Born in Bayamo villa into a family of landowners, Cespedes graduated from law at the University of Havana in 1838 and continued his studies in Spain, where he participated in several revolutionary activities.
After acquiring a vast general and political culture through trips to European countries, Cespedes returned to Cuba in 1844 and opened a law firm, which achieved great renown and prompted that he occupied public office charges.
Between 1852 and 1855, Cespedes was imprisoned and deported several times for his pro-independence ideas. Convinced that militarily opposing the metropolis was the only way to achieve national independence, he began to conspire with other patriots, such as Salvador Cisneros Betancourt and Bartolome Maso, to start a war of independence against Spain.
On Oct. 10, 1868, Cespedes proclaimed the start of the independence war in his wit Demajagua and freed his slaves, whom he invited to join the struggle. A day later, Cespedes and about twenty patriots tried to free Yara town.
Thread ����#OnThisDay (17 Apr, 1961) The US-backed invasion of the Bay of Pigs took place. It was a failed military invasion of Cuba to overthrow the government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Despite every desperate move of the US Cuba is still standing strong! #VivaLaCuba ���� pic.twitter.com/tXiVlfLJ7X
The battle was a military defeat for the Cuban patriots. However, thanks to it, more Cubans knew about the start of the war and joined the independence army. In April 1869, Cespedes was elected President of the Republic in Arms.
In this position, Cespedes appointed Domingo Goicuria as chief of operations of Pinar del Rio province in June 1869 to extend the war to Western Cuba. He also favored destroying the Spanish empire’s sources of wealth on the Island to prevent it from fighting the Cuban troops.
In addition, he carried out extensive diplomatic activity to seek Latin American governments’ recognition of the independence war. Some Cuban patriots, however, forcibly opposed the initiatives of Cespedes, whom they accused of assuming an anti-democratic attitude.
In 1873, Cespedes was replaced as President and confined to the San Lorenzo estate, where he died in an ambush by Spanish forces.
On Oct. 10, 2017, the remains of Cespedes were buried and relocated in the central patrimonial area of the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, where the ashes of Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro were later placed.
"In Cuba, there has only been one revolution: the one that Cespedes began in October 1868 and that our people are carrying forward at this time," Fidel said on the centenary of the beginning of the struggles for independence.
#OnThisDay | On December 22, 1961, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz proclaimed Cuba as the first free territory in Latin America, thus putting an end to one of the great problems of Cuban society. pic.twitter.com/Vk7GPoS5v7