Front Door to Cuba

The José Martí Timeline - 1 | 2 | 3

jose marti

January 3. Máximo Gómez is formally appointed military chief of all the men under arms.

January 31. The Cuban Revolutionary Party, at a meeting in Hardman Hall, publicly rejects autonomist policy.

February 1. Martí offers Maceo a leading place in the new revolutionary movement. Maceo does not immediately respond.

February – March. Martí tours Florida for the Cuban Revolutionary Party.

April. An insurrection, not authorized by the Cuban Revolutionary Party, breaks out in Holguín under the leadership of Manuel and Ricardo Sartorius. The revolt is quickly defeated by Spaniards, causing the revolutionary movement to lose face.

Marti and son in New York, 1885

April. Martí visits Philadelphia for the Cuban Revolutionary Party.

April 10. Martí is re-elected delegate of the Cuban Revolutionary Party.

May. A serious economic crisis hits the U.S., causing thousands of shops and factories to shut down by the fall. The Tobacco industry of the South is severely affected, and many Cuban workers find it impossible to maintain their regular donations to the Revolutionary Party.

May 24. Martí delivers a speech at Hardman Hall, giving an account of events in Cuba. He introduces Rubén Darío.

May 26. Martí leaves for Santo Domingo.

June 3. Martí meets again with Máximo Gómez.

June. Marti and Maceo meet for the first time in San José, Costa Rica.

June 7. At the invitation of the Costa Rica Association of Students, Martí delivers a lecture at the School of Law of Costa Rica.

June 10. In San José, Martí supervises the establishment of a new revolutionary club.

July 8. En route to New York, Martí visits Panama.

September. Martí tours Florida again for the Cuban Revolutionary Party.

October 28. Martí speaks at a meeting of the Spanish-American Literary Society of New York in honor of Bolívar.

October 6. In PATRIA, Martí publishes his insights about Antonio Maceo.

December 12. In PATRIA, Martí pays tribute to Maceo’s mother:

“[Cuba’s] entire people, rich and poor, arrogant and humble, masters and servants, followed this woman of eighty-five years to the grave in a strange land. Died in Jamaica, November 27, Mariana Maceo.

All Cubans attended the internment, because there is no heart in Cuba that does not feel all that is owed to this beloved old woman, who would always caress your hand with such tenderness. Her mind was already going from having lived so much, but from time to time that energetic face lit up, as though a ray of sun were shining within… I remember that when we were talking about the war at a time when it seemed as if we were not able to carry on the struggle, she got up brusquely, and turned aside to think, alone. And she, who was so good, looked at us as if with anger. Many times, if I had forgotten my duty as a man, I would have retained it because of the example of that woman. Her husband and sons died fighting for Cuba, and we all know that from her breasts, Antonio and Jose Maceo imbibed the qualities which propelled them into the vanguard of the defenders of our liberties.”

December. Martí again visits Philadelphia, Tampa and Key West for the Cuban Revolutionary Party. In Tampa, he is publicly thanked for the “zeal, activity and good judgment,” with which he has carried out his duties as delegate.


By this time, less than 20% of sugar mill owners in Cuba are Cubans, and more than 95% of all Cuban sugar exports go to the U.S. This sets the stage for one of Cuba’s greatest tragedies: a single-crop economy with a single country to sell to.

January 2. Martí intervenes in a conflict in Key West involving Cuban tobacco workers and Spanish strike-breakers in the factory “La Rosa Española.”

April 8. General Máximo Gómez arrives in New York to speak with Martí.

April 10. Martí is re-elected delegate of the Cuban Revolutionary Party.

May 4. Martí and Francisco Gomez (son of Máximo Gómez) leave for a tour of Philadelphia, Key West, Tampa, Jacksonville and other cities.

May 30. Martí visits New Orleans.

June. Martí travels to Costa Rica, Panama and Jamaica.

July 22. Martí visits Mexico and is greeted by El Universal.

