South America - A Popular History - H. Butterworth

The Colonial System


To enter into the spirit of the story of liberty in the Andean republics and in Cuba, one must have a view of the causes of the struggles for emancipation. The history of these struggles may be summed up in the words of Voltaire: "Cruelty leads to independence."

The colonial system of Spain in South and Central America and on the Spanish Main was one of selfishness, cruelty and tyranny. Only Spaniards were allowed to trade with the Spanish colonial ports. Hence arose buccaneers and pirates to claim the rights of the sea. For a long period ships engaged in trade with those ports were allowed to sail only from Cadiz. A company of Spanish merchants and grandees, organized under the name of the Philippine Company, once purchased of the government the sole right to trade with the Indies and to govern the trade. The viceroy himself could not interfere with its rights. The company compelled the colonists to sell to it the products of the country at its own price, and it reaped a profit of three hundred per cent. To oppose in any form this tyranny of the sea was death.

The colonial system did not recognize local human rights. Under it, it was treason for a man to assert his freedom or to seek the free field of nature for his labor. The earth existed for the Spanish throne.

The mita was a cause of the darkest crimes in the long period of the viceroys. Those who sought to escape from hard labor as slaves of the system were tortured most cruelly. By the mita, free people, usually Indians, were compelled to labor for the state in the mines, or in any work of public profit or improvement. In the beginning this involuntary servitude was not wholly without compensation. It was under the mita that the native races were diminished in numbers and almost disappeared in many parts of the viceroyalties, notably so in parts of Peru.

From this system of tyranny the native Indian and the poor creole could only appeal to those who would at once regard them with suspicion, or to arms. For generations they struggled against their fate, only to be crushed, tortured and slain. The local government, the church, except a few patriot priests of eternal honor, and the Spanish throne were against them.

Education was denied. Instead of a beneficent system of free instruction, such as Pestalozzi gave to Switzerland and Prussia, the young were trained by the bull-fight. The trumpet-call of the old Moorish brutality, and not the school-bell, echoed from the Andes. The plaza del taro  was the agora and the school-room of object-lessons. The picadors and the matadors were the heroes of the day.

Take the educational condition of Porto Rico, one of the fairest of the Antilles. The island has a population of 480,267 white people, 248,690 of mixed races, and 77,751 negroes. The taxes of these poor people for a recent tax year were $4,374,874. Much of this money goes toward the support of high-salaried foreign officials, who live in luxury. The number of officers living upon the Porto Ricans is about 35,000. Yet out of 480,267 white inhabitants, only 96,867 could read and write.

Go to Quito, which under the Incas rose into such splendor and freedom that its history reads like an Oriental dream. Its empire swept from the fiery arch of the equator to the silver desert of Atacama. Within its mountain walls, with their crystal peaks, rose palaces gleaming with the gems of the Esmeraldas and the earth-covered treasures of the Andes. The people were happy and free. The Sun was their father in this world, and in the next their souls would ascend to the Incas, who dwelt with the Ineffable. Spain, with her mita, made a Sahara of this land. Her laws forbade every right and privilege that did not yield a revenue to a throne thousands of miles away. The colonist planted, but not for himself; he reaped, but the harvest was not his. If he murmured, he was answered by the lash. To have an opinion of his own was treason. To assert his birthright of liberty was death.

But what was the compensation to the world for this system of slavery? Go ask the dons at the bull-fights. Churches, indeed, arose where ancient temples fell, but the spirit of the Mount of Beatitudes was almost as much absent from them as from the altars of Persepolis, Babylon, Nineveh. Good priests, indeed, there were, by whom truth was preached; but those who raised their voices for humanity fell under the tyrannous insanity that too often follows material success. The land became a slave-pen, and tyranny triumphed.

Go to San Carlos after the victory of Carabobo. The Spanish general Calzada, as soon as he had taken possession of the beautiful town, caused more than two hundred persons to be murdered, sparing neither the aged nor the infants. A patriotic priest of San Carlos, named Carlos Quintana, was seized. His ears were cut off; he was flayed alive, and his own bleeding skin was held up before his dying eyes; he was then beheaded. The village was reduced to ashes.

