José Julián Martí Pérez|
January 28, 1853
Havana, Spanish Cuba
May 19, 1895 (aged 42)|
Dos Ríos, Spanish Cuba
|Occupation||poet, writer, nationalist leader|
|Spouse||Carmen Zayas Bazan|
|Children||José Francisco "Pepito" Martí|
|Relatives||Mariano Martí Navarro and Leonor Pérez Cabrera (Parents), 7 sisters (Leonor, Mariana, María de Carmen, María de Pilar, Rita Amelia, Antonia and Dolores)|
José Julián Martí Pérez (January 28, 1853 – May 19, 1895) is the Cuban national hero and an important figure in Latin American literature. In his short life, he was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a revolutionary philosopher, a translator, a professor, a publisher, and a political theorist. Through his writings and political activity, he became a symbol for Cuba's bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century, and is referred to as the "Apostle of Cuban Independence." He also wrote about the threat of Spanish and US expansionism into Cuba. From adolescence, he dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, political independence for Cuba, and intellectual independence for all Spanish Americans; his death was used as a cry for Cuban independence from Spain by both the Cuban revolutionaries and those Cubans previously reluctant to start a revolt.
Born in Havana, Martí began his political activism at an early age. He would travel extensively in Spain, Latin America, and the United States, raising awareness and support for the cause of Cuban independence. His unification of the Cuban émigré community, particularly in Florida, was crucial to the success of the Cuban War of Independence against Spain. He was a key figure in the planning and execution of this war, as well as the designer of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and its ideology. He died in military action during the Battle of Dos Ríos on May 19, 1895.
Martí is considered one of the great turn-of-the-century Latin American intellectuals. His written works consist of a series of poems, essays, letters, lectures, a novel, and even a children's magazine. He wrote for numerous Latin American and American newspapers; he also founded a number of newspapers himself. His newspaper Patria was a key instrument in his campaign for Cuban independence. After his death, one of his poems from the book, "Versos Sencillos" (Simple Verses) was adapted to the song "Guantanamera", which has become the definitive patriotic song of Cuba.
- 1 Life
- 2 Political ideology
- 3 Writings
- 4 Legacy
- 5 List of selected works
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life: Cuba 1853–1870
José Julián Martí Pérez was born on January 28, 1853, in Havana, at 41 Paula St., to a Spanish Valencian father, Mariano Martí Navarro, and Leonor Pérez Cabrera, a native of the Canary Islands. Martí was the elder brother to seven sisters: Leonor, Mariana, Maria de Carmen, Maria de Pilar, Rita Amelia, Antonia and Dolores. He was baptized on February 12 in Santo Ángel Custodio church. When he was four, his family moved from Cuba to Valencia, Spain, but two years later they returned to the island where they enrolled José at a local public school, in the Santa Clara neighborhood where his father worked as a prison guard.
In 1865, he enrolled in the Escuela de Instrucción Primaria Superior Municipal de Varones that was headed by Rafael María de Mendive. Mendive was influential in the development of Martí's political philosophies. Also instrumental in his development of a social and political conscience was his best friend Fermín Valdés Domínguez, the son of a wealthy slave-owning family. In April the same year, after hearing the news of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, Martí and other young students expressed their pain—through group mourning—for the death of a man who had decreed the abolition of slavery in a neighboring country. In 1866, Martí entered the Instituto de Segunda Ensañanza where Mendive financed his studies.
Martí signed up at the Escuela Profesional de Pintura y Escultura de La Habana (Professional School for Painting and Sculpture of Havana) in September 1867, known as San Alejandro, to take drawing classes. He hoped to flourish in this area, but did not find commercial success. In 1867, he also entered the school of San Pablo, established and managed by Mendive, where he enrolled for the second and third years of his bachelor's degree, and assisted Mendive with the school's administrative tasks. In April 1868, his poem dedicated to Mendive's wife, A Micaela. En la muerte de Miguel Ángel appeared in Guanabacoa's newspaper El Álbum.
When the Ten Years' War broke out in Cuba in 1868, clubs of supporters for the Cuban nationalist cause formed all over Cuba, and José and his friend Fermín joined them. Martí had a precocious desire for the independence and freedom of Cuba. He started writing poems about this vision, while, at the same time, trying to do something to achieve this dream. In 1869, he published his first political writings in the only edition of the newspaper El Diablo Cojuelo, published by Fermín Valdés Domínguez. That same year he published "Abdala", a patriotic drama in verse form in the one-volume La Patria Libre newspaper, which he published himself. "Abdala" is about a fictional country called Nubia which struggles for liberation. His famous sonnet "10 de octubre", later to become one of his most famous poems, was also written during that year, and was published later in his school newspaper.
