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taxed its products; and it is generally believed that it was during his administration, duties of various kinds were imposed without the consent of those to be affected by them. He represented de facto' the people of Cuba ; was the chief fiscal agent; the friend and adviser of the CaptainGeneral; the favorite of Ferdinand's government. A skilful and mighty authority like his could, at such a period, draw abundant resources from the country to the metropolis, and promote at the same time the interests of the former by reforming abuses. To both these objects were his exertions successfully directed. To his discriminating judg. ment it was very evident that a vast territory, capable of great agricul. tural production, could not maintain its position, much less make progress, should its commerce be again limited to the mother country. He was aware of the probable results of such limitation.

First, the total annihilation of the surplus revenue, of which they were so desirous at court;

Secondly, the immediate paralysis of agriculture, the fountain of the island's wealth ; and

Thirdly, a very extensive contraband trade.

Villanueva had the waters of the Husille brought into the city by a well-devised though costly plan; the roads near Havana Macadamized, and a mud-machine erected to clear the anchorage and preserve the wharves. He established the more modern and rational system of selling at auction to the lowest bidder the performance of various services, particularly for the government or the public. He enlarged the Spanish navy from the navy-yard of Havana ; the regular intercourse between the two countries by mail packets was his suggestion, and the Guines rail-road is a crowning, ever-memorable and enduring monument of his enterprise and genius. Amidst these improvements, beneficial to Spain and the island, the Count was enabled to make frequent and heavy remittances to the general treasury in Spain, which was so relieved by them that the demands were gradually augmented without any regard to the means of meeting them, and the inevitable consequence was, the sacri. fice of the necessities of the island to the urgency of their payment. Thus it happened that the Bank of St. Ferdinand, the establishment of which was one of the acts which do honor to Villanueva, had no opportunity of doing any service to the public, as its capital was specially sent for from Madrid. In brief, Count Villanueva's administration can in no way be better appreciated than by bearing in mind that whatever liberal and enlightened views he carried into practical effect, he had nothing similar to guide him or excite his emulation, in all the Spanish territory. His power in Cuba was great, his influence in Madrid had no equal, and his credit abroad was such that his promise and acceptance was a source of revenue at court. The authority of the captaingeneral himself being eclipsed by his, it is certainly no matter of sur. prise that public bodies and individuals should have sunk into insignificance.

It was in such a state of political weakness and general prosperity, that the Estatuto Real, which was the first liberal act of Christina's regency, found Cuba.

Under it the inhabitants of the island observed, as they always had done, the laws promulgated in the mother country. A number of members were added to the municipalities, equal to the number of hereditary members, and the former were by express proviso to be individuals who were highest on the tax list. Thus formed, these corporations elected the deputies who represented the interests of the island at the Spanish congress. This slight political change, which enabled the corporations of Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Puerto Principe, to name three deputies in the · Estamentos' without other free insti. tutions, was certainly not calculated to alarm the royal authority, how. ever jealous it might be supposed. Three votes, more or less, could not of course cause any uneasiness; but it is ever the consequence of free institutions, in just proportion to their worth, to diminish the importance of individuals. We see then one of the causes of that strenuous opposition so successfully exerted to deprive the island of deputies to Madrid. Such a refusal, where there is an immense amount of productive capital to be benefited or injured, or destroyed by the enactments of government, and where the colony is not allowed delegates to represent its interests at court, has no parallel in any civilized country professing to approve of liberal institutions. The island was at that time governed by General Tacon, whose short-sighted, narrow views and jeal. ous and weak mind were joined to an uncommon stubbornness of character. Never satiated with power, it was through his influence that the wealthy portion of the community was divested of the privileges conferred on them by the Estatuto. He even deprived the old municipalities of Havana of the faculty of naming the under commissaries of police. In his own immodest report of his reign, as it was justly termed, he enumerated the very extensive and costly buildings and public works he had constructed, and from the singular manner in which he accounts for procuring the ordinary means, we must suppose he had the power of working miracles. To sustain his absolute government by trampling on every institution, was the necessary consequence of his first violent and unjustifiable act. It was consequential upon his own and his followers efforts. Any power, any institution, not dependent on the palace of the captain-general, might be the means of denouncing abuses, of ex. posing the real deformity of his and their pretended patriotism; and the numberless parasites whose interest ever was to blind the royal eyes, magnified the virtues of their hero, while they were rapidly accumulating fortunes at his side. In order to obtain credit in the management of the police, he displayed a despotic and even brutal activity in the mode of exacting from the under officers, distributed in the several wards of the city, under personal responsibility, the apprehension and summary prosecution of criminals. They soon found that there would be no complaint, provided they acted vigorously and brought up prisoners. So far from presuming their innocence, or requiring proof of their crimes, those who were once arrested were put to the negative and difficult task of proving their innocence. The more unwarrantable the acts of his subalterns the more acceptable to him, since they, in his opinion, exhibi. ted the energy of his authority. They trembled in his presence, and left it to persecute, to invent accusations, to imprison, and spread terror and desolation among the families of the land! It is but just to add, that the banditti and thieves and professed gamblers were terrified by