Go to Cartagena, that old city with yellow walls, slumbering in the dreamy days, by the listless harbor of the purple sea. The walls sixty feet thick, into which went the unrequited toil of a generation of slaves; the sunken sea-walls that stayed the invader; the castle-like monasteries and convents on the hills, where the golden lamps light the shadows of solitudes; the old broken church, with a torture-bed of the Inquisition still used as a grating for one of its lower windows—all reveal the soul of a system that is dead. The surrounding country, with its cool palm-gardens and its always blooming flowers, is one of the most beautiful in all the world, but there ignorance wanders in rags.

One may think that history exaggerates such scenes of injustice and cruelty, and their withering influences. Read the manifesto addressed to all the nations of the earth by the Constituent Congress of the United Provinces of South America, respecting the treatment and cruelties they received from the Spaniards. It was the precursor of the Argentine Declaration of Independence, which was issued from Buenos Ayres on October 25, 1817. Never was there such an arraignment of any civilized nation as that of this manifesto. Every fact it mentions is abundantly verified and is absolutely true.


"Addressed to all Nations of the Earth by the General Constituent Congress of the United Provinces of South America, respecting the treatment and cruelties they have experienced from the Spaniards, and which have given rise to the Declaration of Independence.

"Honor is a distinction which mortals esteem more than their own existence, and they are bound to defend it above all earthly benefits, however great and sublime they may be. The United Provinces of the river Plata have been accused by the Spanish government, before 'other nations, of rebellion and perfidy; and as such, also, has been denounced the memorable Act of Emancipation, proclaimed by the National Congress in Tucuman on July 9, 1816, by imputing to it ideas of anarchy, and a wish to introduce into other countries seditious principles, at the very time the said provinces were soliciting the friendship of these same nations, and the acknowledgment of this memorable act, for the purpose of forming one among them. The first and among the most sacred of the duties imposed on the National Congress is to wipe away so foul a stigma, and defend the cause of their country, by displaying the cruelties and motives which led them to the Declaration of Independence. This, indeed, is not to be considered as an act of submission, which may attribute to any other nation of the earth the power of disposing of a fate which has already cost America torrents of blood and all kinds of sacrifices and bitter privations; it is rather an important consideration we owe to our outraged honor, and the decorum due to other nations.

"We waive all investigations respecting the rights of conquest, papal grants, and other titles on which Spaniards have usually founded and upheld their dominion. We do not seek to recur to principles which might give rise to problematical discussions, and revive points of argument which have had defenders on both sides. We appeal to facts, which form a painful contrast to our forbearance with the oppression and cruelty of Spaniards. We will exhibit a frightful abyss which Spain was opening under our feet, and into which these provinces were about to be precipitated, if they had not interposed the safeguard of their own emancipation. We will, in short, exhibit reasons which no rational man can disregard, unless he could find sufficient pleas to persuade a country forever to renounce all idea of its own felicity, and, in preference, adopt a system of ruin, opprobrium and forbearance. Let us place before the eyes of the world this picture, one which it will be impossible to behold without being profoundly moved by the same sentiments as those by which we are ourselves actuated.

"From the moment when the Spaniards possessed themselves of these countries, they preferred the system of securing their dominion by extermination, destruction and degradation. The plans of this extensive mischief were forthwith carried into effect, and have been continued without any intermission during the space of three hundred years. They began by assassinating the monarchs of Peru, and they afterward did the same with the other chieftains and distinguished men who came in their way. The inhabitants of the country, anxious to restrain such ferocious intrusion, under the great disadvantage of their arms became the victims of fire and sword, and were compelled to leave their settlements a prey to the devouring flames, which were everywhere applied without pity or distinction.

