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followed by sentences that present and discuss supporting evidence
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followed by sentences that present and discuss supporting evidence

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Optional – Evidence 3 and discussion that supports your point
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Evidence 2 and discussion that supports your point
Optional – Evidence 3 and discussion that supports your point

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Historical Review.





Cuba Between Empires,

1898- 1899

Louis A. Perez, Jr.

The author is a member of the history department in the
University of South Florida, Tampa


As THE BATTLESHIP Maine steamed toward Havana harbor
in February 1898, insurgents in Cuba prepared to commemo-
rate the third anniversary of the renewed war for independence,
a struggle launched first in 1868 and thereafter continuing
intermittently in various parts of the island. By 1898, Cubans
had fought nearly thirty years against Spain for the inde-
pendence of the island.l If an appeal to arms as the means
of independence enjoyed general endorsement among Cuban
patriots, the precise meaning of independence failed to achieve
comparable consensus within insurgent ranks. Beyond a com-
monly shared notion that independence involved minimally
separation from Spain, the final structure of “Cuba Libre”
remained vaguely if not often incompatibly defined by the
various sectors of the separatist movement.

For many separatists independence from Spain signified only
the preliminary act of a larger drama in which Cuba would
ultimately find fulfillment in union with the United States.
Indeed, for the better part of the first decade of the thirty-
year struggle, annexationist sentiment occupied a central
position within the body of separatist thought.2 Annexationism

1This theme is skillfully developed in Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring, La guerra
libertadora cubana de los treinta ahos (2nd ed., La Habana, 1958).

2Francisco J. Ponte Dominguez, Historia de la guerra de los diez anos (La Habana, 1944),
27-29, 184- 189; Jose Ignacio Rodriguez, Estudio historico sobre el origen, desenvolvimiento


O 1979, by the Pacific Coast Branch,
American Historical Association

Pacific Historical Review


received most support from patrician separatists, creoles for
whom annexation offered the most practical resolution of con-
tradictions arising from Cuba’s growing economic dependence
on the United States while it remained politically dependent
on Spain. Detecting in the social heterogeneity of the Liber-
ation Army the sources of future unrest, moreover, annex-
ationists sought in union with the United States the salvation
of a socio-economic system now threatened by the political
forces released by the armed struggle against Spain. United
States sovereignty, many reasoned, promised at once to fill
the vacuum created by the expulsion of metropolitan Spain
and to guarantee the preservation of the status quo.3 In the
end, annexationists questioned the ability of Cubans to manage
the responsibilities of self-government successfully. “Cuba
Libre” raised for many the spectre of the apocalypse and
evoked images of race war, civil strife, and chronic political
instability. Both as precursors of the thirty-year separatist
struggle and later as leaders of the movement, such wealthy
planters as Miguel de Aladama, Jose Morales Lemus, and
Francisco de Frias (Count of Pozos Dulces) emerged as leading
advocates of annexation.

Other separatists shared many of the fundamental assump-
tions of the annexationists but refused to disavow the indi-
viduality of Cuba or renounce the vision of ultimate inde-
pendence. Like their conservative counter-parts, moderate
separatists acknowledged the perils attending premature
independence. Independence in this instance functioned as a
future goal attainable only through preparation and guidance.
In this view, moderate separatists contemplated a period of
apprenticeship in self-government during which Cuba would
submit itself to the United States as a protectorate for an
unspecified period of time. Special treaty arrangements, more-
over, promised to guarantee a market for Cuban products
while allowing the island to advance toward complete political

y manifestaciones prdcticas de le idea de la anexidn de la isla de Cuba a los Estados Unidos de
America (La Habana, 1900), 220-235.

3Herminio Portell Vila, “Anexionismo,” Humanismo, VII (Enero-Abril de 1959),
28-42; Pedro Garcia Valdes, La idea de la anexidn de Cuba a los Estados Unidos (Pinar del
Rio, 1947), 39-40; compare Jorge Ibarra, Ideologia mambisa (La Habana, 1967), 44-50.


Cuba Between Empires 475

sovereignty. Only supervised training in self-government under
controlled conditions, moderates argued, offered any reason-
able likelihood of success at nationhood. Tomas Estrada Palma,
a former president of the republic in arms during the Ten
Years War (1868-1878) and the ranking Cuban diplomat
in the United States between 1895 and 1898, gave clearest
expression to the protectorate tendencies within the separatist
movement. “Associated” with the United States, Estrada Palma
predicted confidently in 1878, Cuba would after a short period
of time be fully prepared to assume the full responsibilities
of statehood.4

Separatist ranks included, lastly, those patriots for whom the
ideal of independence represented an inviolate absolute. For
the independentista sector of the separatist movement, sover-
eignty necessarily involved independence from the United
States as much as it required separation from Spain. Indepen-
dence as an uncompromising ideal moved into a position of
central importance within insurgent ranks during the late
1880s and early 1890s largely as the result of the efforts of Jose
Marti.5 Passionately devoted to the cause of independence,
Marti worked tirelessly to forge the politico-military agencies
necessary to renew the armed struggle against Spain. These
efforts culminated in the 1890s with the organization of the
Cuban Revolutionary Party (PRC), the appointment of the
command hierarchy of the Liberation Army, and, in February
1895, the renewal of the separatist struggle.

The death of Marti early in the war consecrated the cause of
independence. The renewal of armed struggle in 1895 and the
definition of its goals were linked mainly if not exclusively, to
the efforts of Marti. Marti’s martyrdom and the doctrines he

4Tomas Estrada Palma to Benigno and Placido Gener, 13 de enero de 1878, in Tomas
Estrada Palma, Desde el Castillo de Figueras. Cartas de Estrada Palma (1877-1878), ed.
Carlos de Velasco (La Habana, 1918), 72-75; Panfilo D. Camacho, Estrada Palma, el
gobernante honrado (La Habana, 1938), 93.

SJose Marti, Ideario separatista, ed. Felix Lizaso (La Habana, 1947). The literature on
Marti is voluminous. The best biographies in English are Jorge Manach, Marti, Apostle of
Freedom, trans. Coley Taylor (New York, 1950) and Felix Lizaso, Marti, Martyr of Cuban
Independence, trans. Esther Elise Shuler (Albuquerque, 1953). A general sampling of
Marti’s writing can be found in Jose Marti, The American ofJose Marti, ed. Juan de Onis
(New York, 1953). Richard Butler Gray, Jose Marti, Cuban Patriot (Gainesville, Fla.,
1962), provides an excellent study of the impact of Marti on the Republic.


had forged over a lifetime all but silenced the advocates of
anything less than the cause for which Marti had offered his
life. Public discussion of annexation and protectorate schemes
ceased. Not that these sentiments disappeared; on the contrary,
discredited and largely banished from patriotic forums, annex-
ationists and advocates of the protectorate sought alternate
means through which to influence the course of events.

The “Grito de Baire” found Cuban patriots united around
little more than an unsettled notion of independence. By 1895,
moreover, the ideological diversity within the separatist move-
ment had acquired generational dimensions. Marti had sum-
moned to the cause of independence a new generation of
patriots, typically without experience in previous separatist
struggles, and for whom the idea of independence had been
shaped by the currents of the 1890s. By late 1898, finally, a
peculiar distribution tended to fix the location of the various
sectors of the separatist movement. The advocates of annex-
ation and the protectorate, financially capable of sustaining
exile, tended to serve the separatist cause abroad; often diplo-
matic representatives of the republic in arms and typically
spokesmen of the various patriotic organizations established
in New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Tampa, Paris, and
London, these exiled separatists came to exert a powerful
influence on public opinion abroad. Moderate separatists
remaining on the island tended to locate in the cities or remain
on their large estates, surreptitiously subsidizing the revolution
through periodic financial contributions. Independentista senti-
ment, on the other hand, came to reside largely in the politico-
military agencies of the armed struggle in Cuba.6

By late 1895 and early 1896, the war in Cuba had assumed
distinct anti-annexationist qualities. The army command had
organized a military campaign around the destruction of the

6Much more research is required on the important but complicated subject of Cuban
emigrations between 1868 and 1898. Three distinct separatist exile centers emerged
and attracted three different social groups: cigar workers in Tampa and Key West,
middle class professionals in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, and property
owners in Paris. Most of the literature is confined to the Tampa-Key West group. See
Manuel Deulofeu y Lleonart, Marti, Cayo Hueso y Tampa. La emigraci6n. Notas historicas
(Cienfuegos, 1902) and Fanny Azcuy, El Partido Revolucionario y la independencia de Cuba
(La Habana, 1930).


Cuba Between Empires

sugar estates.7 In attacking the agricultural wealth of Cuba the
insurgent command sought to destroy the economic base of
annexationist strength; it hoped thereby to neutralize annexa-
tionist influence in the separatist ranks and to deprive the
Spanish treasury of the funds traditionally derived from Cuban
sugar. Indeed, by 1896, the insurgents directed the struggle as
much against the sources of Spanish wealth in Cuba as against
the military sources of Spanish political authority.8 The in-
vasion of the sugar producing provinces of the west gave
dramatic form to insurgent strategies. By 1898, the insurgents
had effectively disrupted and almost completely destroyed the
foundations of the colonial economy.


By 1898, separatists in the United States had little to show for
their labors to secure support from Washington. Two succes-
sive administrations had viewed the Cuban insurgency with
disfavor. Only the prospect of a Cuban victory over Spain
seemed to trouble Washington more than the possible prolon-
gation of the war. Both Grover Cleveland and William McKin-
ley plotted a Cuban policy around efforts to exact from Madrid
reforms designed simultaneously to placate partisan leaders
and guarantee Spanish sovereignty over the island. Indeed, for
both administrations, Cuban independence represented some-
thing of an anathema if not an outright threat to U.S. national
interests. “There are only too strong reasons to fear,” Secretary
of State Richard Olney wrote, “that, once Spain were with-
drawn from the island, the sole bond of union between the
different factions would disappear; that a war of race would be
precipitated, all the more sanguinary for the discipline and

7See Cuartel del General del Ejercito Libertador, “Circular,” noviembre 6 de 1895,
enclosure number 1, in Ramon Williams to Edwin Uhl, Nov. 27, 1895, Despatches from
United States Consuls in Havana, 1783-1906, U.S. Dept. of State, Records, National

8See Jose Antonio Lanuza to Tomas Estrada Palma, julio 14 de 1896, in Partido
Revolucionario Cubano, La revolucion del 95 segun la correspondencia de la delegacion
cubana en Nueva York, ed. Le6n Primelles (5 vols., La Habana, 1932-1937), V,



experience acquired during the insurrection.” Olney offered
“to cooperate with Spain in the immediate pacification of the
island on a plan as, leaving Span [sic] her rights of sover-
eignty . . . yet secure to the people of the island all such rights
and powers of local self-government as they can reasonably

United States preparation for war with Spain in 1898, hence,
included scrupulous disregard for the politico-military author-
ity advanced by the insurgent republic in arms. Washington
feared that recognition of the Cuban government promised to
limit American freedom of action during the war and, ul-
timately, to commit the United States to Cuban independence
after the war. A “neutral intervention,” the State Department
reasoned, offered the United States the opportunity to “dictate
the terms of peace and control the organization of an inde-
pendent government in Cuba.”‘0 McKinley rejected recog-
nition for similar reasons. “In case of intervention,” the Presi-
dent explained, “our conduct would be subject to the approval
or disapproval of such government. We would be required to
submit to its direction and to assume to it the mere relation of a
friendly ally.”” Indeed, the intervention outlined by McKinley
on April 11, 1898, was not designed to assist the Cubans with
independence but functioned as a maneuver of “the United
States as a neutral to stop the war.”12


The imminence of United States intervention in 1898 evoked
mixed reactions among Cuban separatists. American silence on
the question of Cuban independence had a generally dis-

9Richard Olney to E. Dupuy de L6me, April 4, 1896, U.S. Dept. of State, Papers
Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1897 (Washington, D.C., 1898),
541-544. See also Stewart L. Woodford to William McKinley, March 18, 1898, in
Private Correspondence-General Woodford to the President, Aug. 1897 to May 1898,
John Bassett Moore Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Cleveland’s
opposition to Cuban independence is well developed in John A. S. Grenville and
George Berkeley Young, Politics, Strategy, and American Diplomacy (New Haven, 1966),
179-200, and Ernest May, Imperial Democracy (New York, 1961), 85-92.

‘0Alvey A. Adee to William R. Day, April 7, 1898, William R. Day Papers, Manuscript
Division, Library of Congress.

“Congressional Record, XXXI (April 11, 1898), 3701.

Cuba Between Empires

quieting effect on all separatist spokesmen. Indeed, when
confronted with the prospect of an American intervention
which might be deaf to Cuban pleas for independence, separa-
tists publicly repudiated Washington’s “neutral” intervention.
“In the face of the present proposal of intervention without
recognition,” the Cuban Junta in New York proclaimed, “it is
necessary for us .. .to say that we must and will regard such
intervention as nothing less than a declaration of war by the
United States against the Cuban revolutionists. If intervention
shall take place on that basis, and the United States shall land
an armed forced on Cuban soil, we shall treat that force as an
enemy to be opposed, and, if possible, expelled.”13

In Cuba, insurgent chieftains received news of the im-
pending intervention with similar misgivings.14 From the very
outset of the insurrection, military leaders shared little of the
enthusiasm displayed by their diplomatic counter-parts for
American recognition of belligerency. For many insurrectos, the
energy directed toward securing recognition represented mis-
placed, if not counter-productive efforts. The premium placed
abroad on recognition tended to confuse the issues, often
obscuring among separatists the sharp distinction between
recognition as a short-run tactic and as an end result. “Recog-
nition is like the rain,” General-in-Chief Maximo G6mez often
mused; “it is a good thing if it comes and a good thing if it
doesn’t come.”‘5 Nor did Cuban separatists in the field seek
foreign assistance. Supremely confident in the ultimate tri-
umph of Cuban arms, Gomez asked from his colleagues abroad
only weapons, ammunition, and supplies for the men already
in the field.’6 The news of the war between the United States
and Spain generally had an unsettling impact in many insur-
gents camps across the island. Several army chieftains confided
to diaries their concern for the ability of Cuban independence
to survive the “Spanish-American war.”17

13The State (Columbia, S.C.), April 7, 1898, p. 1. See also “Bulletin,” April 6, 1898,
Day Papers.

‘4Gen. Jose Mir6 Argenter to Bartolome Mas6, 3 de junio de 1898, in Rufino Perez
Landa, Bartolome Mas6 y Mdrquez. Estudio biografico documentado. (La Habana, 1947), 244.

5 In Grover Flint, Marching with Gomez (Boston, 1898), 189.
‘Ram6n Infiesta, Mdximo Gomez (La Habana, 1937), 203-204.
“See, for example, Manuel Piedra Martel, Mis primeros treinta anos: memorias (La

Habana, 1944), 487.



The Joint Resolution of Congress on April 20, 1898, recog-
nizing that the “people of Cuba are and of right ought to be
free and independent” and disclaiming any disposition to
exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over the island
except for its pacification,18 tended to calm separatist mis-
givings.19 Satisfied that the intervention made common cause
with separatist goals, Cubans from all sectors of the insurgent
movement pledged support to their new allies. In Cuba the
Council of Government promised complete cooperation and
ordered army chieftains to submit themselves to the authority
of the American army command.20 In the United States, exiles
participated actively in preparations for war. Scores of Cubans
offered the War Department their services as guides, trans-
lators, navigators, and pilots.21

Beyond the congressional pledge of April 20, however,
officials in Washington declined to make any further com-
mitment to the separatist cause. Indeed, the Joint Resolution
notwithstanding, McKinley’s preparation for war conformed
entirely to the spirit of the broader policy constructs outlined in
the presidential message of April 11. Washington continued to
disregard official agencies of the insurgent government. Amer-
ican commanders coordinated military policy with individual
army chieftains in Cuba, thereby ignoring the civil authority of
the republic represented by the Council of Government and
the military command in the person of General-in-Chief
Maximo Gomez.

Separatists accepted the anomalous alliance uneasily. Many
made no effort to conceal their displeasure at being ordered to
cooperate with a government that denied in policy and practice
the existence of the Cuban republic. Only confidence in the
stated American pledge, outlined in the Joint Resolution,
encouraged Cubans to believe that the intervention shared
aims in common with their struggle. No matter that the

‘8Congressional Record, XXXI (April 16, 1898), 3988.
‘9Manuel Arbelo, Recuerdos del la ultima guerra por la independencia de Cuba, 1896 a

1898 (La Habana, 1918), 303-305.
20Joaquin Llaverias y Martinez and Emeterio S. Santovenia, eds., Actas de las Asambleas

de Representantes y del Consejo de Gobierno durante la guerra de independencia (6 vols., La
Habana, 1927-1933), IV, 54-57.

21The Tampa Tribune, March 29, 1898, p. 1.

Cuba Between Empires 481

Americans refused to recognize the republic, as long as Wash-
ington endorsed the goals for which the republic stood. What-
ever else may have separated the Cubans and Americans, the
Joint Resolution, in the end, established the common ground
upon which war-time collaboration rested.

The fragile alliance did not survive the first weeks of joint
operations. At the front lines of eastern Cuba and in the
trenches outside El Caney, San Juan, and Santiago de Cuba,
tensions between the allied armies mounted. For many in-
surrectos, first contact with the Americans confirmed deep-
seated fears. Far too many American officers, the Cubans
sensed uneasily, moved in their midst brusquely, preemptively,
and, worst of all, unsympathetic to the separatist cause.22 Cuban
officers balked at assignments that would have converted the
soldiers of the Liberation Army entirely into messengers, pack-
carriers, and trench-diggers.

Nor was the United States command prepared for its first
encounter with the most intransigent independentistas in the
field. Insurgent soldiers, Americans quickly discovered, de-
parted radically from the mold of separatists known in New
York and Washington. These Cubans were not neatly attired,
well-educated white diplomats; on the contrary, insurgent
soldiers in eastern Cuba were often virtually unclad, typically
illiterate, and largely black. Weary after some three years of
war and wary of the American purpose in Cuba, the insurgents
conveyed little of the gratitude their would-be deliverers
deemed appropriate to the circumstances. Conscious of the
self-proclaimed role of liberators, Americans took umbrage in
the reception greeting their arrival in Cuba. “The American
soldier… ,” war correspondent Stephen Crane observed,
“thinks of himself as a disinterested benefactor, and he would
like the Cubans to play up to the ideal now and then… He
does not really want to be thanked, and yet the total absence of
anything like gratitude makes him furious.”23

By mid-summer, outright contempt for Cubans had become
commonplace behind American lines. “The Cubans are a dirty

2Stephen Bonsai, The Fightfor Santiago (New York, 1899), 532-534.
23New York World, July 14, 1898, p. 3. R. W. Stallman and E. R. Hageman, eds., The

War Dispatches of Stephen Crane (New York, 1964), 181.


filthy lot,” one American officer complained.24 Cuban insur-
gents “hear nothing but words of scorn from our men as they
pass,” the Associated Press correspondent in Santiago de Cuba
reported. “Even our officers,” the correspondent continued,
“no longer conceal their disgust for their allies, and it is
understood that the warm friendship displayed toward them at
first has now turned into contempt.”25 Sensing hostility from
the people they had apparently come to liberate, enthusiasm
among American commanders for “Cuba Libre” and their
affection for its advocates in the field waned noticeably.

