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Secret societies began assuming form in the island,
whose plotting and aim were to wrest their country from Spain, on the
ground of the non-fulfillment of the pledges made by Ferdinand VII. of
what he would do when he came to the throne.

Preparations were made for a revolt, whose avowed object was the
establishment of a Cuban republic. A certain night in 1823 was fixed
upon for a general uprising, but there were traitors in the councils,
who notified the authorities, and, before the date named, the leaders
were arrested and the revolt quenched ere a blow could be struck.

These severe measures could not quell the spirit of liberty that was
abroad. It was not long before the Black Eagle Society was formed. It
included many hundred members, had its headquarters in Mexico, and
boldly secured recruits in the United States. But again the cause was
betrayed by its members, the leaders were arrested and imprisoned, and
Spain was secure for a time in the control of the island.

As an illustration of that country's course against suspected citizens,
it may be said that in 1844 a rumor spread that large numbers of the
slaves on the plantations near Matanzas were making secret preparations
to rise and slay their masters. Investigation failed to establish the
truth of these charges, but many were put to the torture to compel them
to confess, and nearly a hundred were condemned and shot in cold blood.


Hero of three wars for Cuba's freedom. Died of pneumonia in Washington,
D.C., December, 1898.]

Naturally the affairs of Cuba from its proximity were always of great
interest to the United States, and a number of filibustering expeditions
landed on the island and aided the Cubans in their futile revolts
against Spain. These attempts at their best could only keep the island
in a turmoil, and give Spain the pretext for using the most brutal
measures of repression.

In 1868 a revolution occurred in Spain itself, and Queen Isabella, one
of the worst rulers that sorely accursed country ever had, was driven
into exile. Cuba had not forgotten the lesson of the opening of the
century, and, instead of proclaiming her loyalty to the deposed dynasty,
she seized what promised to be a favorable opportunity for gaining her
own independence.

One of the fairest and most impartial publications anywhere is the
_Edinburgh Review_, which used the following language in giving the
reasons for the Cuban revolt of 1868:

"Spain governs the island of Cuba with an iron and blood-stained
hand. The former holds the latter deprived of political, civil, and
religious liberties. Hence the unfortunate Cubans being illegally
prosecuted and sent into exile, or executed by military commissions,
in times of peace; hence their being kept from public meetings, and
forbidden to speak or write on affairs of State; hence their
remonstrances against the evils that afflicted them being looked upon
as the proceedings of rebels, from the fact that they are obliged to
keep silence and obey; hence the never-ending plague of hungry
officials from Spain to devour the product of their industry and
labor; hence their exclusion from the art of government; hence the
restrictions to which public instruction with them is subjected in
order to keep them so ignorant as not to be able to know and enforce
their rights in any shape or form whatever; hence the navy and the
standing army, which are kept in their country at an enormous
expenditure from their own wealth to make them bend their knees and
submit their necks to the iron yoke that disgraces them; hence the
grinding taxation under which they labor, and which would make all
perish in misery but for the marvelous fertility of their soil."

The opportunity was a golden one for Spain to win back the affection of
Cuba by generosity and justice. What steps did she take to do so?

Although the Cubans were ground to the very dust by taxation, levied in
all cases by Spaniards, and not by their own officials, Spain proposed,
in 1868, to add to the burden. In October of that year Carlos M. de
Cespedes, a lawyer of Bayamo, raised the standard of revolt, placed
himself at the head of a handful of patriots, which were soon joined by
thousands, and in April, 1869, a republican constitution was adopted,
slavery declared abolished, Cespedes was elected president, Francisco
Aguilero vice-president, and a legislature was called together.

There never was hope of this insurrection securing the independence of
Cuba. The patriots were too few in number, too badly armed and equipped,
and not handled so as to be effective. But they caused great suffering
and ruin throughout the island. They instituted a guerrilla system of
warfare, and cost Spain many valuable lives. The wet and rainy seasons
came and went, and still the savage fighting continued, until at last
the rebels as well as the Spaniards were ready to welcome peace.

