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this voyage Columbus visited Guantanamo, Trinidad, and probably Cienfuegos.
During his fourth and last voyage, he touched at Cayo Largo, off the south coast of the province of Santiago de Cuba, in July, 1502, while en route to, and again in May, 1503, when returning from, the mainland.
From this time to its permanent occupation by the Spaniards, Cuba does not appear to have been visited often by other explorers, although in 1508 Sebastian Ocampo, acting under the orders of Nicolas de Ovando, Governor of San Domingo, reported that Cuba was an island, but this was known, probably, to other explorers several years before. Nevertheless, it does not appear that Cuba received much attention from the Spanish authorities prior to 1511.
In that year Diego Columbus, Admiral of the Indies and Governor of San Domingo, sent Capt. Diego Velasquez, one of the companions of Columbus in his second voyage, to subdue and colonize Cuba. With a force of 300 men he sailed from San Domingo and landed near Point Maysi, going thence to Baracoa, where the first settlement was made in 1512. In 1514 Velasquez founded Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba, on the southern side of the island, to facilitate communication with the Spanish colonies of Jamaica and the mainland, Sancti Spiritus near its middle point, and Remedios, Bayamo, Puerto Principe, and San Cristobal de la Habana, the latter on what is now the site of Batabanó. In 1519 this name was transferred to a settlement on the present site of Habana. The same year, Baracoa, having been raised to the dignity of a city and bishopric, was declared the capital, and so remained until 1522, when both were removed to Santiago. Habana became the capital in 1552.
On the death of Ferdinand, January 23, 1516, Velasquez renamed the island Fernandina in his honor. It was subsequently named Santiago, after the patron saint of Spain, but the name was again changed to Ave Maria, in honor of the Virgin. Through all these official changes, however, it retained its native original name.
Velasquez continued to govern Cuba as adelantado, or lieutenantgovernor, under the governor and audiencia of Santo Domingo, until his death in 1524. He had five successors in the office of lieutenantgovernor. (See Appendix for list of Governors.) The first Governor, Hernando de Soto, was appointed in 1536; he was also adelantado of Florida. The first Captain-General was Don Gabriel de Lujan, appointed in 1581. During this interval the Spanish population had increased very slowly; but two additional towns, Guanabacoa and El Cobre, were founded, 1555 and 1558, and not another town was built for more than one hundred years.
In the seventeenth century but two towns of any importance, Matanzas and Santa Clara, were founded, and in the eighteenth but nine. At the end of this period the population of the island is said to have numbered 275,000 souls, while the development of its wealth had scarcely begun. In fact, for many years after its colonization, Cuba was not a wealth-producing colony, and, therefore, not an object of much solicitude or patronage. In the general scheme of colonizing the West Indies, both Cuba and Jamaica were occupied to facilitate trade with the rich colonies of the Spanish main, and while still a young colony Cuba, as a depot of supply, was severely taxed by the numerous expeditions which sajled from her shores between the years 1512 and 1538.
If the situation and many natural advantages of Cuba be considered, it is evident at a glance that either the Cubans have been blind to their opportunities or that causes generally beyond their control have retarded the growth of the population and the development of the island's resources. The latter would seem to be the case, although it can not be said that the Cubans were not in some measure accountable.
The principal staples of Cuba, and those upon which its wealth mainly depends, are sugar and tobacco. The largest sugar crop, 1894–95, was 1,054,000 tons; the largest tobacco crop (same year), about 2,480,000 arrobas, or 62,000,000 pounds; and its population at the outbreak of the recent war was probably between 1,800,000 and 2,000,000 souls. It is the opinion of experienced and enlightened judges that the island could easily have produced a crop of sugar and tobacco five times as large and had a population of 5,000,000 people had its administration been characterized by different theories of government.
