Modern history

35

They All Eagerly Desire It, Protect It and Almost Sanctify It

Comment by Captain-General Cañedo on the attitude to the slave trade of Cuban planters c. 1853

THE BRAZILIAN SLAVE TRADE, one of the longest-lasting businesses in the history of commerce, was now at an end; but an even older one, that to Cuba, was still prospering. Between 1840 and 1860, about 200,000 slaves were probably carried to Cuba (and perhaps 7,200 to Puerto Rico). But beneath such an austere statement of figures, the diplomatic, maritime, economic, and social life of the island of Cuba went through an astounding series of upheavals.

In one respect, this era represented an unusual triumph for Spanish foreign policy. Through dissimulation, procrastination, and evasion, the weak governments of Queen Isabella in Madrid continually resisted the demands of the British at their most bombastic. Had the matter not been the continuation of the slave trade, the diplomacy of Spain would have received accolades, and avenues might have been named after those responsible.

But this success for diplomacy in Madrid began in a curious way. Though the census of 1841 indicated that slaves constituted a majority of the population of the island, the slave trade itself seemed to be coming to an end. The reason had nothing to do with England, nor with philanthropy. The fact was that, as in Brazil, there were several slave revolts. The new thirty-four-year-old captain-general, whose responsibility was to suppress these challenges, was Leopoldo O’Donnell, one of the many Spanish officers of distinction with Irish antecedents. Like most captainsgeneral of Cuba, he had spent his youth fighting in the civil wars of Spain. Whereas his predecessor Valdés owed his lucrative place in Cuba to his friendship with General Espartero, a friend of Britain, O’Donnell owed his own appointment to his support for General Narváez in overthrowing Espartero. He would afterwards have a long career in politics surely financed by his five years’ stay in Cuba, where he was an assiduous friend of both slavery and, even more, of the slave trade. He was said to have taken £100,000 back to Spain with him. He was always backed in Madrid by his patron Narváez and by the queen regent. O’Donnell’s own view was that a sudden end of the slave trade would result in a catastrophe, and he advised that the Government in Madrid ought to do all they could to avoid all discussions of the matter in the Cortes.

The facts of the “Escalera Conspiracy” (so called because suspects were tied to a wooden staircase in a ruined coffee plantation near Matanzas and whipped till they confessed), which faced O’Donnell in Cuba, are unclear. Broadly, though, a group of free blacks and mulattoes seem to have discussed a scheme to proclaim the independence of Cuba, and the manumission of all slaves who supported the idea. An assistant of the late British Consul Turnbull, Francis Ross Cocking, was implicated, but the lead was taken by a group of free blacks headed by a certain José Rodríguez. Cocking apparently encouraged these men to suppose, inaccurately, that he, and they, had the approval of the British government. He himself imagined that he had the backing of certain enlightenedcriollos.But the scheme was betrayed by the writer Domingo del Monte who, Cocking foolishly supposed to have been in support of him, but who described the matter, in an exaggerated form, in a letter to Alexander Everett, sometime minister of the United States in Madrid, once the president of that country’s special representative in Havana, and a keen supporter of the idea of annexation of Cuba to the North American Union. Everett came then to believe, with his friends among the Cuban planters, that Britain might be planning an armed intervention in Cuba in order to establish an “Ethiopico-Cuban republic” (del Monte’s expression) and “to form round our southern shores a cordon of free negroes.” He sought, unsuccessfully, to awaken his masters in Washington to the iniquity of the matter. Daniel Webster, secretary of state under President Tyler, was skeptical, but concerned enough to inform the Spaniards of the alleged conspiracy.1

Apparently independent of this plot, there were a number of slave revolts in late 1843 and 1844, similar in character to rebellions which had often occurred before: a rising of twenty-five slaves at the Alcancia sugar mill in Cárdenas; a protest of slaves on the Cárdenas-Júcaro railway; and other minor outbursts, which were all suppressed by O’Donnell with considerable brutality. Perhaps 3,000 slaves and free blacks were tried summarily, and about eighty were shot or died under a panicky interrogation, either on the stocks or in overcrowded cells. No evidence was forthcoming of a large-scale revolutionary conspiracy, but that did not prevent many free blacks who had been born outside Cuba from being deported, along with a number of criollo leaders, such as José de la Luz y Caballero and even the inadvertent informer, Domingo del Monte. Those who were executed included Cuba’s best-known poet, Diego Gabriel de la Concepción Valdés, “Plácido,” a free mulatto, who was accused of being an English agent but who seems to have been innocent of all participation in any plot.

The black is born and thereafter

For lack of education

In a chaos of bitterness,

He seems sad and blind.I

O’Donnell made no secret of his view that Cocking, Turnbull, and the might of the English Crown had been the inspiration of these rebellions. Indeed, his hostility to England was remorseless. It was as if he was determined to avenge the defeat of Red Hugh O’Donnell, his ancestor, by the English in Ireland in 1600.

If O’Donnell hated England, the sentiment was cordially returned. After the repression of 1844, even the serene Aberdeen was roused to anger, and he exerted himself to secure his withdrawal. “Unless they remove him, I do not see what we can do but recall you,” Aberdeen wrote to the minister in Madrid, the languid but effective Henry Bulwer, “Unless they make reparation for his monstrous cruelties and acts of gross injustice . . . we shall be obliged to order reprisals.”2 But Bulwer knew that such a thing would be far from easy, because of that general’s friends in Madrid. Palmerston summed up the position, when he returned to the Foreign Office, in another letter to Bulwer: “It appears that the practice of re-selling emancipados which has been going on for some time past, under the sanction of the captain-general of Cuba was the public topic of conversation [in Havana]. . . . It is also stated that upwards of 5,000 of these unfortunate persons have been re-sold at rates varying from 5 to 9 ounces of gold—for example, 50emancipadoswere sold to the Gas Company of Havana for a period of five years to serve as lamplighters, by which means a profit of upwards of $600,000 has been made by persons in Government house [sic]. . . . 400 emancipados have been transferred to the Marquis of las Delicias, chief judge of the mixed court, to be held by him for the benefit of the Countess of Guerega, wife of General O’Donnell . . . [so] You will express the confident hope that the Government of Spain will give positive and peremptory orders to General O’Donnell to obtain . . . liberty for these nominally emancipated negroes.”3 . . . But these efforts were unsuccessful.

