Tomás Estrada Palma

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Tomás Estrada Palma
Tomas estrada palma.jpg
1st President of Cuba
In office
20 May 1902 – 28 September 1906
Vice President Luis Estévez Romero and Domingo Méndez Capote
Preceded by None
Succeeded by William Howard Taft
U.S. Provisional Governor
José Miguel Gómez
Personal details
Born Tomás Estrada Palma
(1835-07-09)July 9, 1835
Bayamo, Spanish Cuba
Died November 4, 1908(1908-11-04) (aged 73)
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Nationality Cuba Cuban
Political party Cuban Revolutionary Party
(1892–1902)
Republican Party of Havana
(1902–1906)
Spouse(s) Genoveva Guardiola Arbizu
Children Jose M. Estrada-Palma Guardiola
Occupation Attorney

Tomás Estrada Palma (July 9, 1835 – November 4, 1908) was a Cuban political figure.  Estrada Palma helped gather assistance from the United States and was a participant in the Spanish–American War. He served as the first President of Cuba between May 20, 1902 and September 28, 1906.  During Estrada Palma's presidency, he improved Cuba’s infrastructure, communication, and public health. In Cuba, he is remembered for allowing the Platt Amendment to be enacted in the country. The Platt Amendment would ensure American political and economic dominance over Cuba.

Early life and education[edit]

Tomás Estrada Palma was born in Bayamo, Spanish Cuba on the estimated date of July 9, 1835, to Andrés María Estrada y Oduardo and María Candelaria Palma Tamayo. His exact birth date is not known due to a fire in the Bayamo Town Hall on Jan. 19, 1869 that destroyed Estrada Palma’s birth records.[1] What is known about his early life is his schooling in the private school of Toribio Hernández in Havana and his attendance in the University of Havana in which he received a philosophy degree on July 19, 1854. He was taken out of the roster in the University of Seville on January 29 in 1857 due to excessive absences. Estrada Palma withdrew on June 29, 1857, of the same year due to personal reasons.[1] 

From 1857 to 1868 Tomas Estrada Palma would return to Bayamo and would become an administrator and a teacher for the local Area.[1] He would continue to teach in Honduras and Orange County, New York.

Fight for independence[edit]

Tomás Estrada Palma became the President of the Cuban Republic in Arms during the Ten Years' War.

Estrada Palma was captured by Spanish troops and sent into exile. While in exile, he traveled to New York City where he worked with José Martí to gather political support for a political revolution in Cuba.

After Martí's death, Estrada Palma became the new leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Party. His role in the Cuban revolutionary party was to be the chief representative of the party. With this authorization, he was able to make diplomatic relations with other countries including the United States.[2]

After the Government in Arms was established they sent Estrada Palma to Washington D.C. as their diplomat. Estrada Palma received assistance from various individuals including an American banker. The banker tried offering Spain $150 million to give up the island but failed. Estrada Palma was also assisted by William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers to spread the cause of the Cuban Revolutionary Party by posting articles sympathetic to the Cuban revolutionaries. The papers would assist the revolutionaries in gaining materials, support and popularity for the movement.[3]

He was, however, successful in getting the US Congress to pass the Joint Resolution in April 19, 1898.  The Joint Resolution disavowed the Spanish colonization of Cuba and supported the independence of the Republic of Cuba. The resolution had also highlighted that the United States had no intention of occupying or annexing the island.[1] (see Spanish–American War)

After the Spanish–American War, Estrada Palma dissolved one of the leading factions of the Cuban revolutionary armies. The Liberation Army who were mainly black and rural. He gave more political power to the Asemblea de Representantes who were more pragmatic, composed of white urban dwellers, the neo-annexationist and the elite of Cuba.[4] He effectively given power to the former revolutionaries and the pragmatic section of the revolutionary armies to achieve political dominance within Cuban politics. At the same time, it was a method to attract United States assistance in Cuba to rebuild the country.

First term[edit]

After a few years of General Leonard Wood's rule in Cuba, elections were to be held on December 31, 1901.[5] There was two parties, the Republicans who were conservative and wanted national autonomy, headed by José Miguel Gómez, and the National Liberals who were a popular party that wanted Cuba to go toward local autonomy, headed by Alfredo Zayas, both supported Estrada Palma.[5] He did not campaign though, staying the full-time in the U.S., where he was a citizen.