That, in the administration of her colonies, Spain was a bad exception to a general rule of liberal and generous government on the part of other countries toward their colonial dependencies is by no means the case. In fact, much the same ideas appear to have influenced all of them at the outset, although the results were different, as might be expected of governments having different origins, forms, and theories. The prevailing idea appears to have been that the political and economic interests of colonies were always to be subordinated to those of the home country, no matter how injurious the consequences, and, while in some instances this course was modified with most beneficial. results, it was followed unremittingly by Spain to the end of her supremacy over Cuba.
Aside from the fact that during the early history of Cuba Spain had little surplus population to dispose of, and that through the expulsion of the Jews and Moors she lost a large and valuable part of it, her trade restrictions, established at the beginning of the colonial period in her history and continued without essential modification for nearly three hundred years, would account, in some measure, for the slow increase in the population and industries of Cuba. These restrictions appear to have originated in the royal cedula of May 6, 1497, granting to the port of Seville the exclusive privilege of trade with the colonies. At the same time the Casa de Contratacion, or Council of Trade, was established, upon which was conferred the exclusive regulation of trade and commerce, although later the Council exercised its functions under the general control of the Council of the Indies. San Domingo, and later Vera Cruz, were the only colonial ports authorized to trade with Seville. In 1717 the trade monopoly of Seville was transferred, by royal order, to the port of Cadiz, in Spain.
While Santiago was the capital of Cuba, trade between the island and the home ports mentioned was restricted to that place, and when, in 1552, the capital was transferred to Habana, that city became the sole port of entry until 1778, except during the English occupation of the island, 1762–63, when Habana was opened to free trade. By the royal decree of October 12, 1778, trade between Santiago, Trinidad, Batabano, and other Spanish ports was authorized. This privilege was extended to Nuevitas in 1784, to Matanzas 1793, Caibarien 1794, and Manzanillo and Baracoa in 1803. Prior to this Cuban ports were practically under an embargo of the strictest kind. Even between the ports of Habana and Seville or Cadiz, there was no free communication, but all trading vessels were gathered into fleets, or “flotas," from time to time, and made the voyage accompanied by Spanish war ships, partly for protection against freebooters and pirates, but chiefly to prevent trade with other ports. In 1765 this restriction was removed.
The maritime laws regulating trade and commerce forbade trade even between the colonies, and as early as 1592 trade with foreigners was only permitted by special authority, and in 1614 and 1680 trade with foreigners was prohibited under pain of death and confiscation of the property concerned.
The treaties of the period appear to have recognized these prohibitions as entirely justifiable under the rules of international intercourse as they existed at that time. Thus by the treaties of 1648 and 1714 between Spain and the Dutch provinces it was agreed by the contracting parties to abstain from trading in the ports and along the coast of the Indies belonging to each of the treaty nations. Again, by the treaty of Madrid between England and Spain, similar engagements were made, although article 10 provided that in case vessels arrived at the prohibited ports under stress or shipwreck they should be kindly received and permitted to purchase provisions and repair damages. This privilege was subsequently withdrawn by royal orders of January 20 and April 15, 1784, which prescribed that no vessel belonging to a foreign nation should be permitted to enter, even under the pretext of seeking shelter. The severity of these restrictions was modified later on and, by a royal order of January 8, 1801, Cuban ports were thrown open to the commerce of friendly and neutral nations.
- Other commercial privileges were granted in 1805, 1809, 1810, and 1812, due, in great measure, if not entirely, to the French invasion of the Peninsula and its effect on Spanish possessions in the West Indies and America. But these concessions to trade with Spanish colonies were but temporary, as by royal orders of January 10, November 17, and July 10, 1809, foreign commerce with Spanish-American ports was prohibited. Against these last restrictions of trade the various Spanish colonial Governors, and especially the Captain-General of Cuba, protested on the ground of the necessities of the colonies and the inability of Spain to meet them. These objections having been favorably considered by the Council for the Indies, foreign trade with Habana was extended for six months.