O’Donnell busied himself with inquiries, commissions, and recommendations much as Valdés had, but always with the aim of enabling those engaged in the slave trade to continue it. But he was every year encountering further difficulties, less because of a sudden fit of philanthropy among the criollos than from their fear, comparable to what had transpired in Brazil, that, one day, the presence of a large black slave population might bring to them the same kind of revolution which had destroyed Saint-Domingue. For an identical reason, ironically, O’Donnell abandoned Valdés’s scheme for the liberation of emancipados after five years: he was convinced, he said, that “free men of colour were compromised en masse in the vast plot.” Emancipados after 1845 remained, indeed, slaves de facto if not de jure, though now, as a rule, they worked for the government—Roman emperors would instantly have recognized them as “state slaves.” They must then have numbered about 2,000 in Cuba (alongside another 2,000 who had been freed, 1,000 who had gone to British colonies, and about 6,000 who were listed as “dead, lunatic or disappeared”).

In 1844, meantime, the veteran Spanish liberal Martínez de la Rosa—the playwright-statesman of the Cortes of 1820, friend of Canning and Chateaubriand, who had signed on Spain’s behalf the Anglo-Spanish Treaty of 1835, with its famous equipment clause—returned to power, as foreign minister. In keeping with the wishes of his English friends, he introduced a law into the Cortes in Madrid naming penalties for those convicted of being concerned in the slave trade. Owners and investors in slave voyages, as well as captains and other senior officers, would be imprisoned for six years, or eight if they resisted arrest, as well as being subject to exile and fines; crews would suffer half those fines; and there were other punishments if slaves were maltreated.

The bill caused trouble in Spain. Even liberal politicians were hostile to it, and the opponents of the measure sought to ruin it by introducing wrecking amendments. The bill became law, only because it seemed not to damage the institution of slavery. Indeed, one of the amendments which the government did accept allowed that, once slaves had reached a plantation in Cuba, they could not be touched.4

If the bill caused trouble in Madrid, it provoked something close to panic among planters in Cuba. Though the then state prosecutor in Havana, Vicente Vázquez Queipo de Llano, privately thought that an end of the slave trade was the only way to ensure indefinite white supremacy, Captain-General O’Donnell believed that the law, if carried out, would ruin the colony. He prevented any mention of it from appearing in the newspapers in Havana—one more remarkable treatment by a colonial governor of a law proclaimed by the imperial power. The Council of the Indies in Madrid, however, merely commented that Britain, presumably jealous of the success of Cuban sugar, must be seeking to destroy the island’s prosperity by making demands on Spain which it did not dare to make on the United States. That Council now seems to have thought that the slave trade should be slowly run down and the deliberate propagation of slaves (in keeping with what was believed to be practiced in the United States) should be encouraged to offset the shortage of labor.

The panic took some time in Cuba to be assuaged. There was, though, for several years an almost complete end to the import of slaves into the island: the only people able to continue, thought the British commissary judge in Havana, “were persons like Don Julián Zulueta” who were simply “desirous of obtaining slaves at a low price, not for sale.” It would seem that no more than 1,500 slaves were imported in 1848. Cholera also killed many slaves already in Cuba. Some sugar planters sold up and went to Texas. Most coffee farms were ruined by hurricanes.

The economics of slavery was in these years discussed ad infinitum in the Cuban periodical press. Thus, in 1845, Vázquez Queipo de Llano estimated, in a public report, that slave labor cost seventy pesos per person a year and free labor 140, and that the rising price of slaves would soon make free labor competitive.

In 1845, it was hard to see that twenty years of efforts by the British governments, with occasional sporadic support by liberal Spanish governments, had had the slightest effect on the Cuban slave-powered economy. The Spanish governments in these days were not malign. Bruised by civil war, or the fear of it, with the political consequences of having a child queen and a strong-minded but self-indulgent queen regent in a semiabsolutist regime, they still did not have the strength to carry out policies which seemed against the interests of their richest colony. The administration was quick to take offence. Thus in 1848, Bulwer was asked by General Narváez to leave Madrid after (false) accusations that he had been concerned to support a rebellion against the Spanish government. There was outrage in London, and Palmerston even considered asking the navy to blockade Seville.

But in 1849 and 1850, imports of slaves rose again in Cuba and, after 1851, with prices in Africa very low because of the end of the traffic to Brazil, the trade returned to its old high levels. The profits in the business were too high to ignore. Washington Irving, the inspired author who had become, so curiously, yet so appropriately, the United States minister in Madrid, reported to Washington: “It seems beyond a doubt that, under . . . captain-general O’Donnell, slaves are again admitted in great numbers” to Cuba.5 A slave in the 1840s could be bought for half what he would have cost in 1780, but he could be sold for at least twice as much. As we have seen, the cost of manufacturing goods, the main items used to barter slaves, had also fallen dramatically. Even when all costs were paid, a slaver capable of carrying 500 slaves might make $100,000 a journey: a profit of 200 percent.

The renaissance of the trade in the late 1840s in Cuba was largely the work of a clever native of Cádiz, Manuel Pastor, a retired colonel who had been a friend of Tacón, who had used him as an adviser on public works, then given him control over the new markets which he had built in Havana. This made Pastor’s fortune. Unlike Tacón, he believed in railways, and he helped to finance several. In the late 1840s, he was the brain behind a new sugar company in which the queen mother, María Cristina, still in effect the regent of Spain, participated, along with such wellknown merchants as Pedro (once Pierre) Forcade of Bordeaux, Antonio Font, and Antonio Parejo, a close friend of the queen regent’s second husband, General Muñoz (the duke of Riañasares), and generally held to be the agent of the queen mother herself. This company’s plantation, Susana, received its regular “sacks of coal” (that is, new Africans) thanks to Parejo—as well as courtesy of new captain-general, Federico Roncali (count of Alcoy). Roncali, like his predecessor, O’Donnell, feigned ignorance of the slave trade. But he was engaged in protecting it, all the same: “The CG [captain-general] pockets 51 pesos a head,” wrote a merchant to his New York partner in 1849.II (The Spanish queen regent was, meantime, as a result thought to be the “richest individual in Europe.” The intelligent British minister in Madrid in the 1830s, George Villiers, had reported, “All her money is secured in foreign funds.”6)

Parejo, looked on in 1850 as the “person now considered the most extensively engaged in slave trading,” died in Cuba, leaving debts to the queen mother which she apparently never recovered. That financier’s widow, Susana Benítez (it was after her that the big plantation had been named), all the same provided him a funeral which cost 10,000 pesos. In these years, the small Cuban port of Cabañas, in the western province of Pinar del Río, became the most important of the slave harbors, where could be seen “the cream,” the merchants and captains (la flor y nata) of the slave ships,” commented Captain Impiel, in Baroja’s Los Pilotos de Altura.7

Still, there was one critical change in the late 1840s and 1850s in Cuba: though slaves were cheap in Africa, they were becoming too expensive in Cuba for all but the large proprietors. This confirmed a trend whereby small farmers gave up grinding their own cane, and increasingly took their product to a larger establishment where there were modern facilities, a steam engine, and a Derosne or Rilleux centrifugal mechanism, introduced from France. These modern haciendas were the origin of the moderncentralesafterwards found throughout the island and, though the biggest and newest of them (Zulueta’s Alava, Parejo’s Susana, the queen mother’s San Martin, the last two of which joined to found a new company, La Perseverencia) adapted to the new conditions, many, more modest, abandoned slave society.

