Cuba's final movement for independence began on February 24, 1895. Under the treaty of Zanjon, executed in 1878, Spain agreed to grant to the Cubans such reforms as would remove their grounds of complaint, long continued. The Cubans denied that the terms of the agreement had been kept. Those terms are indicated in a statement submitted by Tomas Estrada y Palma to Richard Olney, then Secretary of State of the United States. It bore the date of December 7, 1895. The communication sets forth, from the Cuban point of view, of course, the causes of the revolution of 1895. It says:

"These causes are substantially the same as those of the former revolution, lasting from 1868 to 1878, and terminating only on the representation of the Spanish Government that Cuba would be granted such reforms as would remove the grounds of complaint on the part of the Cuban people. Unfortunately the hopes thus held out have never been realized. The representation which was to be given the Cubans has proved to be absolutely without character; taxes have been levied anew on everything conceivable; the offices in the island have increased, but the officers are all Spaniards; the native Cubans have been left with no public duties whatsoever to perform, except the payment of taxes to the Government and blackmail to the officials, without privilege even to move from place to place in the island except on the permission of government authority.

"Spain has framed laws so that the natives have substantially been deprived of the right of suffrage. The taxes levied have been almost entirely devoted to support the army and navy in Cuba, to pay interest on the debt that Spain has saddled on the island, and to pay the salaries of the vast number of Spanish office holders, devoting only $746,000 for internal improvements out of the $26,000,000 collected by tax. No public schools are in reach of the masses for their education. All the principal industries of the island are hampered by excessive imposts. Her commerce with every country but Spain has been crippled in every possible manner, as can readily be seen by the frequent protests of shipowners and merchants.

"The Cubans have no security of person or property. The judiciary are instruments of the military authorities. Trial by military tribunals can be ordered at any time at the will of the Captain-General. There is, besides, no freedom of speech, press, or religion. In point of fact, the causes of the Revolution of 1775 in this country were not nearly as grave as those that have driven the Cuban people to the various insurrections which culminated in the present revolution."

Spain, of course, denied these charges, and asserted that the agreement had been kept in good faith. The Spanish Government may have been technically correct in its claim that all laws necessary to the fulfillment of its promises had been enacted. But it seems entirely certain that they had not been made effective. The conditions of the Cubans were in no way improved and, some time before the outbreak, they began preparations for armed resistance. In Cuba and the Intervention (published in 1905) I have already written an outline review of the experience of the revolution, and I shall here make use of extracts from that volume. The notable leader and instigator of the movement was Jose Marti, a patriot, a poet, and a dreamer, but a man of action. He visited General Maximo Gomez at his home in Santo Domingo, where that doughty old warrior had betaken himself after the conclusion of the Ten Years' War. Gomez accepted the command of the proposed army of Cuban liberation. Antonio Maceo also accepted a command. He was a mulatto, an able and daring fighter, whose motives were perhaps a compound of patriotism, hatred of Spain, and a love for the excitement of warfare. Others whose names are written large in Cuba's history soon joined the movement. A junta, or committee, was organized with headquarters in New York. After the death of Marti, this was placed in charge of Tomas Estrada y Palma, who afterward became the first President of the new Republic. Its work was to raise funds, obtain and forward supplies and ammunition, and to advance the cause in all possible ways. There were legal battles to be fought by and through this organization, and Mr. Horatio S. Rubens, a New York lawyer, was placed in charge of that department. The twenty-fourth of February was set for the beginning of activities, but arms were lacking, and while the movement was actually begun on that day, the operations of the first six weeks or so were limited to numerous local uprisings of little moment. But the local authorities became alarmed, and martial law was proclaimed in Santa Clara and Matanzas provinces on the 27th. Spain became alarmed also, and immediately despatched General Martinez Campos as Governor-General of the island, to succeed General Calleja. He assumed command on April 16. Maceo and his associates, among them his brother Jose, also a fighter of note, landed from Costa Rica on April 1. Marti, Gomez, and others, reached the island on the 11th. Meanwhile, Bartolome Maso, an influential planter in Oriente, had been in command of the forces in his vicinity. Many joined, and others stood ready to join as soon as they could be equipped. Engagements with the Spanish troops soon became a matter of daily occurrence, and Martinez Campos realized that a formidable movement was on. Spain hurried thousands of soldiers to the island.

