The History of Cuba, vol. 4
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At the antipodes Japan was completing her crushing defeat of China and was thus bringing herself forward as one of the great military and naval powers. The ancient empire of Siam was establishing an enlightened constitutional and parliamentary system of government. In Africa the epochal conflict between Boer and Briton was developing inexorably, and France was about to achieve the conquest of Madagascar.
In Europe, Nicholas II was newly seated upon the throne of the Czars, and the strange resignation of the Presidency by Casimir-Perier threw France into such a crisis as she had scarcely known before since the foundation of the Republic. Nearer home, Peru and Ecuador were convulsed with revolution, and the controversy between Venezuela and British Guiana began to loom acute and ominous.
In such a setting was the War of Cuban Independence staged. He was indeed many times a genius: Organizer, economist, historian, poet, statesman, tribune of the people, apostle of freedom, above all, Man.
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To his disorganized and disheartened country he brought a magic personality which won all hearts and inspired them all with his own irrepressible and indestructible ideal, National Independence. Marti was a native Cuban, born in Havana on January 28, In his mere boyhood he became an eloquent and inspiring advocate of the ideal to which he devoted his life and which he did so much to realize; and at the outbreak of the Ten Years' War, when he was scarcely yet sixteen years old, the Spanish government recognized in him one of its most formidable foes and one of the most efficient propagandists of Cuban independence.
For that reason, before he had a chance to enter the ranks of the patriot army, he was deported from the island and doomed to exile.
He made his way to Mexico, thence to Guatemala, and there, a lad still in his teens, became Professor of Literature in the National University of that country—a striking testimonial to his erudition and culture. After the Treaty of Zanjon he was permitted to return to Cuba, but he was one of those whom the Spanish government most feared, and he was therefore kept under the closest of surveillance by the police. It was not in his nature to dissemble, or to be afraid. He quickly came before the public in a series of memorable orations, memorable alike for their sonorous eloquence, their cultured erudition, and their intense patriotism; in which he set forth the deplorable state in which Cuba still lay, after her ten years' struggle for better things, and the need that the work which had been so bravely undertaken by Cespedes and his associates should be again undertaken and pressed to a successful conclusion.
This of course brought upon him the wrath of Spain. He was arrested, and since he was altogether too dangerous a person to be set free in exile, he was carried a close prisoner to Spain. But he quickly made his escape and found asylum in the United States of America; and there his greatest work for Cuba was achieved.
Porfirio Diaz had invited him to make his home in Mexico, where he might have risen to almost any eminence in the state, but he declined. I am going to the United States. But above all he devoted his time, thought, strength and means to organizing the Cuban revolution. He gathered together in the Cuban Revolutionary Party all the surviving veterans of the Ten Years' War, Cuban political exiles—like himself—the remnants of Merchan's old "Laborers' Associations," and welded them into a harmonious and resolute whole. He also traveled about the United States, in Mexico and Central America, and in Jamaica and Santo Domingo, wherever Cubans were to be found, rousing them to patriotic zeal and organizing them into clubs tributary to the central Junta in New York.
In Cuba itself many such clubs were organized, in secret, which maintained surreptitious correspondence with the New York headquarters. Joaquin Castillo Duany, formerly an eminent physician in the United States Navy, who had distinguished himself in the relief of the famous Jeannette Arctic expedition. These two had charge of the filibustering or supply expeditions which were surreptitiously dispatched from the United States to Cuba.
At first General Nunez had charge of all, but when Dr. Duany came from Cuba the work was divided, and the former devoted himself to the coast from Norfolk to the Rio Grande, while the latter supervised that from Norfolk to Eastport, Maine. Duany and his brother had been prominent citizens and officials in Santiago de Cuba. As soon as the War of Independence began they joined the patriot forces, and Dr.
As such, he ran the Spanish blockade of the island, in company with Mr. Another of Marti's associates in New York was Dr. Lincoln de Zayas, a brilliant orator, afterward Secretary of Public Instruction of the Cuban Republic; a man greatly loved by all who knew him. Nor must Ponce de Leon, a publisher and bookseller, of No. His office was frequently the meeting place of the conspirators, if so we may call the patriots, and he and his two sons—one a physician, the other in charge of the archives of the Cuban government—were among the most earnest and efficient workers for the cause of independence.
On the outbreak of the war he accompanied General Antonio Maceo on his famous raid in Pinar del Rio province, and was present at the engagements of Artemisa, Ceja del Negro, Montezuelo, attaining the rank of lieutenant-colonel of engineers. While serving under Maceo he designed and constructed the first field dynamite gun, now in the National Museum in Havana. The ideal of Marti and these associates was unequivocally that of Cuban independence. They had no thought of accepting or even considering mere autonomy under Spanish sovereignty, or any promises of reforms in the insular government.