Rich and internationally aware criollos had begun in these years to think in terms of annexation to the United States as a way of preserving their slaves and their position. This “annexationism” in Cuba merged with the expansionist movement in the United States known as Manifest Destiny. The United States was, just at that time, in the wake of the Mexican War, acquiring Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, as well as parts of Colorado and Nevada. Why should the rainbow of Union ever end? Southern politicians in the United States also began to see annexation of Cuba as the next step, both as a way of helping to guarantee slavery in their own country, and as marking the beginning of a new Caribbean empire. Further, the Spanish minister in Washington, Ardáiz, received private warnings from Southern members of the United States Congress that they would support the Cuban planters if, after Spanish abolition of the slave trade in Madrid, they were to rebel against the madre patria.

Two societies were formed to agitate for annexation to the United States. First of these was a secret society, La Rosa Cubana, headed by Narciso López, a Venezuelan adventurer who had lost his father in the wars of independence and who, after taking part in the Carlist Wars in Spain on the liberal side, had briefly been governor of the elegant city of Trinidad. Second, there was the more restrained Club de la Habana, directed by Miguel de Aldama, a planter of imagination who hoped for annexation to the United States as a means of preserving slavery if not the slave trade. López made several attempts to inspire rebellions in Cuba, with help from volunteers from Hungary as well as Louisiana. He was eventually arrested by the Cuban authorities and garrotted, his last words being a ringing appeal: “Don’t be frightened, Cubans, of the scarecrow of the African race that has served so often the tyranny of our oppressors. Slavery is not a social phenomenon exclusive to Cuba or incompatible with the liberty of citizens. . . . Nearby you have the example of the United States, where three million slaves did not prevent the flourishing of the most liberal institutions in the world. . . .”8 Thus did Cuban nationalism start its melancholy history on a flawed premise.

It also had a curious enemy, in the mother country. In addition to her requirement to treat Britain as a great economic power with which it was unwise to quarrel, Spain was beginning also to see Britain as an ally to help her thwart the annexation of Cuba to the United States; and it was true that British governments wanted to prevent the United States’ capture of the ever-faithful isle, not only because of her own commercial relations with her, but because such a consummation might cut her off from Mexican and other promising markets. All the same, Britain could not assist Spain until the latter had put into practice the treaties on the slave trade. But the unhappy rebellion of López changed that attitude. In September 1851, after the execution of that patriot, Palmerston gave the unusual order to British naval forces in the West Indies to help Spain in any way necessary to defeat North American filibustering expeditions. Even more remarkable, the French associated themselves with this. It was an indication of solidarity against what was seen by the European powers as a United States threat to their interests.

Despite his help to Spain against the United States, Palmerston had not abandoned his passionate mission to end the slave trade internationally. In 1851, the year of his success in Brazil, he wrote to Lord Howden (who, having been in Rio, had become minister to Madrid) to say that Britain was “desirous of coming to a plain understanding with the government in Madrid, and to make that Government comprehend that Great Britain will no longer consent to be baffled in regard to the Spanish slave trade . . . by unsatisfactory excuses and by unperformed assurances . . . while the Spanish authorities in Cuba have continued systematically and notoriously to set at nought the stipulations of the treaty. . . . It is high time that this system of evasion should cease.” Palmerston suspected that the government in Madrid had two purposes: “first, to afford income to a number of ill-paid public officers or to appointed favourites, by means of the bribes given by slave traders upon the importation of negroes; and, secondly, [to retain] a hold on the island, because it is thought at Madrid that, as long as there is in Cuba a large number of negroes, the white population will cling to the Mother country for protection. . . .”9

The next Spanish captain-general in Cuba, in the long series of corrupt and patriotic officials in that place, was General José (Gutiérrez) de la Concha, son of a hero of the wars against Argentina, and yet one more veteran of civil conflicts in Spain. He came to Havana as captain-general in 1850 with a name as a strong governor who would be capable, on the one hand, of dealing with filibustering from the United States and, on the other, of ensuring that Cuba comply with the slave treaties. His instructions told him that he was, of course, to remember that Cuba was an island of two races, either one of which might, if unwisely treated, threaten continuing Spanish possession. He was told, too, to seek a solution to the long-standing problem of the emancipados which would both satisfy Britain yet not lose the services of people concerned. After all, the mere sale of these virtual state slaves brought into the government $40,000 a year.

Concha started well. Thus he dismissed the governor of the province of Matanzas, Brigadier Pavia, on the accusation of conniving at the landing of 840 slaves at Camarioca, on the northern coast of Cuba, in the Emperatriz, belonging to a Catalan company; but the government in Madrid found that promising officer innocent and reinstated him. Concha had also a scheme for the emancipados: to allow them to remain a supplementary labor force for sugar plantations, to be employed on public works and to be available to serve retired officers or their widows. Some of the income available from their sale (“reassignment” was the euphemism) would go to assist a fund for the children of Spaniards who had served in the empire before independence.

The British were now almost as interested in the problems of the emancipados as in the slave trade itself. Lord Stanley, a youthful undersecretary of foreign affairs in the nine-month government of his father, Lord Derby, had been to Cuba, and so had direct knowledge of the condition of these Africans. Both he and the new foreign secretary, Lord Malmesbury, tried to be, if anything, more rigorous than Palmerston had been, and to insist that the captain-general in Cuba give an account every six months of the fate of the emancipados. At that time, reports from Havana showed that, of over 7,000 Africans liberated under the treaty of 1817, only half had really been freed.

Malmesbury’s successor, Lord Clarendon (who as George Villiers had been the successful minister in Madrid in the 1830s), then promoted a plan for a tripartite guarantee of Spanish interests in Cuba by France, Britain, and the United States. But both Daniel Webster, briefly back as secretary of state under Millard Fillmore, and his successor and disciple, the splendid orator Edward Everett, rejected any such idea of European involvement in Cuba. Everett explained, “There was no hope of a complete remedy [for the slave trade] while Cuba remained a Spanish colony.”10 The phrase was, not surprisingly, greeted as an explicit approval of the idea of annexation.