In March of that year, colonial authorities shut down the school, interrupting Martí's studies. He came to resent Spanish rule of his homeland at an early age; likewise, he developed a hatred of slavery, which was still practiced in Cuba.
On 21 October 1869, aged 16, he was arrested and incarcerated in the national jail, following an accusation of treason and bribery from the Spanish government upon the discovery of a "reproving" letter, which Martí and Fermín had written to a friend when the friend joined the Spanish army. More than four months later, Martí confessed to the charges and was condemned to six years in prison. His mother tried to free her son (who at 16 was still a minor) by writing letters to the government, and his father went to a lawyer friend for legal support, but these efforts failed. Eventually Martí fell ill; his legs were severely lacerated by the chains that bound him. As a result, he was transferred to another part of Cuba known as Isla de Pinos instead of further imprisonment. Following that, the Spanish authorities decided to exile him to Spain. In Spain, Martí, who was 18 at the time, was allowed to continue his studies with the hopes that studying in Spain would renew his loyalty to Spain.
In January 1871, Martí embarked on the steam ship Guipuzcoa, which took him from Havana to Cadiz. He settled in Madrid in a guesthouse in Desengaño St. # 10. Arriving at the capital he contacted fellow Cuban Carlos Sauvalle, who had been deported to Spain a year before Martí and whose house served as a center of reunions for Cubans in exile. On March 24, Cadiz’s newspaper La Soberania Nacional, published Martí's article “Castillo” in which he recalled the sufferings of a friend he met in prison. This article would be reprinted in Sevilla’s La Cuestión Cubana and New York’s La República. At this time, Martí registered himself as a member of independent studies in the law faculty of the Central University of Madrid. While studying here, Martí openly participated in discourse on the Cuban issue, debating through the Spanish press and circulating documents protesting Spanish activities in Cuba.
Martí's maltreatment at the hands of the Spaniards and consequent deportation to Spain in 1871 inspired a tract, Political Imprisonment in Cuba, published in July. This pamphlet's purpose was to move the Spanish public to do something about its government's brutalities in Cuba and promoted the issue of Cuban independence. In September, from the pages of El Jurado Federal, Marti and Sauvalle accused the newspaper La Prensa of having calumniated the Cuban residents in Madrid. During his stay in Madrid, Marti frequented the Ateneo and the National Library, the Café de los Artistas, and the British, Swiss and Iberian breweries. In November he became sick and had an operation, paid for by Sauvalle.
On the 27th of November 1871, eight medical students, who had been accused (without evidence) of the desecration of a Spanish grave, were executed in Havana. In June 1872, Fermín Valdés was arrested because of the November 27 incident. His sentence of six years of jail was pardoned, and he was exiled to Spain where he reunited with Martí. On November 27, 1872, the printed matter Dia 27 de Noviembre de 1871 (27 November 1871) written by Martí and signed by Fermín Valdés Domínguez, and Pedro J. de la Torre circulated Madrid. A group of Cubans held a funeral in the Caballero de Gracia church, the first anniversary of the medical students’ execution.
In 1873, Martí's “A mis Hermanos Muertos el 27 de Noviembre” was published by Fermín Valdés. In February, for the first time, the Cuban flag appeared in Madrid, hanging from Martí’s balcony in Concepción Jerónima, where he lived for a few years. In the same month, the Proclamation of the First Spanish Republic by the Cortes on February 11, 1873 reaffirmed Cuba as inseparable to Spain, Martí responded with an essay, The Spanish Republic and the Cuban Revolution, and sent it to the Prime Minister, pointing out that this new freely elected body of deputies that had proclaimed a republic based on democracy had been hypocritical not to grant Cuba its freedom. He sent examples of his work to Nestor Ponce de Leon, a member of the Junta Central Revolucionaria de Nueva York (Central revolutionary committee of New York), to whom he would express his will to collaborate on the fight for the independence of Cuba.
In May, he moved to Zaragoza, accompanied by Fermín Valdés to continue his studies in law at the Universidad Literaria. The newspaper La Cuestión Cubana of Sevilla, published numerous articles from Martí.
In June 1874, Marti graduated with a degree in Civil Law and Canon Law. In August he signed up as an external student at the Facultad de Filosofia y Letras de Zaragoza, where he finished his degree by October. In November he returned to Madrid and then left to Paris. There he met Auguste Vacquerie, a poet, and Victor Hugo. In December 1874 he embarked from Le Havre for Mexico. Prevented from returning to Cuba, Martí went instead to Mexico and Guatemala. During these travels, he taught and wrote, advocating continuously for Cuba's independence.
