoning of enslaving for the enslaved's own

good, sarcastically noting:

Los negros de Cuba, por consiguiente, no merecen su complete
emancipacion sino despues que se haya legislado sobre el traba-
jo; y si su estado actual de ignorancia no es imputable a ellos
mismos sino a otros, ellos sufriran el castigo y los otros
recibiran el premio. Basta presenter el argument para

Thus, whatever their personal convictions prior to the revolution,

it is clear that by 1870 the representatives of the Cuban govern-

ment-in-arms in exile had embraced unconditional emancipation of the

slaves. Even Aldama, the largest slaveholder among the exiles in

New York, officially freed his slaves, an action formalized in Paris

during 1872.31

Besides adopting radical abolition to obtain international

support for their cause, the members of the New York Junta viewed it

as the price for their new political creed, annexation of Cuba to

the United States. With a Republican-dominated United States Con-

gress and a new chief executive who had led the Union forces against

the Confederacy, it was evident emancipation of the slaves in Cuba

would be a prerequisite to any serious consideration of annexation.

Soon after the outbreak of the revolution rebel leaders on the

island publicly expressed an interest in annexationism. Although

independentista thought had gained substantial support during the

1860s, annexation continued to dominate among the island's creole

elite. Some were annexationist by conviction, while others simply

viewed Cuba's incorporation into the United States as the only

feasible alternative to Spanish rule. Many preferred the creation

of a sovereign Cuban state, but believed that only a North American

intervention could ensure Spain's defeat. Accordingly, annexation

was held out as the carrot to encourage the support of the United

States. Writing from Cuba in December 1868, a New York Times cor-

respondent observed, "for annexation there is a strong party and for

independence another party stands up in Cuba; but free and sincere

discussion of the subject would probably end up by unifying both

parties upon annexation." The previous month the New York Tribune

had published a report by the Habana Revolutionary Junta which

concluded, "we want no reforms. Our cry is 'Independence of Spain,

and annexation to the United States'."32 Also, during November the

predominantly annexationist Camagueyanos joined the rebellion,

strengthening this political perspective in revolutionary ranks. At

Guaimaro, in April 1869, the newly established Cuban legislative

chamber issued a proclamation to the United States government cal-

ling for the island's incorporation into the North American repub-

lic, a position officially intimated as early as October of the

previous year in Cespedes' first message to President Johnson in

which he wrote, "los pueblos de America estan llamados a former una

sola nacion y a ser la admiracion y el asombro del mundo entero."33

If the rebel leadership in Cuba espoused support for

annexation, it is not surprising that a portion of the exile com-

munity should be of the same tendency, especially given its long

tradition among many of these emigre Cubans. Although the pro-

slavery rational had obviously disappeared, many continued to fear

slave rebellions in the event of a prolonged conflict on the island.

A political pamphlet approved by the Junta Central in New York

appeared in 1869 suggesting "the passions which revolutions let

loose would find their vent, probably, in a war of races and fac-

tions, and we might see the horrors of San Domingo revived."34 It

called for a quick end to the rebellion through North American

intervention and annexation. Another propaganda sheet observed, "en

su situation comprometida entire las dos razas que la dividen, negra

y blanca; . quien no ve, con estas circunstancias, hoy tan

alarmantes, la ley de la necesidad, que la impele a buscar en los

Estados Unidos una fuerza tutelar inmediata." Many believed that a

race war could be averted only by joining the United States.

Other arguments were advanced as well. The allusions made

during the 1850s alleging the inevitability of political and econo-

mic chaos in an independent Cuba were again repeated after October

10, 1868, and sentiments revealing a deep resentment toward Hispanic

sociocultural traditions were voiced. Praising the Protestant Re-

formation and ridiculing southern Europe's "servidumbre fanatic,

[y] adoracion estupida al Papa," one propagandist suggested, "las

naciones meridionales . se quedaron fijos, encadenados al sis-

tema absurdo, despotico y corrompido de la corte romana. Tal es el

cuadro tan diferente que ofrecen al mundo civilizado las costumbres,

la vida social y political de Italia, Espana, Portugal y de los

pueblos hispano-americanos, que laboran todos en la misma cuita."

An even more fanatical piece denounced what it considered Spain's

literary deficiencies: "Languages are but conversational signs or

sounds used for the purpose of mutual intercourse, and the Spaniards

in particular have been striving to obliterate their own, since they

produce no work inciting study." Annexationist tracts also rejected

the independentista concern for preserving Cuba's nationality and

"Latin race," suggesting such concepts were irrelevant. Cubans

never had a nationality, argued one writer, "because Cuba was not in

the family of nations. They must, therefore, become Americans,

abandoning their provincialism as did the states now forming this

Republic." The same propagandist who was concerned about the back-

wardness of southern Europe even denied the existence of the "Latin

race," suggesting it was merely a conglomeration of Romans, Viai-

goths, Moors, Negroes and Jews: "No existed, pues, tal raza latina."