The capitulation of Santiago de Cuba dramatically under-
scored the contradictions of the alliance. By the terms of the
surrender, the United States assumed control of key cities and
towns in the province.26 Much to the dismay of General Calixto
Garcia, the ranking commander of Cuban forces in eastern
Cuba, the capitulation ratified incumbent Spanish civil officials
in their positions. The American army command, moreover,
prohibited Cuban soldiers from entering the eastern capital.
Disappointed with the terms of the capitulation and angered by
the disregard the United States had displayed for Cuban
sensibilities, Garcia protested directly to General William R.
Shafter, the American commander, and thereupon forwarded
his resignation to Cuban authorities. Events in Santiago de
Cuba, Garcia wrote, had made any further cooperation with
the United States impossible; rather than disobey government
directives ordering Cuban officers to submit to American
orders, Garcia chose to resign.27

Shafter, too, sensed the compelling implications underlying
the dispute. The “trouble with General Garcia,” Shafter wrote
with some impatience, “was that he expected to be placed in

24Lt. Col. Clinton Smith to Col. Augustus R. Francis, July 31, 1898, published in
New York Times, Aug. 12, 1898, p. 1.

2sThe State (Columbia, S.C.), July 20, 1898, p. 1.
26Jose Miieller y Teijeiro, Battles and Capitulations of Santiago de Cuba, Office of Naval

Intelligence, War Note No. 1, Information From Abroad, in U.S. Senate, Notes on the
Spanish-American War, 56th Cong., 1st sess., document no. 388, ser. 3876 (Washington,
1900), 145.

27Cuba, Ejercito Libertador, Parte oficial del Lugarteniente General Calixto Garcia al
General enjefe Mdximo Gdmez el 15 dejulio de 1898 sobre la campaia de Santiago de Cuba (La
Habana, 1953), 22-23. Calixto Garcia Iniguez, Palabras de tres guerras (La Habana,
1942), 98-99.


Cuba Between Empires 483

command at this place; in other words that we would turn over
the city to him.” The American commander reported that he
had “explained fully that we were at war with Spain, and that
the question of Cuban independence would not be considered
by me.”28

The dispute surrounding the disposition of Santiago de
Cuba brought the developing estrangement between allied
leaders into sharp relief. The peace protocol a month later
further heightened the anomalous features of the alliance.
Cuban denunciation of United States policy in Santiago de
Cuba served to fix in the minds of American leaders the view of
the Cubans as ungrateful rabble. Between the capitulation of
Santiago de Cuba and the protocol of August 12, moreover,
the scorn of Cuban insurrectos assumed increasingly political

After the August 12 peace protocol, the central issue turned
on sovereignty over the island. Alluding to the Cubans’ claim of
sovereignty over the occupied regions, General William Shafter
stressed to Washington that “a dual government can’t exist
here; we have got to have full sway of the Cubans.” Other-
wise, Shafter predicted, there would inevitably be a war be-
tween the former allies to resolve competing claims of sover-
eignty.29 Indeed, the prospect of war between the Americans
and Cubans loomed as a real possibility in the minds of many
American officials. Only days after the protocol, General H. L.
Lawton, the American commander in Santiago de Cuba, ap-
pealed urgently for instructions from Washington about the
policy to be pursued toward the Cuban army. Cuban troops still
maintained their organization, Lawton explained, and were
“threatening in their attitude,” keeping the “inhabitants stirred
up and panicky by threats and acts of violence.”30 Washington
telegraphed its response within hours. Interference in the

“8Gen. William R. Shafter to R. A. Alger, July 29, 1898, U.S. Dept. of War, Corre-
spondence Relating to the War with Spain (Washington, D.C., 1902), 185 (hereafter cited as

29Gen. William R. Shafter to Adj. Gen., Aug. 16, 1898, U.S. Cong., Report of the
Commission Appointed by the President to Investigate the Conduct of the War Department in the
War with Spain, 56th Cong., 1st session, ser. 3859-3866 (8 vols., Washington, D.C.,
1900), II, 1052 (hereafter cited as RCAP).

30Gen. H. W. Lawton to Adj. Gen. Corbin, Aug. 16, 1898, file 116542, Records of the
Adjutant General’s Office, Record Group 94, National Archives.


exercise of American authority, Lawton was instructed, could
not be tolerated. Washington demanded Cuban recognition of
the military occupation and the authority of the United States
over the island.31



By late summer and early fall, the rupture between the
United States and the insurgent leaders was all but complete.
Earlier disparagement of their Cuban allies during the war
gave way to increasing public doubts about whether the Cubans
possessed the virtues necessary for self-government. In the
weeks and months that followed the peace protocol, the Ameri-
can supposition of Cuban incapacity for self-government
hardened. “Self-government!” Shafter responded intemper-
ately to a reporter’s query. “Why those people are no more fit
for self-government than gunpowder is for hell.”32 It would be
another generation, General William Ludlow, governor of
Havana informed President McKinley, before Cubans would
be sufficiently fitted for the responsibilities of self-govern-
ment.33 General S. B. M. Young, a cavalry brigade commander
in Santiago de Cuba, concluded early in the occupation that the
“insurgents are a lot of degenerates, absolutely devoid of honor
or gratitude. They are no more capable of self-government
than the savages of Africa.”34 “If we are to save Cuba,” one
correspondent exhorted, “we must hold it. If we leave it to the
Cubans, we give it over to a reign of terror-to the machete and
the torch, to insurrection and assassination.”35 The United
States, officials proclaimed, would simply not turn the island
over to the insurgents for plunder and pillage. Indeed, the very
pledge contained in the Joint Resolution underwent increasing
re-examination and subtle re-definition. On the day of the

31Gen. H. C. Corbin to Gen. H. W. Lawton, Aug. 26, 1898, Correspondence, 231.
32New York Times, Dec. 19, 1898, p. 2, and The State, Dec. 19, 1898, p. 1.
33James Harrison Wilson, Under the Old Flag (2 vols., New York, 1912), II, 490.
34In Walter Millis, The Martial Spirit: A Study of Our War with Spain (Boston, 1931),

35New York Times, July 29, 1898, p. 4.

Cuba Between Empires

peace protocol, the New York Times reflected official thinking in
an editorial:

We are bound by a pledge which we must observe in good faith to
allow the people of the Island of Cuba to set up a Government of their
choice. They are obviously incapable of doing this at once … When
the time comes we shall withdraw and leave them to work out their
own destiny. If that time never comes we shall continue to control the
island, and ultimately, in all probability, it would be annexed to the
United States. The pledge we made by no means binds us to withdraw
at once, nor does full and faithful compliance with its spirit and letter
forbid us to become permanent possessors of Cuba if the Cubans
prove to be altogether incapable of self-government. A higher ob-
ligation than the pledge of the resolution of Congress would then
constrain us to continue our government of the island.36

The organization of the military occupation left Cuban
insurgents contained in the interior countryside, while it
brought the American command into immediate and direct
contact with those elements most hostile to “Cuba Libre.”
Distributed almost entirely throughout the towns and cities,
American forces found among the island’s urban citizenry
confirmation of their earlier misgivings of their Cuban allies.
Contemptuous of the Cuban insurrectos, Spanish residents lost
little time communicating their views to American authorities.
Fearful of the Cuban insurgent, often hysterical in their
opposition to Cuban independence, Spaniards consistently
denied that the Cubans possessed the aptitude necessary for

36New York Times, Aug. 12, 1898, p. 6. Anti-Cuban sentiment apparently worked and
emanated directly from the White House. The Hartford Herald, owned by McKinley’s
private secretary, John Addison Porter, railed against the Cubans in the aftermath of
the Santiago dispute: “Our Cuban Allies-would we have been saved from calling them
such!-are utter failures. They will neither fight nor work…. Lucky, indeed, was it
for the United States to have as a wall between them and their recognition as an
independent government so acute an observer and stanch a statesman as President
McKinley. Had it not been for our Chief Magistrate, these good-for-nothing allies of
ours would have been made superior in the command of fighting forces to our gallant
Miles …. The Government long ceased to put the slightest confidence in anything the
insurgents says …. President McKinley was right when with all his power he
successfully resisted the demand of Congress and of a large section of people that these
cowardly, good-for-nothing insurgents be recognized as an independent government.”
See “General Garcia and Cuban Conduct,” Literary Digest, XVII (July 30, 1898),



the rigors of self-government.37 Spaniards warned of pillage,
race war, and endless vendettas against peninsulares by vengeful
insurgents-all certain to follow in the wake of independence.38
After the defeat of Spain, Spanish residents transferred their
loyalties to the United States and emerged as advocates of
indefinite American sovereignty. Outspoken opponents of
Cuban independence, urban conservatives viewed the immi-
nent departure of Spain with alarm; without an independent
power base, discredited and vulnerable for having supported a
losing cause, these sectors perceived their hope for a future in
Cuba reduced to the protection afforded by the American flag.

Across the island, Spaniards emerged as the first and most
active supporters of the military occupation and also the most
hostile to “Cuba Libre”. Businessmen, merchants, landowners,
and local officials flocked around the occupation in search of
salvation from Cuban independence.39 Spaniards rushed to
volunteer their services to the military authorities and quickly
received local appointments; many incumbent officials were
ratified in their positions pending later reorganization. After
the peace protocol, Spanish and American troops fraternized
and together found in the Cuban insurrectos objects of scorn
and ridicule.40 “After the surrender of Santiago,” Secretary of
War R. A. Alger, later wrote, “the relations between our troops
and the Spaniards were of the most cordial character.”41 In the
peace, the former adversaries moved closer together while the
breach between the former allies widened.

The early military occupation also placed American author-
ities in direct contact with Cubans who, after the defeat of
Spain, transferred their affections to the United States. Well-
placed businessmen, absentee landowners, and merchants, the
majority of influential Cubans in the cities had supported
Spanish authority in fear of Cuban independence. The count-
less tens of thousands of Cuban-born residents who had served
Spain at various levels of insular government and had volun-

37Gen. William R. Shafter to Adj. Gen. Corbin,July 29, 1898, RCAP, II, 1053.
38″Los espanoles anexionistas,” Patria, 3 de agosto de 1898, pp. 2-3.
39Franklin Matthews, The New-Born Cuba, (New York, 1899), 42-43.
40Manuel Corral, iEl desastre! Memoris de un voluntario en la camparna de Cuba

(Barcelona, 1899), 232-233. John D. Miley, In Cuba with Shafter (New York, 1899), 224.
41R. A. Alger, The Spanish-American War (New York, 1901), 279.

Cuba Between Empires 487

teered their services to the Spanish army found the transition
to American authority easy to make.

American visitors in Cuba gave full circulation to the views of
Spanish and Cuban opponents of “Cuba Libre.” The “higher
classes,” a New York Times reporter wrote, “are opposed, above
all things, to an out and out Cuban Government …. If the
Cuban revolutionists get control, there will be a long reign of
terror in which all who have opposed the insurrection will
suffer greatly.”42 Another Times correspondent predicted that
compliance with the terms of the Joint Resolution “would mean
to turn over the island to a worse condition of anarchy from
which we are seeking to rescue it.”43 The Associated Press
correspondent wrote of the “dread” existing in Santiago de
Cuba at the prospect of independence and concluded that the
“better classes … fervently hope that the United States will
retain the reins of government in the island, as the only
guarantee of stability and prosperity.”44

With the restoration of peace, expatriates began to return
and swell the ranks of potential collaborators. By early fall,
thousands had arrived in Cuba in search of positions in the
rapidly expanding occupation bureaucracy. After years of
residence abroad, the exiles returned to Cuba often as Ameri-
can citizens in possession of varying degrees of fluency in
English; it was an asset of immediate practical value to the
occupation and accounted in part for the exiles’ quick inroads
into the bureaucracy of the occupation. Exiles filled positions in
civilian agencies almost as quickly as they were established. By
early 1899, in fact, the vast majority of positions in civilian
agencies had been distributed to the returning exiles.45

The ranks of the returning expatriates included many
moderates for whom the military occupation functioned as the
phase preliminary to the establishment of the protectorate.
Indeed, for many Cubans, the objectives of the insurrection

42New York Times, Aug. 5, 1898, p. 2.
43Ibid., Aug. 1, 1898, p. 6.
44The State, July 30, 1898, p. 4.
45See Tasker H. Bliss, “Annual Report of the Collector of Customs for Cuba, Fiscal

Year Ending June 30, 1899,” Aug. 1, 1899, in John R. Brooke, Civil Report of Major
General John R. Brooke, U.S. Army, Military Governor of Cuba, 1900 (Washington, D.C.,
1900), 374-375.


had been achieved. In October 1898, the exiles abolished the
Department of Expeditions, which was charged during the
independence struggle with supporting the Liberation Army
with arms, ammunition, and supplies.46 In December, the New
York Delegation announced the dissolution of the PRC, en-
joining patriotic juntas throughout the United States to disband
local organizations.


The events of the late summer and early fall had an unsettling
impact on separatist leaders. The August protocol had divided
the urban centers between Spanish and American forces, leav-
ing the vast majority of the 30,000 Cuban officers and men
encamped in the devastated countryside. Accustomed to living
off the land, dependent on supplies from abroad and levies
exacted locally from merchants and landowners, the Cuban
army had survived between 1895 and 1898 through extra-
legal measures sanctioned more or less by the exigencies of
the war. The end of the war signaled the end of the insur-
gent modus operandi. Confined to the interior countryside and
devastated by three years of war, conditions grew increas-
ingly desperate for the veterans.47 As long as the status of the
American military presence in Cuba remained , the
insurgent leadership showed a marked disinclination to order
the disbandment of the rebel armed forces. Interred in central
Cuba and distant from the centers of authority, General-in-
Chief Maximo G6mez brooded over late summer develop-
ments, enjoining his commanders to hold the army together
until further notice.48

In October 1898, the Council of Government convened a
National Assembly composed of representatives elected by the

46General Emilio Nufiez a los Jefes y Oficiales del Departamento de Expediciones,
octubre 15 de 1898, Patria, 19 de octubre de 1898, p. 1.

47Maximo Gomez, Diario de campana (La Habana, 1968), 366. Gen. Jose M. Rodri-
guez to Bartolome Mas6, n.d. [ca. October 1898], Llaverias and Santovenia, Actas de las
Asambleas, IV, 151.

4SOrestes Ferrara, Mis relaciones con Maximo G6mez (2nd ed., La Habana, 1942),


Cuba Between Empires

various Cuban army corps. Two issues loomed before the
Assembly. The first concerned the posture of the insurgent
government toward the American occupation. The second
question involved an inquiry into the methods available to
finance the disbandment of the Liberation Army. To resolve
both these issues, the Assembly appointed a commission headed
by General Calixto Garcia to seek information in Washington.

The Cuban Commission passed the early part of December
in Washington negotiating unsuccessfully with American
authorities for ample funds to dissolve the Liberation Army. A
meeting in the White House early in December ended with
President McKinley offering the Cubans the balance of the war
appropriations-$3,000,000-as a relief fund for the army
veterans; the sum proved unacceptable to the commission.49
The death of Calixto Garcia near the end of the negotiations
practically halted further meetings between Cubans and Amer-
icans. The commission returned to Cuba recommending re-
jection of the White House offer and encouraged the full
Assembly to seek the necessary funds elsewhere.

The growing breach between the Assembly and the United
States deepened as the military government formally com-
menced in January 1899. As long as the Assembly continued to
function and speak for the insurgent republic, American
control over the island remained incomplete. As a rival to
American political authority, the Assembly’s repudiation of
McKinley’s offer and its subsequent determination to seek
funds from private sources promised to raise innumerable
obstacles in the path of the military government.50 Much to the
dismay of separatist military chieftains in the interior, more-
over, Washington had commenced the organization of the
occupation without consulting ranking representatives of the
insurgent civil-military agencies in Cuba. Uneasiness swept
across insurgent camps as the veterans witnessed public offices
and administrative positions distributed to non-participants-if

49Nestor Carbonell y Rivero, En torno a una gran vida (La Habana, 1948), 65-66.
50Gen. John Brooke to Adj. Gen. Corbin, Feb. 20, 1899, Division of Cuba, Letters

Sent, File 808, Records of the United States Army Overseas Operations and
Commands, 1899-1942, Record Group 395, National Archives. R. A. Alger to John
Brook, March 13, 1899, William McKinley Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of



indeed not outright opponents-in the separatist struggle. The
insurgents bridled against the contempt of their former allies,
Spanish-American fraternization in the cities, and growing
American attacks on “Cuba Libre.” Talk of renewing the war,
this time against the United States, increased through the fall
among the younger officers.51

In central Cuba, General-in-Chief Maximo G6mez ap-
proached the end of the year in silent isolation. Communi-
cation with senior officials of the Cuban government had been
haphazard and infrequent; indeed, G6mez’s relations with the
Assembly had deteriorated markedly in the course of the fall.52
More than five months had passed, moreover, since the Amer-
icans had arrived in Cuba, and they had not once acknowl-
edged the authority of the Dominican-born generalissimo.
Despondency settled over army headquarters in Las Villas
province; uneasiness among senior army commanders in-
creased as fear spread that the United States planned to
disavow its commitment to Cuban independence.53 G6mez
lived in constant fear that the slightest incident, the smallest
altercation between the former allies, would be seized upon by
Washington to substantiate charges of Cuban incapacity and
provide the pretext with which to abrogate the pledge of the
Joint Resolution altogether.54 Certainly the mounting dispute
between the Assembly and the military government did little to
allay Gomez’s apprehensions. In late December 1898, another
controversy brought both armies to the brink of confrontation.
Governor General John Brooke’s decision to exclude the
Cuban army from the formal ceremonies in Havana marking

5″See Horacio Ferrer, Con el rifle al hombro (La Habana, 1950), 135-137, and Enrique
Collazo, Los americanos en Cuba (La Habana, 1905), 189-190.

52Tensions between the civilian leaders and military chieftains mounted steadily
throughout the war and often threatened to undermine the independence movement.
The split between the soliders and the statesmen was disastrous in 1868-1878 and
Marti sought unsuccessfully to avoid its reappearance in 1895. One of the better
treatments of the civil-military dispute is Lawrence R. Nichols, “Domestic History of
Cuba During the War of the Insurrectos, 1895-1898,” (Masters thesis, Duke University,

53Maximo Gomez to Gonzalo de Quesada, 20 de septiembre de 1898, Gonzalo de
Quesada y Miranda, Archivos de Gonzalo de Quesada, ed. Gonzalo de Quesada (La
Habana, 1948), 230.

54Maximo Gomez to Federico Henriquez y Carvajal, Maximo G6mez, Cartas de
Maximo Gomez, ed. Emilio Rodriguez Demorizi (Ciudad Trujillo, 1936), 30-31.

Cuba Between Empires

the end of Spanish sovereignty aroused considerable bitterness
among senior Cuban officers and no few murmurs of dis-
content within the ranks. Some weeks later, Cubans and
Americans were again locked in dispute, this time over the
position of the insurgent delegation at the funeral of Calixto
Garcia. Inadvertently assigned by Brooke and displaced to the
rear of the funeral procession, the Cuban representation
protested but without securing redress and thereupon promptly
withdrew from the procession.55

Any one of these incidents, Gomez feared, was capable of
precipitating disorders that would confirm Washington’s
charge that the Cubans lacked the aptitudes to govern them-
selves, thereby justifying the abrogation of the congressional
pledge. Of more immediate concern to the generalissimo,
however, was the state of the Liberation Army. Still largely
intact and encamped in the interior countryside, the army had
fared poorly in the months following the peace protocol. By the
end of the year, illness, malnutrition, and death from starva-
tion had become common throughout the insurgent camps.56
Despondent over the plight of the soldiers of liberation, the
army chieftain simply lacked independent resources to relieve
the distress. These conditions, moreover, led to periodic clashes
between the occupation authorities and desperate veterans
forced to resort to extra-legal means in order to survive. By the
end of the year, the incidents Gomez had come to fear the most
had the greatest likelihood of originating from within the army
over which he presided.

