A very short voyage to Cuba

painting of steamship on harbor in gold framePainting by Xanthus Smith of a steamer leaving Boston Harbor in 1871.

In late April 1875, an unusual ship left Boston Harbor. It was armed and headed for Cuba. But it didn’t get very far.

The boat carried a small expedition of revolutionaries on their way to start a war with Spain in what was then a Spanish colony. The group was led by a wealthy Cuban named Francisco Vicente Aguilera.

The party under his command included the fascinating Puerto Rican patriot and author, Eugenio MarÌa de Hostos (let’s just say you wish your life could be this eventful).

The party’s aging, chartered ship, the Charles Miller, never made it beyond Rhode Island. A storm, or possible the vessel’s age alone forced the voyage to abort. The passengers, by all accounts, survived.

More reading: Carmen Teresa Walen’s, The Puerto Rican Diaspora has more on movement between Boston and Puerto Rico, including visits to Cuba by the Emersons and some really interesting data drawn from census records.


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