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Wars of Independence
1868-1878 and 1995-1998

1868-1878: Ten Year's War against Spain.  Led by Generals Antonio Maceo, Máximo Gómez, and Quintín Banderas, the Mambi rebel army was made up mostly (80% to 92%) of AfroCubans and numbered 40,000 in 1870. It was thus in fact the largest slave rebellion of the hemisphere. The bourgeois criollos supporters finally capitulated in 1878 out of fear of the lower classes and skepticism of the strength of the rural worker and the rebel army.  The effort was very successful in Oriente but floundered when it reached Matanzas, notorious then for its wealthy white planters who wanted to keep their slave.

1995-1998: Second War for Independence from Spain 

1895:

February 24.  Jose Marti unleashes the war with a letter to his deputy, AfroCuban Juan Gualberto Gomez, on Jan 29.

AfroCubans form the backbone of the Liberation Army ("Los Mambises"), and are estimated to comprise as high as 92% of that army. See Photos of the Liberation Army from Gloria Rolando's film "Roots of My Heart."

March 13. Antonio and José Maceo land in eastern Cuba from Santo Domingo.

April 11. José Martí and Máximo Gomez land in eastern Cuba from Costa Rica.

May 18. In his last letter, José Martí writes that it is his duty "to prevent, by the independence of Cuba, the United States from spreading over the West Indies and falling, with that added weight, upon other lands of our America. All I have done up to now, and shall do hereafter, is to that end… I have lived inside the monster and know its insides."

May 19. José Martí is killed in his first appearance on the battlefield at Dos Ríos in eastern Cuba. He is 42 years old. The rebels try to recover his body, but are unable to do so.

At some point during the year:  Antonio Maceo was betrayed in Havana, but the members of Bacoco Efo, an Abakwá potencia in Belen, of which Lino D'ou was a member, hid and protected him. Many Abakwá members fight in the Mambi Army and composed an elite corps in the Mambi Army from Matanzas.

1896

July 5. José Maceo, brother of Antonio Maceo,  is killed at the battle of Loma del Gato.

December 7. Antonio Maceo, the "Bronze Titan," is killed in the battle of Punta Brava in Western Cuba.

1897

December. As the rebels declare success, President McKinley refuses to recognize Cuban Independence.

December 24. J.C. Breckenridge, U.S. Undersecretary of War, authors what becomes known as The Breckenridge Memorandum, which outlines U.S. policy towards the Hawaiian islands, Puerto Rico and Cuba. The memorandum went to Lieutenant General Nelson A. Miles, Commander of the U.S. Army.

1898

January. The U.S. sends the USS Maine to Havana.

February 15.The US battleship Maine explodes in Havana harbor, giving the US a pretext for intervention.

April 25. The U.S. blames Spain and enters the Spanish-Cuban-American War. In Cuba, this is regarded as an intervention in Cuba’s War Of Independence.   The US and Spain fight a war in Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.  The Spaniards are officially kicked out of Cuba, having been worn down and defeated by years of struggle with the Mambises, the Cuban independence fighters, many of whom (92%) are of African descent.

July 1. The Buffalo Soldiers (Ninth and Tenth Cavalry) take San Juan Hill. Teddy Roosevelt takes the glory.

August 12. Spain and the U.S. sign a bilateral armistice. Cuba is not represented at the negotiations.

December 10. Spain and the U.S. sign the Treaty of Paris. The U.S. is granted control of four new territories: Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam. Although the treaty officially grants Cuba independence, the U.S. flag, not the Cuban flag, is raised over Havana, and Cuban representatives are not allowed at the signing.

New York Public Library on the Spanish American War: http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/epo/spanexhib/index.html

1899

January 1. The U.S. installs a provisional military government in Cuba led by US General John R. Brooke. The US thus occupies Cuba and builds schools, roads, and bridges and deepens Havana harbor in "preparing the land for incorporation into the US economic and educational systems. The voting franchise is designed to eliminate Afro-Cubans from politics."  (Encylopedia Britannica)

Gatewood, Willard B., Jr. "Kansas Negroes and the Spanish-American War." [PDF, 2.5MB]  Kansas Historical Quarterly 37 (Autumn 1971): 300. Focuses on black newspaper reaction but includes photos of 23rd Kansas, an all black regiment commanded by black officers, which did garrison duty in Cuba in 1898-1899.

   

Links

10th Cavalry in Cuba

www.nps.gov/archive/prsf/history/buffalo_soldiers/spanish_american_war.htm
Black press comments 

The Rough Riders Storm San Juan Hill, 1898
www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/roughriders.htm

 

 

 

 

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