For the first five months, the insurgents kept their opponents busy with an almost uninterrupted series of little engagements, a guerrilla warfare. In one of these, on May 19, Jose Marti was killed. His death was a severe blow to the patriots, but it served rather to inspire a greater activity than to check the movement. His death came in the effort of a small band of insurgents to pass the Spanish cordon designed to confine activities to Oriente Province. Immediately after the death of Marti, Maximo Gomez crossed that barrier and organized an army in Camaguey. The first engagement properly to be regarded as a battle occurred at Peralejo, near Bayamo, in Oriente, about the middle of July. The respective leaders were Antonio Maceo and General Martinez Campos, in person. The victory fell to Maceo, and Martinez Campos barely eluded capture. The engagements of the Ten Years' War were confined to the then sparsely settled eastern half of the island. Those of the revolution of 1895 covered the greater part of the island, sweeping gradually but steadily from east to west. During my first visit to Cuba, I was frequently puzzled by references to "the invasion." "What invasion?" I asked, "Who invaded the country?" I found that it meant the westward sweep of the liberating army under Gomez and Maceo. It covered a period of more than two years of frequent fighting and general destruction of property. Early in the operations Gomez issued the following proclamation:


Najasa, Camaguey, July 1, 1895.


In accord with the great interests of the revolution for the independence of the country, and for which we are in arms:

WHEREAS, all exploitations of any product whatsoever are aids and resources to the Government that we are fighting, it is resolved by the general-in-chief to issue this general order throughout the island, that the introduction of articles of commerce, as well as beef and cattle, into the towns occupied by the enemy, is absolutely prohibited. The sugar plantations will stop their labors, and those who shall attempt to grind the crop notwithstanding this order, will have their cane burned and their buildings demolished. The person who, disobeying this order, shall try to profit from the present situation of affairs, will show by his conduct little respect for the rights of the revolution of redemption, and therefore shall be considered as an enemy, treated as a traitor, and tried as such in case of his capture.

  (Signed) MAXIMO GOMEZ, 
  The General-in-Chief.

This proved only partially effective, and it was followed by a circular to commanding officers, a few months later, reading thus:


Territory of Sancti Spiritus, November 6, 1895.

Animated by the spirit of unchangeable resolution in defence of the rights of the revolution of redemption of this country of colonists, humiliated and despised by Spain, and in harmony with what has been decreed concerning the subject in the circular dated the 1st of July, I have ordered the following:

ARTICLE I. That all plantations shall be totally destroyed, their cane and outbuildings burned, and railroad connections destroyed.

ARTICLE II. All laborers who shall aid the sugar factories - these sources of supplies that we must deprive the enemy of - shall be considered as traitors to their country.

ARTICLE III. All who are caught in the act, or whose violation of Article II shall be proven, shall be shot. Let all chiefs of operations of the army of liberty comply with this order, determined to furl triumphantly, even over ruin and ashes, the flag of the Republic of Cuba.

In regard to the manner of waging the war, follow the private instructions that I have already given.

For the sake of the honor of our arms and your well-known courage and patriotism, it is expected that you will strictly comply with the above orders.

  (Signed) MAXIMO GOMEZ, 

To peace-loving souls, all this sounds very brutal, but all war is brutal and barbarous. In our strife in the Philippines, from 1899 to 1902, many of us were proud to be told that we were conducting a "humane war." There is no such thing. The very terms are contradictory. Gomez had declared that if Spain would not give up Cuba to the Cubans, the Cubans would themselves render the island so worthless and desolate a possession that Spain could not afford to hold it. Short of further submission to a rule that was, very rightly, regarded as no longer endurable, no other course was open to them. Another proclamation appeared a few days later.