They might not have been inexorably opposed to annexation to the United States, had opportunity for that been offered. But as a matter of fact, annexation was not considered. It was never discussed. It formed no part of the programme, not even as an alternative. Although a poet and a seer, Marti was one of the most practical of men. He realized with Cicero that "endless money forms the sinews of war. To that end he made a direct appeal to Cuban workmen—and women, too—wherever he could get into contact with them, to give one tenth of their weekly wages to the cause of Cuban independence.
Probably never before or since in the world's wars has such a system of voluntary tithing been so successfully conducted. It seemed as though every Cuban in the United States responded. Wealthy men gave one tenth of their large incomes, and Cuban girls in cigar factories gave one tenth of their small wages. In many cases they did more, giving one day's wages each week.
Indeed, this is said to have been the general rule in the cigar and cigarette factories of the United States. Next to Marti himself, Lincoln de Zayas was perhaps the most successful money raiser. Numerous speakers and canvassers went to all parts of the country where Cubans might be found, soliciting funds. Appeal was also made to Americans, but not so much for pecuniary aid as for sympathy and moral aid.
But in fact much money was given by liberty loving Americans. William E. Stokes, of New York, was also a large contributor and manifested much interest in the cause, presumably in part because his wife was a Cuban. Most of this work of Marti's was done in and His original plan was to launch a vast plan of numerous invasions of the island and simultaneous uprisings in all the provinces in He purchased and equipped three vessels, the Amadis , the Baracoa and the Lagonda , only to suffer the mortification and very heavy loss of having them seized by the American authorities for violation of the neutrality law.
Undaunted and undismayed, he renewed his efforts, and at last had the satisfaction of seeing the revolution openly begun at Baire, near Santiago, on February 24, And then occurred one of the most lamentable and needless tragedies of the whole war—indeed, of all the history of Cuba. It was not in Marti's generous and valiant spirit to remain at the rear and send others forward to face the fire of the foe. Accordingly, as soon as the revolution was started, he went from New York to Santo Domingo to confer with the old war horse of the Ten Years' conflict, Maximo Gomez, and from that island he issued his manifesto concerning the purposes and programme of the revolution.
Well would it have been for him and for Cuba had he remained there, or had he returned to New York, to continue the work which he had been so successfully doing. But because of a thoughtless clamor in the press and on the part of the public he was moved to proceed to Cuba with Gomez. They landed in a frail craft at Playitas on April 11, with about 80 companions, many of them veterans of the Ten Years' War.
They at once joined the cavalry forces of Perico Perez, and plunged into the thick of the fighting; Marti showing himself as brave in battle as he had been wise in council. This appointment was agreeable to Marti, and would have meant the most advantageous utilization of his masterful talents for the good of Cuba. But it was not possible for him immediately to begin such duties. He was with the army in the interior of the island, and his approach to the coast whence he was to sail on his mission must be effected with caution.
While Gomez set out for Camaguey, Marti turned toward the southern coast, intending to go first to Jamaica, whence he could take an English steamer for New York or any other destination he might select. Marti had with him an escort of only fifty men, and soon after parting company with Gomez he was led by a treacherous guide into a ravine where he was trapped by a Spanish force outnumbering the Cubans twenty to one.
The Cubans fought with desperate valor, Marti himself leading a charge which nearly succeeded in cutting a way through the Spanish lines. But the odds were too heavy against them, and without even the satisfaction of taking two or three Spanish lives for every life they gave, the Cubans were all slain, Marti himself being among the last to fall. Word of the conflict reached Gomez, and he came hastening back, just too late to save his comrade, and was himself wounded in the furious attack which he made upon the Spaniards in an attempt at least to recover Marti's body.
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Marti's body was taken possession of by the Spaniards, who demonstrated their appreciation of his greatness, though he was their most formidable foe, by bearing it reverently to Santiago and there interring it with all the honors of war. Havana's most fashionable residence street and driving thoroughfare extends from the gloomy Punta fortress along the line of the ancient city wall, past the Central Park to Colon Park, shaded with laurels and lined with handsome homes and clubs.
In a hurricane wrecked many of the great laurels, as well as the royal palms of Colon Park, but in the genial climate of Cuba the ravages of the elements were rapidly repaired. Thus untimely perished the man who should have lived to be known as the Father of His Country. But he left a name crowned with imperishable fame.
THE HISTORY OF CUBA
A Spanish American author has said that the Spanish race in America has produced only two geniuses, Bolivar and Marti. If that judgment be too severe in its restriction, at least it is not an over-estimate of those two transcendent patriots. Marti left, moreover, an example and an inspiration which never failed his countrymen during the subsequent years of war. Their loss in his death was irreparable, but they were not inconsolable; for while he perished, his cause survived.
That cause was well set forth by him in the manifesto which he issued at Monte Cristi, Hayti, on March 25, , and which read as follows:.
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