"The Spaniards then placed a barrier to the population of the country. They prohibited, under laws the most rigorous, the ingress of foreigners, and in every possible respect limited that of even Spaniards themselves, although in times more recent the emigration of criminal and immoral men, outcasts, was encouraged, of men such as it was expedient to expel from the Peninsula. Neither our vast though beautiful deserts, formed by the extermination of the natives; the advantages Spain would have derived from the cultivation of regions as immense as they are fertile; the incitement of mines, the richest and most abundant on earth; the stimulus of innumerable productions, partly till then unknown, but all estimable for their value and variety, and capable of encouraging and carrying agriculture and commerce to their highest pitch of opulence; in short, not even the wanton wickedness of retaining these choice countries plunged into the most abject misery, were any of them motives sufficiently powerful to change the dark and inauspicious principles of the cabinet of Madrid. Hundreds of leagues do we still behold, unsettled and uncultivated, in the space intervening from one city to another. Entire towns have, in some places, disappeared, either buried in the ruins of mines, or their inhabitants destroyed by the compulsive and poisonous labor of working them; nor have the cries of all Peru, nor the energetic remonstrances of the most zealous ministers, been capable of reforming this exterminating system of forced labor, carried on within the bowels of the earth.

"The art of working the mines, among us beheld with apathy and neglect, has been unattended with those improvements which have distinguished the enlightened age in which we live, and diminished the attendant casualties; hence opulent mines, worked in the most clumsy and improvident manner, have sunk in and been overwhelmed, either through the undermining of the mineral ridges, or the rush of waters which have totally inundated them. Other rare and estimable productions of the country are still confounded with nature and neglected by the government, and if, among us, any enlightened observer has attempted to point out their advantages, he has been reprehended by the court, and forced to silence, owing to the competition that might arise to a few artisans of the mother-country.

"The teaching of science was forbidden us, and we were allowed to study only the Latin grammar, ancient philosophy, theology, civil and canonical jurisprudence. Viceroy Joaquin del Pino took the greatest umbrage at the Buenos Ayres Board of Trade because it presumed to bear the expenses of a nautical school. In compliance with the orders transmitted from court, it was closed. An injunction, besides, was laid upon us that our youths should not be sent to Paris to become professors of chemistry, with a view of teaching this science among their own countrymen.

"Commerce has at all times been an exclusive monopoly in the hands of the traders of Spain and the consignees they sent over to America. The public offices were reserved for Spaniards, and notwithstanding, by the laws, these were equally open to Americans, we seldom attained them, and when we did, it was by satiating the avarice of the court through the sacrifice of immense treasures. Among one hundred and sixty viceroys who have governed in America, four natives of the country alone are numbered; and of six hundred and two captains-general and governors, with the exception of fourteen, all have been Spaniards. The same proportionally happened in the other offices of importance. Scarcely, indeed, had the Americans an opportunity of alternating with Spaniards in situations the most subaltern.

"Everything was so arranged by Spain that the degradation of the natives should prevail in America. It did not enter into her views that wise men should be formed, fearful that minds and talents would be created capable of promoting the interests of their country, and causing civilization, manners, and those excellent capabilities with which the Colombian children are gifted, to make a rapid progress. She unceasingly diminished our population, apprehensive that some day or other it might be in a state to rise against a dominion sustained only by a few hands to whom the keeping of detached and extensive regions was intrusted. She carried on an exclusive trade because she supposed opulence would make us proud and inclined to free ourselves from outrage. She denied to us the advancement of industry in order that we might be divested of the means of rising out of misery and poverty; and we were excluded from offices of trust in order that Peninsulars only might hold influence in the country, and form the necessary habits and inclinations, with a view of leaving us in such a state of dependence as to be unable to think or act, unless according to Spanish forms.

"Such was the system firmly and steadily upheld by the viceroys, each one of whom bore the state and arrogance of a vizier. Their power was sufficient to crush any one who had the misfortune to displease them. However great their outrages, they were to be borne with resignation, for by their satellites and flatterers their frown was superstitiously compared to the anger of God. Complaints addressed to the throne were either lost in the extended interval of those thousands of leagues it was necessary to cross, or buried in the offices at home by the relatives or patrons of men wielding viceregal power. This system, so far from having been softened, has been strengthened, so that all hopes that even time would produce this effect were totally lost. We held neither direct nor indirect influence in our own legislation; this was instituted in Spain. Nor were we allowed the right of sending over persons who might point out what was fit and suitable, empowered to assist at its enactment, as the cities of Spain were authorized to do. Neither had we any influence over the administration of government, which might, in some measure, have tempered the rigor of such laws as were in force. We were aware that no other resource was left to us than patience, and that for him who was not resigned to endure all, even capital punishment was not sufficient, since, for cases of this kind, torments new and of unheard-of cruelty had been invented, such as made nature shudder.