  Sancti Spiritus, November 11 1895.


The painful measure made necessary by the revolution of redemption drenched in innocent blood from Hatuey to our own times by cruel and merciless Spain will plunge you in misery. As general-in-chief of the army of liberation, it is my duty to lead it to victory, without permitting myself to be restrained or terrified, by any means necessary to place Cuba in the shortest time in possession of her dearest ideal. I therefore place the responsibility for so great a ruin on those who look on impassively and force us to those extreme measures which they then condemn like dolts and hypocrites as they are. After so many years of supplication, humiliation, contumely, banishment, and death, when this people, of its own will, has arisen in arms, there remains no solution but to triumph, it matters not what means are employed to accomplish it.

This people cannot hesitate between the wealth of Spain and the liberty of Cuba. Its greatest crime would be to stain the land with blood without effecting its purposes because of puerile scruples and fears which do not concur with the character of the men who are in the field, challenging the fury of an army which is one of the bravest in the world, but which in this war is without enthusiasm or faith, ill-fed and unpaid. The war did not begin February 24; it is about to begin now.

The war had to be organized; it was necessary to calm and lead into the proper channels the revolutionary spirit always exaggerated in the beginning by wild enthusiasm. The struggle ought to begin in obedience to a plan and method more or less studied, as the result of the peculiarities of this war. This has already been done. Let Spain now send her soldiers to rivet the chains on her slaves; the children of this land are in the field, armed with the weapons of liberty. The struggle will be terrible, but success will crown the revolution and the efforts of the oppressed.

(Signed) MAXIMO GOMEZ, General-in-Chief.

Such an address doubtless savors of bombast to many Americans, but in the history of political and military oratory in their own land they can find an endless number of speeches that, in that particular quality, rival if they do not surpass it. The Cuban situation was desperate, and the Cuban attitude was one of fixed determination. Productive industry was generally suppressed, and much property was destroyed, by both Cubans and Spaniards. This necessarily threw many out of employment, and drove them into the insurgent ranks. The Cubans are a peaceful people. All desired relief from oppressive conditions, but many did not want war. While many entered the army from patriotic motives, many others were brought into it only as a consequence of conditions created by the conflict. The measures adopted were severe, but decision of the contest by pitched battles was quite impossible. The quoted figures are somewhat unreliable, but the Spanish forces outnumbered the Cubans by at least five to one, and they could obtain freely the supplies and ammunition that the Cubans could obtain only by filibustering expeditions. The Cubans, therefore, adopted a policy, the only policy that afforded promise of success. Spain poured in fresh troops until, by the close of 1895, its army is reported as numbering 200,000 men.

The Cubans carried the contest westward from Oriente and Camaguey, through Santa Clara, and into the provinces of Matanzas, Havana, and Pinar del Rio.