Estrada Palma's opponent, General Bartolomé Masó withdrew his candidacy in protest against favoritism by the occupational government and the manipulation of the political machine by Estrada Palma's followers. Thus Estrada Palma was left as the only candidate.[6] On December 31, 1901, Estrada Palma was elected President.

Estrada Palma did not want to make a presidency based on any racial barriers. Like many other Cuban revolutionaries, he had seen the new republic as a non-racial republic. In this republic, Estrada Palma seen white and Afro-Cubans as equal in Cuban society.[7] Before his presidency, Estrada Palma assured that he would bring one-hundred public service jobs to Afro-Cubans and repeal American regulations that supported segregation in Cuba.[8]

The Platt Amendment was signed in March 2, 1902. The amendment allowed the United States to Interfere in the domestic policies of Cuba. The amendment permitted the United States to lease land for naval bases or coal stations.[1] American troops left after the Cuban government signed a bill lowering tariffs on American products and incorporated the Platt Amendment into their constitution. Many American companies came to do business in Cuba.

On February 16, 1903, Estrada Palma signed the Cuban-American Treaty of Relations, agreeing to lease the Guantanamo Bay area to the United States, in perpetuity, for use as a naval base and coaling station. This was a minor victory for the Estrada Palma administration for Washington had wanted five naval bases in the island. It is a testament to his diplomatic skills that Estrada Palma was able to obtain the reduction even with American troops stationed in the island. His policies were also responsible for improvements in education, communications and public health which had suffered from the devastation created by the war of independence from Spain.[1] As an example, land prices between 1902 and 1905 went up and he built over 328 kilometers of road in Cuba.[9]

Second term[edit]

Estrada Palma was re-elected unopposed in 1905, but this time against violent opposition by the liberals, who claimed electoral fraud. Both political parties used frauds. One example in which fraud was by the national labor party use of 'el copo' or using fraud to prevent minority victory in the first election.[9] The main issue in the second election was the equal representation of the Cuban provinces. Critics of Estrada Palma such as General Faustino Guerra Puente accused him of ignoring the constitution. Still, other politicians and generals like Guerra Puente recognized Estrada Palma as the only person able to lead Cuba.[10]

A response to the opponents Alfredo Zayas to have the force of the police and the rural guard to allow Estrada Palma to claim victory. Estrada Palma and the moderate camp appealed to the US for intervention, and in 1906 the US began the Second Occupation of Cuba and installed a provisional occupation government which lasted from 1906 to 1909. Another pro-American government was established in Cuba under Charles Magoon.[11] Finally, on September 28, 1906, Estrada Palma with the rest of the executive branch resigned their position and left Cuba without a successor and allowed the United States to take control as a condition to the Platt amendment.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Bayamo, Cuba, Estrada Palma was the son of Andrés Duque de Estrada y Palma and wife and cousin María Candelaria de Palma y Tamayo. On May 15, 1881 he married Genoveva Guardiola Arbizu (1854–1926), daughter of General José Santos Guardiola, President of Honduras, Estrada Palma and his wife had six children.

Estrada Palma was an attorney, and died in Santiago de Cuba.

Continuation of the name[edit]

  • Tomás Andrés Estrada-Palma Guardiola and Helen Douglas Browne continued the name. 
  • Tomás Estrada Palma, with their first-born child, Tomás Douglas Estrada-Palma III, born on May 12, 1911 in New York. 
  • Tomás Douglas Estrada-Palma III and Alyce Mae Carroll married and continued the name with their first-born child, Tomás Ramón Estrada-Palma IV, born in Miami. 
  • Tomás Douglas Estrada-Palma III had three more children, Patrick Carroll Estrada-Palma, Candita Margaret Estrada-Palma, and Kathleen Riordan Estrada-Palma. 
  • Estrada Palma's name ends with Tomás Ramón Estrada-Palma IV since he decided to not continue this name with his children.

Honours[edit]

Estrada Palma is known less for his accomplishments in education, revolution and infrastructure than for being a part of the United States annexation agenda and being subservient to the United States.[13] In 1903, a statue of Estrada Palma was erected in the "Avenida de los Presidentes" in Havana. His statue was pulled down by Fidel Castro's revolutionaries, reportedly because they blamed Estrada Palma for starting the trend of U.S. intervention in Cuba.[13] The plinth, with a pair of shoes, remains.