México and Guatemala 1875–1878
In 1875, Martí lived on Calle Moneda in Mexico City near the Zócalo, a prestigious address of the times. One floor above him lived Manuel Antonio Mercado, Secretary of the Distrito Federal, who would become one of Martí’s best friends. On March 2, 1875, he published his first article for Vicente Villada's Revista Universal, a broadsheet discussing politics, literature, and general business commerce. On March 12, his Spanish translation of Hugo's Mes Fils (1874) began serialization in Revista Universal. Martí then joined the editorial staff, editing the Boletín section of the publication.
In these writings he expressed his opinions about current events in Mexico. On May 27, in the newspaper Revista Universal, he responded to the anti-Cuban-independence arguments in La Colonia Española, a newspaper for Spanish citizens living in Mexico. In December, Sociedad Gorostiza (Gorostiza Society), a group of writers and artists, accepted Martí as a member, where he met his future wife, Carmen Zayas Bazán, during his frequent visits to her Cuban father’s house to meet with the Gorostiza group.
On January 1, 1876, in Oaxaca, elements opposed to Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada's government, led by Gen. Porfirio Díaz, proclaimed the Plan de Tuxtepec, which instigated a bloody civil war. Martí and fellow Mexican colleagues established the Sociedad Alarcón, composed of dramatists, actors, and critics. At this point, Martí began collaboration with the newspaper El Socialista as leader of the Gran Círculo Obrero (Great Labor Circle) organization of liberals and reformists who supported Lerdo de Tejada. In March, the newspaper proposed a series of candidates as delegates, including Martí, to the first Congreso Obrero, or congress of the workers. On June 4, La Sociedad Esperanza de Empleados (Employees' Hope Society) designated Martí as delegate to the Congreso Obrero. On December 7, Martí published his article Alea Jacta Est in the newspaper El Federalista, bitterly criticizing the Porfiristas' armed assault upon the constitutional government in place. On December 16, he published the article "Extranjero" (foreigner; abroad), in which he repeated his denunciation of the Porfiristas and bade farewell to Mexico.
In 1877, using his second name and second surname Julián Pérez as pseudonym, Martí embarked for Havana, hoping to arrange to move his family away to Mexico City from Havana. He returned to Mexico, however, entering at the port of Progreso from which, via Isla de Mujeres and Belize, he travelled south to progressive Guatemala City. He took residence in the prosperous suburb of Ciudad Vieja, home of Guatemala's artists and Intelligentsia of the day, on Cuarta Avenida (Fourth Avenue), 3 km south of Guatemala City. While there, he was commissioned by the government to write the play Patria y Libertad (Drama Indio) (Country and Liberty (an Indian Drama)). He met personally the president, Justo Rufino Barrios, about this project. On April 22, the newspaper El Progreso published his article "Los códigos nuevos" (The New Laws) pertaining to the then newly enacted Civil Code. On May 29, he was appointed head of the Department of French, English, Italian and German Literature, History and Philosophy, on the faculty of philosophy and arts of the Universidad Nacional. On July 25, he lectured for the opening evening of the literary society 'Sociedad Literaria El Porvenir', at the Teatro Colón (the since-renamed Teatro Nacional), at which function he was appointed vice-president of the Society, and acquiring the moniker "el doctor torrente," or Doctor Torrent, in view of his rhetorical style. Martí taught composition classes free at the academia de niñas de centroamérica girls' academy, among whose students he enthralled young María García Granados y Saborío, daughter of Guatemalan president Miguel García Granados. The schoolgirl's crush was unrequited, however, as he went again to México, where he met Carmen Zayas Bazán and whom he later married.
In 1878, Martí returned to Guatemala and published his book Guatemala, edited in Mexico. On May 10, socialite María García Granados died of lung disease; her unrequited love for Martí branded her, poignantly, as 'la niña de Guatemala, la que se murió de amor' (the Guatemalan girl who died of love). Following her death, Martí returned to Cuba. There, he resigned signing the Pact of Zanjón which ended the Cuban Ten Years' War, but had no effect on Cuba's status as a colony. He met Afro-Cuban revolutionary Juan Gualberto Gómez, who would be his lifelong partner in the independence struggle and a stalwart defender of his legacy during this same journey. He married Carmen Zayas Bazán on Havana's Calle Tulipán Street at this time. In October, his application to practice law in Cuba was refused, and thereafter he immersed himself in radical efforts, such as for the Comité Revolucionario Cubano de Nueva York (Cuban Revolutionary Committee of New York). On November 22, 1878 his son José Francisco, known fondly as "Pepito", was born.
