HISTORY OF THE CARIBBEAN (WEST INDIES)

     
The Spanish Caribbean: 1821-1898

The loss of Santo Domingo in 1821 is a particular blow to Spanish pride, since the island of Hispaniola was the first of Columbus' discoveries to be colonized. But it still leaves Spain as the major colonial power in the West Indies.

Of the five largest islands in the Caribbean, all of which were Spanish in the 16th century, Jamaica has been lost to Britain in 1655. Trinidad has been ceded to Britain by the treaty of Amiens in 1802. And both halves of Hispaniola have now claimed their independence. But the largest island of all, Cuba, is Spanish. So is Puerto Rico.

×

With the Spanish possessions in south and central America all winning their independence during the 1820s, these two large Caribbean islands are now all that remains of the Spanish empire (apart from the Philippines). As a result their form of government becomes a subject of intense debate and struggle throughout the 19th century.

The various solutions range from close links with Spain at certain periods (including even representation for Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Cortes in Madrid) to despotic rule by provincial governors at others.

×

The liberal period, with a role in the Cortes, is associated mainly with the early years. At this time Spain, confronted by rebellious colonies throughout south America, is eager to accomodate the two island territories which show an inclination to loyalty. But in Spain's new constitution of 1837 it is declared that the two Caribbean islands are not Spanish provinces in the full sense. Henceforth they are to have no link with the Cortes and are to be governed by 'special laws'.

The special laws fail to materialize, leaving full power in the hands of the Spanish governor general of each island. There are bad times and worse times, but in general the system does not meet with much local approval.

×
     
Cuban wars: 1868-1897

As two slave-owning societies, both Cuba and Puerto Rico are much affected by the great issue of the mid-19th century, the emancipation of the slaves. The decade of the Civil War in the neighbouring great power, the United States, leads to violent times in both islands. There is a liberal revolt in Puerto Rico in 1868. This is soon suppressed. But the same year sees the beginning of an uprising in Cuba which leads to a long and full-scale war.

The Ten Years' War of 1868-78 begins when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes declares Cuban independence and the emancipation of the slaves. His revolutionary government wins considerable support in the eastern half of the island, which becomes the scene of ruthless guerilla warfare between rebels and Spanish troops.

×

It is calculated that as many as 200,000 Cubans and Spaniards die during the ten years of the war. Eventually, in 1878, peace is restored when the Spanish government promises extensive reforms including the abolition of slavery. This is granted in stages during the 1880s, but other promises are broken.

Discontent mounts again, and becomes intense when the American slump of 1893 results in a drastic reduction in the export of Cuban sugar. The Cuban leaders from the recent war take up arms again for a renewed attempt at independence. Spain sends an army of 200,000 troops. And this time the brutalities are even more extreme.

×

The Cubans set about destroying the plantations which are the source of the Spanish revenue from the island. The Spanish governor, Valeriano Weyler, responds with a policy aimed at the civilian population. Rounding up families and enclosing them in hastily constructed and insanitary detention centres, he invents the horrors of the concentration camp (which reappear in the Boer War before their most notorious use in Nazi Germany).

Thousands die in the care of Weyler's guards. An international outcry causes the Spanish government to recall their governor in 1897 and to abandon this particular policy. But the news of his camps is partly responsible for escalating the conflict, to Spain's great disadvantage.


×
     
Spanish-American War: 1898

The brutal Spanish repression of the Cuban independence movement, including the details of the concentration camps, is vividly reported in the American press. Humanitarian outrage, combined with instinctive sympathy for a colonial people fighting for freedom, leads to popular demand for US intervention. This is resisted by two American presidents, Cleveland and McKinley, but war becomes unavoidable after an incident in February 1898.

The US battleship Maine is in Havana harbour, on standby to protect American citizens and property, when an explosion sinks her with the loss of 260 lives.

×

It is assumed in the US that a mine of some kind is responsible. The Spanish insist that it was an accident (and indeed a fire in the ship's coal bunkers spreading to the ammunition store could well be the reason), but President McKinley now demands Cuban independence as the price of peace.

Spain cannot yield this much and by the end of April the two nations are formally at war. On May 1 an American squadron steams into the harbour of Manila, in the Philippines, and sinks the Spanish warships riding at anchor. American troops arrive in the Philippines in August in sufficient numbers to occupy the city of Manila.

×

Meanwhile another Spanish fleet has been destroyed off the shores of Cuba. Some hard fighting brings the Americans into Santiago, after which the Spanish garrison on the island surrenders. At the same time an American force occupies Puerto Rico, which has recently been making its own strenuous efforts to win independence.

In the resulting treaty, signed in Paris in December 1898, Spain cedes to the USA the islands of Puerto Rico, the Philippines (for a payment of $20 million) and Guam in the Marianas. Cuba is 'relinquished' to the USA specifically in trust for its inhabitants, to whose independence America is already committed.

×

This History is as yet incomplete.

