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Cuba, struggle for independence from Spain, 1868–1898

Diana Espirito Santo


Subject History » Political History
Study of History » Comparative History

Place The Caribbean » Cuba

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

Key-Topics colonialism, equality, imperialism, nationalism, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00430.x


Extract

Cuba's first war of independence from Spain, known as the Ten Years' War, lasted from 1868 to 1878, and is understood by historians largely in the context of the Creole islanders' concerns with slavery and the viability of the island's continuity as an economic and social system. For the sugar and coffee plantation elites, slavery constituted the primary vehicle for the production of wealth, but was also to be the system that provoked its eventual crisis and ultimate downfall. For the first half of the nineteenth century, the educated Cuban Creole elite pursued fervent opposition to independence, but by the 1860s this sentiment began to shift, as Cuba's own social and economic conditions also dramatically changed. Spain was under pressure by British abolitionist policies from the beginning of the century, but not completely acquiesced in practice, despite the enactment in 1845 of the Law of Abolition and Repression of the Slave Trade in Madrid. Between 1821 and 1831 it is estimated that 60,000 slaves landed in Cuba, while between 1830 and 1850 the average is thought to have been 10,000 a year. Illicit trade was difficult to control, and the colonial authorities could not risk alienating their Creole support base by pursuing its perpetrators or consumers. But the conditions of the treaty did mean that the acquisition of slaves became a more risky, and most importantly, costly business. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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