Many other decrees and royal orders affecting trade with Cuba and the other Spanish colonies were promulgated during the period between 1775 and 1812, but they throw no additional light on this subject. It is plain that Spain was always averse to granting trade facilities with her colonies, and only did so for a time when forced by her necessities; but having once opened Cuban ports and to that extent established the privilege of foreign trade, which it was difficult to recall, the next step was to restrict it as far as possible by duties, tonnage, and port dues, and arbitrary tariffs imposed from time to time in such a way as to render foreign commerce unprofitable. Without going into details it may be said that up to 1824 duties on foreign commerce were much greater than on Spanish merchandise, and while from that year they were generally less restrictive, still they were always high enough to compel Cubans to purchase from Spanish merchants, who, as Spain did not herself produce what was needed, bought from French, German, American, or other sources, thereby raising prices far above what they would have been under a system less hampering. In fact, up to 1818 Cuba does not appear to have had a tariff system. In that year a tariff was promulgated making the duties 264 per cent on agricultural implements and 43 per cent ad valorem on other foreign merchandise. This was modified in 1820 and 1822 and the duties reduced to 20 per cent on agricultural implements and 37 per cent ad valorem on foreign industrial products. On all Spanish importations under this classification the duties were two-thirds less. The tariff of 1824 was less prohibitive.
Not satisfied, apparently, with this arrangement for excluding foreign trade or with the amount of customs revenue, an export tariff was established in 1828 on sugar and coffee, which had by that time become important products. On sugar the duty was four-fifths of a cent per pound, and on coffee two-fifths of a cent per pound. If exported in foreign vessels, the duty on sugar was doubled and on coffee was increased to 1 cent per pound. With slight modifications these duties continued to August 1, 1891, when, under the McKinley tariff law, a reciprocal commercial agreement was proclaimed by President Harrison between Spain and the United States, which enabled Cuba to seek its nearest and most natural market. In a short time nearly the entire trade of Cuba was transferred to the United States, and Cuba enjoyed a degree of prosperity never before attained.
But with the termination of this agreement by the tariff law of 1894, the old practice of differential, special, and discriminating duties against foreign trade was reestablished, thus forcing upon the Cubans compulsory trade with Spain. There seems to be no question among impartial and intelligent judges as to the injurious effect of this system on the growth of Cuba's population and material progress, both largely dependent on commercial advantages.
Another evil born of the system and given a certain amount of immunity through the reverses and disasters of the Spanish navy, in consequence of which Spain was unable to protect her commerce or fully enforce trade regulations, is smuggling, which began with trade restrictions and monopolies and has continued to this day, the amount of merchandise smuggled being, for many years, nearly equal to that regularly imported and exported. From smuggling on a large scale and privateering to buccaneering and piracy is not a long step, and under the name of privateers French, Dutch, English, and American smugglers and buccaneers swarmed the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico for more than two centuries, plundering Spanish flotas and attacking colonial settlements. Among the latter, Cuba was the chief sufferer. Sallying forth from Santo Domingo, Jamaica, the Tortugas, and other islands and keys, these marauders raided the island throughout the whole extent of its northern, eastern, and southern coast line, levying tribute, kidnaping individuals, and carrying off whatever was needed. In 1538 they attacked and burned Habana." In 1544 they attacked Baracoa, Matanzas, and Habana, which they again sacked and burned. In 1604 Giron, a French buccaneer, landed twice in Santiago, capturing the Morro, and in 1679 French buccaneers again raided the province. Incursions on a smaller scale were frequent, causing the Captain-General to issue an order requiring all men to go armed and all persons to retire to their homes after nightfall. By the terror they excited these raids retarded somewhat the development of agriculture by compelling the people to concentrate in the towns for protection. On the other hand, they stimulated the construction of fortifications in the harbor of Habana and other ports, which, a few years later, made them safe against such incursions.
Coupled with trade restrictions and extending throughout the entire life of Cuba as a dependency of Spain, excessive taxation has always prevailed. Apart from imports and exports, taxes were levied on real