×




< Prev.  Page 4 of 4  

The first arrivals

The Spanish

Colonial hostilities

Spain
To be completed





HISTORY OF THE CARIBBEAN (WEST INDIES)

     
The Spanish Caribbean: 1821-1898

The loss of Santo Domingo in 1821 is a particular blow to Spanish pride, since the island of Hispaniola was the first of Columbus' discoveries to be colonized. But it still leaves Spain as the major colonial power in the West Indies.

Of the five largest islands in the Caribbean, all of which were Spanish in the 16th century, Jamaica has been lost to Britain in 1655. Trinidad has been ceded to Britain by the treaty of Amiens in 1802. And both halves of Hispaniola have now claimed their independence. But the largest island of all, Cuba, is Spanish. So is Puerto Rico.

×

With the Spanish possessions in south and central America all winning their independence during the 1820s, these two large Caribbean islands are now all that remains of the Spanish empire (apart from the Philippines). As a result their form of government becomes a subject of intense debate and struggle throughout the 19th century.

The various solutions range from close links with Spain at certain periods (including even representation for Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Cortes in Madrid) to despotic rule by provincial governors at others.

×

The liberal period, with a role in the Cortes, is associated mainly with the early years. At this time Spain, confronted by rebellious colonies throughout south America, is eager to accomodate the two island territories which show an inclination to loyalty. But in Spain's new constitution of 1837 it is declared that the two Caribbean islands are not Spanish provinces in the full sense. Henceforth they are to have no link with the Cortes and are to be governed by 'special laws'.

The special laws fail to materialize, leaving full power in the hands of the Spanish governor general of each island. There are bad times and worse times, but in general the system does not meet with much local approval.

×
     
Cuban wars: 1868-1897

As two slave-owning societies, both Cuba and Puerto Rico are much affected by the great issue of the mid-19th century, the emancipation of the slaves. The decade of the Civil War in the neighbouring great power, the United States, leads to violent times in both islands. There is a liberal revolt in Puerto Rico in 1868. This is soon suppressed. But the same year sees the beginning of an uprising in Cuba which leads to a long and full-scale war.

The Ten Years' War of 1868-78 begins when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes declares Cuban independence and the emancipation of the slaves. His revolutionary government wins considerable support in the eastern half of the island, which becomes the scene of ruthless guerilla warfare between rebels and Spanish troops.

×

It is calculated that as many as 200,000 Cubans and Spaniards die during the ten years of the war. Eventually, in 1878, peace is restored when the Spanish government promises extensive reforms including the abolition of slavery. This is granted in stages during the 1880s, but other promises are broken.

Discontent mounts again, and becomes intense when the American slump of 1893 results in a drastic reduction in the export of Cuban sugar. The Cuban leaders from the recent war take up arms again for a renewed attempt at independence. Spain sends an army of 200,000 troops. And this time the brutalities are even more extreme.

×

The Cubans set about destroying the plantations which are the source of the Spanish revenue from the island. The Spanish governor, Valeriano Weyler, responds with a policy aimed at the civilian population. Rounding up families and enclosing them in hastily constructed and insanitary detention centres, he invents the horrors of the concentration camp (which reappear in the Boer War before their most notorious use in Nazi Germany).

Thousands die in the care of Weyler's guards. An international outcry causes the Spanish government to recall their governor in 1897 and to abandon this particular policy. But the news of his camps is partly responsible for escalating the conflict, to Spain's great disadvantage.


×
     
Spanish-American War: 1898

The brutal Spanish repression of the Cuban independence movement, including the details of the concentration camps, is vividly reported in the American press. Humanitarian outrage, combined with instinctive sympathy for a colonial people fighting for freedom, leads to popular demand for US intervention. This is resisted by two American presidents, Cleveland and McKinley, but war becomes unavoidable after an incident in February 1898.

The US battleship Maine is in Havana harbour, on standby to protect American citizens and property, when an explosion sinks her with the loss of 260 lives.

×

It is assumed in the US that a mine of some kind is responsible. The Spanish insist that it was an accident (and indeed a fire in the ship's coal bunkers spreading to the ammunition store could well be the reason), but President McKinley now demands Cuban independence as the price of peace.

Spain cannot yield this much and by the end of April the two nations are formally at war. On May 1 an American squadron steams into the harbour of Manila, in the Philippines, and sinks the Spanish warships riding at anchor. American troops arrive in the Philippines in August in sufficient numbers to occupy the city of Manila.

×

Meanwhile another Spanish fleet has been destroyed off the shores of Cuba. Some hard fighting brings the Americans into Santiago, after which the Spanish garrison on the island surrenders. At the same time an American force occupies Puerto Rico, which has recently been making its own strenuous efforts to win independence.

In the resulting treaty, signed in Paris in December 1898, Spain cedes to the USA the islands of Puerto Rico, the Philippines (for a payment of $20 million) and Guam in the Marianas. Cuba is 'relinquished' to the USA specifically in trust for its inhabitants, to whose independence America is already committed.