"Neither so great nor so repeated were the hardships which roused the provinces of Holland when they took up arms to free themselves from the yoke of Spain, nor those of Portugal to effect the same purpose. Less were the hardships which placed the Swiss under the direction of William Tell, and in open opposition to the German emperor; less those which determined the United States of North America to resist the imposts forced upon them by a British king; less, in short, the powerful motives which have urged other countries, not separated by nature from the parent state, to cast off an iron yoke and consult their own felicity."

Of the conduct of Spain toward her colonies, on the return of Ferdinand to the throne, this manifesto gives the following description:

"Posterity will be astonished at the ferocity exercised against us by men interested in the preservation of Spanish power in America; and that rashness and folly with which they have sought to punish demonstrations the most evident of fidelity and love, will ever be matter of the greatest surprise. The name of Ferdinand de Bourbon preceded all the decrees of our government, and was at the head of all its public acts. The Spanish flag waved on our vessels and served to animate our soldiers. The provinces, seeing themselves in a bereft state through the overthrow of the national government, owing to the want of another legitimate and respectable one substituted in its stead, and the conquest of nearly the whole of the mother-country, raised up a watch-tower, as it were, within themselves, to attend to their own security and self-preservation, reserving themselves for the captive monarch, in case he recovered his freedom. This measure was in imitation of the public conduct of Spain, and called forth by the declaration made to America that she was an integral part of the monarchy, and in rights equal with the former; and it had, moreover, been resorted to in Montevideo, through the advice of the Spaniards themselves. We offered to continue pecuniary succors and voluntary donations in order to prosecute the war, and we a thousand times published the soundness of our intentions and the sincerity of our wishes. Great Britain, at that time so well deserving of Spain, interposed her mediation and good offices in order that we might not be treated in so harsh and cruel a manner. But the Spanish ministers, blinded by their sanguinary caprice, spurned the mediation, and issued rigorous orders to all their generals to push the war, and to inflict heavier punishments. On every side scaffolds were raised, and recourse was had to every invention for spreading consternation and dismay.

"From that moment they endeavored to divide us by all the means in their power, in order that we might exterminate each other. They propagated against us atrocious calumnies, attributing to us the design of destroying our sacred religion, of setting aside all morality, and establishing licentiousness of manners. They carried on a war of religion against us, devising many and various plots to agitate and alarm the consciences of the people, by causing the Spanish bishops to issue edicts of ecclesiastical censure and interdiction among the faithful, to publish excommunications, and, by means of some ignorant confessors, to sow fanatical doctrines in the tribunal of penance. By the aid of such religious discords, they have sown dissension in families, produced quarrels between parents and their children, torn asunder the bonds which united man and wife, scattered implacable enmity and rancor among brothers formerly the most affectionate, and even placed nature herself in a state of hostility and variance.

"They have adopted the system of killing men indiscriminately, in order to diminish our numbers. On their entry into towns, they have seized non-combatants, hurried them in groups to the squares, and there shot them one by one. The cities of Chuquisaca', and Cochabamba have more than once been the theaters of these ferocious acts.

"They have mixed our captive prisoners among their own troops, carrying off our officers in irons to secluded dungeons, where, during the period of a year, it was impossible for them to retain their health. Others they have left to die of hunger and misery in the prisons, and many they have compelled to toil in public works. In a boasting manner they have shot the bearers of our flags of truce, and committed the basest horrors upon military chiefs and other principal persons who had already surrendered themselves, notwithstanding the humanity we have always displayed toward prisoners taken from them. In proof of this assertion, we can quote the cases of Deputy Matos from Potosi, Captain-General Pumacagua, General Angulo and his brother, Commandant Munecas, and other leaders, shot in cold blood many days after they had been made prisoners.