In late December 1898, Gomez broke his long silence to alert
Cubans in arms about the perils attending the American
military occupation. Independence remained unfulfilled,
G6mez warned. And as long as the task to which he had
devoted his life remained incomplete, the insurgent chieftain
pledged cryptically that he remained “ready to help the Cubans
finish the work.” In a direct, but veiled allusion to the Assem-
bly’s delay in resolving the urgent matter of relief for the army,
G6mez pledged himself to secure assistance for the weary

55David F. Healy, The United States in Cuba, 1898-1902 (Madison, 1963), 70-71.
56Enrique J. Conill, EnriqueJ. Conill, soldado de la patria, ed. Gaspar Carbonell Rivero

(La Habana, 1956), 21.



veterans.57 At the same time, Gomez appealed personally to
President McKinley to provide the Cuban soldiers with much
needed assistance.58

G6mez watched the events near the end of 1898 with
growing uneasiness. The saber-rattling in late December served
to force perhaps a measure of recognition. However much
G6mez called attention to his position at the head of the
standing army, he could not, in the end, contemplate launching
a new war against the United States with any degree of equa-
nimity. Indeed, throughout the fall, the sixty-two year old
general reconciled himself to the reality of the American
presence. The military occupation, G6mez believed, repre-
sented something of a transitory arrangement that found
sanction in the same Joint Resolution that had also promised
Cuba its independence. Any contemplated abrogation of this
pledge, Gomez reasoned, could find justification only within
the context of the Joint Resolution and would necessarily
involve a continuation of “sovereignty, juristiction or control”
to meet the requirements of pacification. American doubts
of Cuban ability to govern the island, repeated allusions to
civil war, and the general disfavor into which the Cubans had
fallen appeared to G6mez to form the basis upon which Wash-
ington would postpone indefinitely the congressional pledge
of April 20.


Washington responded swiftly to the apparent split devel-
oping between the Assembly and G6mez over the question of
the army. The general’s appeal provided Washington with the
opportunity to overcome some of the more difficult obstacles in
the path of the occupation, namely the Assembly and the
Liberation Army. Indeed, the insurgent general offered the
United States an alternative to the troublesome Assembly;

57Israel Consuegra y Guzman, Mambiserias. Episodios de la guerra de independencia,
1895-1898 (La Habana, 1930), 61-62.

58G6mez, Diario de campana, 420.

Cuba Between Empires

through him they might be able to dissolve the potentially
troublesome Liberation Army.

First, the White House quickly met G6mez’s request for food
and supplies. Some weeks later, in January 1899, McKinley
dispatched Special Commissioner Robert Porter to Cuban army
headquarters in Las Villas province to confer with the General-
in-Chief. In early February, Porter met with G6mez and
offered the army chieftain the same arrangement spurned
earlier by the Assembly: $3,000,000 to assist the Cuban soldiers
return to peaceful pursuits and ease what promised to be an
otherwise a difficult adjustment to civilian life. G6mez, for his
part, sought clarification of the American purpose in Cuba,
specifically the prevailing American position on Cuban in-
dependence. The American envoy reassured G6mez in cate-
gorical terms that Washington intended to honor in full its
original commitment. The military occupation, Porter pledged,
would not last a moment beyond the time required to complete
the pacification of the island, as stipulated by the Joint Resolu-
tion.59 The first important step toward meeting these condi-
tions, Porter suggested obliquely, necessarily involved the
release of the 30,000 officers and men under arms.

Maximo G6mez emerged from his discussions with Porter
entirely persuaded that the United States planned to honor the
congressional pledge of April 20. From this central conviction,
G6mez sought to assure the salvation of Cuban independence
through surrender to the military occupation. Conscious that
the Americans feared Cuban reprisals against the Spanish
residents, G6mez emerged from his meeting with Porter as the
advocate of national reconciliation as a means toward inde-
pendence. “Neither victors nor vanquished,” G6mez pro-
claimed in the course of his subsequent peregrinations across
the island.60 Aware that the Americans had little confidence in
the separatists’ ability to govern themselves, G6mez exhorted

59 Robert P. Porter, Report on Commercial and Industrial Conditions of Cuba. Special Report
on the Commissioner’s Visit to General Gdmez, and in Relation to the Payment and Disbandment of
the Insurgent Army of Cuba (Washington, D.C., 1899); Ferrara, Mis relaciones con
Maximo G6mez, 226-227.

6?Maximo G6mez, El general Mdximo G6mez y su politica de paz, uni6n y concordia (La
Habana, 1900), 24-38, 69-80.



Cubans to seek positions in the military government to demon-
strate to the United States that they possessed the talents
necessary for independence and self-government. Knowledge
that Washington looked upon the Liberation Army with sus-
picion, lastly, led G6mez to accept the $3,000,000 to facilitate its
dissolution. Personally convinced that the United States planned
to honor the Joint Resolution and fully sensitive to the ob-
stacles-real and imagined-still before the realization of
“Cuba Libre,” G6mez dedicated his peacetime energies to the
elimination of all conditions capable of obstructing indepen-
dence. In his zeal for independence, in his conviction that
independence now turned on the performance and behavior of
the Cubans in the course of the American military occupation,
G6mez emerged as the outstanding advocate of reconciliation
and peace.

G6mez’s acceptance of the $3,000,000 without prior authori-
zation from the Assembly provoked a crisis within the insurgent
ranks. Almost immediately, the General-in-Chief was rebuked
by the Assembly.61 Some weeks after the Porter-Gomez con-
ference, the Assembly responded to Gomez’s insubordination
by ousting the Dominican generalissimo.62 The news stunned
Cubans. In deposing the General-in-Chief, the members of the
Assembly appeared to the public as a group of quarrelsome
and ungracious malcontents, devoid of the gratitude appropri-
ate to the general chosen personally by Marti to lead the revolu-
tion and the man who had devoted the better part of his adult
life to the cause of Cuban independence. The Assembly was
discredited nationally. A wave of indignation swept across the
island; rallies, mass demonstrations, and public processions
protested Gomez’s ouster.63 By early March, under constant
attack and lacking support, the Assembly dissolved. Some
months later, without further obstructions, the Liberation
Army disbanded uneventfully.

61″El general G6mez y la Asamblea,” La Discusi6n, 13 de marzo de 1899, p. 2.
62Asamblea de Representantes del Ejercito, “Manifiesto al pueblo y al ejercito cu-

bano,” La Lucha, 15 de marzo de 1899, 2-3.
63Rafael Martinez Ortiz, Cuba: los primeros anos de independencia (2 vols., 3rd ed., Paris,

1929), I, 58-59. Compare Sergio Aguirre, “La desaparici6n del Ejercito Libertador,”
Cuba Socialista, III (Diciembre, 1963), 59.

Cuba Between Empires


The decision of Maximo Gomez to work for the indepen-
dence of Cuba through cooperation with the military occupa-
tion and the subsequent dissolution of the Assembly and the
Liberation Army brought into alignment the last and largest
body of opinion behind the American military government.
Throughout the first half of 1899, veterans secured positions in
the newly organized Rural Guard and key political positions at
municipal, provincial, and national levels.

Gomez’s decision to support the occupation further allowed
local army commanders to arrange with provincial occupation
authorities the disbandment of insurgent units. Indeed, by
early 1899, collaboration had acquired a unique local character.
From the outset of the occupation, well before Washington had
completed the organization of the superstructure of military
government in Cuba, American commanders had acquired
considerable freedom of action in the provinces. The absence
of a well-defined policy in Washington during the early months
of the occupation, together with the appointment of strong-
willed personalities to positions of provincial command, guar-
anteed a measure of autonomy from the governor’s palace in
Havana.64 During the early months of the occupation, these
circumstances permitted provincial military governors to deal
with specific-and often unique-local problems in a thor-
oughly improvised and pragmatic manner.

The early organization of collaboration conformed to the
peculiar nature of the Cuban insurgency. The independence
struggle had been in many ways a combination of regional ef-
forts held more or less together under a single political-military
authority by the exigencies of the war. With some notable excep-
tions, the war for independence organized around collaborative

64Gov. Gen. John Brooke was all but eclipsed by the near-celebrities appointed
provincial governors. Gen. Leonard Wood in Santiago had strong ties to the White
House. Gen. James H. Wilson of Santa Clara was a major personality in Republic
politics, a former national committeeman who knew important men in Washington and
New York. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, the former Consul General in Havana, assumed
command in Pinar del Rio in full possession of old connections in policy levels in



efforts among provincial caudillos who were often loath to oper-
ate outside their home districts. Few leaders of national stature
emerged from the war for independence due largely to the
absence of an enduring national effort. Too many local at-
tachments prevented a coherent national perspective from

The Cuban response to the American military presence at
the local and provincial level turned also on improvised ex-
pedients. Jealous of their local autonomy, regional chieftains
joined the Americans with more or less complete freedom of
action. The personalistic quality of insurgent leadership, more-
over, placed added pressures on Cuban chieftains to meet the
immediate needs and long-term hopes of their following at the
end of the war. It was one means of preserving the politico-
military preeminence established during the insurgency. Most
immediately, local collaboration involved negotiations for the
food and supplies desperately needed by the veterans. These
efforts led typically to the disbandment of rebel units, with
relief supplies exchanged for arms. Long-term considerations,
in which insurgent chieftains sought the means of preserving
war-time hegemony, necessarily involved collaboration with the
provincial agents of the military government, who were the
immediate dispensers of privilege and patronage.

Provincial insurgent army commanders emerged as the core
around which local political machines organized. Patronage,
one of the few instruments available to reward loyal military
followers during the war, came to constitute the basis of
political adhesion during the peace. The quickest and surest
way for local insurgent commanders to secure access to the
sources of patronage was to collaborate with American author-
ities. In this sense, collaboration had the mutually expedient
result of offering the provincial military governments local
preeminence while, at the same time, securing after the peace
the hierarchy previously established during the war.

In conferring upon the provincial occupation authorities a
measure of legitimacy for the insurgent ranks, rebel chieftains
received in return a means for establishing a provincial power
base. In the province of Santa Clara, for example, General
Jose Miguel G6mez, the local war-time chieftain, secured

Cuba Between Empires

appointment as civil governor of the province and proceeded
to place in provincial and municipal government virtually every
key officer of his command. From this base, the miguelistas came
to dominate provincial politics and played a major role in
national politics for the better part of the next three decades.65

Indeed, within a decade, the national system passed under
the political control of the veterans. Between 1868 and 1898,
the Cuban elite took on its definitive characteristics, organizing
not around the acquisition and expansion of control over the
means of production, but, rather, around the cause of inde-
pendence. In the course of thirty years of intermittant war-
fare, exile, and imprisonment, the creoles’ hold over the
sources of wealth grew increasingly tenous; by 1898, much of
the island’s traditional sources of wealth had been absorbed by
non-Cubans. Without the funds to revive the estates damaged
during the war and to make good on loans secured before the
insurrection and without the resources to aggregate fresh
capital, the Cuban libertadores came to constitute an elite orga-
nized around the quest of political office as the means to
economic well-being. With the establishment of the republic,
Cuban politics acquired a particular distributive quality. With
so much of the national wealth passing into the hands of
foreigners, national office in the republic guaranteed the
victorious candidate and his immediate constituency access to
the levers of resource and benefit allocation in the only enter-
prise wholly Cuban-government. Few libertadores were able to
overcome the economic pressures of the early republic through
pursuits other than politics.


The military occupation enjoyed a remarkably trouble-free
installation. In large measure, U.S. intervention at once fell

65Similar patterns of provincial power bases emerged in Camagiiey (Puerto Principe)
and Oriente provinces. Together with Santa Clara, these three eastern provinces were
under the longest and most complete insurgent control. In the western provinces,
conservatives and moderates, typically autonomists during the war, secured better



heir to the separatist movement and compounded the contra-
dictions inherent therein. The failure of the separatists to
resolve among themselves conflicting definitions of indepen-
dence created the opening through which the United States
consolidated control without bloodshed. In this sense, the Joint
Resolution offered something to everyone. First and foremost,
it provided a definition of independence and, equally im-
portant, the conditions of that independence were more or less
acceptable to all residents of the island.

In the end, the military government met with little organized
resistance. The corporate expression of Cuba nationalism,
those institutions summoned into existence to secure the inde-
pendence of the island, failed to survive the early months of the
military government. Successively, the PRC, the Assembly, and,
lastly, the bastion of independence sentiment, the Liberation
Army, disappeared between 1898 and 1899. Then, too, na-
tional leaders who were most conspicuously associated with the
ideal of independence and were capable of giving independen-
tista sentiment a focal point did not live into the period of the
military government. Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo, and Calixto
Garcia died before the formal organization of the occupa-
tion. Only Maximo G6mez lived to see the American occupa-
tion. In this sense, Gomez’s adhesion to the military govern-
ment exerted a powerful influence on the approach Cuban
independentistas took after 1899. As defined by G6mez, collab-
oration with the United States emerged as a policy of singular
patriotic virtue; resistance to the American presence promised
only to jeopardize the independence to which the Americans
had already pledged themselves.66

In a curious manner, the objectives of all collaborating
sectors prevailed in the end. Cuba did, indeed, ultimately
secure an independence of sorts. The annexationists and the
advocates of the protectorate saw their goals partially vindi-
cated in the Platt Amendment. Through the Platt Amendment,
the United States established indirect control over a nominally
sovereign republic. The propertied sectors triumphed in the

6Alvaro Cata, Cuba y la intervenci6n (La Habana, 1899), 49.

Cuba Between Empires

reciprocity treaty of 1903, for planters received preferential
access to a guaranteed market for Cuban sugar.

But if the American occupation came to mean all things to all
men, it also failed to resolve many of the fundamental prob-
lems in Cuban society for which the separatists had earlier
sought redress. Indeed, the occupation tended to compound
those problems and at the same time subdue the socio-eco-
nomic reform impulses of the separatists. The issue of racism,
for example, had preoccupied the patriotic leadership. A
commitment to the elimination of racism in Cuban society had
moved into a position of central importance in the insurgent
vision of “Cuba Libre.” Indeed, Afro-Cubans had secured key
positions in a variety of separatist organizations, most notably
in the Liberation Army. The American occupation arrested
and reversed these tendencies and strengthened the institu-
tional foundations of racism on the island. The vast prepon-
derance of Cuban officeholders during the militancy occupa-
tion were white. In dissolving the Liberation Army, the United
States destroyed the one national institution in which Afro-
Cubans had held positions of rank and authority. The subse-
quent reorganization of the army under American supervision
systematically denied commissions to blacks.

The nature of the armed struggle for independence, more-
over, had destroyed the basis of the Spanish colonial economy.
Never before had Cuba been in a better position to pursue
diversified economic development as it was in 1898-1899. To
be sure, economic diversification had not occupied a position of
central importance in separatest thought. During the war,
however, separatist leaders had come increasingly to identify
the evils of latifundismo and to reexamine the efficacy of an
economy organized around the sugar estate.67 The occupation
served to reconstruct the colonial economy by promoting, to
the exclusion of virtually all other sectors, the sugar latifundia.

The lesson of the occupation was not lost on Cubans. Suc-

67See Jorge Castellanos, “El pensamiento social de Maximo G6mez,” America
(Febrero-Mayo, 1946) 22-28, and Louis A. Perez, Jr., Army Politics in Cuba, 1898-1958
(Pittsburgh, 1976), 3-67.



ceeding generations of Cuban politicians came to see colla-
boration with the authorities in Washington as the surest means
of securing national ascendancy. From Tomas Estrada Palma
(1902-1906) to Fulgencio Batista (1934-1944 and 1952-
1958), future presidents of the republic saw U.S. support as the
vital factor for a successful incumbency. Increasingly, the
Cuban political drama was played for the benefit of an Ameri-
can audience. Opposition to the United States became asso-
ciated with a lack of patriotism, for such opposition was fraught
with the perils of American intervention and, ultimately, a
compromise of national sovereignty. In the end, plattismo
became a state of mind.

A clientele political class came to be supported by armed
forces organized by the United States. Between 1899-1902
and 1906-1909, the United States organized the Cuban armed
forces around American needs.67 As one more lever at the
disposal of authorities in Washington, Cuban army officials
were as keenly tuned to the signals emitted from Washington as
were their civilian bosses-and sometimes more.

Resting atop the politico-military substructures forged in
part during the occupation lay the expanding sugar system.
The sugar economy reconstituted between 1898 and 1902
passed within two decades under the control of North Ameri-
can capital. Like its politico-military counterpart, Cuban capi-
tal chose to collaborate rather than compete with American
capital. Before the generation of independence had run its
course in Cuban history, an entire national system had orga-
nized around collaboration.

  • Article Contents
  • p.473

  • Issue Table of Contents
  • Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Nov., 1979), pp. 467-647
    Volume Information [pp.639-647]
    Resistance and Collaboration in the American Empire, 1898-1903: An Overview [pp.467-471]
    Cuba between Empires, 1898-1899 [pp.473-500]
    The Forgotten Occupation: Peking, 1900-1901 [pp.501-529]
    Filipino Resistance to American Occupation: Batangas, 1899-1902 [pp.531-556]
    Winding down the War in Albay, 1900-1903 [pp.557-589]
    Responses to Occupations by the United States: Caliban’s Dilemma [pp.591-605]
    Reviews of Books
    untitled [pp.607-608]
    untitled [pp.608-609]
    untitled [pp.609-610]
    untitled [pp.610-612]
    untitled [pp.612-613]
    untitled [pp.613-614]
    untitled [pp.614-615]
    untitled [pp.615-617]
    untitled [pp.617-618]
    untitled [pp.618-619]
    untitled [pp.619-620]
    untitled [pp.620-621]
    untitled [pp.621-622]
    untitled [pp.622-624]
    untitled [pp.624-625]
    untitled [pp.625-626]
    untitled [pp.627-628]
    untitled [pp.628-630]
    untitled [pp.630-631]
    untitled [p.632]
    Historical News [pp.633-637]
    Back Matter [pp.638-638]

Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI 10.1163/187707011X577432



* Socrates Barinas Coiscou, “La Revolución de los italianos”, in Boletín del Archivo General
de la Nación (hereinafter, “ BAGN ”) 58 (1948), pp. 215-89 at 252. ! e research for this article
was conducted with the aid of a Merriwether-Sattwa Grant from New York University and a
Fulbright-Hays Fellowship. Special thanks to Ada Ferrer, Michael Gomez, Aldo Lauria Santiago,
Graham Nessler, Richard Turits, Elena Schneider, Harvey Neptune, and the anonymous review-
ers for their helpful comments and critique of di” erent pieces and versions of this article. ! anks
to Rachel Lang for her work on the images accompanying this article.

** Anne Eller is an advanced Ph.D. Candidate in the History of the African Diaspora and
Latin America at New York University and a Fulbright-Hays scholar. Her dissertation, tenta-
tively entitled “Let’s Show the World We are Brothers: the Dominican War of Restoration and
Caribbean Worlds of the Nineteenth Century”, deals with the popular participation of
Dominicans and Haitians in the War of Restoration (1861-5) against Spain.