×

This History is as yet incomplete.

×

> HISTORY OF THE CARIBBEAN (WEST INDIES)

     
The Spanish Caribbean: 1821-1898

The loss of Santo Domingo in 1821 is a particular blow to Spanish pride, since the island of Hispaniola was the first of Columbus' discoveries to be colonized. But it still leaves Spain as the major colonial power in the West Indies.

Of the five largest islands in the Caribbean, all of which were Spanish in the 16th century, Jamaica has been lost to Britain in 1655. Trinidad has been ceded to Britain by the treaty of Amiens in 1802. And both halves of Hispaniola have now claimed their independence. But the largest island of all, Cuba, is Spanish. So is Puerto Rico.

With the Spanish possessions in south and central America all winning their independence during the 1820s, these two large Caribbean islands are now all that remains of the Spanish empire (apart from the Philippines). As a result their form of government becomes a subject of intense debate and struggle throughout the 19th century.

The various solutions range from close links with Spain at certain periods (including even representation for Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Cortes in Madrid) to despotic rule by provincial governors at others.

The liberal period, with a role in the Cortes, is associated mainly with the early years. At this time Spain, confronted by rebellious colonies throughout south America, is eager to accomodate the two island territories which show an inclination to loyalty. But in Spain's new constitution of 1837 it is declared that the two Caribbean islands are not Spanish provinces in the full sense. Henceforth they are to have no link with the Cortes and are to be governed by 'special laws'.

The special laws fail to materialize, leaving full power in the hands of the Spanish governor general of each island. There are bad times and worse times, but in general the system does not meet with much local approval.

     
Cuban wars: 1868-1897

As two slave-owning societies, both Cuba and Puerto Rico are much affected by the great issue of the mid-19th century, the emancipation of the slaves. The decade of the Civil War in the neighbouring great power, the United States, leads to violent times in both islands. There is a liberal revolt in Puerto Rico in 1868. This is soon suppressed. But the same year sees the beginning of an uprising in Cuba which leads to a long and full-scale war.

The Ten Years' War of 1868-78 begins when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes declares Cuban independence and the emancipation of the slaves. His revolutionary government wins considerable support in the eastern half of the island, which becomes the scene of ruthless guerilla warfare between rebels and Spanish troops.

It is calculated that as many as 200,000 Cubans and Spaniards die during the ten years of the war. Eventually, in 1878, peace is restored when the Spanish government promises extensive reforms including the abolition of slavery. This is granted in stages during the 1880s, but other promises are broken.

Discontent mounts again, and becomes intense when the American slump of 1893 results in a drastic reduction in the export of Cuban sugar. The Cuban leaders from the recent war take up arms again for a renewed attempt at independence. Spain sends an army of 200,000 troops. And this time the brutalities are even more extreme.


The Cubans set about destroying the plantations which are the source of the Spanish revenue from the island. The Spanish governor, Valeriano Weyler, responds with a policy aimed at the civilian population. Rounding up families and enclosing them in hastily constructed and insanitary detention centres, he invents the horrors of the concentration camp (which reappear in the Boer War before their most notorious use in Nazi Germany).

Thousands die in the care of Weyler's guards. An international outcry causes the Spanish government to recall their governor in 1897 and to abandon this particular policy. But the news of his camps is partly responsible for escalating the conflict, to Spain's great disadvantage.


     
Spanish-American War: 1898

The brutal Spanish repression of the Cuban independence movement, including the details of the concentration camps, is vividly reported in the American press. Humanitarian outrage, combined with instinctive sympathy for a colonial people fighting for freedom, leads to popular demand for US intervention. This is resisted by two American presidents, Cleveland and McKinley, but war becomes unavoidable after an incident in February 1898.

The US battleship Maine is in Havana harbour, on standby to protect American citizens and property, when an explosion sinks her with the loss of 260 lives.

It is assumed in the US that a mine of some kind is responsible. The Spanish insist that it was an accident (and indeed a fire in the ship's coal bunkers spreading to the ammunition store could well be the reason), but President McKinley now demands Cuban independence as the price of peace.

Spain cannot yield this much and by the end of April the two nations are formally at war. On May 1 an American squadron steams into the harbour of Manila, in the Philippines, and sinks the Spanish warships riding at anchor. American troops arrive in the Philippines in August in sufficient numbers to occupy the city of Manila.

Meanwhile another Spanish fleet has been destroyed off the shores of Cuba. Some hard fighting brings the Americans into Santiago, after which the Spanish garrison on the island surrenders. At the same time an American force occupies Puerto Rico, which has recently been making its own strenuous efforts to win independence.

In the resulting treaty, signed in Paris in December 1898, Spain cedes to the USA the islands of Puerto Rico, the Philippines (for a payment of $20 million) and Guam in the Marianas. Cuba is 'relinquished' to the USA specifically in trust for its inhabitants, to whose independence America is already committed.

This History is as yet incomplete.



< Prev.  Page 4 of 4  



List of subjects |  Sources