"In the town of Valle-Grande they enjoyed the brutal pleasure of cutting off the ears of the inhabitants, and sent off a basket filled with these presents to their headquarters. They afterward burned the town, set fire to thirty other populous ones belonging to Peru, and took delight in shutting up persons in their own houses before the flames were applied to them, in order that they might there be burned to death.

"They have not only been cruel and implacable in murdering, but they have also divested themselves of all morality and public decency, by whipping old religious persons in the open squares, and also women, bound to a cannon, causing them previously to be stripped and exposed to shame and derision.

"For all these kinds of punishments they established an inquisitorial system. They have seized the persons of several peaceable citizens and conveyed them beyond seas, there to be judged for supposed crimes. Many they have sent to execution without any form of trial whatever.

"They have destroyed our vessels, plundered our coasts, butchered their defenseless inhabitants, without even sparing superannuated priests; and, by order of General Pezuela, they burned the church belonging to the town of Puna, and put to the sword old men, women and children, the only inhabitants therein found. They have excited atrocious conspiracies among the Spaniards domiciliated in our cities, and forced us into the painful alternative of imposing capital punishment on the fathers of numerous families.

"They have compelled our brethren and children to take up arms against us, and, forming armies out of the inhabitants of the country, under the command of their own officers, they have forced them into battle with our troops. They have stirred up domestic plots and conspiracies, by corrupting with money, and by means of all kinds of machinations, the peaceful inhabitants of the country, in order to involve us in dreadful anarchy, and then to attack us in a weak and divided state.

"In a most shameful and infamous manner they have failed to fulfil every capitulation we have, on repeated occasions, concluded with them, even, at a time when we have had them under our own swords. They caused four thousand men, after they had surrendered, again to take up arms, together with General Tristan, at the action of Salta, to whom General Belgrano generously granted terms of capitulation on the field of battle, and more generously complied with them, trusting to their word and honor.

"They have invented a new species of horrid warfare, by poisoning the waters and aliments, as they did when conquered in La Paz by General Pinelo; and in return for the kind manner in which the latter treated them, after surrendering at discretion, they resorted to the barbarous stratagem of blowing up the soldiers' quarters, which they had previously undermined. They have had the baseness to tamper with our generals and governors, by availing themselves of and abusing the sacred privilege of flags of truce, exciting them to act traitorously toward us, for this purpose making written overtures to them. They have declared that the laws of war observed among civilized nations ought not to be practised among us; and their general Pezuela, after the battle of Ayouma, in order to avoid any compromise or understanding, had the arrogance to answer General Belgrano that with insurgents it was impossible to enter into treaties.

"Such has been the conduct of Spaniards toward us since the restoration of Ferdinand de Bourbon to the throne of his ancestors. We then believed that the termination of so many sufferings and disasters had arrived. We had supposed that a king schooled by the lessons of adversity would not be indifferent to the desolation of his people, and we sent over a commissioner to him in order to acquaint him with our situation. We could not for a moment conceive that he would fail to meet our wishes as a benign prince, nor could we doubt that our requests would interest him in a manner corresponding to that gratitude and goodness which the courtiers of Spain had extolled to the skies. But a new and unknown species of ingratitude was reserved for America, surpassing all the examples found in the histories of the greatest tyrants.

"Given in the Hall of Congress, Buenos Ayres, this twenty-fifth day of October, eighteen hundred and seventeen.



The cruel policy of Spain did not begin in her colonies. The sufferings of the Jews in Spain are one of the most terrible chapters in human history. The defenseless Hebrews were driven from their homes. They were deprived not only of their estates, but of their means of support. The women and children wandered homeless and foodless. Many of these people, after their expulsion, became the victims of the Inquisition, and fed the fires of the auto da fie. The crown profited by the confiscated property. During the eighteen years of Torquemada's ministry more than ten thousand Jews were burned alive. The expulsion of the Jews was the beginning of the fall of Spain.