This anti-Spanish, anti-clerical sentiment revealed a deeply in-

grained hostility against the Latin heritage, revealing why annexa-

tion and all it implied for the island's cultural integrity was

attractive to many Cuban rebels.35

The four key figures of the New York Junta, Morales Lemus,

Aldama, Echeverria, and Mestre were all known for their annexa-

tionism. The first three had been prominent in the annexationist

Club de la Habana during the 1850s, and after the defeat of refor-

mism they returned to this political alternative. Their vigorous

reformist activities, however, indicate that these individuals did

not share the deep anti-Hispanic sentiments revealed by some an-

nexationist propagandists; rather, their concern was with ensuring

political and socioeconomic stability in Cuba once the Spanish


The reemergence of annexationism among many reformists

became apparent soon after the failure of the Junta de Informacion.

During 1867, two aides of General Grant passing through Habana on

their way to Mexico were invited to a much publicized dinner by

Aldama and others, where the Cubans offered toasts to Grant's vic-

tory over the Confederacy and made clear references to their in-

terest in having Cuba annexed to the United States. Aldama greatly

admired the United States, as he expressed in a letter to Mestre

which characterized the country as "lo mas grande que dios ha

creado." Once definitely in the separatist camp, Aldama became

increasingly insistent on annexationism as he observed the exile

communities fall victim to bitter political factionalization. He

apparently came to share the traditional annexationist argument that

characterized Latin Americans as incapable of democratic and consti-

tutional self-rule.36 Only by joining the United States, therefore,

could political stability in Cuba be assured.

Mestre's thoughts also turned to annexationism during

1867. Writing to his reformist colleague, Azcarate, during October,

he reported, "El partido reformist dejo de existir . Y si me

preguntas ahora, Que piensan los Cubanos? Te dire que nada. Quizas

piensen de nuevo en una anexion que acabando de una vez con el

cancer de la esclavitud, nos ponga en el verdadero camino de la

libertad." The political dissensions in the rebel camp also con-

cerned Mestre. In June 1870, he wrote another friend, "lo mas

sensible es que por Cuba Libre (segun parece tambien) cunden las

disenciones y rivalidades. Cada dia me corrobo mas y mas en mi

anexionismo; cada dia me penetro mas de que la unica solution prac-

tica y convenient para nosotros es la anexion de Cuba a los Estados

Unidos, y cuanto antes mejor."37

Although essentially annexationist, the Junta Central

understood that considerable sentiment existed for an independent

republic, prompting the exile leaders to adopt an official position

they hoped would avert divisive political debates over the future

status of the island. Since the mid-1860s, the emigre communities

had agreed that the immediate goal of any revolutionary effort was

separation from Spain, and only once established as an independent

entity would the nation consider annexation. The New York Junta

reasserted this position, and its organ La Revolucion made it clear

it would not enter into debates concerning the island's political

future. The question of the day was exclusively separatism, and

this continued to be the Junta's policy throughout the Ten Years

War. During 1876, for example, the Junta's new organ, La Verdad,

reasserted the need to delay discussion of divisive issues, noting:

"unidos no hay peligro. Desunidos, la derrota seria question de


Nevertheless, either unwittingly or by design, La Revolu-

cion and the Junta gained an image as sympathetic to annexationism.

Never in the context of an editorial, but in numerous articles the

newspaper gave considerable publicity to annexationist sentiment--

too often, as far as the supporters of independence were concerned.

In May 1869, the paper published a letter from Cuban insurgent

leaders Donato Marmol and Felix Figueredo who concluded their cor-

respondence in the following way:

The Revolution, which five months ago broke out at Yara, . .
is . the unanimous expression of all native Cubans who . .
are gathering under the banner of independence with the object
of forming, perhaps at no distant day, a free state--and this is
the most popular opinion--of the great American Republic.39