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his sweeping scythe, and became much more modest than they had been during the brief government of the weak and infirm General Ricafort, the predecessor of Tacon. The timid and short-sighted merchant who projected this reform, did not comprehend or appreciate the illegality of the system, nor its pernicious effects on the future destinies of the country, and was the first to justify the man who dared interpose himself between the Spanish monarchs and their subjects, to silence every complaint of the latter, and to say to the former, · You shall never

hear the petitions of

your American vassals contrary to my pleasure.' The political servitude at that moment implanted in the country, was new, and must of course excite discontent, which was not unfrequently vented in the random conversation of young men.

The consequence of all this was, a regular system of espionage. The prisoners were distributed in the castles, because the jails were insufficient to contain them. In the dungeons were lodged nearly six hundred persons, the cause of whose detention nobody knew; a fact authentically proved by a casual circumstance. In the streets, in the highways and fortresses, under a scorching sun, and during the unhealthy season, the poor Carlist prisoners, having surrendered themselves, trusting to the faith of liberals, were suffered to sicken and sink miserably into a premature grave. Let it not be supposed, however, that his political persecution was confined to the enemies of the liberal institutions then existing in Madrid. The contrary may be adduced from the inconsiderate protection extended by him to the famous friar Cerito Almeda, of whose machinations he appeared to approve, and from the fact that events favorable to the queen were at a certain period not permitted to appear in the distorted press of Havana. His creed was soon ascertained. He considered those whom he thought likely to tear the veil from his tyranny, the veritable traitors, the enemies of his throne, and the advocates of independence in Cuba. He destroyed all freedom of discussion in the municipal body, usurped its powers, and frightened away such members as he thought would not bend sufficiently to his will. He constructed an enormously high, massive, level road through the widest avenue of the city, which is at this moment in process of removal, at the expense of the same suffering community who had to pay for its erection, and had to suffer its unhealthy effects while it remained. General Tacon moreover established a privileged market for selling meat and fish, to the detriment of the public and the public revenue, and for the profit of himself and his nearest friends. Those who doubt this statement, may find a clue to the facts in the · Expression de Agrarios, ante el Tribunale Supremo de Justicia, por el Ayuntamisentos de la Habana sobre cargos en residencia al General Tacon,' printed in New York by Desueur and Company, in 1839. Among other things it will there be seen how a man living at his table and board, was subsequently found to be interested in the contract for the meat and fish mar. ket, without its being absolutely binding on him to perform the condition of paying in his amount of stock in order to be entitled to his share of the profits, which he did nevertheless receive.

It will likewise be found that the party to that contract was illegally preferred to the more regular bidders. It may farther be ascertained


from that work that when the contractors obtained the grant and commenced exacting unauthorized fees, to the great injury of the public, a suit was instituted to investigate and reform the abuse at the tribunal of one of the alcades, and that the record was claimed and taken possession of by Tacon, who still lies under the charge of having caused it to disappear, as it is stated in his successor General Espeleta's official answer, that it is not to be found in the archives of the captain-generalship.

