Spanish Barbarities in Cuba.
Springfield, Ill., March 7, 1896. — Governor Altgeld was asked the following questions by a New York paper:
1. Should the United States grant to the Cubans belligerent rights?
2. Do you recommend the independence of Cuba?
3. Should the United States make a personal matter of the Cuban efforts toward independence?
The governor replied to these questions as follows:
Answer to first question: Yes; the Spanish have been sending large armies to the island. The Cubans have an army nearly as large as that commanded by George Washington, and have maintained it for a considerable time. They have an established government, at the head of which is a man of high character, and they are in possession of the greater part of the island. They have defeated the Spanish repeatedly in regular battles. It is nonsense to say that this is not war. At the time Spain extended belligerent rights to the South in 1861
531not half as many battles had been fought and won by the South as have been fought and won by the Cubans. If we extend belligerent rights it will give the Cubans a market in which they can buy. Considering that they have thus far been obliged to carry on their war without having a single open market in which they could buy their necessities, it is probable that these advantages would enable them to rid the island of the Spanish marauders.
2. The Spanish held Cuba for over a century. It was once the richest and most prosperous island in the world. By systematic robbery and butchery they have reduced it to its present deplorable state. Both civilization and humanity demand that an end be put to these outrages.
3. Yes. In 1878, after a ten-year struggle for liberty, the Cubans were defeated. According to the Cyclopedia Britannica, during these ten years Spain sent 145,000 soldiers to the island, and, according to the American Cyclopedia, the Spanish authorities subsequently admitted that during that war they had captured and then shot 43,500 prisoners. During that war, seventeen boys, who were attending school at Havana, gave expression to some patriotic sentiments in favor of their native island, and for this offense they were unceremoniously marched out by the Spanish soldiers and shot down like wild beasts. The civilized nations cannot permit a repetition of these atrocities, and the United States of America cannot permit a perpetual robbery and perpetual butchery to be carried on so near that the shrieks of the tortured and dying victims are heard at our doors. The nations of the earth recognize the right to interfere in foreign matters in cases where the moral sense of the civilized world is shocked, as in the cases of cannibalism and the slave trade. But these are innocent amusements compared with the atrocities which the Spanish have practiced for over a century in Cuba.