Spain in the 19th Century Part IV

By | January 25, 2022

In 1878 the revolt that broke out on the island of Cuba was also quelled, using force and at the same time granting the settlers the right to send their deputies to the Cortes. Finally, the reactionary approach that prevailed in the early days, which had led to the abolition of many of the reforms implemented during the revolutionary period, was partially rectified when the “fusionist” party headed by Práxedes H. Sagasta and for the republican opposition led by Emilio Castelar. But soon, especially after the death of the sovereign (November 1885), party struggles took over again, facilitated by the weak regency, in the name of Alfonso XIII born posthumously, of his mother Maria Cristina of Habsburg, who had married Alfonso XII for to unite the two most Catholic and most reactionary courts in Europe with a new family pact. The government, dominated by parliamentary concerns and court intrigues, alternated in the hands of the conservatives led by Cánovas del Castillo and the liberals represented by Sagasta: all, with the exception of Antonio Maura and a fraction of the conservatives, who believed that a reform was possible. of political mores with government action (the so-called “top-down revolution”), made skeptical by the previous chaotic events on the possibility of educating the country and therefore unwilling even to attempt the work. The Island of Cuba again rose up; the revolt spread to the Philippines, eager like Cuba to free itself from the Spanish misrule and for some time supported in their efforts by the United States of America; and the use of massive forces and the granting of autonomy to Cuba were of no avail. Moreover, Spain naively allowed itself to be drawn into a war with the United States. A few days after the breakdown of hostilities, his fleets were destroyed in Cative, in Manila Bay (1 May 1898) and in Santiago de Cuba (3 July 1898); Santiago capitulated on July 14, 1898; to obtain peace, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines had to be surrendered, obtaining in return only eighty million dollars (10 December 1898). It was the end of Spain’s colonial empire, which the following year also sold the islands of Caroline, Marianne and Palaos to Germany (February 1899), its last possessions in the Pacific. The finances of the state, already ruined, had the coup de grace; the public spirit became depressed; the specter of failure loomed fearfully on the horizon.

Alfonso XIII set about the reconstruction work and took over the government in 1902. His task seemed to have been facilitated by the sympathetic popularity that he was able to conquer with the courage shown in the various attempts on his life: that of 1906 precisely on the day of his wedding. And the national reaction that followed the pessimism of 1898 and began to restore the country’s confidence in its own strength seemed good symptoms of rebirth; and at least a relative economic increase, caused by the investment in the homeland of the capitals already employed in the colonies. Thus a complex workers’ legislation was created, which seemed to give Spain a primacy in the matter; new colonial outlets and political and military satisfactions were sought in Morocco, since in that region a large area of ​​influence, transformed into expansion, it was ensured by the Algeciras Conference (April 7, 1906) and the Paris Convention of November 27, 1912; ties with the ancient American colonies became more numerous, “Hispano-Americanism” aiming “at obtaining the closest solidarity in all fields in which this is possible (and leaving aside the political strictly sensu in vain hindered with occasional acts of force and rather aroused by them, and finding easy ground for diffusion in cities, such as Barcelona, ​​where the working class was more numerous and where the immediate consequences of the commercial and industrial crisis determined by the sad results were felt more of the war of 1898, in a short space of years the agitations of extremist elements acquired imposing proportions. At the end of 1913 Catalanism obtained its first victory, and in April 1914 with the creation of its Mancomunidad Catalonia achieved considerable autonomy. The country, relapsing into its skepticism, abandoned the life of the state in the hands of politicians, and refrained from supporting Moroccan enterprises, when it did not oppose them. Finally, once the unity of the old parties was broken, and the formation of parliamentary majorities became very difficult, the government lost all stability. By now the liberal regime was in full dissolution; and to hasten its end came the Arruit disaster in Morocco (1921), which exposed deep political corruption. A salutary national reaction then led to the government General Miguel Primo de Rivera (13 September 1923), who, having suspended the constitution of 1876, put an end to parliamentarism, removed the ancient parties from the public scene, strove to give effective unity to the Spain, to heal its life, to restore her confidence in her own energies. But when, after the first enthusiasm passed, even conservative monarchists returned to previous ideologies and the dictatorship of De Rivera, still dominated by prejudices, proved unable to fully dominate the socialist-republican and Catalan reactions, this attempt also failed (January 1930). In the chaos that ensued, the monarchy ended up being overwhelmed; and in Spain the republic was established for the second time (April 1931). The events of recent years have shown that not even the new regime marked the beginning of an era of peace and fruitful work for the nation: the tumultuous reform work it attempted, destroying the secular foundations of the country’s life in homage to ideologies imposed by a small minority, it ended up bringing the extreme parties to the government. However, the very serious threat has been able to destroy the old skepticism and to revive the healthy part of the country, which, in these days, through a terrifying civil war, following new political ideals, is fighting to give a secure future to the homeland.

The “nationals”, who rose up in July 1936, have in fact become masters of most of Spain, while the remainder is at the mercy of the communists and anarchists, without any longer being able to speak for it of the exercise of a responsible governmental power. ; and the national government, headed by General F. Franco, was recognized on November 18, 1936, by Italy and Germany.

Spain in the 19th Century 4