“All would be equal in the e! ort”: *
Santo Domingo’s “Italian Revolution”,
Independence, and Haiti, 1809-1822

Anne Eller **
New York University

E-mail: aee218@nyu.edu
Received 5 February 2010; accepted 2 November 2010

! is article explores the colony of Santo Domingo just after it had passed from French back to
Spanish hands in 1809. Although impoverished and at the very margins of the Caribbean planta-
tion system, revolutionary winds were nonetheless bu” eting the colony. Using the testimony of
a failed 1810 conspiracy known as the “Italian Revolution”, the article explores the enduring
inequalities present in Santo Domingo, the immediate infl uence of the Haiti to the west, and the
beginnings of Latin American independence more generally. Whereas Spanish authorities and
other Caribbean elites might have dismissed the colony as marginal to the political events, there-
fore, the conspiracy sheds light on its importance to subaltern travelers and migrants from neigh-
boring islands. Finally, it shows the tremendous concrete and symbolic importance of the
Haitian Revolution on the neighboring colony, complicating a historiography that often argues
for confl ict, and not interrelation, between the two sides of Hispaniola.

Santo Domingo ; Haitian Revolution ; Independence ; Conspiracy ; Spanish colonialism ; Subaltern

106 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

I. “Foolish Spain”: ” e Rebellious, Forgotten Colony of Santo Domingo

Ayer Español nací
A la tarde fuí Francés
Hoy, dicen que soy Inglés
No sé qué será de mí. 1

Sometime in the hot summer months of 1810, a group of unlikely conspira-
tors hatched an independence plot in Santo Domingo’s beleaguered capital
city. 2 By all the varying accounts, it was a daring plan: the conspirators plotted
to seize the city center, declare de jure independence, and then cling to politi-
cal control until military reinforcement from Haiti arrived to secure it. ! e
scheme was similar in form to the coup-like independence e” orts of the short-
lived “First Republic” in nearby Venezuela, which had been declared just
months before. In fact, pamphlets from Caracas were seized from multiple
suspects detailing the revolutionary events in neighboring colonies. Unlike
in Caracas, however, the Hispaniola conspiracy was not an elite-led e” ort.
In the impoverished port city of Santo Domingo, the conspirators in the
so-called “Italian Revolution” were fairly regular folk, artisans and veterans of
the various confl icts of the last decade. Evidently, they assumed that the masses
of people, beginning with free people of color in the capital itself, would read-
ily support them. ! e apparent aims were multiple and heterogeneous, a dis-
parate collection of interests that refl ected both the political fragmentation
and desperation of the colony itself in the wake of several particularly di# cult
decades. Most signifi cantly, they looked to neighboring revolutionary Haiti
for help.

Despite its turbulent history—three independence e” orts in 1821-2, 1844,
and 1863-5—Santo Domingo does not fi gure prominently in literature about
independence movements in Latin America. While its complicated trajectory
from empire to independence embodied the “broad array of possibilities …
improvised and reactive” of the independence period, nationhood was far

1 “Yesterday I was born Spanish / In the afternoon I was French / Today they say I am
English / I do not know what will become of me”, Antonio del Monte y Tejada, Historia de Santo
Domingo , Tomo III (Santo Domingo: Imprenta de Garcia Hermanos, 1890), p. 192 (capitaliza-
tion in original). ! e quintilla was reported to have been written by a priest in Santiago, Don
Juan Vasquez, around 1804.

2 At some point, the historian has to decide whether or not a conspiracy actually existed.
I think that it did, given the context of Santo Domingo at the time, the relative consistency of
the testimony (including multiple confessions), and in interests of less stilted prose for this article
(although its form and scope is much more open to interpretation).

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 107

from a foregone conclusion. 3 Compared with the contemporary 1810 inde-
pendence e” orts in Venezuela and Mexico, the impoverished colony of Santo
Domingo seemed to lack cohesive class actors so relevant in the continent’s
struggles; there was neither a prospering Creole class in Santo Domingo nor a
consolidated landless peasantry. 4 Consideration of Santo Domingo has even
largely escaped scholars of the Haitian Revolution, despite its relevance as
a staging ground and immediate neighbor to the struggle. Because Santo
Domingo was not an entrenched plantation society by the time of the initial
uprisings, there is simply not the sorts of evidence for which researchers often
look, the titillating archival trail of revolutions spreading: massive defensive
e” orts on the part of an elite to restrict the fl ow of information, an easily docu-
mentable change in subaltern political discourse citing the Revolution as an
inspiration, or in fact any major uprisings at all. For the next decade or so, the
colony limped along through the period of “España Boba” (1809-21), as if
dooming it to historiographical oblivion. By the time the Haitian Unifi cation/
Occupation occurred, uniting the whole island under President Jean-
Pierre Boyer from 1822-44—surely this would be a ripe fi eld to study the
Haitian revolutionary state in action?—scholars have, so far, not shown much

Within Dominican historiography, the 1809-21 period is often referred to
as “España Boba”, or “Foolish Spain”, a moniker that refl ects a certain
degree of retrospective disdain. Indeed, historians tend to conceive of the
di# cult period—the colony’s last direct connection with Spain, save a four-
year re-occupation in 1861—as one of tragic metropolitan neglect, disrup-
tive revolutionary circumstances, and relative isolation. Scholars from the left
and right lament the downfall of local elites that resulted from the tumult:
“History snatched the Dominican fruit from its tree before the sap of life

3 Jeremy Adelman, “Iberian Passages: Continuity and Change in the South Atlantic”, in
David Armitage and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (eds.), ! e Age of Revolutions in Global Context,
c. 1760-1840 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 59-82 at 59. Santo Domingo is an
exemplary case, similarly, for Adelman’s arguments about independence struggles emerging as
products of imperial tension and crisis in, e.g., “Age of Imperial Revolutions”, American Historical
Review 113, no. 2 (2008), pp. 319-40.

4 Deive writes about a rancher class whose conservatism and hispanofi lia are analogous in
sentiment, if not at all in wealth, to latifundistas elsewhere in the Spanish empire, Carlos Esteban
Deive, “Santo Domingo, las Cortes de Cádiz, y los primeros intentos separatistas”, in Rebeldes y
Marginados: ensayos históricos (Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: Banco Central de la
República Dominicana, Departamento Cultural, 2002), p. 122. ! e merchant class of Santo
Domingo, on the other hand, bore much less resemblance, selling only small-scale agricultural
exports (mahogany, tobacco) and often so lacking in capital that they were unable to make pur-
chases in return.

108 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

5 Pedro L. San Miguel, ! e Imagined Island: History, Identity, and Utopia in Hispaniola , Jane
Ramírez, trans. (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2005 [1997]), p. 30.
! is refrain in e” ect laments the downfall of the modest plantation economy that the small elite
maintained, essentially echoing the pro-slavery pleas of Antonio Sánchez Valverde in the 1780s.
As Silvio Torres Saillant observes, “[t]heir ardent love for Spain and their nostalgic languor for
the early colonial days sprinkles the discourse of traditional Dominican critics with plaints and
lamentations”. ! is lamentation refl ects hidden and not-so-hidden racist undertones, especially
when writing of the emigration of white families in the period; “[c]onvinced that Dominicans
are (or should be) white, traditional literary scholars have made a link between moments of
decay in the colonial past and a reduction in the number of white families living in Santo
Domingo”, Silvio Torres-Saillant, “Dominican Literature and its Criticism: Anatomy of a
Troubled Identity”, in Albert James Arnold, et al (eds.), A History of Literature in the Caribbean
(New York: John Benjamins, 2004), pp. 49-64, at 51-4.

6 Ciriaco Landolfi , Evolución Cultural Dominicana, 1844-1899 (Santo Domingo: Editora de
la UASD, 1981), p. 62.

7 Carlos Esteban Deive, “ Los mitos del tema negro en la historiografi a” in Comisión Nacional
Dominicana de la Ruta del Esclavo, La Ruta del Esclavo (Santo Domingo: Editora Búha, 2006),
pp. 471-98. ! e Spanish slavemaster displayed “supreme benevolence, great charity, and
much tenderness”, Pedro Francisco Bonó wrote (quoted in San Miguel, ! e Imagined Island ,
pp. 13-14). Trujillista Angel S. Rosario Pérez sought to discredit historian Jean Price-Mars by
claiming that African slaves were only brought into Santo Domingo between 1510-50, e.g.
Ernesto Sagás Ernesto, Race and Politics in the Dominican Republic (Gainesville, Fla.: University
of Florida Press, 2000), p. 53.

8 Samuel Martínez, “Not a Cockfi ght: Rethinking Haitian-Dominican Relations”, Latin
American Perspectives 30, no. 3 (2003), pp. 80-101.

9 San Miguel, ! e Imagined Island , p. 3.

could ripen it as Nature intended”, the Marxist historian Juan Bosch writes. 5
Revolutionary republican culture had a “desolate” impact on the patriarchal
and insular colony, scholars argue. 6 Because of the crushing poverty—and
in eagerness to distinguish the colony from neighboring Saint-Domingue—
historians also tend to characterize the period as one of relative equality, albeit
an impoverished one. ! e myth of benign slavery in Santo Domingo—and as
a corollary, the alleged quiescence of the enslaved—plagues Dominican histo-
riography. 7 Finally, the relationship between the Dominican Republic and
Haiti in the nineteenth century is almost always treated as the historical back-
ground to what the Dominican anthropologist Samuel Martínez has termed
“the fatal-confl ict model” of Haitian-Dominican relations. 8 ! e sheer magni-
tude of anti-Haitian historiography produced during the Trujillo dictatorship
in Santo Domingo—“massive, majestic” in its profusion—has long overshad-
owed accounts that acknowledge cross-island linkages and exchange. 9 For
decades a “historical taboo … constrained our historians not to touch any
aspect of our relations with the Haitians that might be considered positive”,

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 109

10 Ismael Hernández Flores, Luperón, héroe y alma de la Restauración & Haití y la Revolución
Restauradora (Santo Domingo: Lotería Nacional, 1983), p. 14.

11 Many important exceptions exist, of course, such as Emilio Cordero Michel, La revolucion
haitiana y Santo Domingo (4 th ed.) (Santo Domingo: Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias
Sociales, 2000 [1968]). ! roughout the period of the Trujillato , however, historians such as
Manuel Arturo Peña-Battle and Emilio Rodríguez Demorizi focused only on the most negative
incidents between the two states—Dessalines’ retreat in 1805 being a favored topic, but even
hyperbolic accounts of Louverture’s brief sojourn in Santo Domingo—to the almost total exclu-
sion of more careful analyses of the revolution’s impact. ! eir unrelentingly negative tone echoes
the elites of the nineteenth century—including otherwise liberal historians like José Gabriel
García—but does not satisfactorily refl ect common perspectives of the period.

12 Sybille Fischer, Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of
Revolution. (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2004), p. 182; Christina Violeta Jones,
“Revolution and Reaction: Santo Domingo during the Haitian Revolution and beyond,
1791-1844” (Ph.D. diss., Howard University, 2008), p. 1.

13 San Miguel, ! e Imagined Island , p. 126.
14 Julius S. Scott, “! e Common Wind: Currents of Afro-American Communication in the

Era of the Haitian Revolution” (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1986).

Ismael Hernández Flores has observed. 10 Even the Haitian Revolution itself—
freeing as it did hundreds of thousands of people from bondage—rarely
receives positive treatment in Dominican historiography. 11 As the general nar-
rative holds, the “trauma” of the Haitian revolution caused loyalism and reac-
tion in the Dominican side; “[n]owhere in the Greater Caribbean did the
Haitian Revolution … leave a deeper and more warped trace”, concludes one
account; “nowhere did it leave a deeper [or] more distorted view” reports
another. 12 Many traditional narratives echo some form of this argument, that
the revolution caused some sort of “Dominican historical arrhythmia” and
casting subsequent Dominican nationalism as all things anti-Haitian. 13

! is article argues against an isolationist view of the colony, asserting that
Santo Domingo was another important port through which “common wind”
of revolutionary thought was blowing in the early nineteenth-century
Caribbean, especially from neighboring Haiti. 14 First, it gives a brief overview
of the economic and political trajectory of the colony from 1795-1809. While
plantation slavery had virtually disappeared from the colony, I argue that rac-
ism continued to govern the lives of many residents, a fact that compounded
the insecurity of the capital city’s unstable and revolutionary climate. Next,
the article explores the intensely international nature of the city; the very vir-
tue of the colony’s secondary economic status, I argue, made it an important
crossroads for neighboring islands. ! e mobility of free and enslaved people of
color from neighboring colonies (especially Puerto Rico), while slow to emerge
from archival sources, refl ects Santo Domingo’s importance in subaltern

110 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

networks of migration and freedom that have yet to be explored. Finally, the
article details the events of the “Italian Revolution” itself, the persistent
inequalities within the struggling Spanish colony, and the widely varying aspi-
rations of the conspirators and city residents. In fact, the conspiracy was not
really Italian at all; troubled o# cials seem to have been eager to minimize its
much more immediate links to Pétion’s republic in southern Haiti. It is these
important connections to revolution in Haiti—both concrete and symbolic—
that have too long been e” aced.

II. Background: A Colony in Crisis, 1801-1809

Multiple changes in sovereignty, almost-constant fi ghting on the island,
disruption of agriculture, and signifi cant emigration characterized the
years leading up to the so-called “Italian Revolution” in the impover-
ished capital city of Santo Domingo. It is beyond the scope of this article—
indeed, out of the scope of the extant secondary literature—to craft a
thorough analysis of the popular sentiment about the vicissitudes of the 1795-
1809 period, but certain prefatory statements can be made about the impact
of the changes in sovereignty that prefaced the 1810 conspiracy. Santo
Domingo’s residents were bu” eted by changing imperial fortunes: they had
been turned over to France in 1795, occupied briefl y by Louverture (1801-
02), reclaimed by France (1802-08), blockaded by the British navy (1809)
and only in 1808-09 reclaimed for the Spanish, who were at that exact
moment a kingdom without a king. 15 ! e siege and bloody retreat of Dessalines
in 1805, the continuing instability between the neighboring Haitian states
(King Christophe’s kingdom in the North, President Pétion’s constitutional
republic in the South), and perpetual threats of French invasion, combined
with European confl icts to forge a volatile mix of poverty and insecurity in the
eastern part of Hispaniola, but its political direction was far from clear.

15 Fray de Utrera writes dramatically that a “cry of pain” rose collectively from people as they
heard the proclamation ceding the colony to Spain in 1795, and furnishes poetry that questions
the cession despairingly, in the voice of the desperate and feminized capital city: “Shall I leave for
a convent?”, Juan Sánchez Ramírez , Diario de la Reconquista (Ciudad Trujillo [Santo Domingo]:
Editora Montalvo, 1957), pp. viii, x. Nor did they particularly want to fi ght with the French
against Louverture in 1801, General Kerverseau complained, Philippe R. Girard, “ Liberté,
Égalité Esclavage : French Revolutionary Ideals and the Failure of the Leclerc Expedition to Saint-
Domingue”, French Colonial History 6 (2005), pp. 55-78 at 69.

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 111

16 Deive writes that the “spirit of most of the enslaved was greatly moved by the agitation
and chaos” of the period, and indeed it seems many enslaved in the east actively fought for
emancipation during the revolutionary years, Guerrilleros , p. 204. Some took inspiration from
Saint-Dominguen fi ghters—like Jean-François, of the negros auxiliares fi ghting with Spain—and
added their own interpretations and allegiances. While Jean-François himself remained loyal to
Spain, therefore, others invoked his name as part of plans to revolutionize the east. One such
man, a slave named ! omas, was apprehended with a note referring to “San Fransuá” before his
plans could be realized, at p. 206. Others doubtless drew inspiration from the fi ghting as well,
even as allegiances were at times shifting and contradictory.

17 Cordero Michel, Revolución haitiana , p. 71, Deive, Emigraciones , p. 92. Numerous travelers’
accounts corroborate the story of Louverture’s joyful initial reception in Santo Domingo, e.g., James
Franklin, ! e Present State of Hayti (London, 1828), pp. 130-1; Marcus Rainsford, A Memoir of
Transactions that Took Place in St. Domingo in the Spring of 1799 (London, 1802), p. 256.

18 Cordero Michel, Revolución haitiana , p. 140. He suggests that the rural sectors accustomed
to rural lifestyles then “turned their back”, on Louverture, and his only remaining base of
support were the urban middle and lower classes (who had artisanal and small commercial
enterprises) and the population of Cibao (which had commercialized production of tobacco).
Nevertheless, French General Kerverseau reported that even the wealthy members of the capital
city did not want to send reinforcements for the French fi ghting Louverture, quoted in Gustavo
Mejía Ricart, Historia de Santo Domingo , p. 14.

19 Sánchez Ramírez, Diario , p. xix; Cordero Michel, Revolución haitiana , p. 136. Some
Santiago de los Caballeros o# cials actually moved to Port-au-Prince, for example, from where
they continued to lobby the Spanish crown on various subjects, e.g. Regidor Perpetuo de
Santiago de los Caballeros to Secretario de Estado, 29 April 1813, Archivo General de Indias
(hereinafter, “AGI”): Audiencia de SD 1017, Expte. s/n.

! e popular impact of the fi rst years of the revolution on the fl ounder-
ing colony of Santo Domingo brought considerable chaos and ferment. 16
During Toussaint Louverture’s brief occupation of the capital city in 1801, he
immediately proclaimed slavery abolished. ! e abolition decree and the open-
ing of the ranks of eastern troops to former slaves evidently gained the sympa-
thy of much of Santo Domingo’s population, and Louverture continued to
make special appeals to people of color in Santo Domingo after Napoleon
proposed a “regression” to 1789 slavery statues. 17 Support may have fl agged,
however, particularly among those submitted to Louverture’s forced labor
projects; nor could the burden of continuing defense costs to ward o” the
French have been popular to eastern residents. ! e 1802 French reoccupation
of Santo Domingo restored slavery to the province, and abolition became
legally moot, ending the brief unifi cation entirely. 18 French General Kerverseau
observed that he could not count on the loyalty “of blacks and the rest of the
people of color” in the commercial town of Santiago de los Caballeros, and
some historians suggest that Dessalines was in fact welcomed when he fi rst
arrived there several years later, indicating continuing sympathies for Haiti in
the east. 19 Dessalines’ brutal tactics upon his retreat alienated the Dominican

112 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

people, however, and his violence at Moca and Santiago accrued a “debt of
blood”. 20 For their part, eager as they must have been to drive aggressive
French authorities from the island, Haitian authorities must not have been
pleased at the return of the Spanish to Santo Domingo in 1808-09. Internal
turmoil on both sides of the island complicates the picture of these fi rst revo-
lutionary years further. More research is necessary (and forthcoming). 21

It is similarly di# cult to parse out exactly what sentiments for the subse-
quent French government were (1802-09)—perhaps because the French
General Kerverseau and his successor, General Ferrand, attempted to keep
something of a low profi le with the populace. “Spaniards of the east part of
St. Domingo, you are all become Frenchmen; or rather French and Spaniards,
we form together one band of brothers and friends”, General Ferrand
insisted. 22 It seems that liberalization of trade, for example, was relatively
popular. Other actions, such as the replacement of Spanish bishops with
French and moves to secularization and prohibitions on cattle trading, were
clearly less popular generally. 23 Punctuating the period of French government
was Dessalines’ invasion in 1805, which wrought more destruction, from the
northern part of the island to the capital city. 24 Most signifi cantly, however,

20 Cordero Michel, Revolución haitiana , p. 136.
21 Graham Nessler’s forthcoming University of Michigan doctoral dissertation, “A Failed

Emancipation? ! e Struggle for Freedom in Hispaniola during the Haitian Revolution,
1789-1809”, and Antonio Jésus Pinto Tortosa’s “Una colonia en la encrucijada: Santo Domingo,
entre la revolución haitiana y las ambiciones francesas (1791-1809)” (Ph.D. diss., Universitad
Complutense de Madrid, forthcoming 2011) join recent work like Jones’ “Revolution and
Reaction”; they promise to elucidate much about the impact of the revolutionary period in the
Spanish colony as well as its role in shaping the events of the revolution itself.