The election of Franklin Pierce as president of the United States in 1852 seemed to make that point only too clear: Pierce, the famous “dark horse” in the electoral race, was, like Buchanan, a “northern man with southern principles,” and considered the idea of acquisition of Cuba by the United States as nothing less than a “fundamental principle.” The British minister in Washington, John Crampton, thought that the administration had decided that the United States “will and must take” Cuba.

Ministers in Britain racked their brains as to what to do. Some of them wanted a more forward policy—acting against Cuba, say, as Palmerston had against Brazil—for example, sending the fleet to blockade Havana in order to bring the slave trade to a violent conclusion. Lord Malmesbury tried to leave the impression with Spain that, if that country were to refuse to act much more strongly against “the ST,” Britain would not help against United States annexationism. But that threat was not carried through. Lord John Russell would tell Howden in Madrid: “Your lordship may rest assured that, however friendly the Councils of her Majesty may be to Spain; whatever may be the interest of this country not to see Cuba in the hands of any other power . . . ; yet . . . the destruction of a trade which conveys the natives of Africa to become slaves in Cuba will furnish a large compensation for such [a] transfer.”11 But such protestations could always be made to seem insincere when Britain was each year taking more and more Cuban sugar: from under 200,000 hundredweight in 1845, the figure had risen to over 800,000 by 1851 and would be nearly 1.6 million in 1854.

Concha, meantime, had been abruptly succeeded in Havana in 1852 by General Valentín Cañedo. A man of neither wealth nor significance, he was if anything on even worse terms with the British Consul-General Crawford, and so with Britain, than O’Donnell had been. Yet that enmity derived from a misapprehension: Cañedo authorized governors of provinces to send officials to enter plantations to seek slaves newly introduced from Africa (bozales) and, if necessary, seize them. It was Cañedo who took the brave step of having Julián Zulueta arrested in 1853, and held in La Cabaña, overlooking Havana Bay, for receiving a large consignment of slaves on the Lady Suffolk, though the charges against that millionaire were dropped for “lack of evidence.” This new captain-general accurately reported to his government that the planters, great and small, all defended the slave trade: “Without exception,” he wrote, “they all eagerly desire it, protect it and almost sanctify it.”12 Despite these indications of seriousness, Spain demanded Consul Crawford’s recall, and Britain asked for that of Cañedo. The latter adopted the curious ruse of sending a friend, the mercurial Aragonese writer Mariano Torrente, author of a history of the Latin American wars of independence and editor of various journals in Havana, to London to defend him, but to no avail: Cañedo was sacrificed and withdrawn after only a year in Cuba, and General Juan de la Pezuela, a well-known and hitherto effective liberal, was transferred from Puerto Rico, where he had been governor, to Cuba.III

Pezuela was a new kind of captain-general for Cuba. He was experienced, being the son of the ill-starred penultimate viceroy of Spain in Lima, where he was born. He was also a poet and playwright, though his lifeless translation of the Divine Comedy had given him the nickname of “El Danticida.” In Havana, he began his time in office by refusing to be bribed into complicity with the traffic—the first captain-general to do so since Valdés. He ordered all slaves illegally introduced to be seized, and sought to detain owners of slave ships and organizers of slave expeditions. He made common cause with Monsignor Antonio Claret, the enlightened archbishop of Santiago, who had long been asking that slaves be better treated. Pezuela encouraged marriage between white and black, and planned a militia in which he hoped to welcome free blacks. He issued a decree freeing the emancipados, and then introduced a plan whereby those of them who had already been given masters would be reassigned to them for annual periods. He personally inspired articles in Havana’s main daily newspaper, the Diario de la Marina, calling for Cuba to fulfill Spain’s treaty obligations with Britain, and discussing the merits of free labor. He dismissed the governors of Trinidad and Sancti Spíritus for allowing slaves from Africa to land in their zone of authority, and his ruling was upheld in Madrid. Like Concha, he decreed that officials could enter plantations if they knew of any rumor of clandestine slaves there. That decree, of May 1854, also provided for the compilation of a register of slaves to be made after the next harvest, which in theory would free all illegally imported slaves thereby discovered. Officials would lose their jobs if they failed to act on hearing tales of improper landings. Pezuela told his government that these measures were essential in order to ensure British support against the United States. In February 1854, Pezuela even confiscated, in the harbor of Havana, the United States ship Black Warrior and placed her captain, James Bulloch, under arrest on the ground that the ship’s manifest misrepresented what was on board.

These high-minded policies of Pezuela were denounced as “Africanization” by the planters. All the old hatreds of criollos for peninsulares which had characterized Spanish imperial rule in all her dominions were revived. The planters thought it certain that Pezuela was going to abolish slavery itself. One Cuban planter, Cristóbal Madán, wrote to President Pierce to ask him to intervene and save the island from the British-inspired emancipation which, it was thought, the captain-general was planning to introduce. (Madán had been educated in the United States and was a friend of Pierce’s clever but autocratic attorney general, Caleb Cushing.) The mood of anxiety seemed to inspire the United States consul, W. H. Robertson, to seek to precipitate a crisis which would enable immediate United States annexation. He assured the planters that Spain had accepted the British policies, and that Britain would soon use her influence to have Cuba filled with Africans, so that the island would become an “African colony given over to barbarism,” as Secretary of State William Marcy put the matter in a letter to James Buchanan, then United States Minister in London: “an act which, in its consequences, must be injurious to the United States.” A special agent of the United States in Cuba, Charles Davis, told Marcy that, if all slaves imported since 1820 were freed, there would be “a disastrous bloody war of the races. . . . Should the United States remain passive spectators of the consummation of the plans of the British ministry, the time is not distant when they will be obliged to rise and destroy such dangerous and pernicious neighbours.”13 A certain George Francis Train declared that Cuba should be seen as a deposit of aluminum from the Mississippi: “What God has joined together let no man put asunder,” he curiously proclaimed.14

These obsessed declarations explain why Marcy, on April 3, 1854, instructed his minister in Madrid, the tempestuous Louisianian Pierre Soulé, to try to buy Cuba from Spain for $120 million. If that was impossible, Marcy went on, “you will then direct your efforts to . . . detach that island from the Spanish dominion and from all dependence on any European power.” He was the right man to whom to send such a dispatch for, the night before he left New York for Madrid, he had heard with emotion exiled Cubans beg him to bring back a “new star” to “shine in the sky of Young America.”