South America


In Cuba, the glory of the Spanish Main, the colonial system was reasserted in 1825, under the name of "Royal Order. This order placed the absolute power in the hands of the captain-general, and gave to this officer "the whole extent of authority which is granted to the governors of besieged towns."  Cuba may be said to have been under martial law from that date. Since 1825 there was no legislative assembly in Cuba, except that of the revolutionists. Since 1836 it has not had any real representation in the Cortes. There have been no popular assemblies, no juntas, no elections, no juries to protect individual rights. The press and the public amusements have been under censorship. Patriots were subject to banishment without charge, trial or record. There was, indeed, a Real Audiencia, but it obeyed the will of the governor.

No native Cuban could hold any office of honor or emolument. The army was composed almost wholly of Spaniards. No man in Cuba might entertain a stranger in any time of public peril overnight, without permission of the magistrate. No one might carry weapons of defense.

But though the people were not allowed to exercise their rights, they were heavily taxed. To be taxed seems to have been, in the eyes of their taskmasters, the only purpose of their existence. Cuba paid the expenses of the government of her tyrants, and sent enormous revenues to Spain. What Cuba was from 1825 to 1898 represents the ancient colonial system of the whole Spanish empire in the South. The Peninsular king was the state. His empires existed for him and his. He was to be regarded as the elect of God, and could do no wrong.

The Spanish rule of slavery and robbery in Cuba began in 1511, more than a hundred years before the sailing of the Mayflower. Within half a century after the discovery, Spanish cruelty almost extinguished the innocent native population. Negro slavery followed this great injustice. Havana became a port of the slave-trade, which was carried on for the enrichment of Spain, whose monarchs never regarded Cuba as an integral part of their empire. Half a million slaves were brought to Cuba as late as the early part of the present century. The cruelty with which these slaves were treated led to the fearful insurrections of 1844 and 1868.

An effort for the independence of Cuba was made in the middle of this century. The isle of June, the ever-beautiful isle, began to feel the influence of the republics with which it was surrounded. The men doomed to toil for the luxury of a foreign court became restless to be free.

Puerto Principe, a central province four hundred and fifty miles from Havana, contained a population favorable to the development of liberty. It became the starting-place of the insurrection. Its soil is rich and productive, and it is flanked by noble mountains on either hand.

Here was an inland city of the same name as the province, which was remote from political cabals. The inhabitants were virtuous, upright and strong. They breathed the air of liberty and felt the strength of the hills. They came to abhor oppression. They were the Puritans of Cuba. They saw what the island might be under the rule of democracy, liberty and a free conscience. But the garrote, the dungeon and the sword held their growing patriotism in check. Suddenly twelve of their noble citizens were arrested for participating in revolutionary movements. The city, then of some one hundred thousand souls, was thrown into intense excitement. The flag of independence was unfurled on July 4, 1852, in the groves where the people assembled. The battle of Puerto Principe, which followed the movement, was a victory for the Cuban patriots, and the country arose in arms. The battles of Coscorro, Las Tunas, Najassa, San Miguel and Cerro followed.

Soon General Lopez, from Key West, with a force of patriots, appeared on the coast to aid the Cubans. He repulsed the Spanish.

The war opened with a scene of barbarism. Fifty-two American citizens, who had gone out from the invading expedition in four launches, were captured by a Spanish man-of-war, and were condemned to death. The captives were brought to Havana on August 16, and were executed the same day. They were compelled to kneel with their backs to the executioners, in view of some twenty thousand spectators. After being shot, their bodies were dragged by the feet, by negroes, and then left to the fury of the mob, who stripped them of most of their clothes, and bore them through the public streets, crying out like demons. The barbarous manner of the execution of these patriotic adventurers filled America with indignation. Public meetings were held there to express the popular feeling.

The whole Spanish force was now directed against General Lopez. He was defeated and wounded. He was run down by bloodhounds, captured and executed. His last words were, "Adieu, dear Cuba!"