The trocha across the island, from Jucaro on the south to Moron on the north, originally constructed during the Ten Years' War, was a line of blockhouses, connected by barbed wire tangles, along a railway. This obstructed but did not stop the Cuban advance. The authorities declared martial law in the provinces of Havana and Pinar del Rio on January 2, 1896. Gomez advanced to Marianao, at Havana's very door, and that city was terrified. Maceo was operating immediately beyond him in Pinar del Rio, through the most important part of which he swept with torch and machete. The Spaniards built a trocha there from Mariel southward. Maceo crossed it and continued his work of destruction, in which large numbers of the people of the region joined. He burned and destroyed Spanish property; the Spaniards, in retaliation, burned and destroyed property belonging to Cubans. Along the highway from Marianao to Guanajay, out of many stately country residences, only one was left standing. Villages were destroyed and hamlets were wrecked. On one of his expeditions in December, 1896, Maceo was killed near Punta Brava, within fifteen miles of Havana. Gomez planned this westward sweep, from Oriente, six hundred miles away, but to Antonio Maceo belongs a large part of the credit for its execution. The weakness of the Ten Years' War was that it did not extend beyond the thinly populated region of the east; Gomez and Maceo carried their war to the very gates of the Spanish strongholds. There were occasional conflicts that might well be called battles, but much of it was carried on by the Cubans by sudden and unexpected dashes into Spanish camps or moving columns, brief but sometimes bloody encounters from which the attacking force melted away after inflicting such damage as it could. Guerrilla warfare is not perhaps a respectable method of fighting. It involves much of what is commonly regarded as outlawry, of pillage and of plunder, of destruction and devastation. These results become respectable only when attained through conventional processes, and are in some way supposed to be ennobled by those processes. But they sometimes become the only means by which the weak can meet the strong. Such they seemed to be in the Cuban revolt against the Spaniards, when Maximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo made guerrilla warfare almost a military science. Gomez formulated his plan of campaign, but, with the means at his disposal, its successful execution was possible only by the methods adopted. At all events, it succeeded. The Cubans were not strong enough to drive Spain out of the island by force of arms, but they showed themselves unconquerable by the Spanish troops. They had once carried on a war for ten years in a limited area; by the methods adopted, they could repeat that experience practically throughout the island. They could at least keep insurrection alive until Spain should yield to their terms, or until the United States should be compelled to intervene. No great movements, but constant irritation, and the suspension of all industry, was the policy adopted and pursued for the year 1897.

But there was another side to it all, a different line of activity. Immediately after his arrival on the island, on April 11, 1895, Marti had issued a call for the selection of representatives to form a civil government. He was killed before this was effected. An assembly met, at Jimaguayu, in Camaguey, on September 13, 1895. It consisted of twenty members, representing nearly all parts of the island. Its purpose was the organization of a Cuban Republic. On the 16th, it adopted a Constitution and, on the 18th, elected, as President, Salvador Cisneros Betancourt, and as Vice-President, Bartolome Maso. Secretaries and sub-secretaries were duly chosen, and all were formally installed. Maximo Gomez was officially appointed as General-in-Chief of the army, with Antonio Maceo as Lieutenant General. Tomas Estrada y Palma was chosen as delegate plenipotentiary and general agent abroad, with headquarters in New York. Both civil and military organizations were, for a time, crude and somewhat incoherent. It could not be otherwise. They were engaged in a movement that could only succeed by success. Arms and money were lacking. The civil government was desirable in a field that the military arm could not cover. Action lay with the military and with the Cuban Junta in the United States. The latter organization immediately became active. Calls were made for financial assistance and liberal responses were made, chiefly by Cubans. In 1896 and 1897, bonds were issued and sold, or were exchanged for supplies and munitions of war. For a number of years scandalous stories were afloat declaring that these bonds were printed by the acre, and issued, purely for speculative purposes, to the extent of millions upon millions of dollars. The truth is that every bond printed, whether issued or unissued, has been fully accounted for, the actual issue being about $2,200,000. Provision was made in Cuba's Constitution for the recognition of this indebtedness, and it has since been discharged, while the plates and the unused bonds have been destroyed. There may have been speculation in the bonds, as there was in the bonds issued by the United States during the Civil War, but Cuba's conduct in the whole matter has been honest and most honorable. In that matter certainly, its detractors have been confounded. The principal difficulty encountered by the junta was the despatch to Cuba of the men and the munitions so greatly needed by those in the field. That, however, is a story that I shall endeavor to tell, in part, in another chapter. It cannot now, if ever, be told in full.