Meantime, General John Quitman, twice governor of Mississippi, a hero of the Mexican War, a man with friends in the Cabinet of the United States who tacitly backed him, began to organize, at New Orleans, an expedition of Southern gentlemen to liberate Cuba from Spain and the fearful threat of “Africanization”; while friends of his such as Senators Stephen Mallory of Florida and John Slidell of Louisiana sought to repeal the Neutrality Laws to enable the legal departure of the amateur force.

“El Danticida,” busy in Havana with a new translation of Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata, hesitated on hearing of all these plans and, as has happened to many other good-natured intellectuals in politics, was forced into retreat before being dismissed (after the Spanish revolution in July 1854), since in Madrid it was supposed that the planters in Cuba would welcome filibusters from the United States with open arms if the captain-general’s policies continued.

That there was then a genuine United States threat was demonstrated by the Ostend Manifesto, of October 1854, in which the United States ministers to Britain (James Buchanan), France (John Mason), and Spain (Pierre Soulé) jointly declared that, if Spain were to persist in refusing to sell Cuba, the United States ought to take it by force. For, if Spain were to refuse the offer of $120 million, then “by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting it from Spain if we possess the power.”15

This declaration, and the enthusiastic terms in which the proposal was couched, caused much emotion: in Spain and Cuba, for obvious reasons; in the slave states of the United States, too, but also in the free ones, whose political leaders saw Cuba as a likely, and dangerous, addition to the slave community.

After Pezuela, his predecessor but one, Concha, returned to Havana with an instruction to do everything necessary to prevent the annexation of Cuba to the United States. He also came with orders to suppress the traffic in slaves, though that was a lesser consideration; but, if annexationism could only be fought by making concessions to the planters, that would have to be accepted. Concha would remain in Havana for five years, almost a record for these captains-general.

Concha had learned from Pezuela’s disquieting experience, and decided that his approach to the slave trade would be to demand that personal identification cards, “cédulas personales,” be put on the neck of every slave, and obtainable for a fee—that is, essentially, a tax. Slaves without such identification would be assumed to have been illegally imported, and so be liable to be freed. That scheme was started, eventually, in July 1855, but it failed, because neither planters nor officials would cooperate, except in case of Yucatecs and “coolies” from Mexico and China. Identification cards could, of course, be forged, and they were. Concha was made a fool of.

On the other hand, Concha opposed the inspection of estates by officials looking for illegally imported slaves, and he repealed Pezuela’s decrees on the matter. He also abandoned Pezuela’s scheme to declare the trade piracy. Instead, he placed faith in the idea of offering bribes to informers, and prize money to officials who denounced slave ships. None of these arrangements was effective. So the slave trade continued “to be carried on . . . almost with impunity.”16 Between nine and twelve thousand slaves were landed in 1853, between eight and eleven thousand in 1854; Zulueta, Pastor, and Parejo were the biggest traders. The traffic in emancipados also continued; even if these were now to receive wages after their five years’ apprenticeship. They were never able to choose their masters, being assigned to them by the officials.

The pattern of the recent past was thus repeated: Captain Baillie Hamilton testified in London that, in 1853, he stopped the slave ship Arrogante Emilio outside Havana and found, as he expected, “an immense quantity of stone ballast, [and] the beams and planks for a complete slave deck; that, on examining the captain’s trunk [he found that it] was ingeniously contrived with false sides. . . . They found concealed . . . 419 Mexican ounces [of gold], and a track chart with tracks in pencil to the Bight of Benin.”17

Spanish warships were now asked to control the slave trade off Havana—two heavy sailing frigates, three steam frigates, four steam sloops, and nine sailing brigs. But the arrangement was somewhat schizophrenic since officials seemed to continue to receive payments by the leading slave traders for every slave landed. Minor bureaucrats had come to find bribes as necessary to their survival as slaves were to the planters.

A new prime minister in Madrid, the count of San Luis (the businessman José Luis Sartorius) told Queen Isabella in 1854 that he wanted to stop the slave trade, but maintain the institution of slavery, and provide for adequate labor on sugar estates by forcing domestic slaves onto plantations with a further tax on slaves used merely as house servants. He would encourage slave marriages, and immigration (from Mexico and China). His ideas included immediate liberty for all emancipados and a slave register. These arrangements would both please Britain and prevent the loss of Cuba to America. But the pious hopes of San Luis in Madrid continued to be the bad jokes in Havana.

Havana was now not only the main destination of the slave ships but the best starting point and, by 1858, most outfitting was done there, even if the ships were, as was still often the case, North American-built.

Despite the continuing despotism of the captains-general, some ideas for the future were now being aired publicly. There had been a plan to import Spanish and also some non-Spanish European workers to make tropical labor more attractive to white men, who were to be employed in tobacco and coffee cultivation. But nothing came of this scheme, nor of others like it. White workers could not be persuaded of the charms of working in cane fields in the tropics. On the other hand, 200,000 Chinese were imported into Cuba, between 1847 and 1867, in conditions similar to, though legally different from, slavery. Well-known slaving firms (including that of Zulueta) organized these arrangements. Contracts were made with companies which brought the “volunteers” from Hong Kong and Macao. Each “coolie” would be paid 125 pesos, sometimes up to 200, for which he would have to work for four years. During that period, the Chinese could be bought, sold, and transferred just as slaves were (slaves cost 600 pesos at this time). But they would be fed and kept, after a fashion. In the mid-1850s, a few planters even preferred “coolies” to slaves. One enlightened sugar king, Juan Poëy, had, on his three plantations, Las Cañas, San Martin, and Pontifex, 44, 358, and 379 Chinese respectively, alongside 480, 436, and 89 slaves).

The Chinese were satisfactory as workers, if well looked after. But as a rule they were not. Suicides were frequent. Many ran away. These “mongols,” as they were often absurdly known, gained a reputation for being thieves, homosexuals, and rebels, as well as being denounced as both lazy and impulsive: every imaginable accusation was thrown against them. But those who treated Chinese workers intelligently (for example, Antonio Fernández Criado) met with excellent service. Some of these workers, after their years of labor were over, eventually set up small businesses in Havana.

Another innovation was the import of 2,000 Yucatec laborers from Mexico, contracted by none other than Charles Tolmé, the British consul before Turnbull. The first Yucatecs came from prisons to which they had been condemned after the Mexican Caste War, which ended in 1848. These were bought at 25 pesos each and sold at 100. They had left home on the understanding that their removal would improve their condition, while the Mexican government would be relieved of dangerous enemies. But they did not work well, were badly treated, and most died very soon.