Some thirty-five years ago the Virginias, a ship that was secretly in the service of the Cuban patriots, but not proved to have been so until long after her capture, was seized by the Spanish cruiser Tornada, not far from Jamaica. She was sailing under the United States flag, and had United States papers. Her officers and men were taken to Santiago de Cuba, and were shot a day or two after their capture. The captain of the Virginias  was named Fry. His farewell to his men was most affecting. Some of the wounded adventurers had their heads blown off in a savage way, and the bodies of all were given over to the chain-gang. The slaughter of these men without any reference of the case to consular powers for the decision of international tribunals was barbarism, and was accomplished in a barbarous manner. If the men had forfeited their lives, it should have been proved before their execution.

The revolution of 1868–78 developed the same injustice and cruelty on the part of the Spanish. The principal Cuban grievance at this time was that the Spaniards drained the island of between forty and fifty per cent, of the annual income, and left the people poor and uncared for. They were simply slaves of a foreign power, that robbed them of the fruits of their labors. Spain promised to redress this and the other grievances. The rebels, reposing confidence in Spain's honor, laid down their arms. Spain betrayed that confidence.

This failure of Spain to keep her promise caused the present rebellion. At first Marshal Campos was sent to Cuba. He was recalled, and Weyler was sent. Weyler inaugurated the policy of the trocha, or the confinement of the Cubans in certain limits. He caused them to be concentrated within the plowed furrows around fortified places, to starve in a land of plenty.

On January 8, 1898, General Lee, consul-general of the United States at Havana, made the following report to his government:

"SIR: I have the honor to state, as a matter of public interest, that the 'reconcentrado order 'of General Weyler, formerly governor-general of this island, transformed about four hundred thousand self-supporting people, principally women and children, into a multitude to be sustained by the contributions of others, or die of starvation or of fevers resulting from a low physical condition, and being massed in large bodies, without change of clothing and without food. Their homes were burned, their fields and plant-beds destroyed, and their live stock driven away or killed.

"I estimate that probably two hundred thousand of the rural population in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Havana, Matanzas and Santa Clara have died of starvation or from resultant causes; and the deaths of whole families almost simultaneously, or within a few days of each other, and mothers praying for their children to be relieved of their horrible suffering by death, are not the least of the many pitiable scenes which were ever present."

The sufferings of the reconcentrados  awakened the sympathy of humanity. Spain yielded to the awakened sentiment of the Christian nations, and removed Weyler. After nearly four hundred years of injustice in Cuba, her power in the most beautiful land that eyes ever beheld had been overthrown.

The church in this long period of injustice has too often stood by the throne, and yet out of it have come patriot priests like Hidalgo in Mexico, Beltran of the Army of the Andes, and some of the heroes of the independence of Peru. These patriot priests have followed the principles of Las Casas, one of the most noble philanthropists that ever honored the cause of true Christianity. He was a Dominican monk. To him it was noble to be noble, without any fear of punishment or hope of reward. Las Casas was born in Seville in 1474. He made himself the defender of the rights of the native people in America, and boldly declared that any war waged against these people, or any robbery of them or injustice toward them, because they were regarded as "infidels," was wrong. He announced that Christianity was sufficient for their conversion, and he brought under its influence a most warlike nation in Guatemala by the simple preaching of the gospel. His success in thus winning a nation awakened the admiration of Pope Paul III., who was led to issue a sentence of excommunication against any "who should reduce these Indians to slavery, or rob them of their goods." Las Casas brought a golden age to Guatemala, as Quetzalcohuatl, the legendary St. Thomas, had to the ancient Mexicans.

We have seen in the fate of Atahualpa and of the two Tupactmarus what the native races were called upon to endure in the persons of their chiefs. Gonzalo Pizarro was of the same spirit as his brother. He tortured the Indians to make them reveal places of hidden treasures. For the same reason he burned some of them, and caused others to be torn to pieces by bloodhounds trained to feed on human flesh. De Soto, whose heart was schooled in these Peruvian barbarities, pursued the same course wherever he went. He landed at Tampa with horses mounted with gold, but with bloodhounds trained to tear to pieces the native inhabitants who should oppose his march or seek to hide from him their treasures. He robbed the caciques, or native kings or chiefs, not only of their goods, but of the beautiful women of their families.

