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United States Mediates Cuban Independence

 by Jeff Provine

Author says: we're very pleased to present a new story from Jeff Provine's excellent blog This Day in Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

By September 4th 1859,

with the "10th of October Manifesto" in 1868, Cuban planters declared independence from Spain, beginning the Cuban Revolution.

"This is going to have a serious effect on Anti-Catholicism, and may be a breach in the Color Line as well." - reader's commentUnited States Mediates Cuban IndependenceEconomic crises and failure for government reforms had filled the island with distaste for their mother country. The Revolutionary Committee of Bayamo had begun in 1867, and Spain worked to suppress the insurgency. Oscar Cespedes was imprisoned in an effort to force submission onto his father (pictured), then executed when his father refused. Rather than stymie the rebellion, Spain only fanned the flames.

Many Cubans looked north to the United States for aid, seeing their war as similar to the American Revolution a century before, and the two had long held ties. When president, Thomas Jefferson noted of the strategic significance of the island and suggested annexation, even sending agents to confer with Cuban officials. "It also opens the door for some startling possibilities--including a U.S. presidency for Fidel Castro, who in this timeline might well not have joinmed the Communist revoluti" - reader's commentsUnder the doctrine of James Monroe, the US looked to turn aside European interests in the Western Hemisphere.

However, the US had just finished its Civil War and was going through the costly Reconstruction of the South. President Grant's cabinet was split over possible support:Secretary of State Fish was opposed to a costly intervention (especially because it would weaken moral authority of America demanding reparations for Confederate naval support in British shipyards), while Secretary of War John Rawlins was all for it, partly because he had been given $28,000 worth of bonds that would mature if Cuba became independent. Grant remained stalwart in neutrality, though he ordered ships from the Pacific fleet to reinforce the Caribbean.

"And before anyone howls: Castro would have been a native-born U.S. citizen in this timeline (assuming he were born at all, of course). Another possible result of Cuban annexation in 1868 would have been an earlier Spanish-American War. Though it doesn't happen in the above scenario, it seems all too likely: Spain fought bitterly for years against the Cuban independence movement in our history, and would surely have resented U.S. support for a secession attempt on one of the few remnants of its fading overseas empire even in the 1860s." - reader's commentOn August 14, Fish received letters from the president, who was increasingly supportive of recognizing Cuba, as well as the minister to Spain, Sickles, who said that the Spanish were ready to negotiate. He worked to keep the US neutral, but Rawlins, ill from tuberculosis, stepped over the Secretary of State to speak with Grant personally. After an impassioned pleading and admitting his bonds while using them of evidence for economic support from a revitalized Cuba, Rawlins persuaded Grant to order Sickles to draw up a treaty.

On September 3, Congress approved the Treaty of Madrid with both Spain and the United States recognizing Cuba as independent. Spain would also abolish slavery, while Cuba would pay indemnities in bonds backed by the United States, in return for US control over Cuban tariff rates. Rawlins would die of his consumption three days later, but his family was well supported by sale of his own bonds. Cuba celebrated and began heavy trade with the United States, bolstering the manufacturing industry of the North.

"You'd have a lot more "Hispanic" influence with one state where Spanish was, at least, co-official with English. And PR might have also become a state. " - reader's commentAnnexation talks began almost immediately, but it would not be until 1883 that Cuba would become a territory of the United States, a decade after a political coup had forced elections to remove Cespedes from his presidency. Cuba would gain statehood in 1919 as the 49th state, though its government would be soon be the subject of suspicion in the Harding administration. Cuba would serve as a bastion for American influence in the Caribbean, sponsoring the annexation of another former Spanish colony, Puerto Rico, after its own war of independence against Spain in 1928. Other than the short-lived uprising of radical Communists in the 1950s, Cuba remained stalwart as a whole in the American Dream.

Author says in reality, in Rawlins was unable to convince Grant to become more than disapprovingly neutral in the Cuban war that would eventually be called the Ten Years' War or the First War of Independence, which would be crushed fully in 1878. Two more wars would be fought, the third of which would call in America with the explosion aboard the USS Maine beginning the Spanish-American War. In victory in 1898, America would seize many of Spain's colonies, which would gradually gain their independence such as the Philippines in 1946 and Cuba itself in 1902.
To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site.

Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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