Author Fahy, Joseph Augustine
Title The Antislavery Thought of Jose Agustin Caballero, Juan Jose Diaz de Espada, and Félix Varela, in Cuba, 1791-1823
Year 1983
Place Published Ann Arbor
University Harvard University
Dissertation/Thesis Number 8326692
Degree Th.D.
Number of Pages 383 pages
Language English
Accession Number 303276412
Record Number 333
Keywords Philosophy, religion and theology
Religious history
Abstract The thesis attempts to analyze the origins and content of the antislavery writings of Jose Agustín Caballero, Bishop Juan Jose Díaz de Espada, and Felix Varela in Cuba from 1791 to 1823. The decisive ingredient in the ongoing dynamic process of profound metamorphosis of Cuba from colonial backwater to the world’s leading producer of sugar was the increased influx of Africans into the island who were destined to be employed in the harsh labor regime of plantation slavery. Caballero, Espada, and Varela were exceptional as churchmen in voicing antislavery and abolitionist sentiments during the period of free importation into Cuba of thousands of slaves. Padre Agustín’s position on slavery was that of a “gradualist.” In the 1790’s, however, Caballero’s enunciation of the brotherhood and equality of slave and white was extraordinary. Penetrating also was his early vision of slavery as containing elements inhibiting the colony’s full economic development. Juan Jose Díaz de Espada, bishop of Habana from 1802 to 1832, appears to maintain an antislavery position between Caballero’s gradualism and Varela’s revolutionary abolitionist spirit. Espada requests King Charles IV to suppress the slave trade. The obispo is more incisive than Padre Agustín in his criticism of slavery as inimical to the colony’s economic prosperity, as militating against the island’s great need for an increased population, and in portraying the various moral evils of the institution. As a deputy to the Cortes or Parliament in Madrid, Varela intended to present a Memoria containing the “revolutionary” position of complete abolition of slavery, with clear schedules for emancipation. Varela’s affirmation of the basic inalienable human rights of blacks, of their equality with whites, of slavery’s absolute incompatibility with the tenets of freedom and equality proclaimed in the Constitution of 1812, and of his defined timetables for complete abolition, dramatically contrasts with the subsequent abolitionist proposals in Cuba during the next six decades which were generally ambiguous, qualified and temporizing. Unfortunately, the Memoria of Cuba’s “first abolitionist” was never to accomplish its beneficent work, as the Constitution and the Cortes were summarily suppressed by Ferdinand VII in October 1823.
Notes Copyright – Copyright UMI – Dissertations Publishing 1983
Last updated – 2015-08-23
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