Céspedes y Quesada, Carlos Manuel de (1871–1939)

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Céspedes y Quesada, Carlos Manuel de (1871–1939)

Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada (b. 1871; d. 1939), Cuban diplomat and writer. Céspedes y Quesada was the son of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the Elder, the Cuban revolutionary who was elected president in 1869 and who was killed in battle during the Ten Years' War. As a child he studied in the United States, France, and Germany, and in 1901 he received a degree in public and civil law from the University of Havana.

Like his father, Céspedes y Quesada played an active role in the movement for Cuban independence. He was among the leading participants of the 1895 Cuban Revolution. Prior to American involvement in the war, he served as governor of Oriente Province, representative of the Second Army Corps, secretary of the Assembly of La Yaya, colonel of the General Staff of the Inspector General, and secretary of the junta consultiva.

During the two American interventions (1899–1902, 1906–1909), Céspedes y Quesada withdrew entirely from political life. But upon the creation of the republic, he initiated a long and fruitful diplomatic and political career that lasted for more than thirty years. Among the most important posts he occupied were congressional representative from Oriente; president of the Commission on Tariffs and Codes; ambassador successively to Italy (1909–1912), to Argentina (1912–1913), and to the United States (1913–1922); secretary of state (1922–1926); and ambassador to France (1930–1933). While minister in Washington he negotiated the sale of the Cuban sugar crops of 1917 and 1918 to the United States and the Allies. Upon the overthrow of Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado y Morales in 1933, Céspedes y Quesada, by virtue of his brief tenure as secretary of state, became president of the republic, a position he held from 12 August until 5 September.

Besides being a member of numerous learned societies and the recipient of countless Cuban and foreign honors, he also was a renowned writer. Among the many works he authored, the most noteworthy are Cuba y el derecho de la fuerza, El problema de la haciendas comuneras, La oración fúnebre del Mayor General Bartolomé Masó, and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Loynaz.

See alsoCuba: The Republic (1898–1959) .


Louis A. Pérez, Cuba Under the Platt Amendment, 1902–1934 (1986), and Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution (1989).

Leslie Bethell, Cuba: A Short History (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Hernández, José M. Política y militarismo en la independencia de Cuba, 1868–1933. [S.l.]: Editorial Colibrí, 2000.

                                             Wade A. Kit