22 Quoted in Captain ! omas Southey, Chronological History of the West Indies , 3 vols.
(London, 1880), 3: 415. A contemporary British observer claimed that French o# cers were
encouraged to intermarry in Santo Domingo “in order to extend [their infl uence] over the
Spanish inhabitants of the country” and also wrote of alleged French military abuses and robber-
ies in Santiago and other cities, William Walton, Present State of the Spanish Colonies (London,
1810), pp. 197, 201.

23 Deive, “Las Cortes”, p. 123; Frank Moya Pons, Historia colonial de Santo Domingo
(Santiago, D.R.: Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, 1976), p. 382; Franco Pichardo, Los
negros, los mulatos, y la nación dominicana (Santo Domingo: Editora Manatí, 10th ed., 2003),
p. 114.

24 According to historian Franklin Franco Pichardo, Dessalines’ advance, though undoubt-
edly spurred by General Ferrand’s provocations (he had issued an ordinance authorizing eastern
colonists to capture and sell Haitian youth into slavery), was also the result of an invitation of
the people of Santiago—free people of color who opposed the encroachment of plantation-
minded Ferrand in the region, Franco Pichardo Los negros , p. 111. Some, like José Tavares,

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 113

slavery was restored with the return of the French. A preliminary exploration
into Domin ican archives reveals that despite the tremendous economic depres-
sion—or perhaps because of it—the price of slaves barely decreased when
tra# cking resumed again with French occupation. 25 By the time slavery was
defi nitively abolished in 1822, some 24,000 were still enslaved, according to
some estimates. 26

! e Reconquista and the Beginning of “España Boba”

Spurred in part by indignation at the news of the Napoleon’s overthrow of
the Spanish king—all semblance of a French-Spanish alliance then collapsed—
a restoration e” ort known as the Reconquista erupted in Santo Domingo in
1808. 27 With the support of the Spanish governor of Puerto Rico, Dominican
loyalists launched a campaign to restore Spanish rule. Signifi cantly, they
sought aid from Pétion and Christophe, who were also eager to see the aggres-
sive French kicked o” of the island. ! e Reconquista fi ghting, although ini-
tially dismissed by French authorities as “two or three hundred scoundrels
from Puerto Rico”, mobilized many in the southeastern part of the island. 28
Juan Sánchez Ramírez, a Dominican who had immigrated to Puerto Rico
several years before, traveled extensively in the colony and was able to gener-
ate much popular support. 29 ! ey were successful after months of siege at
the capital city—its second prolonged siege in fi ve years—realized by the
British Navy. ! e toll on the city was high. “Perhaps the annals of no wars …
a” ord examples of more cruelty and horror, than those to which the Spaniards
were exposed in this occasion”, one British o# cial empathized. 30 Sánchez
Ramírez, the hero of the decisive battle of Palo Hincado, was named acting
governor of the embattled colony. “Born with a friendly spirit and accessibil-
ity, he knew how to win the hearts of the island’s inhabitants, who saw him

lent Dessalines their lasting support, José Gabriel García, Compendio de la Historia de Santo
Domingo (Tomo I) (Santo Domingo: Imprenta de Garcia Hermanos, 1893), pp. 298, 313.
Dessalines’ sojourn in the colony, particularly the legacy and memory production around his
bloody retreat, is again ambiguous and deserves exploration in further detail.

25 AGN-RD Archivo Real de Higüey Legajos 11-27.
26 Cordero Michel, Revolución haitiana , p. 71.
27 Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 320. ! e campaign sought to “assert the trampled rights of

their beloved Ferdinand”, Walton concurred, Present State , p. 206.
28 Sánchez Ramírez , Diario , p. 323; Southey, Chronological History , p. 418.
29 Moya Pons, Historia colonial , p. 395; Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 320.
30 Walton Present State , p. 207.

114 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

31 José Núñez de Cáceres to Secretario de Estado, Santo Domingo, 18 February 1811, AGI:
Audiencia de Santo Domingo 1016, Expte. s/n.

32 Sánchez Ramírez, Diario , p. 317.
33 Some historians place the latter number at as few as approximately 60,000, Francisco

Bernardo Regino Espinal, “La esclavitud en la España Boba, 1809-1821”, in Revista CLIO 171
(2006), pp. 85-112 at 92.

as a loving father”, an observer wrote. 31 It was a remarkable moment for
pro-Spanish loyalism. “Puerto Ricans and Dominicans … your heroic patrio-
tism has shone in América, and will shine in all the Universe”, a Spanish o# –
cial proclaimed. 32

Unfortunately, for Santo Domingo there were to be no spoils of victory
after 1809. A period of poverty and neglect known as “España Boba” began
that would last for another long decade. ! e sheer extremity of economic
and social devastation in Santo Domingo by the end of the Reconquista
e” ort—its population declined from 190,000 in the 1790s to fewer than
80,000 in 1809, capital-deprived and eking by on subsistence after months
of fi ghting and siege—wreaked tremendous stress on the colony’s residents. 33
Nor did Spanish funding increase; a paltry situado of 100,000 pesos did
not arrive from Spain for nearly two years (in early 1811), and even then,

Fig. 1. Border towns in the east founded in the 1700s. Almost all of the new populations
founded in the 1700s evidence the importance of intra-island trade, usually of cattle, wood,
and other foodstu” s, that continued after the fi ghting concluded. Image: M. Rosario
Sevilla Soler, Santo Domingo Tierra de Frontera 1750-1800 (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios
Hispano-Americanos, 1980.)

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 115

34 Moya Pons, Historia colonial , p. 405; Gabriel García, Compendio , pp. 361″ . Another
would not arrive until 1817.

35 Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 345; also Sánchez Ramírez, Diario , pp. 347″ . Spain’s
resources, of course, were very soon diverted to defeating independence movements in Latin
America. Recalcitrance on the part of Puerto Rican and Cuban o# cials seems to stem from
another source—general disdain for the Dominican colony. Cuban observers likewise seemed to
see Dominican as impossibly backward and contrasted its residents with their own plantation
state. On the economic devastation—Gabriel García notes that the only area not totally devas-
tated in 1810 was Puerto Plata, which was trading tobacco from the Cibao region to United
States merchants, at p. 360.

36 Núñez de Cáceres to Secretario de Gracia y Justicia, Santo Domingo, 28 August 1811,
AGI: Audiencia de Santo Domingo 1017, Expte. s/n.

37 Carlos de Urrutia to Secretario de Estado y del Despacho de Hacienda, Santo Domingo,
1 October 1813, Audiencia de SD 962, Expte. s/n.

38 Xavier Caro, comisionado en la isla de Santo Domingo por el Despacho de Hacienda to
Nicolás Maria de Sierra, Santo Domingo, 18 December 1810, Audiencia de Santo Domingo
961, Expte. s/n.

39 Cabildo de Justicia Regimiento de la ciudad de Santo Domingo to the King, Santo
Domingo, 17 February 1815, Audiencia de Santo Domingo 1063, Expte. s/n.

it barely covered the costs of feeding troops in the capital’s Plaza. 34 Authorities
in Puerto Rico and Britain demanded restitution for their aid in the
Reconquista; meanwhile, relief money solicited from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and
Spain was not forthcoming. 35 “Only through daily experience could one form
an idea … of such a melancholy scene”, wrote future independence activist
José Núñez de Cáceres in frustration in 1811. 36 Almost every administrator
writing to Spain in the 1810s formulated their accounts in an identical way:
that the impoverishment of the colony was so total that it was impossible
to imagine it without actually witnessing it fi rsthand. As Governor Carlos
de Urrutia echoed several years later, “the people are nude, starving, and
so calamitous that a multitude of sicknesses are about … It’s not easy, even if
one wants to, to paint a true picture of the calamities of this island”. 37 Disor-
der “exceeds anything I could say about it”, one commissioner wrote. 38 “! is
most faithful isle has been reduced to a shocking skeleton”, another petition
pleaded. 39

General dissatisfaction among capital city residents seemed to extend from
the underpaid bureaucrats, to the underpaid soldiers, to economically desti-
tute population more generally. Gabriel García writes that the “dreadful
plight” had gripped public opinion:

Given that the results obtained with the Reconquista didn’t correspond with
the perceived hopes of the majority of Dominicans, who in sacrifi cing to recover
their original nationality … thought that they were achieving a bright future.

116 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

40 Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 363; Moya Pons, Historia colonial , p. 408.
41 Ayuntamiento de Santo Domingo to Secretario de Estado y de la Gobernación de Ultramar,

Santo Domingo, 16 January 1813, AGI: Audiencia de Santo Domingo 972, Expte. s/n.
42 Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 352.
43 Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 359. ! e fate of many of these Dominican emigrants was

extraordinarily di# cult; Reconquista hero Juan Sánchez Ramírez reported that he was never able
to get a peso of aid “just like almost all of the emigrados”, he laments, Diario , p. 1. For more on
the emigrants, see Carlos Esteban Deive, Las emigraciones dominicanas a Cuba, 1795-1808
(Santo Domingo: Fundación Cultural Dominicana, 1989).

44 Sánchez Ramírez Diario , pp. xxix, 320.

! e agitation of morale, far from calming down, increased each day … with
the desire to separate from Spain … [and] form a sovereign and independent
country. 40

! e colonists were deeply dissatisfi ed with the extreme destitution of the col-
ony; a situation they felt was being exacerbated by wrongful neglect on the
part of Spain. ! e pleas were constant: “We have been restored to the arms of
a liberal Mother who wants prosperity for all her children, even the most dis-
tant”, the local government insisted in one letter, but another situado from
Spain was not to arrive for years. 41 Trade with the United States and Britain,
the latter codifi ed in the treaty that ended the fi ghting, further oriented the
people away from an ideal of Spanish dependency. 42

Leveled, But far from Equal

! e Reconquista campaign restoring Spanish rule brought confl icts over sov-
ereignty, independence, and belonging into sharper focus for the residents of
Santo Domingo. Familiar hierarchies, which had been disrupted in the chaos
of the previous decade, returned to the colony. Many of wealthier families
who had emigrated (mostly to neighboring Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela)
did not return—in fact General Ferrand had declared their lands abandoned,
and reclaimed them for the state—but a few did return after the Spanish were
reinstated, seeking to reclaim land titles and usurp political power. 43 Finally,
the attitude of Spanish authorities could not have been well received by the
majority of Dominicans. ! e Governor of Puerto Rico Toribio Montes—who
had been charged with supporting the Reconquista e” ort—openly cast asper-
sion on General Juan Sánchez Ramírez, in both private correspondence and
the Gaceta de Madrid, as an “irresponsible, uneducated mulato , slow to under-
stand orders he is given”. 44 Sánchez Ramírez should not have retained the

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 117

118 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

Fig. 2-5. Imports and exports of Santo Domingo to neighboring Spanish possessions and
other regional sites depict a colony that, while poorer than its plantation neighbors, was
very much integrated into the regional economy. Images: M. Rosario Sevilla Soler, Santo
Domingo Tierra de Frontera 1750-1800 (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos,

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 119

45 Juan Sánchez Ramírez accused Ciriaco Ramírez of seeking opportunistic gain from
the Reconquista fi ght. His military strategy was unethical, the former argued, and his conduct
“insolent and provocative”, Diario , pp. 67-8, 83-4. Ramón Power of the Spanish navy corrobo-
rated these accusations, and praised Sánchez Ramírez for his restraint in the matter, at
pp. 325-9.

46 Juan Sánchez Ramírez to Min. de Hacienda, 24 July 1810, AGI: Audiencia de Santo
Domingo 1062, Expte. s/n. Many who had served as part of the negros auxiliares from fi ghting
in Saint-Domingue were also still in the colony, and their future was hotly debated, AGI:
Audiencia de Santo Domingo 1062.

47 Declaracion de Enrique Capri, 9 September 1810, BAGN 228-9.
48 In the trial records almost all of the urban enslaved are working as day laborers (and coart-

ación is readily evident in the archives and travel accounts). One slave, Manuel Fernández, is
recorded as a “day laborer who lives with his master, but has no other investment with his mas-
ter [after the work day has ended]”, Declaración de Manuel Fernández. BAGN 261. ! e popula-
tion of the city was so reduced that slave owners were compelled to lend out their slaves
to rebuild destroyed public works in the capital city; they complained about the lost labor
(Comisionado Xavier Caro to Nicolás María de Sierra, Santo Domingo, 29 November 1810,
AGI: Audiencia de Santo Domingo 961, Expte. s/n. Nevertheless, as many as 6,000 enslaved
Africans were brought to the colony from 1774-1807, historians estimate, Espinal, “La esclavi-
tud en la España Boba”, 89.

governorship, Toribio Montes argued, “given his social status and his
blood were not at all clean”. Rather, the governor openly favored another
Reconquista fi ghter, Ciriaco Ramírez, who was an ambitious peninsular of
relatively dubious conduct established in the southern part of the island. 45
Sánchez Ramírez retained the governorship, but he jailed his Spanish rival on
suspicion of treason. Members of the militia of color—63 of whom were freed
by Sánchez Ramírez for their e” orts in the 1808-09 fi ghting, for example,
and others who had been free since the revolution in the west—must have
bristled at the renewed rigidity in colonial power after their recent Reconquista
e” orts as well. 46 ! ey still guarded the plaza in 1810; some of the witnesses
who testify against the conspiracy are soldiers from this regiment, including
soldiers who had been born in “Guarico” (Cap Français/Henri/Haitien). 47

Meanwhile, a complex geography of slavery and freedom continued to
govern the island. ! e general poverty of Santo Domingo had weakened
slavery—many of the enslaved men and women in the trial records were day
laborers, for example—but it was far from disappeared from the life of the
colony. 48 Furthermore, the physical reminders of plantation slavery were
everywhere. ! e Boca de Nigua ingenio , site of a major slave rebellion in 1796,
was less than a day’s ride from the capital. Free towns like San Lorenzo de
los Mina and the southern port town of Palenque, both not far from the
capital city, bore living geographic memory of segregated modes of labor

120 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

49 Around 1800, San Lorenzo de los Mina, was reported to have “about 300 inhabitants,
almost all black, descendants of [those] who had fl ed the French side”, quoted in Emilio
Rodríguez Demorizi, La Era de Francia en Santo Domingo (Ciudad Trujillo [Santo Domingo]:
Ed. Caribe, 1955), p. 188. Today it is a neighborhood of the capital city, lado oriental .

50 Juan José Arrom and Manuel A. García Arévalo, Cimarrón (Santo Domingo: Fundación
García Arévalo, 1986). As many as 200-300 people had been living in Baoruco as early as the
1540s, Richard Price, Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas (Baltimore, Md.:
! e Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979), p. 39. On the importance of these communities
during the revolutionary period, see Carolyn Fick, ! e Making of Haiti: ! e Saint Domingue
Revolution from Below (Knoxville, Tn.: University of Tennessee Press, 1990), especially pp. 51-6.

51 Carlos Esteban Deive, La esclavitud del negro en Santo Domingo, 1492-1844 (Santo
Domingo: Museo del Hombre Dominicano, 1980), p. 500. ! e Haitian Revolution may have
in fact swelled the ranks of the maniel communities temporarily; Deive writes that 100 families
fl ed los Naranjos to Baoruco in 1795, for example, Deive Guerrilleros , p. 230).

52 Fick, Making of Haiti , pp. 55-6.
53 Walton, Present State , pp. 31-2; John Storm Roberts, Black Music of Two Worlds:

African, Caribbean, Latin, and African-American Traditions (New York: Schirmer Books, 1998

and community. 49 So, too, did highland maroon communities comprised of
ex-slaves from the former Saint-Domingue, of which there had been three
primary sites: in the Sierra de Ocoa (the original “Maniel” from which the
rest of maroon communities in Spanish colonies would get their name),
Sierra de Neiba, and the Sierra de Baoruco. 50 ! ey were reduced from the
several thousands who must have lived there at the height of the eighteenth
century, but it seems that the Maniel residents in the highlands of Baoruco
had not simply integrated into the towns of San Juan de la Maguana and Azua
after news of the revolution in the west. 51 In fact, their semi-independent sta-
tus had allowed them to weather the upheaval with considerable continuity. 52

! e independent maroon communities of the south of the island preoccu-
pied the attention of travelers and Spanish authorities alike. British Secretary
William Walton, traveling the coasts of the island during the Reconquista,
wrote that maroons had a “large promontory and fertile tract of land…with-
out mixing in any of the broils of their surrounding neighbors”:

! e whole number of these Maroons does not exceed 600, principally Spanish
runaway slaves, who live in a kind of republican manner, intent only on their
safety, and governed by their own regulations. ! ey are tranquil, confi ned to their
own limits, and only visit the neighboring towns of [San Juan] and Azua, when
they have tortoise shell, a super-abundance of cured game, or a few ounces of
gold, collected from the beds of the mountain torrent, to dispose of; which they
exchange for powder and cloathing [sic]; as tobacco and rum, their chief luxuries,
they grow amongst themselves. 53

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 121

54 Declaración de José Ricardo Castaños, BAGN 223. José Ricardo Castaños testifi ed that he
“had heard about three or four days ago that a few blacks from Maniel had arrived and that they
were capable of conspiring”.

55 See Walton, Present State , pp. 161-2.
56 It is unclear whether these were the creation of the Spanish (correlating with the negro

auxiliares forces employed during their 1793-5 fi ghting with the French) or, more likely, that of
Louverture when he briefl y occupied the city in 1801. Both the French and the Reconquista
forces organized moreno regiments in 1808-09, Sánchez Ramírez Diario , p. 176.