In April the newspaper reprinted the preface of a widely circulated

political pamphlet which, in part, stated: "Cuba, freely annexed

will form one or two states of the confederation and will retain her

language, religion and laws. She knows that the United States will

early fund 500 million francs to reimburse the slave owners, and

that annexation will bring to her independence and wealth."*40

Again, in August, rather than simply ignoring an anti-annexationist

article appearing in the New York Sun, the paper chose to challenge

its contention that little support existed in Cuba for annexation,

simultaneously reminding its readers that discussion of the issue

was divisive and should be left for another time.41 Later in the

year the Junta gave its approval to another political pamphlet

(cited earlier) asserting that annexation of Cuba to the United

States was inevitable in the long run: "The political position of

the island geographically considered and the interests of both

Cubans and the United States must lead to that. In every point of

view, then, this is an American question."42 Although directed at a

North American audience, the pamphlet added to the perception that

the Junta was openly annexationist and clearly, it violated the

Junta's own call not to raise the issue. As one prominent critic

noted, the Junta represented a party "que trabajara por la anexion

de la isla de Cuba a los Estados Unidos de America."43

The final element operating to attract reformists into the

separatist camp after October 1868 was the recognition that Cespedes

intended to seek North American involvement. Despite the re-

formists' fears of the consequences of armed revolt, they were

willing to risk civil conflict provided major efforts were under-

taken to ensure United States aid and eventual intervention. By

January 1869, Cespedes had already fired off two notes to the John-

son administration requesting a recognition of belligerency status

for the revolution and intimating he viewed annexation with favor.

Now he arranged for the diplomatically experienced Morales Lemus to

become his government's official envoy in the United States.

Many Cubans, meanwhile, had been encouraged by Grant's

election and expansionist tendencies. They knew the new North

American chief executive was not well disposed toward the European

powers, including Spain, for their recognition of the Confederacy

and interference in American affairs during the Civil War. By

January, when Morales Lemus and others finally committed themselves

to the insurrection, members of the United States Congress had

already introduced bills calling for recognition of Cuban belli-

gerency and the island's annexation to the United States. Moreover,

between the outbreak of the revolt and the end of the year, public

manifestations of support for the insurgents had become common,

especially in New York where the Junta had commenced its work.

There is little doubt the former reformists expected the United

States to recognize Cuban belligerency in short order, which would

be followed by a quick end to the rebellion and annexation.44

During August 1869, a prominent Cuban reformist leader in Madrid,

Nicolas Azcarate, made efforts to persuade Morales Lemus to accept

Spanish offers of autonomy for Cuba within the Spanish empire, but

the Cuban envoy made it clear nothing less than the island's separa-

tion from Spain was now acceptable, and he dedicated the final year

of his live to this end.45

On arriving in New York, Morales Lemus immediately ini-

tiated the task of presenting the Cuban case and requesting recogni-

tion of belligerency from the newly inaugurated Grant Administra-

tion. During March, on separate occasions, the Cuban diplomat met

informally with the President and the Secretary of State Hamilton

Fish. Although Grant did not receive the Cuban in his capacity as

official representative of the Cuban republic, he expressed strong

sympathies for the insurgents' plight; but Fish proved wholly unsym-

pathetic, an attitude that eventually prevailed in the Grant Ad-


Very early Morales Lemus recognized the necessity of esta-

blishing a viable and universally accepted insurgent government in

order to obtain credibility with North American authorities. Sur-

prised by the unexpected rising in Oriente, the rebel groups in

Camaguey, Las Villas, and Matanzas had not followed suit imme-

diately. Not only did the conspirators in Camaguey resent the

unilateral action by Cespedes, but they were dismayed by his ini-

tially conservative declarations, including his self-designation as

Captain-General and his failure to declare an immediate abolition of

slavery. The island's intense regionalism likewise played a part in

Camaguey's refusal to submit to Cespedes' authority once it had

joined the insurrection in November. Between late 1868 and March of

the following year the two provinces operated independently of each

other despite efforts to unify them. From his first contacts with

the insurgents, Morales Lemus had urged all to recognize Cespedes as

the primary authority, and once in exile he wrote both camps point-

ing out the urgency of establishing a united revolutionary movement.

Finally the rebels put aside many of their differences, and in April

1869 at Guaimaro representatives from Oriente, Camaguey, Las Villas,

and Occidente met, wrote a constitution, and established a revolu-

tionary government. Dominated by youthful liberals from Camaguey,

Las Villas, and Habana, the constitutional assembly produced a

governing document placing ultimate political authority in the hands

of a legislative chamber. It elected Cespedes President of the

republic and reaffirmed Morales Lemus' position in exile. The

Diplomtaic Envoy could now point to the constitutionally established

Cuban republic as the source of his authority.

Although Morales Lemus' initial intention was simply to

obtain recognition of belligerency status for the republic, consi-

dering this the first step toward eventual North American interven-

tion, Secretary of State Fish approached the Cuban envoy with an

alternative strategy. Interested in avoiding an immediate recogni-

tion of the Cuban republic, an initiative being forcefully advocated

to the President by Secretary of War John Rawlins, Fish suggested

the United States attempt a mediation between the Cubans and Spain.

