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The 1812 Aponte Rebellion in Cuba and the Struggle against Atlantic Slavery

Matt D. Childs

Publication Year: 2009

In 1812 a series of revolts known collectively as the Aponte Rebellion erupted across the island of Cuba, comprising one of the largest and most important slave insurrections in Caribbean history. Matt Childs provides the first in-depth analysis of the rebellion, situating it in local, colonial, imperial, and Atlantic World contexts.

Childs explains how slaves and free people of color responded to the nineteenth-century "sugar boom" in the Spanish colony by planning a rebellion against racial slavery and plantation agriculture. Striking alliances among free people of color and slaves, blacks and mulattoes, Africans and Creoles, and rural and urban populations, rebels were prompted to act by a widespread belief in rumors promising that emancipation was near. Taking further inspiration from the 1791 Haitian Revolution, rebels sought to destroy slavery in Cuba and perhaps even end Spanish rule. By comparing his findings to studies of slave insurrections in Brazil, Haiti, the British Caribbean, and the United States, Childs places the rebellion within the wider story of Atlantic World revolution and political change. The book also features a biographical table, constructed by Childs, of the more than 350 people investigated for their involvement in the rebellion, 34 of whom were executed.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: Envisioning Cuba

Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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CONTENTS

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p. vii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-xii

A first book for any author accumulates many debts. Regrettably, I can only recognize a small portion of all the people who helped me over many years. First and foremost, special thanks go to my parents, Dotty and Tim Childs, who raised me with the important values of hard work and respect for humanity. My only regret is that...

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INTRODUCTION: Worse than Aponte

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pp. 1-20

On 24 March 1812 Cuban military o≈cer Vicente de la Huerta and three assistants left the fortress of La Cabaña and headed for the free people of color neighborhood of Guadalupe located just outside Havana’s city walls. Cuban judicial o≈cial Juan Ignacio Rendón ordered Huerta and his aides to search houses ‘‘with the greatest thoroughness...

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1. The Present Time Period Is Very Delicate: Cuban Slavery and the Changing Atlantic World, 1750–1850

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pp. 21-45

On the morning of 9 April 1812, a crowd of spectators gathered next to the military fort of La Punta, which to this day guards the western entrance to the Bay of Havana. Men, women, and children waited for the public execution of the conspirators who had attempted to overthrow Spanish colonialism and destroy Cuban slavery. According to...

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2. Nothing Worse in the World than to Be a Slave: Slaves and Free People of Color in Early Ninteenth-Century Cuba

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pp. 46-77

The slave Tiburcio Peñalver su√ered the same fate as José Antonio Aponte and Juan Barbier when the Havana military escorted him to the execution sca√old for his participation in the revolt. Unlike numerous male slaves who labored in the countryside, Tiburcio’s master, Don Nicolás Peñalver, exempted him from the arduous task of cutting cane on his plantation named Trinidad, located outside of Havana....

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3. Organizing the Rebellion: The Overlapping Worlds of the Militia and the Cabildos de Nación

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pp. 78-119

The executions for involvement in the revolts did not end with the leader, José Antonio Aponte, the Frenchman Juan Barbier, the slave Tiburcio Peñalver, or the freedman, Juan Bautista Lisundia. Judicial o≈cials added the name of the free black militia soldier Clemente Chacón to the hangman’s fatal list. When the rebels gathered early on the morning of 9 April 1812, it was not their first meeting, but it would be their...

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4. Burn the Plantations: The Cuban Aponte Rebellion(s) of 1812

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pp. 120-154

The hangman’s noose tightened once again during the early morning of 9 April 1812. The executioner added another name to the fatal list that included the leader of the rebellion, José Antonio Aponte, the Frenchman Juan Barbier, who had been to Saint Domingue, the slave Tiburcio Peñalver, who routinely traveled from the countryside to the city, the freedman Juan Bautista Lisundia, the militia...

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5. Vanquish the Arrogance of Our Enemies: Emancipation Rumors and Rebellious Royalism

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pp. 155-172

And the executions continued for months. The hangman’s list did not end with the leader José Antonio Aponte, the Frenchman Juan Barbier, the slave Tiburcio Peñalver, the free black Juan Bautista Lisundia, the black militiaman Clemente Chacón, the cabildo leader Salvador Ternero, and the mulatto Estanislao Aguilar. The executioner added free black Francisco Javier Pacheco’s name to his deadly list. A Creole...

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CONCLUSION: Plaques of Loyalty: The Legacy of the Aponte Rebellion

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pp. 173-188

The crowd of spectators did not leave after they ‘‘applauded’’ the punishments meted out to the rebels.∞ When the executions and whippings of the insurgents came to an end, an encore performance began. Colonial authorities had to address the rebels’ strong desires for freedom that inspired their motivations for revolt. Executing the leaders served as a deadly warning of the consequences awaiting anyone...

APPENDIX: Biographical Database of the Aponte Rebels

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pp. 189-206

NOTES

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pp. 207-260

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 261-288

INDEX

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pp. 289-301


E-ISBN-13: 9781469606071
E-ISBN-10: 1469606070
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807830581

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Envisioning Cuba
Series Editor Byline: Edited by Louis A. Pérez Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 966771298
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The 1812 Aponte Rebellion in Cuba and the Struggle against Atlantic Slavery