Only by magnifying protests into revolts, and riots into revolutions, is it possible to show Cuba as the "land of revolutions" that many have declared it to be. The truth is that from the settlement of the island in 1512 until the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898, there were only two experiences that can, by any proper use of the term, be called revolutions. This statement, of course, disputes a widely accepted notion, but many notions become widely accepted because of assertions that are not contradicted. That a strong undercurrent of discontent runs through all Cuba's history from 1820 to 1895, is true. That there were numerous manifestations of that discontent, and occasional attempts at revolution, is also true. But none of these experiences, prior to 1868, reached a stage that would properly warrant its description as a revolution. The term is very loosely applied to a wide range of experiences. It is customary to class as revolution all disorders from riots to rebellions. This is particularly the case where the disorder occurs in some country other than our own. The Standard Dictionary defines the essential idea of revolution as "a change in the form of government, or the constitution, or rulers, otherwise than as provided by the laws of succession, election, etc." The Century Dictionary defines such proceedings as "a radical change in social or governmental conditions; the overthrow of an established political system." Many exceedingly interesting parallels may be drawn between the experience of the American colonies prior to their revolution, in 1775, and the experience of Cuba during the 19th Century. In fact, it may perhaps be said that there is no experience in Cuba's history that cannot be fairly paralleled in our own. In his History of the United States, Mr. Edward Channing says: "The governing classes of the old country wished to exploit the American colonists for their own use and behoof." Change the word "American" to "Spanish," and the Cuban situation is exactly defined. The situation in America in the 18th Century was almost identical with the situation in Cuba in the 19th Century. Both, in those respective periods, suffered from oppressive and restrictive trade laws and from burdensome taxation, from subordination of their interests to the interests of the people of a mother-country three thousand miles away. Unfortunately for the Cubans, Spain was better able to enforce its exactions than England was. Cuba's area was limited, its available harbors few in number, its population small.

Not until the years immediately preceding the revolutions by which the United States and Cuba secured their independence, was there any general demand for definite separation from the mother-country. The desire in both was a fuller measure of economic and commercial opportunity. One striking parallel may be noted. The Tories, or "loyalists," in this country have their counterpart in the Cuban Autonomistas. Referring to conditions in 1763, Mr. Channing states that "never had the colonists felt a greater pride in their connection with the British empire." Among the great figures of the pre-revolutionary period in this country, none stands out more clearly than James Otis, of Boston, and Patrick Henry, of Virginia. In an impassioned address, in 1763, Otis declared that "every British subject in America is of common right, by acts of Parliament, and by the laws of God and nature, entitled to all the essential privileges of Britons. What God in his Providence has united let no man dare attempt to pull asunder." Thirteen years later, the sundering blow was struck. Patrick Henry's resolutions submitted to the Virginia House of Burgesses, in 1765, set that colony afire, but at that time neither he nor his associates desired separation and independence if their natural rights were recognized. It was not until the revolution of 1895 that the independence of Cuba became a national demand, a movement based on realization of the hopelessness of further dependence upon Spain for the desired economic and fiscal relief. As in the American colonies there appeared, from time to time, individuals or isolated groups who demanded drastic action on the part of the colonists, so were there Cubans who, from time to time, appeared with similar demands. Nathaniel Bacon headed a formidable revolution in Virginia in 1676. Massachusetts rebelled against Andros and Dudley in 1689. From the passage of the Navigation Acts, in the middle of the 17th Century, until the culmination in 1775, there was an undercurrent of friction and a succession of protests. The Cuban condition was quite the same excepting the fact of burdens more grievous and more frequent open outbreaks.