Fish's proposal included Spanish recognition of Cuban independence

in return for a Cuban indemnity to Spain of not more than a hundred

million dollars (to be guaranteed by the United States), recognition

by all of the abolition of slavery, and a complete armistice during

negotiations. Initially reluctant, Morales Lemus was won over to

the negotiation by Fish's verbal assertion that should the Spanish

fail to accept the terms belligerency status would be forthcoming.

Several Cubans working closely with the Junta objected to the pro-

posed indemnity, but Morales Lemus consented, apparently with the

approval of the Cuban government-in-arms. In the meantime, however,

the Cubans' greatest advocate in Grant's cabinet, Secretary Rawlins,

died, leaving Fish to dominate the scene.

The negotiations between Fish and the Spanish proceeded

throughout he summer of 1869. Although the Spanish government

initially expressed some interest in the mediation, it soon became

clear that it was in no position to grant Cuba independence. Many

Spaniards viewed the North American involvement as simply a ploy to

eventually annex Cuba, but, in addition, politically powerful

Spanish commercial and Cuban slave interests forcefully opposed any

relinquishment of the island by Spain. In mid-September the Spanish

made clear that the terms were unacceptable and demanded the Cubans

lay down their arms before negotiations were initiated, a position

rejected by the rebels. Despite his previous assertion to the Cuban

envoy, Fish then failed to recommend recognition of the Cuban repub-

lic to the President, who by this time had reassessed his sympathies

for the rebel cause in light of other United States foreign policy

considerations. Grant clarified his attitude toward the rebellion

in his presidential message to Congress on December 6, where he

indicated the United States would not interfere in the problems

between Spain and her colonies but would uphold the nation's neu-

trality laws being consistently violated by Cuban emigres. Recogni-

zing he had been the victim of Fish's misrepresentations regarding

United States policy, the Cuban Diplomatic Envoy retired to New York

leaving other members of the Junta in Washington, D.C. to continue

lobbying in the halls of Congress where substantial support for the

Cuban cause still existed. On the same day of Grant's message,

Morales Lemus wrote President Cespedes informing him of the results

of the negotiations and the North American government's "mala fe."46

While Morales Lemus engaged in these diplomatic maneu-

verings, the Junta Central worked to dispatch expeditionary forces

to Cuba, an activity of great concern to the United States gov-

ernment. After launching the Galvanic under Quesada's command in

December 1868, the Junta named Francisco J. Cisneros to take charge

of the next project. The Mary Lowell sailed out of New York in

January for the Bahamas, where it waited for a second force from

Jacksonville in the Henry Burden. Unfortunately for the rebels, the

poor condition of the vessels, British interference in Bahamian

waters, and a bold Spanish entry into British waters to capture the

Mary Lowell ended the venture. Not discouraged, the Junta commis-

sioned Cisneros to organize another expedition in April. The Perit

left for Cuba during May with 250 men, arms and munitions, landing

on the northern coast of Oriente a week later. For the rest of 1869

and during 1870, expedition after expedition formed, but most were

foiled either by North American authorities or by British officials

patrolling Bahamian waters through which the expeditions had to

pass.47 Whether the failures reflected a deficiency on the part of

the Junta and the expeditions' organizers or demonstrated the effec-

tiveness of those combatting the activities both in the United

States and the British possessions is difficult to establish, but

the consistent inability of the Junta to land significant expendi-

tions in Cuba, combined with the diplomatic failures, left it open

to considerable criticism from its political enemies.