December 25. Martí organizes the Fernandina Plan, which calls for an expeditionary force to leave from Fernandina, Florida, pick up Maceo in Costa Rica before going to Cuba to begin the War for Independence.


January 14. As the war of independence is about to begin, the U.S. government detains three ships (the Amadis, the Lagonda, and the Baracoa – which are part of the Fernandina Plan) full of arms and supplies for the rebels. This is a terrible blow to the revolutionary effort, at the cost of nearly three years of work and $58,000, and the first of a number of serious setbacks.

January 29. The official order for the Cuban uprising is signed in New York.

January 31. Martí leaves for Santo Domingo.

February 24. With the “Cry of Baire” (Grito de Baire) revolution breaks out again.

March 24. Martí writes a letter to Federico Henríquez y Carvajal from Montecristi, Santo Domingo, which is considered to be his political will and testament.

March 25. In Santo Domingo, Martí and Gómez sign the Manifesto of Montecristi, which outlines the policy of Cuba’s war of independence.

March 25. Writes last letter to his mother.

March 30. Antonio and José Maceo land in eastern Cuba (from Santo Domingo). The ship is destroyed during the landing on the beach near Baracoa. The rebels are greeted with joy by the farmers cry “Maceo is here! Viva Cuba Libre!”

April 1. Martí writes a letter to Gonzalo de Quesada, considered to be his literary will and testament. From Montecristi, he leaves on a schooner for Cuba.

April 2. Martí arrives in Inagua.

April 5. With help from the Haitian consul, Martí obtains passage on the German fruit ship, Nordstrand, and heads for Cape Haitian.

April 9. Martí leaves Cape Haitian.

April 11. At dawn, Martí arrives in Inagua. At 2 p.m., he sets sail for Cuba. At about 8 p.m. the ship stops three miles off the Cuban coast. Martí boards a small boat with five companions and at about 11 p.m. lands on Playitas. Máximo Gómez also lands in eastern Cuba from Costa Rica.

April 16. Proclaimed Major General before the Liberating Army, Martí marches through the mountains of Baracoa in search of Antonio Maceo.

Photo of J. Marti

May 2. The New York Herald publishes an article by Martí in which he states; “Cuba wishes to be free in order that here Man may fully realize his destiny, that everyone may work here, and that her hidden riches may be sold in the natural markets of America… The Cubans ask no more of the world than the recognition of and respect for their sacrifices.”

May 4. In La Mejorana, Martí, Gómez and Maceo meet to decide on the war strategy. Martí is elected as supreme leader of the revolution abroad and in nonmilitary matters. The issue of civil versus military control of the war remains unsettled; Maceo points out that dissension, petty rivalries and incompetence of the civil government during the Ten Year War had contributed to the ultimate collapse of the rebellion. He also makes it clear that he will not accept any position in the government.

May 18. In his last letter, José Martí writes that it is his duty “to prevent, by the independence of Cuba, the United States from spreading over the West Indies and falling, with that added weight, upon other lands of our America. All I have done up to now, and shall do hereafter, is to that end… I have lived inside the monster and know its insides.”

May 18. Martí, standing between Generals Gómez and Maceo, speaks to thousands of Cuban patriots in the Maceo encampment near Jagua.

May 19. José Martí is killed in his first appearance on the battlefield at Dos Ríos in eastern Cuba. He is 42 years old. The rebels try to recover his body, but are unable to do so.

May 27. Spanish soldiers bury Martí’s body in Santiago de Cuba.

José Martí Timeline - 1 | 2 | 3 |

José Martí Portal | Martí/apostle | Books | Photos

Letters and Articles by José Martí
Our America | Montecristi Manifesto (full text)| Last letter to his mother | Incomplete letter to his friend Manuel Mercado | On Antonio Maceo | Letter to Maximo Gomez, 1884 (in which he resigns from the revolutionary movement) | My Race (from Patria)

Antonio Maceo | War for Independence