Notwithstanding General Tacon's efforts at the first election under the Estatuto, the voice of his Excellency Don Juan Montalva y Castillo was . raised in Madrid at the Cortes, and the misconduct of the former partially exposed. As it continued, Messrs. Armas and Saco were named for the second congress during his government, both very enlightened and able men, well acquainted with the circumstances, and friendly to the welfare of the island, and therefore as opposed to the ultra-liberal or revolutionary ideas, as desirous of removing from the Spanish peninsular government the shame and discredit of such lawless proceedings on the part of the chief metropolitan authority. To discover imagined conspi. racies, to commence suits blindly approved by his assessor, to expatriate, to vex, to imprison the citizens, these were Tacon's noble exploits. His artful reports found credit at court. He was therefore continued in his government, and the Spanish Cortes in 1836, by a majority of thirteen votes, shut their doors, which had always been open to American representatives, against the deputies of the island, then elected and at Madrid. They were obliged to return without being allowed the privilege of uttering their grievances. This was the single but serious act of usurpation which robbed the descendants of the island's conquerors of all interference in their administration and tributary system. Some time after the oath to the constitution had been taken at Madrid in 1812, the Spanish General Lorenzo, commanding in St. Jago, encouraged by the encomiums and rewards conferred in former times and similar instances, on such authorities as first followed the impulse given at the court of a political change, thought it his duty to conform to the plan most approved by all parties, royalist or liberal, viz: to prolong the cry raised at the seat of government.

He therefore proclaimed the constitution. The wily old general who had so successfully snatched from the country all representative or delegate system, would not of course very quietly allow his fabric to be levelled to the ground. He made an ostentatious display of his authority, and though well satisfied of the pacific views of the eastern part of the island, insisted upon fitting out an expensive expedition, which cost the inhabitants more than $500,000, and would have it proceed, notwithstanding the commissioners sent by Lorenzo made a formal promise that the eastern part of the island should preserve their system until the queen decided, or would obey at once Tacon's order to annul the constitution, provided an amnesty were granted for the single act of proclaiming the same, their sole offence. General Tacon began to make use of his favorite weapon (that of attacking the islanders) against General Lorenzo and the Intendant of Havana, by perfidious suggestions calculated to impair their well-proven loyalty to their sovereign. Such VOL. XXV.


improbable stories, the ill-disguised animosity of his passionate language, the cognizance by some impartial peninsular tribunals of some of his grossly-imagined plans of conspiracy, all had an influence to force the Spanish court to acknowledge, without, for reasons of policy, publicly avowing it, the irregular and disorderly course of Tacon's administration, and he was removed from office. But nothing was more efficient in drawing the mask from his face than the unskilfulness of Joaquin Valdez, his standing conspiracy-witness and confidential agent, who in framing one of his plans got into a strange quandary by compromitting the Intendant of Cadiz, and other respectable old Spaniards, supposed to be concerned in the plot.

Let me add, to the honor of the Spanish name, that at the subsequent sittings of the Cortes, as if the injuries which had just been inflicted on Cuba called for immediate redress, it was generally admitted as a matter of course, what has since been artfully withdrawn from the sight of the deputies, that the political condition of that distant colony should be attended to and ameliorated without delay. A generous and highminded Spaniard, Don Antonio Benavide, equally loyal to his country and desirous of the welfare of its inhabitants, clearly and ably insisted upon the adoption of any system in lieu of the omnipotence of the Captain-General. But the zeal and high sense of justice entertained by the congress could give no relief, where the agents of the local government were active, and the oppressed country had no advocates to main. tain her rights. The only result was a royal order authorizing Tacon to call a Junta, which he took care should be formed to his liking generally, composed of authorities named by government, in its pay, with three or four private individuals among the general's pliant tools. This Junta was to propose special laws for the government of the island. The consequence was exactly what might have been expected. The chief soon perceived that, however yielding the members might be, they must draw up some rules ostensibly to restrain his untamed will, or excite the ridicule of even the Spanish Court. After calling together and dispersing them instantly, under a show of separating them into committees, he rendered the whole attempt inefficient, and feigning fear of danger from the plots of the white population, caused every feeling of justice to Cuba to be forgotten in Spain. The only proposition which seems to have transpired from the sitting of that strange, transitory and expensive Junta, was to make the island a vice-royalty and Tacon viceking. But it appears 100 ludicrous to deserve any credit.

Notwithstanding it was under free institutions that Spain acceded to the establishment of the mixed Anglo-Spanish Tribunal at Havana, it was when the public bodies of the island were without sufficient energy to raise their spontaneous protest on political questions, that the Castilian name was humbled by the floating fortress which the English had anchored in the port of Havana, as a rallying signal of abolitionism, openly and malignantly avowed, as is sufficiently evident from the fact that it was manned by black men in British uniform. These soldiers, distributed in the heart of the city, the great number liberated from slave-ships by the tribunal, who both during and subsequent to their apprenticeship were left in the country in direct communication with


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