The torture of Guatemotzin, the nephew of Montezuma II. and the last of the Aztecs, illustrates the same spirit of cruelty. He had been promised protection by Cortez. But in the fall of the City of Mexico less gold was found there than the conquerors had expected, and the captive monarch was suspected of having hidden the royal treasure. On being taken captive, he had said to Cortez: "I have done all I could to defend my people. I am reduced to this state. Better despatch me with your poniard and end my life now." "Fear not," replied Cortez. "You have defended your capital bravely, and shall be treated with honor. A Spaniard knows how to respect the valor of an enemy." In the rage of the Spaniards at not finding a great hoard of treasure in the fallen city, he was put to torture. According to the historic monument, his feet were placed over a slow fire. He bore the torture in stoical silence.

The cacique of Tacuba was tortured with him. He confessed to a knowledge of hidden treasure. They released him to find it. But he could discover none. "My only motive for confessing," he said, "was the hope that I might die on the road to the place that I named."

The cruelty of the Spanish rulers fell also upon the creoles, or the descendants of European immigrants who were born in America. Most of those in Latin America were of Spanish descent, and were proud of their ancestry and of the glory of Spain. They believed in the divine right of kings, and thought that the throne of Spain could do no wrong. They at first believed that the will of heaven was in Spain's triumphal march over the seas and sierras. For two centuries they bore all with patience. They were deprived of their rights, were heavily taxed, were compelled to toil and do the will of the viceroy for the glory of Spain.

The struggles for independence brought out all the cruel selfishness and intolerance of the Spanish national character. Larrazabal, whom we have much quoted, gives us some descriptions of the inhumanity of the war in Venezuela. General Boves, the Spanish commander there, swore that he would exterminate the whole American race. In 1814, and later, the Spanish army there entered into his spirit. When he was victorious Boves would say that he had gained, and when he was defeated he would say that he had gained, as in either case his purpose was the destruction of the American race.

Field-Marshal Don Francisco Montalvo reported to the minister of war in Spain, in 1814, as follows: "Don Jose Tomas Boves and those who follow him do not distinguish between delinquents and innocents. All such die for the crime of being born in America."

Larrazabal says of the massacre of Aragua: "Children were murdered on the very breasts of their mothers. The same knife divided the heads of both." Again: "They were flayed alive, and then thrown into poisonous and pestilential swamps."

It was such crimes that led Simon Bolivar to issue his ever-to-be-regretted proclamation of war to the death. The land smoked with burning houses; the highways were strewn with bodies of the dead. The young, the old, the mother, the daughter, all perished, and the land where Boves marched became a desolation. Honor counted for nothing, virtue for nothing, in those days when the smoke of villages turned the sun into darkness and when rivers became streams of blood.

In Peru the tragedy went on for centuries. After the first Pizarro came Carbajal, a monster so cruel that he was believed to have had a "familiar," or to have been possessed of an evil spirit. He was guilty of the death of hundreds of political offenders, whom he delighted to torture, and to jeer at when dying. At the age of eighty-four he himself was condemned to death. He was thrown into a basket and carried to execution amid jeers as heartless as those he had been accustomed to heap upon others.

The colonial system of Spain has crumbled, as all injustice must, by the law of its own gravitation. To Spain the last of her colonial empires is lost; the Pearl of the Antilles follows the example of Lima, the Pearl of the Pacific. Cuba ends the long empire of injustice, and sets her banner in the line of the republics of the Sun.

A better age is at hand. The gates of the twentieth century are opening, and through them are to pass the armies of the schools. The days of the bull-fights are gone. The times of persecution, in any form, are already a part of the darkness of the past. Liberty gives to man his birthright. The end of liberty is justice, and the end of justice is peace. The deeds of Hernando Cortez, of Pedro de Alvarado, of Francisco Pizarro and of Philip II. will never again be enacted on the American continent.