The records of many of the disorders are fragmentary. Spain had no desire to give them publicity, and the Cubans had few means for doing so. The Report on the Census of Cuba, prepared by the War Department of the United States, in 1899, contains a summary of the various disorders in the island. The first is the rioting in 1717, when Captain-General Roja enforced the decree establishing a government monopoly in tobacco. The disturbances in Haiti and Santo Domingo (1791-1800) resulting in the establishment of independence in Haiti, under Toussaint, excited unimportant uprisings on the part of negroes in Cuba, but they were quickly suppressed. The first movement worthy of note came in 1823. It was a consequence of the general movement that extended throughout Spanish-America and resulted in the independence of all Spain's former colonies, excepting Cuba and Porto Rico. That the influence of so vast a movement should have been felt in Cuba was almost inevitable. As disorder continued throughout much of the time, the period 1820-1830 is best considered collectively. The same influences were active, and the same forces were operative for the greater part of the term. The accounts of it all are greatly confused, and several nations were involved, including Spain, the United States, France, England, Mexico, and Colombia. The slavery question was involved, as was the question of the transfer of the island to some Power other than Spain. Independence was the aim of some, though probably no very great number. Practically all of Cuba's later experiences have their roots in this period. During these ten years, the issue between Cubans who sought a larger national and economic life, and the Spanish element that insisted upon the continuance of Spanish absolutism, had its definite beginning, to remain a cause of almost constant friction for three-quarters of a century. The Spanish Constitution of 1812, abrogated in 1814, was again proclaimed in 1820, and again abrogated in 1823. The effort of Captain-General Vives, acting under orders from Ferdinand VII, to restore absolutism encountered both vigorous opposition and strong support. Secret societies were organized, whose exact purposes do not appear to be well known. Some have asserted that it was a Masonic movement, while others have held that the organizations were more in the nature of the Carbonari. One of them, called the Soles de Bolivar, in some way gave its name to the immediate activities. It was charged with having planned a rebellion against the government, but the plans were discovered and the leaders were arrested. The movement appears to have been widespread, with its headquarters in Matanzas. An uprising was planned to take place on August 16, 1823, but on that day Jose Francisco Lemus, the leader, and a number of his associates were arrested and imprisoned. Among them was Jose Maria Heredia, the Cuban poet, who was, for this offence, condemned, in 1824, to perpetual exile for the crime of treason.

Others engaged in the conspiracy fled the country. Some were officially deported. But the punishments imposed on these people served to excite the animosity of many more, and a period of agitation followed, marked by occasional outbreaks and rioting. To meet the situation, an army intended to be employed in reconquering some of the colonies that had already declared and established their independence, was retained on the island. In 1825, a royal decree conferred on the Spanish Governor in Cuba a power practically absolute. This excited still further the anger of the Cuban element and led to other manifestations of discontent. There was a combination of political agitation with revolutionary demonstrations. In 1826, there was a local uprising in Puerto Principe, directed more particularly against the Spanish garrison, whose conduct was regarded as highly offensive. A year or two later, Cuban exiles in Mexico and Colombia, with support from the people of those countries, organized a secret society known as the "Black Eagle," having for its purpose a Cuban revolution. Its headquarters were in Mexico, and its activities were fruitless. Many were arrested and tried and sentenced to death or deportation. But Vives realized the folly of adding more fuel to the flames, and the sentences were in all cases either mitigated or revoked. This seems to have brought that particular series of conspiracies to an end. It was a time of active political agitation and conspiracy, with occasional local riots that were quickly suppressed. While much of it was revolutionary in its aims and purposes, none of it may with any fitness be called a revolution, unless a prevalence of a lively spirit of opposition and rebellion is to be so classed. The agitation settled down for a number of years, but broke out in local spasms occasionally. There were riots and disorders, but that is not revolution. It is to be remembered that the cause of all this disturbance was, in the main, an entirely creditable sentiment, quite as creditable as that which led the American colonists to resist the Stamp taxes and to destroy tea. It was a natural and righteous protest against oppression, a movement lasting for seventy-five years, for which Americans, particularly, should award praise rather than blame or carping criticism. Having done, in our own way, very much what the Cubans have done, in their way, we are not free to condemn them. The only real difference is that their methods were, on the whole, a little more strenuous than ours. Cuban blood was stirred by the successful revolutions in Mexico and in Spanish South America, and conditions in the island were contrasted with those in the then somewhat new United States. Something of the part played by this country in the experiences of the time is presented in another chapter, on the relations of the two countries.