57 Captain Alí, I think, is the same Pablo Alí y Augustin who has left something of a remark-
able paper trail in the Spanish archives. He was born in West Africa—his Arabic surname
suggests that he was Muslim—enslaved in Saint Domingue, fought in a position of signifi –
cant military leadership of an all-black force known as the negros auxiliares on the side of the
Spanish during the Haitian Revolution under General Biassou (and was close enough to
Toussaint Louverture to later report how he chose his sobriquet), refused to be involved in
intrigue in turning the Spanish colony over to the British in 1796, and was later awarded a
medallo de oro for his service in exile (Puerto Rico) in 1809. ! en it seems his application for citi-
zenship had been denied, and he reappeared—one might only guess at his disposition to the
Spanish state and colonial authorities—in Santo Domingo in 1810, Beaubrun Ardouin, Études
sur l’histoire d’Haïti (Paris, 1853), p. 227; Deive, Guerrilleros , p. 233; Deive, Emigraciones , pp.
71, 126-9; Rodríguez Demorizi, Milicias de Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo: Editora del
Caribe, 1978), p. 425. He remained a very infl uential and respected military leader throughout
the period of España Boba and is involved in the 1821 “ independencia efi mera ” project and in
communication with Boyer by 1820. ! e 1810 conspirators observed that he held the “esteem
of the people” and determine that Foló should try to win his support for their planned project
( BAGN 252). Although Muslims comprised a small minority of those brought to Saint-
Domingue (as high as ten percent, as low as two to fi ve, by rough estimates), Michael Gomez
notes that they often fi lled more privileged positions within the plantation hierarchy,

Although Captain Ventura—the leader of the southern maniel—does not
emerge in the trial testimony of the “Italian Revolution” from the following
year, it is clear that the maroons remained a concern of Spanish authorities in
the capital city. ! e defendants were eager to displace blame as well. One of
the conspirators tried to lay the blame for the conspiracy on a small group
of maroons, claiming that several men from Maniel had entered the city to
scope out the defenses of the town square. 54 Other markers of hierarchy per-
sisted in the colony as well, not limited to the scrutiny of o# cials and European
travelers directed toward popular religious practice. 55 Within the social world
of the capital city itself, the organized black regiments of former slaves who
continued to garrison the capital represented a formidable testament both to
the strict stratifi cation of the island’s immediate past and to their indispens-
able military presence. 56 One of the primary conspirators, Santiago Foló, was
an o# cer of the company; he in turn sought the support of the formidable
Captain Alí, commander of the regiment, important veteran, and well-known
fi gure in the capital city. 57 Finally, the short-lived French occupation bore the

122 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

Black Crescent: the Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas (New York:
Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 83-4).

58 Two witnesses claimed to have been walking in the direction of the General’s ranch, for
example, although he had been dead for two years at the time of the trial. Many of the witnesses
and suspects are quizzed for their suspect allegiance to Ferrand in particular. Ferrand had autho-
rized the capture of children younger than fourteen from the west to be sold into slavery, keeping
only children younger than ten in the colony itself the rest to be sold elsewhere (Deive,
Guerrilleros , p. 228).

59 Moya Pons, Historia colonial , pp. 378-80.
60 Ibid., p. 379.
61 Emilio Rodríguez Demorizi, Viajeros de Francia , p. 122.
62 Disparaging comments are rife in the literature. One French observer remarked with

disdain in 1795 that he did not look forward to the transfer of the colony to French control,
given that it was “already a damned land for whites, and a true cancer in the entrails of whom-
ever would be its ruler in the future”, quoted in Emilio Rodríguez Demorizi, La Era de Francia
en Santo Domingo (Ciudad Trujillo [Santo Domingo]: Ed. Caribe, 1955), p. 13. A British
observer, quoted in Moya Pons shares this “horror” upon seeing the impoverished and non-
white Reconquista army, and has trouble even formulating it as such, “if that crowd of guerrilla
soldier blacks, half naked, could even be called an army”, quoted in Moya Pons, Historia
Colonial , p. 399.

63 Quoted in Rodríguez Demorizi, Viajeros , p. 121.

mark of a renewed enslavement e” ort; General Ferrand had encouraged the
capture of children from the west for revenue, and his memory is ubiquitous
in the testimony. 58

For all its recent ferment, persistent inequalities plagued the city residents.
Many sectors of the population—certainly in urban settings, but probably in
rural too—continued to be circumscribed by the o# cial racism embodied in
the laws of the state. 59 ! e reinstating of slavery by the French after Louverture’s
momentary abolition was just one facet of the repression. Historian Frank
Moya Pons writes of the racism of the late colonial period as a sociopolitical
wage of sorts, for example, claiming: “in Santo Domingo, that impoverished
and leveled colony, the important thing was not to be totally black or too
black”. A “ mulato ” was rarely enslaved for his/her whole life, Moya Pons con-
tinues, but liberal manumission was doubtless a poor substitute for Louverture’s
1801 abolition decree. 60 Scattered assessments of the capital city by French
travelers seem to preliminarily confi rm this characterization of the colony as
relatively egalitarian but perniciously anti-black. 61 Even as foreign observers
commented disparagingly on the relatively egalitarian composition of the
colony as a whole, they remarked that the urban centers of political power
were governed by racism. 62 Although certain posts and the honorifi c “Don”
had been extended to certain people of color, one observed, “it cannot be
extended as far as the blacks”. 63 Meanwhile, many elites who appealed to Spain

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 123

64 Roxivio Ton— to D. Francisco Saavedra, Pres. de la Suprema Junta de Sevilla, Puerto Rico,
15 October 1808, AGI: Audiencia de SD 1062, Expte. s/n.

65 Quoted in Rodríguez Demorizi, La Era de Francia , p. 191. An agent of the United States,
David Dixon Porter, reported that color prejudices persisted in the capital city in the 1840s,
Emilio Cordero Michel, La ciudad de Santo Domingo en las crónicas históricas (Santo Domingo:
Comisión Municipal para la comemoración del V Centenario, 1998), p. 216.

66 ! e literature unfailingly refers to the humiliation su” ered by the populace at Ferdi-
nand VII’s deposal, viz. Moya Pons, Historia colonial , p. 394, Gabriel García, Compendio ,
pp. 320″ .

67 Alejandro de la Fuente, César García del Pino, and Bernardo Iglesias Delgado, Havana and
the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press,

68 de la Fuente et al., Havana and the Atlantic , p. 12.
69 Xavier Caro to Nicolás María de Sierra, 29 November 1810, AGI: Audiencia de SD 961,

Expte. s/n.
70 Ibid.

directly carefully emphasized white predominance in the colony, trying to
assure them: “the inhabitants of the east are almost all Spanish”. 64 Some of the
free men of color were able to pass themselves o” as white “without noisy
reclamation”, travelers observed, but just as many others could not. 65
Intersecting with the local context was international tumult; Napoleon’s inva-
sion of Spain, the revolutionary Junta of 1808, and the Cortes de Cádiz
heightened both the sense of insecurity in the colony and the sense of the
possible. 66

III. “” ere will be lots of fi re in the city”: ” e Common Winds Blow in
Santo Domingo

Undoubtedly, Santo Domingo was not ideally located for communica-
tion with Spain, located as it was on the southern side of Hispaniola. Since the
creation of the fl ota system in the latter part of the 1500s, Havana had long
since supplanted Santo Domingo as a stopping point for Spanish ships, and
the latter port languished along with the rest of the colony’s economy. 67 While
Havana became the “key to all trading in the New World”, therefore, Santo
Domingo declined as a entrepôt and imperial hub. 68 Island o# cials were
well aware of the logistical di# culty and requested in 1810 that news at least
be sent monthly to the northern peninsula of Samaná, although even this
request encountered di# culty. 69 Contemporary o# cials complained that
they knew “absolutely nothing” from the peninsula, when even monthly news
failed to arrive. 70

124 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

71 In terms of concrete networks of communication and trade, it is true that Santo Domingo
was for some time considerably less signifi cant as a port city in the Caribbean than, for example,
Havana. However, a number of works attest to the very real networks of communication that did
exist between the colony and other countries in the circum-Caribbean, as well as important link-
ages not only to the Spanish metropole, but to Britain and France as well, e.g., M. Rosario Sevilla
Soler, Santo Domingo Tierra de Frontera 1750-1800 (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-
Americanos, 1980) for discussions of trade. For nascent suggestive tracts regarding the role of
Hispaniola’s oriente in nineteenth-century revolutionary thought, see discussion of migration in
José Morales, “! e Hispaniola Diaspora, 1791-1850: Puerto Rico, Cuba, Louisiana and Other
Host Societies” (Ph.D. diss., University of Connecticut, 1986) and of ideology in José Antinoe
Fiallo Billini, “La Construcción antillanista: Insinuaciones para una estrategia geopolítica”,
Ponencia en el “Primer Seminario Internacional sobre Pensamiento Antillanista”, 25 November

72 Many were lawyers, Carlos de Urrutia to Secretario de Estado y del Despacho de Gracia y
Justicia, Santo Domingo, 8 July 1813, AGI: Audiencia de SD 962, Expte. 1, doc. s/n.

73 E.g., Captain General of Caracas’ report on the state of Santo Domingo, 6 May 1803, AGI:
Estado 61, Expte. 31.

74 As the British were allowed to trade with the colony (per the 1809 treaty), ships of other
nations masqueraded under their fl ag to conduct this trade, Carreo de Castaños y Ciriaco
Ramírez, BAGN 275.

75 E.g., Pedimiento de Angel García, BAGN 264. He was a furniture dealer (who likely was
also interested in the mahogany trade) who had the poor luck of selling goods to one of the
accused and seeks the return of his goods in the course of the trial.

76 For example, the 1807 resale of one man was labeled an e” ort “to recollect the blacks from
that island” by Puerto Rico, Sale of Manuel/Mateo de Castro to Antonio Pene, AGN-RD

Where communication with the metropole failed, inter-island communica-
tion and travel fl ourished, however, especially southward. ! e city was ideally
located for travel to and communication with the rest of the coasts and islands
of the Caribbean. 71 A number of the prominent fi gures who returned to fi ght
the Reconquista had been observing events from Venezuela, Cuba, and Puerto
Rico. 72 Steady communiqués from Venezuela are documented throughout the
period (even during French domination). 73 ! e Dutch colony of Curaçao
became increasingly important fi nancially and politically to Santo Domingo
as the nineteenth century progressed; it became the primary refuge for
Dominican political exiles by the 1840s. While the tobacco cultivation of the
Cibao valley tended to be sold to European markets, the wood-selling indus-
try of the south sailed into the Caribbean Sea, and Dominican beef often fed
neighboring British islands. 74 From Puerto Rico, merchants from the western
town of Aguadilla traveled easily to the eastern tip of Santo Domingo, as well
as the capital city. 75 Also from the neighboring island, it seems that a steady
trickle of enslaved men and women arrived to Santo Domingo in this
period clandestinely in search of freedom; they appear only at the very mar-
gins of the archives. 76 Other enslaved men and women were sold from Santo

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 125

Archivo Real de Higuey, Leg. 27, Expte. 78. ! e most striking example is from the few surviving
issues of an 1821 newspaper, El Telégrafo Constitucional . Of the thirty men and women recorded
in the prison records of Santo Domingo, twelve of them were enslaved men and women fl eeing
from Puerto Rico by boat in search of freedom who had been captured by authorities, El Telégrafo
Constitucional #2, 12 April 1821.

77 E.g., Sale of Vital to Antonio Dobles, 26 November 1810, AGN-RD Archivo Real de
Higuey Leg. 29, Expte. 43.

78 E.g., Sale of María by Juan Bautista Dati, resident of Puerto Rico, to Don José Guerrero,
1 September 1806, AGN-RD Archivo Real de Higuey Leg. 27, Expte. 63.

79 Secretario Interino de Hacienda de Ultramar to Ministro de Guerra, F.M. de Carvajal,
Cádiz, 8 July 1812, AGI: Audiencia de SD 1062, Expte. s/n.

80 Vincente del Rosario Hermoso to Secretario de Real Hacienda, Santo Domingo, 12 April
1813, AGI: Audiencia de SD, Expte. s/n.

81 Elsewhere in the trial record he is recorded as from “Jeremias” (Jérémie?) ( BAGN 229).
82 Sánchez Ramírez, Diario , p. 342.
83 Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 320; Moya Pons, Historia colonial , p. 395.

Domingo to new slavemasters in Puerto Rico. 77 A few made the reverse trip,
arriving to Santo Domingo from Puerto Rico in bondage. 78 Some of the negros
auxiliares ended up in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and other areas, as well
as Spain. 79

Other free people of color traveled back and forth. Dominican moreno libre
Vicente del Rosario Hermoso spent from 1803-10 in Puerto Rico, for exam-
ple, but he returned to Santo Domingo after the French had been kicked out
(while wisely requesting his pension be paid from the co” ers of Puerto Rico). 80
Juan José Ramírez, one of the accused who protested his innocence to the last,
was a free man of color from San Juan who had moved to Santo Domingo in
search of opportunity as an artisan. Another of those questioned in the 1810
trial was from Martinique, Jean Lafontaine, who had married and established
himself as a tailor in the capital city. 81 Havana resident Don Juan Betancourt
allegedly gave printed material to the conspirators. Few in the capital city
would have been surprised the summer of 1810 when the governor demanded
all travelers present themselves to authorities within 48 hours and that docu-
ments “of any language” be scrutinized. 82 Clearly, it was the site of enough
intra-Caribbean travel to be of signifi cant concern for authorities.

Furthermore, the citizens of distant, neglected, French-dominated Santo
Domingo were also clearly listening carefully to events unfolding in the
Spain itself, no matter how indirect the channels of communication. News
of the deposal of the King quickly reached the colony, and the formation
and debates of the Junta were the “magic words” that sparked debate by
July of that year. 83 Meanwhile, the Governor of Puerto Rico covertly commis-
sioned the distribution of Gaceta de Madrid and “other printed material from

126 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

84 BAGN 277 (per Uber’s testimony).
85 Confesion de Ciriaco Ramírez, 15 September 1810, BAGN 274.
86 In addition to the Cuban military o# cers traveling to Santo Domingo, the Compendio

mentions that a number of wealthy fi gures from Santo Domingo traveled to Cuba in order to get
to Spain and back again, at p. 347.

87 In addition to the numerous migrations to eastern Cuba, New Orleans, Philadelphia of
planters and freedpeople, the negros auxiliares who had fought for Spain during confl ict on the
island were still being shu$ ed around and resettled well into the 1810s, see, e.g., Pablo Mercurio
to Secretario de Estado, 10 February 1809, AGI: Audiencia de SD 1062, Doc. s/n. See also Ada
Ferrer, “! inking ! rough Haiti: Cuban Slave Society and the Haitian Revolution”, ms. in

88 Ada Ferrer, “Speaking of Haiti: Slavery and Freedom in Cuban Slave Testimony”, in David
Geggus and Norman Fiering (eds.), ! e World of the Haitian Revolution (Bloomington, Ind.:
University of Indiana Press, 2008) pp. 223-47.

Sevilla” to prominent Dominican citizens to mobilize the Reconquista e” ort. 84
In the 1810 conspiracy trial, references to the Gaceta emerge several times in
the testimony—then, contradictorily, as a contraband of sorts, detailing
Spanish weakness—that Venezuelan conspirator Castaños shared with citizens
in his confi dence, along with other pamphlets that he had obtained from
another Venezuelan in the city (whose uncle had sent them as correspon-
dence). “Castaños was always talking about the disastrous news from Spain
and plausible rumors from Caracas, and the advances of the French”, another
witness accused. 85 Documents from El Diario de la Reconquista corroborate
that a fair amount of Spanish colonial news arrived from neighboring Cuba as
well, by varying means. 86 Finally, the peripatetic nature of the primary con-
spirators themselves is remarkable and is certainly indicative of the interna-
tional infl uences on the capital city. Puerto Rico, fi rst to receive news from the
metropole, had served as temporary residence for several at the heart of the
conspiracy: Christoval Uber, Ciriaco Ramírez, and Juan José Ramírez. ! eir
fi ghting in the Reconquista had spurred Santiago Foló (himself from the for-
mer colony of Saint-Domingue) and others to tour the east extensively. None
of the principal suspects, in fact, had been in the city for more than seven years
at the time of the trial.

Finally, on the eve of the 1810 conspiracy, it is obvious that neighboring
Haiti bore tremendous importance on the political and social landscape
of Santo Domingo. First, the example of the Haitian Revolution loomed
large, symbolically and concretely (as the former negros auxiliares and other
migrants from both sides of the island continued to preoccupy authorities
elsewhere). 87 Both Christophe and Pétion were vigilant against slave ships
sailing through Haitian waters to reach Cuba and projected an international
presence for Haiti. 88 Second, concrete security concerns united the interests of

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 127

89 One of Sánchez Ramírez’ fi rst acts after landing on the island was to write to Christophe to
broker peace with him, e.g. Diario , p. 13). Governor Toribio Montes sent the king the present
of a clock, Diario , pp. 160, 280.

90 Sánchez Ramírez, Diario , p. 45.
91 Sánchez Ramírez, Diario , p. 279.
92 Quoted in Prince Saunders, Esq., Haytian Papers, A collection of the very interesting procla-

mations and other o” cial documents; together with some account of the rise, progress, and present state
of the Kingdom of Haiti (London, 1816), p. 78.

93 Paul Louverture, briefl y entrusted with the southern region of Santo Domingo, oversaw “as
active of a commercial frontier as possible” across the former border regions of the two states,
(Cordero Michel, Revolución haitiana , p. 283). At Saint-Domingue’s height, colonists relied
heavily on the Santo Domingo cattle trade. Dominican ranchers were among the strongest
to continue to oppose trade restrictions from Haiti, for example (Franklin Franco, Los negros ,
p. 113).

94 D. Manuel Caballero to Secretario del Estado, Santo Domingo, 20 June 1811, AGI:
Estado 12:56.

both sides of the island. Concern over ongoing French aggression necessarily
piqued Haitian leaders’ interest in the occupation of the east of the island, and
in fact the Dominicans immediately turned to the Haitian state in 1808. 89
During the Reconquista, Sánchez Ramírez—and the Spanish Governor of
Puerto Rico, Toribio Montes—wrote to both King Christophe and President
Pétion directly to ask for aid. Even the governor in Havana wrote promising
o# cial goodwill and the aid of their free black battalion if needed. 90 ! e
Puerto Rican governor reported that Christophe was “quick and generous” in
his reply, sending 300 rifl es, 600 pistols, 300 swords, 300 cartridge belts, 300
pairs of boots, 80,000 cartridges, and other military supplies. 91 For his part,
Christophe reported that he had “long conceived that, as inhabitants of the
same soil, a similarity of wants ought to unite us with our brethren, the
Spanish Haytians, when the same enemies menace our existence”. 92

! e alliance was more than just military. ! e collaboration “restores the
ancient ties of friendship and of trade with this just, loyal, and sensible people,
and the result has proved that I have had no occasion to repent of it”,
Christophe wrote. Other authorities were eager to continue the healthy cattle
trade from the east, perpetuating a long history of exchange between the two
territories, albeit in new economic circumstances. 93 Finally, there existed a
relatively intimate relationship between authorities of the two states. Santo
Domingo o# cials passed on extensive news of Christophe’s coronation,
for example, including copies of Haitian state documents. 94 Along with
the Spanish o# cials of Santiago de Cuba—still nervous about any infl ux of
migrants from the revolutionary island – Spanish o# cials in Santo Domingo
served as an important source of information for Spanish authorities about

128 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

95 His name appears in various documents as Foló, Folau, Foleau, and Follot.
96 E.g., Sale of mulata Petrona Rodríguez by María Magdalena Capellán to M. Le Blanc,

10 February 1806, AGN-RD Archivo Real de Higúey 27, Expte. 126; see also Leg. 24,
Expte. 18.

97 Carlos de Urrutia to Secretario del Estado, 12 July 1817, AGI: Estado 12, Expte. 53.
98 Careo de Moxica y Pezzi, BAGN 242-3.
99 Roberto Marte, Estadísticas y documentos sobre Santo Domingo, 1805-1890 (Santo

Domingo: Museo Nacional de Historia y Geografi a, 1984) and Félix de Bona, Cuba, Santo
Domingo y Puerto-Rico (Madrid: Imprenta de Manuel Galiano, 1861).

events in neighboring Haiti. Haitian authorities probably kept abreast of
Spanish news in a similar fashion.