Estrada Palma spent many years of his U.S. exile in the town of Woodbury in Orange County, New York. Along a road that now bears his name (Estrada Road, in the hamlet of Central Valley), he ran a summer camp which has since been abandoned. During his presidency Estrada Palma kept an "T. Estrada Palma Fund" to purchase prizes for academic achievements in Orange County, New York.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Garcia, Margarita (2016). Before "Cuba Libre": The Making of Cuba's First President Tomas Estrada Palma. Denver, Colorado: Outskirt Press. pp. Kindle Location 61. ISBN 9781478773917. 
  2. ^ Auxier, George W. (1939). "The Propaganda Activities of the Cuban Junta in Precipitating the Spanish-American War, 1895-1898". The Hispanic American Historical Review. 19: pp. 286–305. 
  3. ^ Sweig, Julia E. (2009). Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0199896704. 
  4. ^ Kapcia, Antoni (2000). Cuba: Island of Dreams. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 62. ISBN 185973331X. 
  5. ^ a b Nohlen, Dieter (2005). Elections in the Americas: A data handbook. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6. 
  6. ^ Navarro, José Cantón: History of Cuba, Editorial SI-MAR, Havana, Cuba, 1998, p. 81, ISBN 959-7054-19-1
  7. ^ Fuente, Alejandro de la (1999). "Myths of Racial Democracy: Cuba, 1900-1912". Latin American Research Review. 34 (3): 39–73. 
  8. ^ Pappademos, Melina (2011). Black Political Activism and the Cuban Republic. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 63. ISBN 9780807834909. 
  9. ^ a b Thomas, Hugh (1971). Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom. New York: Harper & Hugh. p. 472. ISBN 978-0060142599. 
  10. ^ Puente, Faustino Guerra (September 1906). "Causes of the Cuban Insurrection". The North American Review. 183 (599): 538–540. 
  11. ^ Mellander, Gustavo A.; Mellander, Nelly Maldonado (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1-56328-155-4. 
  12. ^ Fitzgibbon, Russell H. (1964). Cuba and the United States, 1900-1935. Brasted, Kent: United Kingdom: Russell & Russell. p. 121. ASIN B00656T7SO. 
  13. ^ a b Utset, Marial Iglesias (2011). A Cultural History of Cuba during the US Occupation, 1898-1902. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0807871928. 

References[edit]

  • Mellander, Gustavo A. (1971). The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Daville,Ill.:Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.
  • Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1-56328-155-4. OCLC 42970390.
  • Garcia, Margarita. (2016). Before "Cuba Libre" The Making of Cuba's First President Tomas Estrada Palma. Denver, Colorado: Outskirt Press. pp. Kindle Location 1950. ISBN 9781478773917.
  • Auxier, George W. (1939). "The Propaganda Activities of the Cuban Junta in Precipitating the Spanish American War, 1895-1898," The Hispanic American Historical Review. Vol. 19: pp. 286–305.
  • Sweig, Julia E. (2009). Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know. New York: Oxford University Press. P. 9. ISBN 0199896704.
  • Kapcia, Antoni. (2000). Cuba: Island of Dreams. New York: Oxford University Press. P. 62. ISBN 185973331X.
  • Nohlen, Dieter (2005). Elections in the Americas: A data handbook. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6.
  • Fuente, Alejandro de la. (1991). "Myths of Racial Democracy: Cuba, 1900-1912." Latin American Research Review. Vol. 34, No. 3: 39-73.
  • Pappademos, Melina (2011). Black Political Activism and the Cuban Republic. Chapel Hill. NC: University of North Carolina Press. P. 63. ISBN 9780807834909.
  • Thomas, Hugh. (1971). Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom. New York: Harper & Hugh. p. 472. ISBN 978-0060142599.
  • Puente, Faustino Guerra. (September 1906). "Causes of the Cuban Insurrection." The North American Review. Vol. 183, No. 599: 538-540.
  • Utset, Marial Iglesias. (2011). A Cultural History of Cuba during the US Occupation, 1898-1902. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-080781928.
  • Fitzgibbon, Russell H. (1964). Cuba and the United States, 1900-1935. Brasted, Kent: United Kingdom: Russell & Russell. p. 121. ASIN B00656T7SO
  • Otero, Juan Joaquin (1954). Libro De Cuba, Una Enciclopedia Ilustrada Que Abarca Las Artes, Las Letras, Las Ciencias, La Economia, La Politica, La Historia, La Docencia, Y ElProgreso General De La Nacion Cubana - Edicion Conmemorative del Cincuentenario de la Republica de Cuba, 1902-1952.  (Spanish)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
None
President of Cuba
1902–1906
Succeeded by
José Miguel Gómez