The United States, Venezuela 1880–1890
In 1881, after a brief stay in New York, Martí travelled to Venezuela and founded the Revista Venezolana, or Venezuelan Review. The journal incurred the wrath of Venezuela's dictator, Antonio Guzmán Blanco, and Martí was forced to return to New York. There, Martí joined General Calixto García's Cuban revolutionary committee, composed of Cuban exiles advocating independence. Here Martí openly supported Cuba's struggle for liberation, and worked as a journalist for La Nación of Buenos Aires and for several Central American journals, especially La Opinion Liberal in Mexico City. The article "El ajusticiamiento de Guiteau," an account of President Garfield's murderer's trial, was published in La Opinion Liberal in 1881, and later selected for inclusion in The Library of America's anthology of American True Crime writing. In addition, Martí wrote poems and translated novels to Spanish. He worked for Appleton and Company and, "on his own, translated and published Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona. His repertory of original work included plays, a novel, poetry, a children's magazine, La Edad de Oro, and a newspaper, Patria, which became the official organ of the Cuban Revolutionary party". He also served as a consul for Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay. Throughout this work, he preached the "freedom of Cuba with an enthusiasm that swelled the ranks of those eager to strive with him for it".
Tension existed within the Cuban revolutionary committee between Martí and his military compatriots. Martí feared a military dictatorship would be established in Cuba upon independence, and suspected Dominican-born General Máximo Gómez of having these intentions. Martí knew that the independence of Cuba needed time and careful planning. Ultimately, Martí refused to cooperate with Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo Grajales, two Cuban military leaders from the Ten Years' War, when they wanted to invade immediately in 1884. Martí knew that it was too early to attempt to win back Cuba, and later events proved him right.
The United States, Central America and the West Indies 1891–1894
On January 1, 1891, Martí's essay "Nuestra America" was published in New York's Revista Ilustrada, and on the 30th of that month in Mexico's El Partido Liberal. He actively participated in the Conferencia Monetaria Internacional (The International Monetary Conference) in New York during that time as well. On June 30 his wife and son arrived in New York. After a short time, in which Carmen Zayas Bazán realized that Martí's dedication to Cuban independence surpassed that of supporting his family, she returned to Havana with her son on 27 August. Martí would never see them again. The fact that his wife never shared the convictions central to his life was an enormous personal tragedy for Martí. He turned for solace to Carmen Miyares de Mantilla, a Venezuelan who ran a boarding house in New York, and he is presumed to be the father of her daughter María Mantilla, who was in turn the mother of the actor Cesar Romero, who proudly claimed to be Martí's grandson. In September Martí became sick again. He intervened in the commemorative acts of The Independents, causing the Spanish consul in New York to complain to the Argentine and Uruguayan governments. Consequently, Martí resigned from the Argentinean, Paraguayan, and Uruguayan consulates. In October he published his book Versos Sencillos.
On the 26 of November, he was invited by the Club Ignacio Agramonte, an organization founded by Cuban immigrants in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida, to a celebration to collect funding for the cause of Cuban independence. There he gave a lecture known as "Con Todos, y para el Bien de Todos", which was reprinted in Spanish language newspapers and periodicals across the United States. The following night, another lecture, " Los Pinos Nuevos", was given by Martí in another Tampa gathering in honor of the medical students killed in Cuba in 1871. In November artist Herman Norman painted a portrait of José Martí.
On January 5, 1892, Martí participated in a reunion of the emigration representatives, in Cayo Hueso, the Cuban community of Key West where the Bases del Partido Revolucionario (Basis of the Cuban Revolutionary Party) was passed. He began the process of organizing the newly formed party. To raise support and collect funding for the independence movement, he visited tobacco factories, where he gave speeches to the workers and united them in the cause. In March 1892 the first edition of the Patria newspaper, related to the Cuban Revolutionary Party, was published, funded and directed by Martí. On April 8, he was chosen delegate of the Cuban Revolutionary Party by the Cayo Hueso Club in Tampa and New York. From July to September 1892 he traveled through Florida, Washington, Philadelphia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica on an organization mission among the exiled Cubans. On this mission, Martí made numerous speeches and visited various tobacco factories. On December 16 he was poisoned in Tampa.
In 1893, Marti traveled through the United States, Central America and the West Indies, visiting different Cuban clubs. His visits were received with a growing enthusiasm and raised badly needed funds for the revolutionary cause. On May 24 he met Rubén Darío, the Nicaraguan poet in a theatre act in Hardman Hall, New Mexico. On June 3 he had an interview with Máximo Gómez in Montecristi, Dominican Republic, where they planned the uprising. In July he met with General Antonio Maceo Grajales in San Jose, Costa Rica.
In 1894 he continued traveling for propagation and organizing the revolutionary movement. On January 27 he published " A Cuba!" in the newspaper Patria where he denounced collusion between the Spanish and American interests. In July he visited the president of the Mexican Republic, Porfirio Díaz, and travelled to Veracruz. In August he prepared and arranged the armed expedition that would begin the Cuban revolution.