The next movement worthy of note came in 1849, if we omit the quarrel, in 1837, between General Tacon and his subordinate, General Lorenzo, and the alleged proposal of the slaves in the neighborhood of Matanzas to rise and slaughter all the whites. Neither of these quite belongs in the revolutionary class. In 1847, a conspiracy was organized in the vicinity of Cienfuegos. Its leader was General Narciso Lopez. The movement was discovered, and some of the participants were imprisoned. Lopez escaped to the United States where he associated himself with a group of Cuban exiles, and opened correspondence with sympathizers in the island. They were joined by a considerable number of adventurous Americans, inspired by a variety of motives. The declared purpose of the enterprise was independence as the alternative of reform in Spanish laws. An expedition was organized, but the plans became known and President Taylor, on August 11, 1849, issued a proclamation in which he declared that "an enterprise to invade the territories of a friendly nation, set on foot and prosecuted within the limits of the United States, is in the highest degree criminal." He therefore warned all citizens of the United States who might participate in such an enterprise that they would be subject to heavy penalties, and would forfeit the protection of their country. He also called on "every officer of this Government, civil or military, to use all efforts in his power to arrest for trial and punishment every such offender against the laws." The party was captured as it was leaving New York. The best evidence of the time is to the effect that there was in Cuba neither demand for nor support of such a movement, but Lopez and his associates, many of them Americans, persisted. A second expedition was arranged, and a party of more than six hundred men, many of them American citizens, assembled on the island of Contoy, off the Yucatan coast, and on May 19, 1850, landed at Cardenas. But there was no uprising on the part of the people. The Spanish authorities, informed of the expedition, sent ships by sea and troops by land. After a sharp skirmish, the invaders fled for their lives. Lopez and those who escaped with him succeeded in reaching Key West. He went to Savannah, where he was arrested but promptly liberated in response to public clamor. But even this did not satisfy the enthusiastic liberator of a people who did not want to be liberated in that way. He tried again in the following year. On August 3, 1851, he sailed from near New Orleans, on the steamer Pampero, in command of a force of about four hundred, largely composed of young Americans who had been lured into the enterprise by assurance of thrilling adventure and large pay. They landed near Bahia Honda, about fifty miles west of Havana. Here, again, the Cubans refused to rise and join the invaders. Here, again, they encountered the Spanish forces by whom they were beaten and routed. Many were killed, some were captured, and others escaped into the surrounding country and were captured afterward. Lopez was among the captured. He was taken to Havana, and died by garrote in the little fortress La Punta. His first officer, Colonel Crittenden, and some fifty Americans were captured and taken to Atares, the fortress at the head of Havana harbor, where they were shot. For that somewhat brutal act, the United States could ask no indemnity. In violation of the laws of the United States, they had invaded the territory of a nation with which the country was at peace. In the initial issue of the New York Times, on October 18, 1851, there appeared a review of the incident, presenting a contemporaneous opinion of the experience. It was, in part, as follows:

"Nothing can be clearer than the fact that, for the present, at least, the inhabitants of Cuba do not desire their freedom. The opinion has very widely prevailed that the Cubans were grievously oppressed by their Spanish rulers, and that the severity of their oppression alone prevented them from making some effort to throw it off. The presence of an armed force in their midst, however small, it was supposed would summon them by thousands to the standard of revolt, and convert the colony into a free republic. Men high in office, men who had lived in Cuba and were supposed to be familiar with the sentiments of its people, have uniformly represented that they were ripe for revolt, and desired only the presence of a small military band to serve as a nucleus for their force. Believing that the Cuban population would aid them, American adventurers enlisted and were ruined. They found no aid. Not a Cuban joined them. They were treated as pirates and robbers from the first moment of their landing. Nor could they expect any other treatment in case of failure. They ceased to be American citizens the moment they set out, as invaders, for the shores of Cuba."

The excitement of the Lopez incident was passing when it was revived, in 1854, by the Black Warrior experience, to which reference is made elsewhere. Another invasion was projected by exuberant and adventurous Americans. It was to sail from New Orleans under command of General Quitman, a former Governor of the State of Mississippi. No secret was made of the expedition, and Quitman openly boasted of his purposes, in Washington. The reports having reached the White House, President Pierce issued a proclamation warning "all persons, citizens of the United States and others residing therein" that the General Government would not fail to prosecute with due energy all those who presumed to disregard the laws of the land and our treaty obligations. He charged all officers of the United States to exert all their lawful power to maintain the authority and preserve the peace of the country. Quitman was arrested, and put under bonds to respect the neutrality laws. There was a limited uprising in Puerto Principe, in 1851, and a conspiracy was revealed, in Pinar del Rio, in 1852. A few years later the Liberal Club in Havana and the Cuban Junta in New York were reported as raising money and organizing expeditions. Some sailed, but they accomplished little, except as the activities appear as a manifestation of the persistent opposition on the part of what was probably only a small minority of the Cuban people. For several years, the unrest and the agitation continued. Spain's blindness to the situation is puzzling. In his Cuba and International Relations, Mr. Callahan says: "Spain, after squandering a continent, had still clung tenaciously to Cuba; and the changing governments which had been born (in Spain) only to be strangled, held her with a taxing hand. While England had allowed her colonies to rule themselves, Spain had persisted in keeping Cuba in the same state of tutelage that existed when she was the greatest power in the world, and when the idea of colonial rights had not developed." In Tomorrow in Cuba, Mr. Pepper notes that "though the conception of colonial home rule for Cuba was non-existent among the Spanish statesmen of that day, the perception of it was clear on the part of the thinking people of the island. The educated and wealthy Cubans who in 1865 formed themselves into a national party and urged administrative and economic changes upon Madrid felt the lack of understanding among Spanish statesmen. The concessions asked were not a broad application of civil liberties. When their programme was rejected in its entirety they ceased to ask favors. They inaugurated the Ten Years' War." Regarding this action by the Cubans, Dr. Enrique Jose Varona, a distinguished Cuban and a former deputy to the Cortes, has stated that "before the insurrection of 1868, the reform party which included the most enlightened, wealthy, and influential Cubans, exhausted all the resources within their reach to induce Spain to initiate a healthy change in her Cuban policy. The party started the publication of periodicals in Madrid and in the island, addressed petitions, maintained a great agitation throughout the country, and having succeeded in leading the Spanish Government to make an inquiry into the economic, political, and social conditions in Cuba, they presented a complete plan of government which satisfied public requirements as well as the aspirations of the people. The Spanish Government disdainfully cast aside the proposition as useless, increased taxation, and proceeded to its exaction with extreme severity." Here not seek its independence; the object was reform in oppressive laws and in burdensome taxation, a measure of self-government, under Spain, and a greater industrial and commercial freedom. It is most difficult to understand the short-sightedness of the Spanish authorities. The war soon followed the refusal of these entirely reasonable demands, and the course of the Cubans is entirely to their credit. An acceptance of the situation and a further submission would have shown them as contemptible.