Meanwhile, a complicated political situation developed. The story is too long and too complicated for review in detail. It may be given in general outline. The Peace of 1878 was followed by the organization of political parties, the Liberal and the Union Constitutional. At first, there was comparatively little difference in the essence of their respective platforms, but the lines diverged as the situation developed. The Liberal party became, and remained, the Cuban party, and the Union Constitutional became the Spanish party. Later on, the Liberals became the Autonomists. Their object, for twenty years, was reform in conditions under the rule of Spain. There was no independence party. That was organized, in 1895, by Marti, Gomez, Maceo, Maso, and their associates. It had only one plank in its platform - Cuba Libre y Independiente - whatever the cost to the island and its people. "The Autonomist group," says Mr. Pepper, in his Tomorrow in Cuba, "became as much a political party as it could become under Spanish institutions." It grew in strength and influence, and continued its agitation persistently and stubbornly. The Spanish Cortes busied itself with discussion of Cuban affairs, but reached no conclusions, produced no results. In 1893, there came the definite organization of the Reformist party, with aims not differing greatly from those of the Autonomistas. But Spain delayed until Marti and his followers struck their blow. Official efforts to placate them failed utterly, as did efforts to intimidate them or to conquer them. The Autonomists declared their support of the existing Government, and rebuked the insurgents in a manifestoissued on April 4, 1895, six weeks after the outbreak. They only succeeded in antagonizing both sides, the Spanish authorities and the revolutionists. Spain, greatly alarmed, recalled Martinez Campos and sent out Weyler to succeed him. Had Spain followed the advice of Martinez Campos, the failure of the insurrection would have been little short of certain. It sent out Weyler, on whom the Cubans, twenty years earlier, had conferred the title of "Butcher." This step threw to the side of the insurgents the great mass of the middle class Cubans who had previously wavered in uncertainty, questioning the success of revolution while adhering to its general object. Weyler instituted the brutal policy that came to be known as reconcentration. It may be said, in a way, that the Cuban forces themselves instituted this policy. To clear the country in which they were operating, they had ordered all Spaniards and Spanish sympathizers to betake themselves to the cities and towns occupied by Spanish garrisons. This was inconvenient for its victims, but its purpose was humane. Gomez also sought to concentrate the Cubans, particularly the women and children, in the recesses of the hills where they would be less exposed to danger than they would be in their homes. This also was a humane purpose.

Weyler's application of this policy was utterly brutal. The people of the country were herded in prison camps, in settlements surrounded by stockades or trenches beyond which they might not pass. No provision was made for their food or maintenance. The victims were non-combatants, women, and children. In his message of December, 1897, President McKinley said of this system, as applied by Weyler, "It was not civilized warfare; it was extermination. The only peace it could beget was that of the wilderness and the grave." In my experience as a campaign correspondent in several conflicts, I have necessarily seen more or less of gruesome sights, the result of disease and wounds, but I have seen nothing in any way comparable, in horror and pitifulness, to the victims of this abominable system. To describe their condition in detail would be little short of offensive, those groups of hopeless, helpless sufferers who lingered only until death came and kindly put them out of their misery and pain. But by this time, two forces had come into active operation, dire alarm in Spain and wrath and indignation in the United States. Weyler had failed as Martinez Campos, when leaving the island, predicted. He was recalled, and was succeeded, on October 31, 1897, by General Blanco. The new incumbent tried conciliation, but it failed. The work had gone too far. The party in the field had become the dominant party, not to be suppressed either by force of arms or by promises of political and economic reform. At last, Spain yielded. Outside pressure on Madrid, chiefly from the United States, prevailed. A scheme for Cuban autonomy was devised and, on January 1, 1898, was put into effect. But it came too late. It was welcomed by many non-participants in the war, and a form of government was organized under it. But the party then dominant, the army in the field, distrusted the arrangement and would have none of it. All overtures were rejected and the struggle continued. On February 15, 1898, came the disaster to the battleship Maine, in the harbor of Havana. On April 11th, President McKinley's historic message went to Congress, declaring that "the only hope of relief and repose from a condition which can no longer be endured is the enforced pacification of Cuba," and asking for power and authority to use the military and naval forces of the United States to effect a termination of the strife in Cuba. Such, in the briefest possible outline, is the record of this eventful period, eventful alike for Cuba and for the United States.