Of particular importance to the city of Santo Domingo, the trial records
indicate that a signifi cant west-to-east migration had occurred in the recent
years from every corner of the western part of the island. One of the principle
suspects in the “Italian Revolution”, Santiago Foló/Fauleau, was born in Cap
Français, had served as a lieutenant in the Seventh Moreno Company of
Santiago, and then migrated to Santo Domingo city in 1802. 95 Among the
witnesses in the trial: Enrique Capri, also from Cap Français/Henri, Anrietta
de la Cruz, from Jacmel, Sanita Huet from Port-au-Prince, and Constanza
Dufren from Ouanaminthe. Not all those moving west brought with them
revolutionary ideals of emancipation; “ mulata francesa ” Constanza Dufren,
who had established herself in the capital city selling food and liquor, owned
at least one slave, according to her interrogators. ! ere is some evidence that
a few slaveowning residents from the former Saint-Domingue bought and
sold individual slaves in Santo Domingo, although most wealthy former plan-
tation owners probably moved on to sites like Cuba and New Orleans. 96 As
España Boba progressed, Spanish authorities in Santo Domingo alluded to
broader emigration from Christophe’s regime in the north, “even though
those blacks know very well the agreement we have in the matter with French
interests [about re-enslavement]”, one letter observed, ominously. 97 Conversely,
at least one soldier in the trial proceedings was considering moving to south-
ern Haiti, where he had been promised work; another witness, an artisan,
wrote to Pétion asking for aid. 98 Exports out of Cap Haitien, although reduced
from the decades of plantation slavery, still easily surpassed those of Santo
Domingo, whose economy was weaker in comparison. 99

Instability reigned in Santo Domingo, despite the recent triumph of French
expulsion. Several thwarted attempts to declare independence occurred in
the space of a few months, including one by an enigmatic Havana émigré
known in records only as “don Fermín”, but also by fi gures who were to
become more prominent through the years, like José Nuñez de Cáceres, a

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 129

100 Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 364.
101 Scattered mentions appear in Moya Pons’ Historia colonial . Employing mercenaries was

common; Irish and German hired soldiers contracted by Brazil to fi ght Argentina in the 1820s
and 1830s, for example where they also revolted when not paid, Boris Fausto, A Concise History
of Brazil (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 83.

102 BAGN 228. Xirón was later exculpated, however.

colonial o# cial and prominent writer who was later to direct an indepen-
dence e” ort in 1821. Some simply vied for local power; in particular, local
elites who had parried for caudillo status in Reconquista fi ghting were still
trying to gain positions in the colonial hierarchy. Both Cristobal Uber and
Ciriaco Ramírez, two peninsulares favored by the Puerto Rican governor,
emerge in the 1810 testimony, for example. ! e streets of the capital city were
battleground for other sorts of contests on a daily basis as well, however, sites
of contest over allegiance, racism, and class. ! e capital city was a veritable
powder keg, waiting for a spark. In the fall of 1810, the conspirators planned
to set it on fi re.

IV. “All classes and nations waited for the day of action”: Frustration and
Plotting against Spain

! ere seems to have been several di” erent plans afoot in 1810, lumped
together in such a way that most historians considering it have summarized it
as “a conspiracy premeditated by heterogeneous elements … of which one can
really only glean that it was … against the existing order of things”. 100 ! e fi rst
group implicated—lending the conspiracy its hyperbolic name, “the Italian
Revolution”—were a number of Italian soldiers stationed in the capital. ! ey
had been fi ghting as mercenaries for both the French and Spanish troops for
the last decade, and an Italian infantry company still guarded the town square
of the Santo Domingo, having remained after power was restored to the
Spanish. 101 Certainly these soldiers, in the employ of a destitute government
that could not pay them, would have had reason for discontent, and it appears
other residents were suspicious of them for their vestigial ties to the French.
! e testimony recounts how thirty patriotas gathered at twelve-thirty at night
to investigate possible conspirator Antonio Xirón, a Corsican whose alleged
Napoleonic ties had earned him muy mala opinion in the city. (In fact, Xirón
was indeed armed—and fully dressed—apparently receiving three other
Italian soldiers in the shadow of darkness. All four were carted o” to jail that
same night. 102 ) In the course of the testimony, it becomes clear that some

130 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

103 Comisionado Xavier Caro to Nicolás María de Sierra, Santo Domingo, 18 December
1810, AGI: Audiencia de SD 961, Expte. s/n.

104 BAGN 243.
105 Declaración de Emiglio Pezzi, BAGN 225.
106 He, along with Uber, had been accused by Sánchez Ramírez during the Reconquista fi ght-

ing of allowing the French to escape at a battle in Azua, e.g., Confesión de Ciriaco Ramírez,
BAGN 270. “By the time they got to Azua … they dedicated themselves only to getting rich”,
the accusation continued. A certain scrambling for power within the Spanish colonial state was
clearly occurring after the 1808-9 fi ghting. Don Antonio Sarmiento was also in jail at the time
of the conspiracy, proclaiming that Señor Capitán General Muñoz had “stolen his rightful glory
of the Reconquista” and that he intended to go to Spain by schooner to rectify the insult, BAGN
252. Sarmiento was convinced of a quick resolution to this vexation, as Muñoz had signed
Haiti’s 1801 Constitution, an allegiance that clearly defamed his character.

107 Confesión de Castaños, BAGN 254.

of Italian mercenaries were clearly hostile to members of the moreno regiment
in particular, and tension abounded amidst the underpaid and dissatisfi ed
forces more generally; as one Spanish commissioner reported, “so many and
so frightening [the disorders] amidst military men, that they surely exceed
what I can even report”. 103 Despite initial suspicions, however, only Emiglio
(Emilio) Pezzi, lieutenant of this company, appears to have been involved
with the conspiracy itself, through his collaboration with Caracas-born José
Ricardo Castaños. For his part, Pezzi never admitted any further intent than
a few innocent “meetings” with Castaños and others. 104 “We talked about
the ocean, a ring that the moon had, and other things”, he insisted at his
interrogation. 105

Another character in the 1810 intrigue, wealthy Spaniard Ciriaco Ramírez,
was probably caught up in suspicion for reasons of personal ambition.
A prominent vecino of Santo Domingo (“ blanco ”, from Cádiz, married, 38,
cattle rancher who had made his fortune in Azua), Ramírez was already in jail
at the time of the conspiracy. His rivalry with Captain General Sánchez
Ramírez for control of the colony, which had begun over serious disagree-
ments during the fi ghting of the Reconquista, had earned him the charge of
treason. 106 Perhaps seeking him as a scapegoat, other witnesses accused him of
spreading a scandalous rumor about the Captain General’s own designs: that
Sánchez Ramírez planned to ask Christophe for 5,000 troops in order to avoid
turning over power to his replacement, en route from Spain, possibly even to
enter into “some kind of federation or alliance” of his own or even to “turn
over the Plaza” to the northern ruler, renouncing Spain entirely. 107 Whether or
not he was guilty of the slander, the accused blamed another suspect for the
rumor—“a very suspicious person”, he sni” ed—although he simultaneously

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 131

108 Confesión de Ciriaco Ramírez, BAGN 274.
109 Careo de Castaños y Ramírez, BAGN 276.
110 Ramírez testifi ed simply, “from what I heard, the motive of the conspiracy was nothing

more than they were not satisfi ed with the Government”. It was personal, he asserted, for
Santiago Foló “was especially mad because they had only made him a lieutenant of the Moreno
Company”, BAGN 236. Ramírez also claimed he was illiterate when asked about Gacetas , though
eventually he did sign at least his own name to the testimony. Other prisoners heard (and
believed) Ramírez’ laments about simply having been in the wrong place at the wrong time;
Domingo Pérez reported that he almost accepted Castaños’ invitation for a walk, too, and that
he had only missed arrest because of his injured foot, BAGN 233.

claimed that he had actually planned to fl ee “so as not to be a victim of the
blacks”, if the Christophe intrigue were true. 108 Others subsequently testifi ed
that wealthy Ramírez had no part of the conspiracy, who vehemently agreed
that he was not involved. 109

! e center of the actual conspiracy was comprised of a multi-national and
heterogeneous bunch, and their plan was very ambitious: create temporary
chaos in the capital and declare separation from Spain. ! ree of the most
closely linked were José Ricardo Castaños (“ color pardo ”, 36, recently emi-
grated from Caracas, married, probably a woodseller of some means), Santiago
Foló/Fauleau (“ mulato ”, 26, born in Gaurico/Cap Français, married, Lieuten-
ant of the Moreno Company), and Cristoval Uber (“ blanco ”, from Madrid but
a vecino and soldier of Puerto Rico, 26 years old, working in trade since the
Reconquista, single). Castaños and Foló seem to have been neighbors; Foló
and Uber were reported to have been close friends, perhaps given the common
bond of military experience. A third man interrogated by the Spanish authori-
ties, Puerto Rican Juan José Ramírez (“ mulato o pardo ”, 35, married, tailor by
trade but working in a local store, just two years residence in Santo Domingo),
attempted to distance himself from the other principal conspirators. Ramírez
insisted repeatedly—and plausibly—that he had been swept along only by
association. He may have indeed been an indebted and irritated tailor caught
up in the wrong place at the wrong time, although the weight of the others’
testimony against him must have seemed overwhelming. 110

! e conspirators’ plan, ambitiously, counted on the support of most of the
capital city’s residents. First, the conspirators intended to storm the guard and
police barracks, release and arm all of the prisoners of the city, and try to
secure the town square. According to Moxica’s allegations and Castaños’ con-
fession, the conspirators counted on the support of Captain Alí’s moreno com-
pany (although Ali himself was reportedly neutral, he allegedly promised not
to reveal the plot), “all of the mulatos franceses ” resident in the city, approxi-
mately 400 people from the environs of the Plaza, and “at least 600 more men

132 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

111 Auto de proceder (Moxica) BAGN 219, Declaración de José Ricardo Castaños, ibid., 252.
112 Confesión de Juan José Ramírez, BAGN 236.
113 Declaración de Castaños, BAGN 252.
114 Ibid., 252. Castaños seems to have adopted the language of revolutionaries elsewhere; they

planned to “imprison all of the Europeans who were contrary to the Americans, without spilling
too much blood”, he observed.

115 Ibid., 252.
116 Declaración de Castaños 250.
117 Declaración de Castaños 249.
118 Ibid. Foló recounted a sizeable French population in Santo Domingo, for example, but

discounted their prominence. In another letter, Pétion wrote regretting that his confl icts with
Rigaud was preventing him from sending supplies for the conspiracy sooner.

on high alert”, if ignorant of the specifi cs of the plan. 111 Foló optimistically
predicted that the coup would be spread instantly among the majority of the
small city’s residents, “who were already discontent with oppression”. Castaños
reportedly promised Ramírez and others: “being the owners of the island they
would rule it, mulatos have as much merit as whites, as events in Caracas are
proving”. 112 If the conspirators took an o# cial position on slavery, it never
emerges from the testimony, although the nature of their alliances and strategy
overwhelmingly suggests that they were opposed to it. “All classes and nations
were waiting for the day of action”, Castaños insisted. 113 He assured conspira-
tors that bloodshed was not inevitable, because “in his country, which was
Caracas, not one person had died up to the present”. 114 After the capture of
the square, he planned to return to Caracas, to spread the glorious news and
ask for reinforcements. Nor was he the only plotter with strongly egalitarian
leanings. When he asked Foló who was to be the leader, Foló replied, “all
would be equal in the e” ort, and afterwards a leader would be chosen”. 115

Integral to their plan was to seek support and protection from Pétion’s
southern Republic of Haiti and support of the capital city’s residents. Castaños,
Foló, and Uber had allegedly been communicating with Pétion for months in
separate correspondence; in at least one instance, Foló’s brother, who lived in
Jacmel, ferried the communication westward from the southern pass near
Azua. 116 According to the confession of his co-conspirators, Foló had even
received a hat, sword, and epaulets as a sign of goodwill from the southern
president, although he refrained from wearing them. 117 ! e conspirator and
Pétion wrote back and forth about the state of the conspiracy and discussed
the possibilities of military aid. 118 Uber, for his part, reportedly asked Pétion
for four years’ worth of supplies and auxiliary foot soldiers. Castaños admitted
that he signed a blank letter for Uber to write on his behalf, as he was in jail
for debt at the time of their drafting. Pezzi also allegedly wrote a separate

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 133

119 Pedimiento. BAGN II 417.
120 BAGN 250.
121 BAGN 236.
122 BAGN 252.
123 Quoted in BAGN 217.
124 Auto de proceder, 8 September 1810, BAGN 220.

missive. Even Juan José Ramírez’ defensor admitted that his defendant did
write “a few lines” to Pétion at Foló’s and Castaños’ urging, but “only because
he was miserable and hungry … because the treasury didn’t pay him enough
to survive”. 119 Meanwhile, Pétion wrote regretfully that “as the British had not
surrendered nor was the French-Spanish confl ict resolved, he did not dare
provoke them”, but would send supplies as soon as matters had changed. 120
! e communication allegedly confi rmed Pétion’s commitment of auxiliary
troops and two boats, as soon as he could spare them from the confl icts with
King Christophe in the north. 121 It was this aid that was delaying the start of
the coup, all of the conspirators admitted.

Before help could ever arrive from Haiti, the conspirators confi ded in the
wrong man, however. According to Castaños, “new recruit” Juan José Ramírez
promised the support of at least fi fty men; one of those he approached was
fellow Puerto Rican Joaquín Moxica. 122 Moxica—native of Aguadilla, Puerto
Rico, lieutenant, 26 years old—went to the authorities immediately. He met
with the small group several times that September as they fi lled him in on the
incriminating plan. “Each one was trying to attract people to the plan by
pointing out the advantages to be won by their struggle and making them see
that, although some would die, their memory would be eternal”, Moxica
reported. 123 ! ey were confi dent of the support of all of the mulatos franceses ,
he continued, and were waiting only on defi nitive word from Pétion to launch
the coup. 124 ! e scheme, though, was never realized—after three days of spy-
ing for the Spanish authorities, Joaquín Moxica assisted in ambushing the
conspirators during one of their last “innocent walks” before the plot was
allegedly to take place, and all were taken prisoner.

! e Testimony and the Tension

! e conspirators’ plans, popular sentiment, and the shape of a potentially
independent Santo Domingo all remain elusive and contingent in the archi-
val record, even as the tensions of the capital city are immediately apparent.
A strong sense of egalitarianism emerges from the ambitious proclamations of
the testimony, therefore—“all would be equal in the e” ort”, as one participant

134 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

125 Adelman, “Iberian Passages”, p. 60.
126 BAGN 237.
127 Pedimiento, BAGN II 417.
128 BAGN 232.
129 Careo de Moxica y Pezzi, BAGN 242.

a# rmed—although it was far from clear exactly what sort of state the con-
spirators hoped to forge. ! eir vision could not neatly be called nationalist, for
example. As with other e” orts for independence, it seems that many elements
“compet[ed] for legitimacy … the nation as a repository was simply one,
admittedly potent, of these claims”, as one historian observes. 125 Nor was the
plan’s success at all certain. While Castaños and the others were sanguine
about the prospects of collaboration within the capital city, particularly amidst
the population of color, their would-be allies held hybrid allegiances, some of
them far from revolutionary. Of the black infantry serving the city, on whose
aid the conspirators counted dearly, a number were avowedly royalist, for
example. ! e city residents themselves proved to be occasionally (and even
defi nitively) conservative; their allegiances often crossed imperial and racial
lines, to Spain, to France, to Pétion and back again.

A volatile socio-political climate emerges in the testimony, a deep malaise
that was expressed with seriousness and anger even in day-to-day interac-
tions. Santo Domingo’s relative economic destitution meant that a number
of the accused were facing trying economic circumstances. José Ricardo
Castaños reported having been periodically jailed for debt in the preceding
period; he met with other conspirators who visited his cell and slept at a
humble boarding house when released. 126 Juan José Ramírez, the tailor, was
also poor; “miserable and hungry”, his defense pleaded. 127 One witness
reported hearing Jean Lafontaine—furious over being pressed to repay a small
debt of thirteen pesos—swearing angrily in the streets that “within three or
four months, Santo Domingo will burn!” 128 Even the informant Moxica
admitted complaining about money and agreeing to write someone in the
“ex-French colony” about the possibility of fi nding a job or aid in southern
Haiti, although he insisted he had no idea exactly to whom the letter was
to be addressed. 129 ! e witnesses and suspects ranged from soldiers, humble
artisans, a few wealthy vecinos , several enslaved men who were day laborers,
and a number of women for whom no occupational details were recorded.
! ey were from Cataluña, Cádiz, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Corsica, Santo
Domingo, Caracas, Maracaibo, Sardinia, and especially the former Saint-
Domingue, i.e., Haiti.

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 135

130 Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 348.
131 So-called “Frenchifi ed Dominicans” fought for the French in the capital city in 1808

against Reconquista forces (Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 340). A number of the arrested
were questioned at length of their allegiances, or imagined allegiances, to French General
Ferrand (although the General had committed suicide during the Reconquista, two years
before). Juan José Ramírez originally fought for the French (despite the fact that he had just
arrived in Santo Domingo in 1806) during the Reconquista, for example ( BAGN 235). Pezzi
confesses to a continuing allegiance to the French. Witnesses testifi ed in the support of Xirón’s
arrest, for example, citing his possible family ties “to Napoleon” (which Xirón, a sixty-four year
old man living alone on the outskirts of the city as a beekeeper, vehemently denied). Even
Ciriaco Ramírez, eventual leader in the Reconquista, had to be convinced to join the fi ght ini-
tially, ensconced as he was in his profi table ranch in Azua.

132 Dufren is a fascinating character. According to her slave Teresa Moreno, she insulted the
Spanish—“ los de aqui son unos arrastrados ”, she taunted Cartucho extensively ( BAGN 245), she
hosted the conspirators’ meetings, and dated the ex-French mercenary, all while also still threat-
ening that Pétion (not Bonaparte!) would wreak vengeance on the Spanish colony.

133 Even in the 1820s, Spanish authorities were loath to acknowledge their nationhood—
repeatedly referring western Hispaniola as the “so-called Haitians” or “blacks from Santo
Domingo”, Comandante Militar de Baracoa, Francisco de Valderrama, to the Governor of
Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa, 30 June 1823, ANC: Asuntos Políticos: Legajo 113, Expte. 104.

! e considerable number of “French” women who testifi ed—“ mulatas fran-
cesas ”, the interrogators record—illustrate the tremendous problem of lan-
guage in the Spanish interrogation, and perhaps the limits of conception
about Haiti in the colony itself. Surely, French presence and allegiance was
still in the authorities’ minds: French citizens were ordered to leave the city at
the time of reconquest, but it is unclear how many did from available evi-
dence. 130 Furthermore, Juan José Ramírez, Ciriaco Ramírez, Cristoval Uber,
Emilio Pezzi, and many of the rest of the Italian regiment avowed direct ties to
France at some point in the recent past, a matter which preoccupied Spanish
authorities intensely. 131 However, what of these migrants from the former
Saint-Domingue? A number of them, like twenty-two year old Anrieta de la
Cruz (Henriette de la Croix?) from Jacmel, had been residing in Santo
Domingo long enough to speak perfect Spanish; Cap Haitien-born Santiago
Foló had married the obviously Spanish-speaking María de la Angustia
Gomes, and so on. Did they consider themselves “Haitian?” How would
“ mulata francesa ” Constanza Dufren—herself a slaveholder, but also an alleged
conspirator—have assessed the events on the western part of the island? 132 ! e
authorities, for their part, insisted on using the moniker “French”, refl ecting
their unwillingness to recognize Christophe or Pétion and certainly refl ecting
France’s continuing imperial ambitions for the island, very much still an omi-
nous reality in 1810. 133 Likewise, so-called “Denaturalized” and “Frenchifi ed”
Dominicans ( dominicanos denaturalizados y afrancesados ) emerge repeatedly in

136 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

134 BAGN 231.
135 Ibid., 245. In reply, he reportedly cursed that “all French people are malos, y que eran unos

mulatos todos and that her President Pétion was one, too”.
136 BAGN 58, 231.
137 A possible reference to the dogs that Saint-Domingue slaveholders had used in pursuit of

138 Declaración de Pedro Alcantara de Quesada, BAGN 243.
139 Ibid., 243.
140 Declaración de Constanza Dufren, BAGN 247.

the archives in subsequent decades, often obfuscating allegiances to neighbor-
ing Haiti.