The details of a conflict that lasted for ten years are quite impossible of presentation in a few pages. Nor are they of value or interest to any except special students who can find them elaborately set forth in many volumes, some in Spanish and a few in English. Having tried once before to cover this period as briefly and as adequately as possible, I can do no better here than to repeat the story as told in an earlier work (Cuba, and the Intervention). On the 10th of October, 1868, Carlos Manuel Cespedes and his associates raised the cry of Cuban independence at Yara, in the Province of Puerto Principe (now Camaguey). On the 10th of April, 1869, there was proclaimed the Constitution of the Cuban Republic. During the intervening months, there was considerable fighting, though it was largely in the nature of guerrilla skirmishing. The Spanish Minister of State asserted in a memorandum issued to Spain's representatives in other countries, under date of February 3, 1876, that at the outbreak of the insurrection Spain had 7,500 troops, all told, in Cuba. According to General Sickels, at that time the American Minister to Spain, this number was increased by reinforcements of 34,500 within the first year of the war. The accuracy of this information, however, has been questioned. Prior to the establishment of the so-called Republic, the affairs of the insurrection were in the hands of an Assembly of Representatives. On February 26, this body issued a decree proclaiming the abolition of slavery throughout the island, and calling upon those who thus received their freedom to "contribute their efforts to the independence of Cuba." During the opening days of April, 1869, the Assembly met at Guiamaro. On the tenth of that month a government was organized, with a president, vice-president, general-in-chief of the army, secretaries of departments, and a parliament or congress. Carlos Manuel Cespedes was chosen as President, and Manuel de Quesada as General-in-Chief. A Constitution was adopted. Senor Morales Lemus was appointed as minister to the United States, to represent the new Republic, and to ask official recognition by the American Government. The government which the United States was asked to recognize was a somewhat vague institution. The insurrection, or revolution, if it may be so called, at this time consisted of a nominal central government, chiefly self-organized and self-elected, and various roving bands, probably numbering some thousands in their aggregate, of men rudely and incompetently armed, and showing little or nothing of military organization or method.

Like all Cuban-Spanish wars and warfare, the destruction of property was a common procedure. Some of the methods employed for the suppression of the insurrection were not unlike those adopted by General Weyler in the later war. At Bayamo, on April 4, 1869, Count Valmaseda, the Spanish Commandant of that district, issued the following proclamation:

1. Every man, from the age of fifteen years upward, found away from his place of habitation, who does not prove a justified reason therefor, will be shot.

2. Every unoccupied habitation will be burned by the troops.

3. Every habitation from which no white flag floats, as a signal that its occupants desire peace, will be reduced to ashes.