Other schemes included one for importing African free labor with contracts lasting eight years like the Chinese. But the British opposed “free African labour” as they had done in Brazil, and that factor weighed a good deal. The Cuban proprietors, meantime, were still reluctant to increase the population of slaves by encouraging the import of women: a female slave, above all a pregnant slave, continued to seem a waste of money.

•  •  •

The end of the Brazilian trade also led several Portuguese merchants who had done well in Rio or Bahia to move up to New York with the intention of using their expertise, often gained in Africa as well as in Brazil, to develop the Cuban commerce. The most interesting of these men was Manoel Basilio da Cunha Reis, an agent in Africa of a Brazilian slaving firm, before founding on his own, in 1852, the “Portuguese Company,” in New York, in partnership with the Portuguese consul, César de la Figanière. They specialized in obtaining large cargoes of slaves from Mozambique for Cuba.IV Though everything to do with this body is confused (including whether the enterprise was as important as it seemed), it was apparently soon absorbed by a Spanish company, also established in New York, and directed by Inocencio Abrantes of Havana. Both these clandestine companies had many tentacles, in all parts of the Caribbean, and several of the ships were often involved in legitimate trade. Then, suddenly, these vessels would change to slaving, after refitting in, say, Mexico. There was believed to be some collaboration with a similar, and even more shadowy, company concerned to sell slaves in the United States.

The Portuguese Company apparently chose New York as its headquarters because, unlike Havana, that city had a genuine legal African trade. The Company’s ships were mostly American-built, inquisitive British officials were few and far between, and so many vessels changed hands in New York that the Portuguese Company’s activities attracted little attention. The company had at least twelve ships and may have had more. Their first, the Advance, left New York for Africa on September 18, 1852.

This trading from New York was, of course, intended to serve the Cuban market. There was little trading to the United States itself. Even the Texan gate of entry had declined after the entry of that state into the Union in 1845. Captain Denman testified in a British inquiry in 1843, “I have no reason to believe that any slave trade whatever exists there, except the slave trade from one part of the coast to another. I believe that no new slaves are introduced.”18

Yet, in the late 1850s, some transatlantic trade to North America seems to have revived. As has been noticed, Philip Drake, in his untrustworthy memoir, talked of a slave depot being established in one of the Bay Islands off Honduras for the purpose of receiving slaves from Africa for gradual infiltration into the United States through Texas, Louisiana, or Florida. The Savannah letter book of Charles Lamar suggests how some trade may have been managed in the mid-1850s. Lamar, from a well-known Georgian Huguenot family of Savannah, a nephew of Mirabeau Lamar, second president of Texas, was said, by The North American Review, to have been “a Southern gentleman of the most approved type”; but, the anonymous author added ironically, he “possessed just enough of the Yankee spirit of enterprise and thrift to render him human.” Lamar apparently entered the slave trade in 1857, buying slaves first from Cuba, then direct from Africa.V One of his ships was the E. A. Rawlins, said to have landed slaves in 1857 in numerous places. Lamar, like so many before him, was attracted by the idea of making a profit of well over 100 percent on the voyage. He estimated that the figures might be:

Cost of the expedition

$300,000

Say we bring 1200 negroes @ $650

$780,000

Deduct 1st cost

$300,000

Leaves nett profit and steamer on hand

$480,00019

Yet though Lamar plainly liked profits, he also seems to have had an ideological obsession with the need to revive the trading of slaves.

The United States naval patrol was easily circumvented. The British diplomat John Crampton reported from Washington in 1853: “The United States naval officers are zealous enough in capturing slavers, but the force is so small, particularly now that they have sent the greater part to Japan [with Matthew Perry], that little is done.” He sensibly added: “The difficulty of getting slavers condemned by Admiralty courts when captured and brought into American ports is another encouragement to the slave traders.” Crampton also pointed to another weakness: that difficulty of ensuring conviction was, it seemed, “much greater in the northern states, which profess abolitionism, than in the south, where slavery exists.” Shipbuilders of the North were interested in the prosperity of the trade, for which, the diplomat reported, they still furnished “by far the greatest part of the vessels under whatever flag they afterwards sail.”20

There were other reasons for inaction in the United States, apart from the anxiety about damages and the continuing disinclination of the United States to accept the naval leadership of Britain. Consider the case of the Martha. The U.S. naval patrol ship Perry (a ship called after the hero of Lake Erie, Matthew Perry’s brother), reached Ambriz, Angola, on June 5, 1850, in search of her commodore’s ship, the John Adams. She found that this ship had gone to Luanda. En route to that port, the Perry saw a large ship, theMartha of New York, standing off the coast, and brought her to. Up till then, the Perry had not shown her flag, but she then did so. The master of the Martha then observed that the Perry was a U.S. cruiser, at which he hoisted a Brazilian flag and threw overboard his writing desk, with his instructions in it. Lieutenant Rush of the Perry boarded the Martha, but a Portuguese captain insisted that he was the master. The real master’s writing desk was, however, retrieved and a North American, dressed as a sailor, was identified as the captain. This man later admitted that, had it not been for the interruption, he would have taken on board 1,800 slaves that night. The Martha was escorted to New York. A farce followed. The captain was released on $3,000 bail, which he immediately abandoned.

Still, during the 1850s, the United States Navy began to have some success in relation to the trade to Cuba. In 1853-54, Commander Isaac Mayo, on the Constitution, captured the schooner Gambrill when about to load slaves, but Mayo released all the crew except for two, because he did not wish to be sued. Then, in 1854, again off Ambriz, Lieutenant Richard Page, on the Perry, seized the slaver Glamorgan, whose captain, Charles Kehrman, sought to escape by hoisting a British flag. Page sent Kehrman home to be tried in Boston, but allowed the Portuguese supercargo to go free—for which act of generosity he was himself arraigned. In November of that year, New York District Attorney John McKeon brought to trial James Smith, sometime master of the Julia Moulton, a New York ship owned by a certain Lamos, a Cuban, which had carried 645 slaves from Ambriz to Trinidad, Cuba. Smith claimed that he was in reality a German, Julius Schmidt of Bederkesa, Hanover, and that he had never been naturalized as a citizen of the United States. He was, however, found guilty of trading slaves, the first man to be so convicted under the law. But a mistrial was proclaimed, on a question of technicalities and, after many legal complications, Smith-Schmidt served only thirty-two months.