Martinez Campos was the Spanish commander, and he promised General
Maximo Gomez, leader of the insurgents, that the reforms for which he
and his comrades were contending should be granted on condition that
they laid down their arms. The pledge was a sacred one, and no doubt
Campos meant honestly to keep it. Unfortunately, however, there were
higher powers than he behind him. Gomez accepted the promises of a
brother soldier, and on February 10, 1878, the treaty of El Zanjon was

This treaty guaranteed representation to the Cubans in the Spanish
Cortes, and all who took part in the insurrection were pardoned.

Now the lesson of all this was so plain that the wayfaring man, though a
fool, had no excuse for erring. Spain had bitterly learned the temper of
the Cubans. She could not fail to see that but one possible way existed
for her to retain control of them, and, of course, that was the very way
she avoided. The Madrid authorities thought they did a wise thing when
they secured control of the polls, and made sure that the delegates
elected were their own. Schools, sewerage, roads, everything that could
help the island were neglected and taxation increased. The reforms
promised to the insurgents upon condition of laying down their arms
proved a delusion and a snare. Thus the "captain-general" had his name
changed to "governor-general," but his tyrannical powers remained the
same as before. The right of banishment was formally repealed, but the
outrages continued under another law that was equally effective, and so
on to the end of the chapter. Once again the Cubans had been fooled by
trusting to Spanish honor. They resolved that as soon as arrangements
could be effected, they would set another insurrection on foot, which
would be fought out to the death or until independence was secured.


_The Washington of Cuba_ is the title applied to this hero, who, as
Commander-in-Chief of the patriot army, made Cuban liberty possible.]

Several important ends were accomplished by the Ten Years' War. Slavery
was abolished in 1886, and the island was divided into the present six
provinces. As in previous instances the United States was counted upon
for the greatest material assistance in prosecuting the revolution. The
spirit of adventure is always strong among Americans, and the
filibustering enterprises appealed strongly to them. The spice of danger
by which they were attended was their chief attraction. Our government
was bound by treaty to prevent them, so far as she could, and it went to
great expense in doing so. A number of expeditions were unable to get
away from New York, but others escaped the vigilance of officials, and
landed guns, ammunition, and men at different points on the island. One
of the greatest helps in this unlawful business was the dishonesty of
the officials employed by Spain to prevent the landing of supplies and
men. There was never any difficulty in bribing these officers, who
stumbled over one another in their eagerness to be bribed.


Meanwhile, the leaders in the former late revolt were consulting upon
the best steps to launch the new revolution. Maximo Gomez was living in
San Domingo, and, when he was offered the command of the revolutionary
forces, he promptly accepted the responsibility. The offer came to him
through Josť Marti, the head of the organization.

The grim veterans were resolute in their purpose. After studying the
situation, they agreed that a general uprising should be set on foot in
all the provinces on February 24, 1895. It was impossible to do this,
but the standard of revolt was raised on the date named in three of the

One Spanish official read truly the meaning of the signs. He was
Calleja, the captain-general. Though the revolt in the province of
Santiago de Cuba looked trifling, he knew it was like a tiny blaze
kindled in the dry prairie grass. He wished to act liberally toward the
insurgents, but the blind government at Madrid blocked his every step.
Since it had played the fool from the beginning, it kept up the farce to
the end. They ordered Calleja to stamp out the rebellion, and he did his
utmost to obey orders.

Could the royal and insurgent forces be brought to meet in fair combat,
the latter would have been crushed out of existence at the first
meeting. But the insurgent leaders were too shrewd to risk anything of
that nature. They resumed their guerrilla tactics, striking hard blows,
here, there, anywhere that the chance offered, and then fled into the
woods and mountains before the regulars could be brought against them.

Such a style of warfare is always cruel and accompanied by outrages of a
shocking character. The Cubans were as savage in their methods as the
Spaniards. They blew up bridges and railroad trains with dynamite,
regardless of the fact that, in so doing, it was the innocent instead of
the guilty who suffered. They burned the sugar cane, destroyed the
tobacco and coffee plantations, and impoverished the planters in order
to shut off the revenues of Spain and deprive her forces of their needed
supplies; they spread desolation and ruin everywhere, in the vain hope
that the mother country could thus be brought to a realizing sense of
the true situation.

But Spain was deaf and blind.

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