Cuba Shall Be Free


This chromolithograph is an allegorical composition. It shows a Cuban soldier holding the national flag on the left, the winged figure of Victory at the right, a coat of arms at lower center with cannonballs and military band instruments, and ships in the background. The title reads Cuba Sera Libre (Cuba shall be free), with the dates October 31 to November 4, 1873 indicated on the banner at the bottom. The title and the dates refer to the Virginius Incident, in which the Virginius, a blockade runner previously employed in the U.S. Civil War, was purchased by an American intermediary and used to deliver contraband to Cuban insurgents fighting against Spanish rule. The ship was captured off the coast of Jamaica by the Spanish navy on October 31, 1873, and 53 of the crew and passengers, including Americans, Britons, and Cubans, were executed as pirates on November 4, 7, and 8. The incident led to a severe deterioration in relations between the United States and Spain that in many ways presaged the Spanish-American War of 1898. The print is from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection at the Brown University Library.

Last updated: January 8, 2018