“Joint-cruising” off Africa between the United States Navy and the British was decided upon in the 1850s. But the policy was “from the first and in spirit dead. . . . The flagships of the American and British squadrons on the coast in the years 1855, 1856, and part of 1857 met only once and that at sea. They were two miles apart; they recognized each other by signal and, by the same means, held the following exchange: ‘Anything to communicate?’ to receive the inaccurate answer, ‘Nothing to communicate.’ ”21

The year 1857 was a good one generally for the interception of slave ships: H.M.S. Prometheus overtook the U.S. brig Adams Gray, a fully equipped slaver, with $20,000 in cash aboard. Between then and January 1858, the British seized twenty-one slavers, while the United States, Spanish, and even Portuguese naval patrols captured six more. From that time, the British had the services of an effective spy, a Cuban shipbroker, Manuel Fortunat, a Cuban equivalent of the agents whom Palmerston had inspired in Rio. He passed much information to the British consulate in New York. It was this which probably led the British commander on the coast of Africa, Commodore Wise, to believe that, despite everything, the trade to Cuba was still growing: “Slaves are procurable in thousands; the natives are selling their children, and the traffic in slaves is rapidly destroying legal trade. These ill effects,” he added, “are produced by the shameful prostitution of the American flag for, under that ensign alone, is the slave trade now conducted. . . . Out of 23 vessels said to have escaped, eleven were repeatedly visited by Her Majesty’s cruisers but, though known to be slavers, they were necessarily left unmolested, through being bona fide American vessels. Had we a treaty with the United States, every one of these vessels would have been captured. . . . Last year, slavers were (in the majority of cases) captured through their captains forgoing the protection of the American flag; but now American slavers are arriving and sailing with almost as much impunity as if they were engaged in legal trade.”22

At much the same time, Commander Moresby of the British West Africa Squadron seized the Panchita off Africa and sent her to New York. The United States minister in London protested and stated firmly that the “question whether the Panchita’s journey [was] with the slave trade could have no bearing on the violation of sovereign right.”23 The British foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston, admitted that Moresby had made a mistake, but pointed out the difficulties under which that captain had been laboring.

Palmerston had other difficulties. The Crimean War was now over, and British public opinion was turning its attention again to the matter which had defeated two generations of politicians. The Times, on May 25, 1857, argued in favor of a blockade of Cuban ports. Two months later, the House of Commons urged the government to do all in its power to end the slave traffic, Spain being pressed by many members of Parliament to declare the trade to be piracy. Charles Buxton repeated all the old arguments, with an urgency which would have suggested the subject was a new one for that legislature; the prospects for peaceful trade with Africa were as never before; cotton could be grown there on a large scale; and why not ask the navy to do in Cuban waters, as theTimessuggested, what she had done so successfully in Brazilian? Palmerston replied with a defense of his policy of inactivity which might have surprised his own personality of twenty years before: Spain, he rather feebly said, had a different kind of treaty with Britain from that which Brazil had had.24

In these circumstances, when nothing serious seemed to be happening to affect the traffic in slaves to Cuba, in April 1858, a British gunboat seized the United States vessel Cortez just after she had sailed out of Havana Bay, and begun to harass other ships in Cuban waters. British officers boarded 116 ships by the end of May, of which sixty-one were owned in the United States. One naval captain boarded no fewer than eleven merchant ships in the tiny Cuban port of Sagua la Grande alone. These actions seemed more of an insult to the United States than the sporadic seizures off Africa. On this matter, the states of the North and South of the United States were for once at one, and not only Lewis Cass (in his seventies, that veteran Anglophobe had agreed to serve President Buchanan as secretary of state) but the Senate itself demanded a firm stand. Senator John Hays Hammond of South Carolina said, “We had just and ample cause for war, for we had received a flagrant insult.”25 Even Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois suggested that a British ship should be seized and her crew held responsible. The mood was so violent in the United States that the British minister in Washington, Lord Napier, prudently (if unheroically) advised the commander-in-chief of Britain’s North America Station, Sir Houston Stewart, to suspend further action.

In the continuing fortunate absence of the international telegraph, it was some time before this capitulation was communicated to British captains in Cuban waters, and several more incidents occurred. Sir Houston Stewart had begun his naval career under the command of the brilliant Lord Cochrane and knew, therefore, very well the importance in naval matters of audacity, courage, and imagination. Even when the naval captains knew that they could not board and search United States vessels, they still believed that they could board ships which showed American colors to which they had no right. The question when a vessel might or might not be visited remained, therefore, as the historian of the right of visit says, “more nor less a matter of guesswork.”26

The activity of United States vessels in carrying slaves to Cuba in these years suggested to many in the increasingly vociferous South that the slave trade to the Union should itself be officially revived. The idea was not new, for it had been proposed as long ago as 1839, by the Courier of New Orleans; but it was not till 1853 that Leonidas Spratt, the editor of the Standard of Charleston, began a systematic advocacy of this revival, a cry taken up by Robert Barnwell Rhett, in the Mercury of the same city. The action of Charles Lamar has been noticed. In 1856, the governor of South Carolina, James Hopkins Adams, also demanded a legal revival of the African slave trade. In March 1858, the Louisiana House of Representatives called for the import of 2,500 free Africans as apprentices; but the Senate of that state absented themselves from the discussion. The same year, William Lowndes Yancey, the secessionist leader of the League of United Southerners, in Montgomery, Alabama, and once a United States senator, asked, with a certain logic, “If it is right to buy slaves in Virginia and carry them to New Orleans, why is it not right to buy them in Cuba, Brazil and Africa?” Jefferson Davis, on this occasion, stated that he was against reopening the African slave trade because he thought that the consequences would be to swamp Mississippi: “The interests of Mississippi, not Africa, dictate my conclusion.” He strongly denied that he himself had any connection with those who “prate of the inhumanity and sinfulness of the trade.” In 1859, similar things were said at the Southern Commercial Convention in Vicksburg, Mississippi: “A brilliant speech on the resumption of the importation of slaves,” wrote Henry Stuart Foote, a liberal ex-governor of the state,VI “was listened to with breathless attention and applauded vociferously. Those of us who rose in opposition were looked upon as traitors to the best interests of the south.” There was now much support in the Southern press for the idea. Thus the New Orleans Delta thought that those who voted for the slave trade in Congress were men whose names “will be honored hereafter for the unflinching manner in which they stood up for principle, for truth, and for consistency, as well as for the vital interests of the South.”27

Had the South won the Civil War, the African trade would indeed have been reopened. The demands of cotton plantations might have been endless: the crop of five million bales in 1860 was nearly double what it had been ten years before, and five times what it had been in 1830.