In the summer of 1869, the United States essayed a reconciliation and an adjustment of the differences between the contestants. To this Spain replied that the mediation of any nation in a purely domestic question was wholly incompatible with the honor of Spain, and that the independence of Cuba was inadmissible as a basis of negotiation. Heavy reinforcements were sent from Spain, and the strife continued. The commerce of the island was not greatly disturbed, for the reason that the great producing and commercial centres lay to the westward, and the military activities were confined, almost exclusively, to the eastern and central areas. In April, 1874, Mr. Fish, then Secretary of State, reported that "it is now more than five years since the uprising (in Cuba) and it has been announced with apparent authority, that Spain has lost upward of 80,000 men, and has expended upward of $100,000,000, in efforts to suppress it; yet the insurrection seems today as active and as powerful as it has ever been." Spain's losses among her troops were not due so much to the casualties of war as they were to the ravages of disease, especially yellow fever. The process, in which both parties would appear to be about equally culpable, of destroying property and taking life when occasion offered, proceedings which are hardly to be dignified by the name of war, continued until the beginning of 1878. Throughout the entire period of the war, the American officials labored diligently for its termination on a basis that would give fair promise of an enduring peace. Many questions arose concerning the arrest of American citizens and the destruction of property of American ownership. Proposals to grant the Cubans the rights of belligerents were dismissed as not properly warranted by the conditions, and questions arose regarding the supply of arms and ammunition, from this country, by filibustering expeditions. References to Cuban affairs appear in many presidential messages, and the matter was a subject of much discussion and numerous measures in Congress. Diplomatic communication was constantly active. In his message of December 7, 1875, President Grant said: "The past year has furnished no evidence of an approaching termination of the ruinous conflict which has been raging for seven years in the neighboring island of Cuba. While conscious that the insurrection has shown a strength and endurance which make it at least doubtful whether it be in the power of Spain to subdue it, it seems unquestionable that no such civil organization exists which may be recognized as an independent government capable of performing its international obligations and entitled to be treated as one of the powers of the earth." Nor did he then deem the grant of belligerent rights to the Cubans as either expedient or properly warranted by the circumstances.

In 1878, Martinez Campos was Governor-General of Cuba, and Maximo Gomez was Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban forces. Both parties were weary of the prolonged hostilities, and neither was able to compel the other to surrender. Spain, however, professed a willingness to yield an important part of the demands of her rebellious subjects. Martinez Campos and Gomez met at Zanjon and, on February 10, 1878, mutually agreed to what has been variously called a peace pact, a treaty, and a capitulation. The agreement was based on provisions for a redress of Cuban grievances through greater civil, political, and administrative privileges for the Cubans, with forgetfulness of the past and amnesty for all then under sentence for political offences. Delay in carrying these provisions into effect gave rise to an attempt to renew the struggle two years later, but the effort was a failure.

Matters then quieted down for a number of years. The Cubans waited to see what would be done. The Spanish Governor-General still remained the supreme power and, aside from the abolition of slavery, the application of the Spanish Constitution and Spanish laws to Cuba, and Cuban representation in the Cortes, much of which was rather form than fact, the island gained little by the new conditions. Discontent and protest continued and, at last, broke again into open rebellion in 1895.

The story of that experience is told in another chapter. In 1906, there came one of the most deplorable experiences in the history of the island, the first and only discreditable revolution. The causes of the experience are not open to our criticism. Our own records show too much of precisely the same kind of work, illegal registration, ballot box stuffing, threats and bribery. The first election in the new Republic was carried with only a limited and somewhat perfunctory opposition to the candidacy of Estrada Palma. Before the second election came, in 1905, he allied himself definitely with an organization then known as the Moderate party. The opposition was known as the Liberal party. Responsibility for the disgraceful campaign that followed rests on both, almost equally. The particular difference lies in the fact that, the principal offices having been given to adherents of the Moderates, they were able to control both registration and election proceedings. But the methods employed by the opposition were no less censurable. Realizing defeat, the Liberals withdrew from the field, by concerted action, on the day of the election, and the Moderates elected every one of their candidates. Naturally, a feeling of bitter resentment was created, and there came, in the spring of 1906, rumors of armed revolt. In August, an actual insurrection was begun. Disgruntled political leaders gathered formidable bands in Pinar del Rio and in Santa Clara provinces. President Palma became seriously alarmed, even actually frightened. Through the United States Consul-General in Havana, he sent urgent appeals to Washington for naval and military aid. Mr. Taft, then Secretary of War, and Mr. Bacon, the Assistant Secretary of State, were sent to Havana to investigate and report on the situation. They arrived in Havana on September 19. After ten days of careful and thorough study, and earnest effort to effect an adjustment, a proclamation was issued declaring the creation of a provisional government. This was accepted by both parties and the insurgent bands dispersed. Charles E. Magoon was sent down as Provisional Governor. Americans who are disposed to censure the Cubans for this experience in their history, may perhaps turn with profit to some little experiences in the history of their own country in its political infancy, in 1786 and 1794. Those incidents do not relieve the Cubans of the censure to which they are open, but they make it a little difficult for us to condemn them with proper grace and dignity. The provisional government continued until January 28, 1909, when control was turned over to the duly elected officials, they being the same who withdrew from the polls, acknowledging defeat, in the election of 1905.