Although the first round of negotiations failed in ob-

taining belligerency status for the revolt or achieving a mediated

settlement, the Junta continued to place its faith in diplomacy as

the most likely means by which Cuba would attain its freedom from

Spain. Like the liberal annexationists of the New York and Habana

separatist clubs of the 1840s and 1850s, Morales Lemus, Aldama,

Mestre, Echeverria, and others associated with the Junta preferred

to avoid an extensive civil conflict in Cuba. They accordingly

resurrected the diplomatic strategy discarded by the separatists of

the Sociedad Republicana during the 1860s. Initially it was a

policy formulated and directed by the rebel government on the is-

land, which was confident of obtaining quick recognition from the

United States. However, as it became evident that the North Ameri-

can authorities were unwilling to become directly involved, many in

Cuba began to listen to a small group in the emigre centers who were

raising their voices against the Junta's commitment to what they

considered the traditional separatism of mid-century based on nego-

tiations and annexation. The Junta's political program was in

direct conflict with the radicalized separatist ideology formulated

during the decade after 1855--a program that held Habana's socioeco-

nomic elite directly responsible for the separatist failures of the

past. To the Junta's critics, a return to those policies was unac-



ICuban historiography fails to offer a clear vision of the
ideological perspectives the reformist leadership carried with them
into the separatist rebellion, an essential undertaking for
understanding why they failed to establish themselves as credible
leaders in the exile communities during the 1870s. Existing studies
either glorify them as patriots for their incessant diplomatic
activities as representatives of the Cuban republic in the United
States, dismissing their critics as disruptive, egotistical elements
whose activities were unpatriotic, or vilify the reformists as
agents of Cuba's slave interests basically out of step with the
revolution's ideals. No study, however, offers a detailed
examination of their political program, its relation to the rebel-
lion, and its reception by the emigre centers. Portell Vila's,
Historia de cuba, 4 vols. (Habana: J. Monetro, 1938-1941), II,
contains an excellent in-depth examination of the Junta's diplomatic
activities, as do several other works included in footnote 46 of
this chapter. These works, however, fail to consider the Junta's
ideological make up and political program. On the other hand, the
body of literature condemning the Junta as a reactionary element
bases its interpretations on underdocumented socioeconomic assump-
tions. Raul Cepero Bonilla's Azucar I abolicion: Apuntes para una
historic critics de abolicionismo (Habana: Editorial Ciencias
Sociales, 1971), is the basic source for this view. Cepero argues
that, as members of Habana's socioeconomic elite, the Junta repre-
sented a reactionary force in the revolution whose aim was to mini-
mize the damage to its economic interests through preservation of its
slave property if possible. Little evidence for this is offered, as
Cepero merely assumes the Junta's members had no economic or politi-
cal interest in supporting the abolition of slavery in Cuba. This
chapter attempts to explain why many reformists joined the insurrec-
tion and examines their ideological perspectives and program once in
charge of the New York Junta during 1869 and 1870 in order to
clarify their role in the separatist cause.

2For information on economic conditions in Cuba just prior
to the outbreak of the Ten Years War, see Benito A. Besada, "Antece-
dentes economics de la Guerra de los Diez Anos," Vida Universi-
taria, 19 (September-December 1968).

3For biographical information on Morales Lemus and
Cisneros see the following: Enrique Pineyro, Morales Lemus y la
revolution de Cuba (New York: M. M. Zarzamendi, 1871); Alfredo
Bateman, Francisco Javier Cisneros (Bogota: Editorial Kelly, 1970);
and, Hernan Horna, WFrancisco Javier Cisneros: A Pioneer in
Transportation and Economic Development in Colombia," Vanderbilt
University, M. A. Thesis, 1970.

4Arthur F. Corwin, Spain and the Abolition of Slavery in
Cuba, 1817-1866 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967), 215-217.

5Letter,Miguel de Aldama to Jose Manuel Mestre, October 1,
1868, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Jose Ignacio
Rodriguez Collection (hereafter, LC, JIR), Box 134.

6Jose Ignacio Rodriquez, La vida del Doctor Jose Manuel
Mestre (Habana: Avisador Comercial, 190--), 98; Portel Vila, His-
toria de Cuba, II, 208-209; New York Herald, October 30, 1868; New
York Tribune, November 28, 1868. A copy of the Habana Republican
Committee's proclamation is contained in National Archives Microfilm
Publications, "Despatches From United States Consuls in Havana,
1783-1906," 133 microfilm reels, reel 51, October, 1868.

7Corwin, Spain and the Abolition of Slavery 227-228;
Rodriguez, La vida de Mestre, 99-100.

8Accounts of this meeting may be found in Ramiro Guerra y
Sanchez, Manual de historic de Cuba, desde su descubrimiento hasta
1868 (Habana: Editorial Ciencias Socliaes, 1971), 690-692;
Rodriguez, La vida de Mestre, 112-114.

9Although the Comite Revolucionario was apparently headed
by Morales Lemus and other reformists, long-time separatists such as
F. J. Cisneros and Agustin Santa Rosa cooperated as well.
References to the Comite's activities during October-December 1868
may be found in the following sources: New York Tribune, November
6, 12, 24, 30, 1868; Francisco Javier Cisneros, La verdad historic
sobre los sucesos de Cuba (New York, 1871); Vidal Morales y Morales,
Hombres del 68: Rafael Morales z Gonzalez (Habana: Editorial
Ciencias Sociales, 1972), 70-90; Rodriquez, La vida de Mestre, 114-
123; Regarding monies sent to New York from Habana see "Actas del
primer comite de New York, 25 Noviembre 1868 20 Febrero 1869,"
Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti, Coleccion Cubans (hereafter, BNJM,
CC), C. M. Ponce, numero 104.

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