During this struggle, the people of the United States became deeply interested in the affairs of the island, and the Administration in Washington became gravely concerned by them. A preceding chapter, on the United States and Cuba, dropped the matter of the relations of this country to the island at the end of the Ten Years' War, but the relations were by no means dropped, nor were they even suspended. The affairs of the island appear again and again in diplomatic correspondence and in presidential messages. The platform of the Republican party, adopted at the national convention in St. Louis, on June 18, 1896, contained the following: "From the hour of achieving their own independence, the people of the United States have regarded with sympathy the struggles of other American peoples to free themselves from European domination. We watch with deep and abiding interest the heroic battle of the Cuban patriots against cruelty and oppression, and our best hopes go out for the full success of their determined contest for liberty. The Government of Spain having lost control of Cuba and being unable to protect the property or lives of resident American citizens, or to comply with its treaty obligations, we believe that the Government of the United States should actively use its influence and good offices to restore peace and give independence to the island." The Democratic party platform of the same year stated that "we extend our sympathy to the people of Cuba in their heroic struggle for liberty and independence." The platform of the People's party likewise expressed sympathy, and declared the belief that the time had come when "the United States should recognize that Cuba is and of right ought to be a free and independent State." This may be regarded as the almost unanimous opinion of the people of this country at that time. In 1896 and 1897 many resolutions were introduced in the Congress urging action for the recognition of Cuban independence. There was frequent and prolonged debate on the question, but no final action was taken. In his message of December, 1897, President McKinley said: "Of the untried measures (regarding Cuba) there remain only: Recognition of the insurgents as belligerents; recognition of the independence of Cuba; neutral intervention to end the war by imposing a rational compromise between the contestants; and intervention in favor of one or the other party. I speak not of forcible annexation, for that cannot be thought of. That, by our code of morality, would be criminal aggression."

Recognition of the Cubans as belligerents would have effected a radical change in the situation. It would have given the Cubans the right to buy in the American market the arms and supplies that they could then only obtain surreptitiously, that they could only ship by "filibustering expeditions," by blockade-runners. In law, the propriety of granting belligerent rights depends upon the establishment of certain facts, upon the proof of the existence of certain conditions. Those conditions did then exist in Cuba. An unanswerable argument was submitted by Horatio S. Rubens, Esq., the able counsel of the Cuban junta in New York. The Cubans never asked for intervention by the United States; they did, with full justification, ask for recognition as belligerents. The consent of this country was deemed inexpedient on political rather than on moral grounds. Had it suited the purposes of this country to grant that right, very much the same arguments would have been made in support of the course as those that were used to support the denial of Cuba's requests. Recognition of Cuban independence, or intervention in favor of the Cubans, would have been the equivalent of the grant of belligerent rights. But the policy adopted, and the course pursued, did not serve to avert war with Spain. The story of that war has been written by many, and is not for inclusion here. The treaty of peace was signed, in Paris, on December 10, 1898, duly ratified by both parties in the following months, and was finally proclaimed on April 11, 1899. The war was over, but its definite termination was officially declared on the anniversary of the issuance of President McKinley's war message. On January 1, 1899, the American flag was hoisted throughout the island, as a signal of full authority, but subject to the provisions of the Teller Amendment to the Joint Resolution of Congress, of April 20, 1898, thus:

"That the United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said Island except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and control of the Island to its people."

At twelve o'clock, noon, on the 20th of May, 1902, there was gathered in the State Apartment of the Palace occupied by many Spanish Governors-General, the officials of the United States, the elected officials of the new Cuban Republic, and a limited number of guests. In that same apartment, General Castellanos signed the abdication of Spanish authority. In its turn, pursuant to its pledges, the United States transferred authority to the President of the Cuban Republic. Four centuries of subjection, and a century of protest and struggle, were there and then ended, and Cuba joined the sisterhood of independent nations.