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Maceo's Letter to President Estrada Palma

In this letter, written from his camp in Baragua to President Tomás Estrada Palma, Maceo responds to the charges against him that were circulating among members of the civil government and some officers and soldiers in the rebel army.

The charges included preferential treatment of black officers and the secret desire to form a black nation. Spaniards, who feared Maceo's growing influence on the Cuban community as much as they feared him on the battlefield, originated the majority of these lies.

May 16, 1876

Antonio Maceo Y Grajales, native of the city of [Santiago de] Cuba, Brigadier General of the Liberating army, and at present Chief of the Second Division of the First Corp, respectfully states:

That for some time I have tolerated acts and conversations which actually I discredited because I believed they only came from the enemy, who, as everybody knows, has used all weapons to disunite us to see if by this means he can defeat us. But later, seeing that the issue was growing, I tried to see where it came from, and at last I am convinced that it does not come only from enemy sources, but, painful for me to say, it comes from our own brothers who, forgetting the republican and democratic principles which should guide them, have followed personal political ends.

Therefore, in view of this development, I believe that it is my duty to appeal to the Government which you represent, so that whey you understand the reasons which I shall present at a later point, you will proceed with justice and resolution, taking the necessary measures to clear all doubt as to my conduct and to remove the slightest smear from my name. The desire all my life has been, is, and will be to serve my country, defending its proclaimed principles. This I have done many times. The cause must triumph and sacrosanct principles of liberty and independence must remain safe.

I have known for some time, Mr. President, through a person of good reputation and prestige, that a small circle exists which has manifested to the Government that it "did not wish to serve under my orders because I belong to the colored race." And later, through different channels, I have learned that they are now accusing me of "showing favoritism to the colored over the white officers in my command." In doing so they are serving their own particular political interest; by this method they hope to destroy me as they have not been able to do so by other means. They are trying to do this to a man who entered the revolution for no other reason than to shed his blood to see the slaves and his country free. After learning what was occurring, I spoke to one of the men who belong to this circle and I became more convinced than ever of their evil goals. In planting these seeds of distrust and dissension, they do not seem to realize that it is the country that will suffer the consequences.

And since I belong to the colored race, without considering myself worth more or less than other men, I cannot and must not consent to the continued growth of this ugly rumor. Since I form a not inappreciable part of this democratic republic, which has for its base the fundamental principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity, I must protest energetically with all my strength that neither now nor at any other time am I to be regarded as an advocate of a Negro Republic or anything of that sort. This concept is a deadly thing to this democratic Republic, which is founded on the basis of liberty and fraternity. I do not recognize any hierarchy.

Those who are to mold the future nation must prove themselves now. The men who act in the manner which I have described can never form a part of that nation if it is to be the sort of country for which we are fighting. They are as much the enemies of the revolution as those who are fighting openly and directly against me, and they must be treated as such.

If for some unbelievable reason I should be denied my just demands, I shall be forced to leave the cause in which I had so much hope; if politics is to have the upper hand, then I must ask for my passport to some civilized land. This does not mean that I am looking for an excuse to quit the war; the country needs its good sons as never before, and I am not the kind who tires so easily, in spite of the eleven wounds that I proudly carry in my body. I shall never tire of fighting so long as I believe the goal to be worthy of the effort.

I am addressing this letter to you because I want to see the truth prevail and because I expect the guilty to be discovered and punished.

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