! e extraordinarily international composition of the city appears to have
been of immediate and daily importance and a point of daily confl ict. A
strange and shifting confl ation of pro-French, pro- and anti-Spanish, and
defi nitely pro-Pétion allegiances emerge at di” erent moments in the testi-
mony, as well as the sense that Santo Domingo’s sovereignty was extremely
precarious. According to the testimony of black soldier Pablo Cartucho,
“ mulata francesa ” Maria Françuela taunted him in the street as he was on his
way to returning to military quarters. She called out to Cartucho, a soldier of
Captain Pablo Ali’s moreno infantry accusingly, “You’re serving the Spanish!” 134
(Evidently she understood Spanish allegiance to be a self-evident insult for
Cartucho.) “I’m serving the King!” Cartucho says he replied, in defense of
a deposed monarch. “How many French have you killed?” she persisted,
challengingly from her window. “As many as I want!” Pablo reported
defi antly. 135 “Have patience”, María warned him, “because the French were
coming by sea and Pétion by land and that they were going to hang him!” 136
In another exchange, “ mulata francesa ” Constanza Dufren allegedly harassed
Cartucho, warning: “while the Spanish had forced the French to eat dogs
[ostensibly in the course of the 1808-09 siege], then Pétion would have the
dogs eat the Spanish!” 137 Cartucho was so alarmed that he recounted
Dufren’s threat to several others. 138 When one of the Italian soldiers—
allegedly Dufren’s lover—crossed through the square that Cartucho was
guarding the next day, Cartucho called him over to discuss the incident. “Your
company is a bunch of bandits ( brigan )”, the Italian allegedly replied, insult-
ingly. “I am Spanish and you are the brigand, defending the French as you
did”, Car tucho reportedly insisted. 139 In yet another argument with Dufren,
Cartucho allegedly complained that “the French devils” were to blame for his
poverty; that they were “ malos who had killed women, children, and every-
one”. “! at always happens during war”, Dufren replied. 140 Furthermore, if

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 137

141 Declaración de Teresa Moreno, ibid., 245.
142 BAGN 288, etc. Evidently, he tricked the sister of a friend who had only recently returned

from Venezuela into lending him some Gacetas , which he promptly distributed.
143 Defensor of Uber and Foló (420).
144 Pedimiento, BAGN II 413.
145 BAGN 426.
146 Ibid.

Cartucho would die for the Spanish king, then Pétion would surely chop o”
his head, Dufren allegedly threatened. 141

Despite all of these tensions, authorities were loath to acknowledge domes-
tic unrest. ! e very name given to the conspiracy—the “Italian Revolution”—
indicated o# cial unwillingness to recognize the scope of Dominican
dis content. In their interrogation, Venezuelan José Castaños, was vilifi ed
through the trope of “Creole revolutionary” that Spanish authorities were
doubtless fast in the process of developing. His possession, or possible posses-
sion, of certain pamphlets was of obsessive interest to the interrogators; they
asked almost every witness if s/he had viewed any folletos that Castaños might
have received from Caracas. 142 He was cast as a “perverse and arrogant” stranger
in the “loyal and noble city”, a man of “damaged heart and revolutionary
spirit” who was “horrible in business, of terrible character, and always speak-
ing badly of the government on street corners”. 143 Similarly, the defense for the
remaining suspects depicted Santiago Foló as an outside agitator who “tricked
and seduced” those around him. His story of aid from Pétion was nothing
but “a fantastical idea…along with other contemptible gibberish”, the lawyer
argued. 144 Pezzi and the others who had written to Pétion had only done
so out of economic desperation, not political conviction, their defense held.
On the other allegiances expressed in the testimony, authorities were com-
pletely silent.

Asi se castiga traydores a la Patria

Sixteen days after their arrest, four accused conspirators were executed. ! e
execution was to be a spectacle of warning to the public of Santo Domingo;
Santiago Foló, José Ricardo Castaños, and Juan José Ramírez were hanged and
displayed for six hours, with the inscription “ ! is is how Justice punishes those
who are traitors to the country” carved in large letters on their chests. 145 Later,
their heads were put on spikes on the roads from town where their meetings
had allegedly taken place. Emilio Pezzi, whose service to the Spanish cause in
the Reconquista was cited in his defense, was simply shot. 146 ! e rest of the

138 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

147 Gabriel García, Compendio , p. 366; BAGN 427.
148 Dale Tomich, ! rough the Prism of Slavery: Labor, Capital, and World Economy. (New York:

Rowman and Littlefi eld, 2004), pp. 118-19.
149 Richard Turits, “Par-delà les plantations. Question raciale et identités collectives à Santo

Domingo”, Genèses (Paris), 66 (2007), pp. 51-68 at 53, and Turits, Foundations of Despotism:
Peasants, the Trujillo Régime, and Modernity in Dominican History (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford
University Press, 2003).

Italian company was later exculpated and lauded for their e” orts in Reconquista
fi ghting, although they were shipped o” to Puerto Rico and Havana to “con-
tinue to prove their loyalty”. 147 Cristoval Uber, for his service in the Reconquista
and ties to the Puerto Rican governor, was deported to Puerto Rico, sentenced
to ten years in jail, and forbidden from ever setting foot in Santo Domingo
again. Ciriaco Ramírez, Governor Toribio’s favored o# cial in the Reconquista
fi ghting, seems to have been extradited to Puerto Rico and exculpated entirely.
Antonio Xirón, Juan Lafontaine, and Constanza Dufren, the most prominent
popular malcontents in the testimony, appear to have been freed, or at least
disappear from the compiled testimony, and nothing further is known about
their fate.

V. “Friendly relations and the utmost harmony”: Rethinking Santo
Domingo’s Relationship with Haiti and the Revolutionary Caribbean

Writing of the interrelation of Caribbean islands, Dale Tomich observes that
the diverse patterns of the islands “appear not as the history of particular island
societies or individual imperial systems … but as a historical mosaic of inter-
related, interdependent, mutually formative loci”. 148 Certainly, interaction
and mutual constitution characterized the relationships between the colonial
societies; the mighty slave economy of Saint-Domingue relied on cattle from
neighboring Santo Domingo, for example (and the latter experienced a small
boom as a result). More broadly, frameworks of exceptionalism, isolation, and
“backwardness” for Santo Domingo are clearly insu# cient in this light.
Spanish neglect sowed ferment. Where elites and subsequent commentators
have seen underdevelopment, therefore, the formerly enslaved found freedom.
! e colony’s independent peasantry fl ourished and became the majority of the
colony’s population; they represent an “intriguing and understudied” case of
African-descended peoples in the Caribbean. 149 ! e contours of Santo
Domingo society appear to have been well known to migrants beyond its
shores as well. While larger outbursts of migration—during climactic events

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 139

150 Jorge L. Chinea, “Race, Colonial Exploitation and West Indian Immigration in
Nineteenth-Century Puerto Rico, 1800-1850”, ! e Americas 52, no. 4 (1996), pp. 495-519.

151 On moving beyond a paradigm of archival silence, Ada Ferrer, “Talk About Haiti: ! e
Archive and the Atlantic’s Haitian Revolution”, in Doris L. Garraway (ed.), Tree of Liberty:
Cultural Legacies of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World (Charlottesville, Va.: University
of Virginia Press, 2008); on migration and transnational fi ghts for citizenship, e.g., Rebecca
Scott, “Public Rights and Private Commerce: A Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Creole Itinerary”,
Current Anthropology 48, no. 2 (2007), pp. 237-56, and Jane G. Landers, Atlantic Creoles in the
Age of Revolutions (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010).

152 Chinea, “Race”; Guillermo A. Baralt, Esclavos rebeldes: Conspiraciones y sublevaciones de
esclavos en Puerto Rico, 1795-1873 (Río Piedras: Ediciones Huracán, 1981).

153 José Núñez de Cáceres to Secretario de Estado. SD 18 Feb 1811. AGI: Audiencia de SD
1016, Expte. s/n.

154 Case against Regidor del Cabildo de Santo Domingo, Don Manuel del Monte, AGI:
Audiencia de SD 1000, Expte. s/n, p. 22v.

like the Haitian Revolution, for example—produce signifi cant records in the
archive, smaller-scale migration does not. 150 ! e lives and itineraries of these
travelers, forged in extraordinarily adverse circumstances, elude easy study,
even as the news, rumor, and travel with which they developed interisland
knowledge has been shown to be rich and detailed. 151 In the early nineteenth
century, the same sources of knowledge that shrank the fl ow of migration of
free people of color to Puerto Rico as its plantation society tightened must also
have directed emigration from there to Santo Domingo, as migrants managed
di# cult and shifting prospects. 152

Governor Sánchez Ramírez died less than a year after the “Italian
Revolution”, and Spanish authorities fretted about how to maintain the colo-
ny’s relationship with the neighboring states of Haiti. ! e governor had main-
tained “friendly relations, the utmost harmony” with President (soon-to-be
King) Christophe in the north of Haiti and regular, if less congenial with
President Pétion in the south. 153 ! e 1810 rebels, clearly, had preferred Pétion,
although their reasoning is frustratingly elliptical in the testimony. ! e very
next year, an o# cial of the capital city was jailed for subversion that included
a pamphlet, its principles underlined furiously,

! is island is totally wiped of Indians, Europeans are our fathers, and blacks our
legitimate brothers, the mulatos our o” spring, and this island being populated
and run by these three distinct colors, it should unite and form a solid body, for
its essence is just one. We should have as a common interest the obligation to
preserve our freedom, independent from the tyrants who wanted to treat us as
savages . 154

! e rebellious o# cial—newly arrived from Caracas—had written to Pétion
immediately upon establishing himself in Santo Domingo. More conspiracies

140 A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141

155 Auto del Alcalde Mayor de Santiago, Gregorio Morel de Portes, Santiago, 2 October 1812,
AGN-RD: Archivo Real de Higüey 26, Expte. 7.

156 Deive, Guerrilleros , p. 230.
157 José Núñez de Cáceres to the Cabildo de Santo Domingo, 3 November 1812, AGN-RD

Archivo Real de Higüey 26, Expte. 5.
158 José Núñez de Cáceres to Secretario de Gracia y Justicia, Santo Domingo, 27 August

1811, AGI: Audiencia de Santo Domingo 961, Expte. s/n.
159 Carlos de Urrutia to Secretario de Estado y del Despacho de Hacienda, 1 June 1813, AGI:

Audiencia de SD 1064, Expte. s/n.
160 [Author unknown], “Romance de las invasiones haitianas” (Santiago de los Caballeros,

[1830]). In Emilio Rodríguez Demorizi, Invasiones haitianas de 1801, 1805 y 1822 (Santo
Domingo: Editora del Caribe, 1955), p. 223. ! e support of the enslaved for Boyer’s arrival has
been documented elsewhere; it is likely that the author of this particular text was a member of
Santiago de los Caballero’s small commercial class. Five years prior to the tremendously destabi-
lizing demand of “indemnity” by France, the Haitian economy may well have seemed signifi –
cantly more promising to the merchants of the Cibao than the neglectful (and monopoly-seeking)
Spanish government would have been (e.g., Marte, Estadísticas ). ! e many meanings of Haiti to
Santo Domingo in the 1810s and 1820s—revolutionary example, relatively sturdy economy and
governance, and so on—have been erased by the tremendous weight of subsequent historiogra-
phy. A number of pro-Haitian texts from the period were even physically destroyed (Fischer,
Modernity Disavowed , p. 181).

soon followed. Rumors fl ew of a slave rebellion in Santiago de los Caballeros
in late 1812. 155 Island residents continued to listen intently to the develop-
ments of Spain. Another thwarted rebellion in the capital city involved libertos
and slaves frustrated that the Cortes de Cádiz had failed to abolish slavery. 156
Authorities eventually suggested the need for a general island-wide pardon,
but the conspiracies do not appear to have abated. 157 ! e colony had su” ered
all sorts of misfortunes in the meanwhile, including a hurricane that had
brought an o# cial to write “only the shell of the Capital retains some version
of its former self, but even it is so ruined, that one must have a heart of stone
not to su” er at the sight of the debris”. 158 It was a bloodless cadaver, concluded
another. 159

España Boba limped along until an independence e” ort in December
1821—“Independencia Efímera”, or Ephemeral Independence—was quickly
supplanted by integration to Haiti early the following year under President
Jean-Pierre Boyer. A poem penned anonymously from Santiago de los
Caballeros celebrated the end of Spanish rule and the prospect of Haitian

Viva, viva en paz perpetua Long live, long live in perpetual peace
el Presidente Boyer President Boyer
que nos sacó de tal pena Who got us out of that misfortune… 160

A. Eller / Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141 141

161 Ibid.
162 Franklin José Franco Pichardo, “Remanentes ideológicos de la esclavitud en la República

Dominicana”, Revista Clío 167 (2004), pp. 79-98; Silvio Torres-Saillant, “! e Tribulations
of Blackness: Stages in Dominican Racial Identity”, Latin American Perspectives 25, no. 3 (1998),
p. 126-46.

Another thanked “Papa Boyé” explicitly for abolition at long last. 161 ! ese
voices of pan-island unity have often been ignored; a historiography that has
e” aced the persistent inequalities of España Boba has failed also to recognize
the early appeal of integration to Haiti in 1822, as other scholars have
observed. 162 As these struggles are re-imagined, so will a more united and revo-
lutionary history of Hispaniola.

Topic Essay:

The Power Struggle and Desire for Freedom toward Independence in the Caribbean

Daniela Fierro

February 23, 2020

Thesis: Despite widespread inspiration of the Haitian Revolution across the Caribbean, history narratives regarding such have been produced in a way that presents the struggle for power, freedom and independence among the people.

These are my three supporting points: Struggle for power, for freedom, and for independence.

· Power struggle; competition among rules from the greatest empires. Between Empires (Module 4)

· Independence; inconsistencies in narratives about independence. Revolution Across the Americas (Module 3)


Freedom/ Liberty; the idea of liberty that caused many revolutionaries to fight against colonial rule such as Haitians at the Haitian Revolution. Revolution Across the Americas (Module 3)


· In the article “All would be equal in the effort”, Eller argues that during the early nineteenth-century in the Caribbean, Santo Domingo was a significant bridge for “common wind” of revolutionary thought; mainly because it was Haiti’s neighbor. [footnoteRef:


] [1: Anne Eller, “ ‘All would be equal in the effort’: Santo Domingo’s “Italian Revolution”, Independence, and Haiti, 1809-1822,” Journal of Early American History 1 (2011) 105–141. (Change to Chicago style; still working on) ]

· “The Reconquista campaign for the restoring of Spanish rule brought conflicts over sovereignty and independence in Santo Domingo.” [footnoteRef:2] [2: “same as above, still working on” (Change to Chicago style; still working on) ]

· Trouillot’s, the contemporary inability to understand the events of the Revolution, specially, the actions and aspirations of slave revels, helps to explain the relative absence of Haitian Revolution in historical knowledge. [footnoteRef:3] [3: Michel Rolph Trouillot, “North Atlantic Universals” (20 pages); (Change to Chicago style; still working on)

The Power Struggle and Desire for Freedom toward Independence in the Caribbean
Daniela Fierro


Working title:


Personal essay: The rise of inequality in South Florida

Working Thesis: Similar to @my family’s experience in South Florida, many Americans have fought against various forms of #inequality. Two examples that stand out when studying the [[specify year(s)]]

period of US history are #income inequality and #gender inequality.

Topic sentence #1: @ family experience with #inequality [[a sentence about these things will help the author establish their POV about the essay themes]]

Evidence 1:

[[specific examples from the current period can illustrate relationship between local experience or observation and the theme of #inequality as discussed in Module 2-4]]

Evidence 2:

[[need at least one additional piece of evidence, can be specific to the family experience OR to the modules]]

Topic sentence #2: #Income inequality [[notice how the first sub-topic in the thesis discussed]]

[[now that theme of focus of this paragraph identified, the topic sentence must state what it is about income inequality will be discussed in the paragraph]]
Evidence 1: and discussion that supports your point: Andrew Carnegie, “Wealth,” North American Review 148 (June, 1889), 653–665. Ch.16

[[now that evidence related to the particular theme identified,  the sentences must state what the evidence highlights about income inequality that directly pertains to the topic sentence]]
Evidence 2: and discussion that supports your point.

Topic sentence 3: gender inequality

Evidence 1:
Evidence 2:



Working Thesis: The [[specify dates]]-period was one during which Americans of diverse backgrounds pushed for their rights. This is apparent in the long struggle for civil rights, women’s rights, and labor rights.

Topic Sentence 1:

 civil rights

Evidence 1:
Evidence 2:

Topic Sentence 2:

 women’s rights

Evidence 1: local example of NOW
[[now that evidence related to the particular theme identified,  the sentences must state what the evidence highlights about the rights struggle that directly pertains to the topic sentence]]

Evidence 2:

Topic Sentence 3: labor rights

Evidence 1:
Evidence 2:



Working Titles: Topic Essay: Capitalism and the Growth of the American Economy OR

Capitalism and the Foundation of the Modern Economy How Industrial Capitalism laid the groundwork for the modern economy.


Working Thesis: The @industrial capitalists of the @late 1800’s and @early 1900’s laid the groundwork and created the #modern American economy. The formation of @large corporations, @injection of capital, and @government intervention were the #building blocks of capitalism in America. The #effects of this revolution are still @visible today in @every city, on @every street corner and in @every shopping mall. This was the beginning of the America we live in today.


[[reference to current day, local example needs to be more precise and below, needs to be incorporated somewhere into the essay]]


Topic Sentence 1:

The @railroad industry was the start of the #rapid growth of @large corporations and @industrialization.

@Ch. 16 Sec. II pg.3- The revolution of Taylorism

@Ch. 16 Sec. II pg.6- Markets got competitive, mergers caught on and the

monopoly was born.

Topic Sentence 2:

The @injection of capital into large businesses would not have been possible if it were not for favorable #government intervention.

@Ch. 16 Sec II pg.5- After the Civil War laws were passed that made it possible

for enterprises to get large amounts of capital

@Ch. 18 Sec. V pg. 59- Legal innovations protected shareholders from losses,

government gave hearty handouts to titans of industry


Topic Sentence 3:  @Large corporations cannot survive without @capital, the money used to run the businesses, in the @early days of #industrialization only the @wealthiest of individuals could buy a piece of the pie. [[later two examples of evidence need more precise definition]]

@Ch 16 Sec. II pg.5- wealthy individuals were the only ones that could bear the

risk of capital

@Ch. 16 Sec II pg.6- The wealthy earned back enormous returns



Large corporations, banks and manufacturing companies are flooded with capital, and have the backing of our federal government to do as much business as possible. The framework of the industrial and market revolution is still very much at work today.

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