The most famous slaving case in these years just before the Civil War was that of the Wanderer, a fast ship which sailed to Africa in November 1858. It was said of this vessel, “You’d think she could fly instead of sailing.” Samuel Eliot Morison wrote of this kind of clipper in lyrical terms: “These . . . ships were built of wood in shipyards from Rockland in Maine to Baltimore. Their architects, like poets who transmute nature’s message into song, obeyed what wind and wave had taught them, to create the noblest of all sailing vessels and the most beautiful creations of man in America. . . . They were our Gothic cathedrals, our Parthenon.”28 Yet many of these jewels were used in the Cuban slave trade; and one at least in that of the United States.

There were many rumors in the South of the United States, during the 1850s, that slaves had been brought in. There was the instance of Charles Lamar’s vessel the E. A. Rawlins of which mention has been made. Many people knew people whose friends claimed that, in Georgia or South Carolina, they had seen a coffle of slaves direct from Africa. But the only attested case of the late 1850s was that of the schooner Wanderer. Ninety feet long on her keel, 108 overall, with a beam of twenty-six feet, this fine vessel had been built in Brookhaven, New York, during the winter of 1856-57 for Colonel John Johnson, who had made money in sugar on a plantation near New Orleans. He sold the boat to a number of Southern gentlemen, prominent among whom were Captain William Corrie, a member of the New York Yacht Club, and Charles Lamar, who, as has been mentioned earlier, was a member of a well-known family of Savannah, with investments in cotton, shipping, and banking.

The Wanderer was fitted out at Port Jefferson on Long Island, where a number of alterations were set in train: including the provision of those extra-large water tanks, which would suggest to all informed yachtsmen that the purpose of the vessel was to bring slaves from Africa. But the boat retained the luxurious fittings which enabled her to be called “a yacht”: there were mirrors, damask, satinwood cupboards, a library, prints, and “Brussels carpets.”

The Wanderer set off for Charleston, then went to Trinidad, with Corrie on board, the master being a certain Captain Semmes. The vessel reached Port-of-Spain, pleasantries were exchanged with the governor and the other British authorities, and then the ship set off theoretically for Saint Helena, in fact for the Congo River. The British warship Medusa found her in the latter estuary, flying both the flag of the New York Yacht Club and that of the United States. The captain of the Medusa dined, with some of his officers, aboard the Wanderer. Captain Egbert Farnham, who had joined the vessel as supercargo, and had once been one of the filibusterers of William Walker,VII the “grey eyed man of destiny,” jokingly asked the British if they would like to inspect theWanderer in order to see if she were equipped to carry slaves. The British officers laughed: the idea that such a sumptuous boat sailed by such gentlemen could descend to such a thing seemed preposterous. The British officers left after dinner; and the Wanderer, for her part, made for a prearranged rendezvous and picked up 409 slaves aged between thirteen and eighteen.

This United States ship encountered no naval intervention, for, “notwithstanding that . . . the river Congo is the great slave mart to which America vessels resort,” the British commissioner in Luanda reported in 1859, “no cruiser of the United States has entered that river for six months.”

The Wanderer returned to Georgia about December 1, losing about seventy or eighty dead slaves en route, and landing her cargo of about 325 slaves at Jekyll Island, off Brunswick, Georgia, in small boats. A local sailor reported that “a few of them appeared sick, but the majority appeared lively.” Most were then taken up the river Saltilla, in a steamer of Lamar’s (the Lamar), to his Duigbonon plantation; a few others passed by Savannah itself. Over the next few months, numerous reports occurred all over the South of these slaves being seen. Some were taken to New Orleans by train. But the true story came out; the ship was confiscated at Brunswick in December; several of the owners, including Corrie, were arrested. Lamar raged: “I distributed the negroes,” he wrote, “as best I could; but I tell you things are in a hell of a fix; no certainty about anything. . . . The yacht has been seized. They have all the pilots and men who took the yacht . . . to testify. She will be lost certain and sure, if not the negroes. Dr. Hazelhurst [has] testified that he attended the negroes and swore that they were Africans of recent importation. . . . All of these men must be bribed. [And] I must be paid for my time, trouble, and advances. . . .”29

Lamar was soon charged with slave trading and other offenses. But in the summer of 1860, it was easy enough for a Lamar to be acquitted by a court in Savannah. Egbert Farnham also escaped condemnation because his jury was deadlocked. The ship was publicly sold, but it was bought back by Lamar for a quarter of its value. Most of the slaves seem to have been sold at six or seven hundred dollars a head, or even $1,000 and some, in Alabama, were reported to have been sold at sixteen to seventeen hundred. Captain Semmes set off in no time for a run to China for “coolies . . . worth from $340 to $350 each in Cuba and cost but $12 and their passage.” The British Embassy was naturally informed. The minister, Lord Napier, reported, a trifle optimistically, that the event had “had the effect of waking up the American cabinet to a sense of their disgraceful position in regard to the abuse of the American flag on the coast of Africa.”30, VIII


I “Nace el negro, y desde luego / Por falta de cultura / En un caos de amargura / Se ve atribulado y ciego.” Plácido was son of a dancer from Burgos and a mulatto hairdresser.

II On leaving the island in 1850, Roncali is said to have received a present of 50,000 pesos so that he could continue to protect the interests of the merchants when he got back to Madrid.

III Pezuela had prevented the re-emergence of a slave trade in Puerto Rico, though that island had in 1846 for the first time a majority of black or mulatto persons: 216,000 whites and 226,500 slaves and free blacks.

IV Others involved were William Manuel Basilio da Cunha, and another Portuguese, José da Costa Lima Viana. Other partners included a Cuban, John Alberto Machado, and two North Americans, Benjamin Weinberg and John P. Weeks.

V It has been suggested that Lamar’s letter book was forged in order to discredit a cousin of his, Lucius Lamar, secretary of the interior under President Cleveland.

VI He would resign from the Confederate Congress when Jefferson Davis refused to accept Lincoln’s peace proposals. He afterwards crossed the lines and became a Unionist.

VII Walker, an adventurer in Nicaragua, had recently been executed.

VIII The Wanderer undertook another journey, perhaps with Charles Lamar’s connivance, under Captain D. S. Martin, to Dahomey. But the crew rebelled, and left the captain in a rowboat off the Canary Islands. Corrie was briefly imprisoned and expelled from the New York Yacht Club, but that seems to have been the only loss of standing encountered by Lamar’s gang of imaginative lawbreakers.

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