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Chapter 1

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Life of Miranda

by
William Spence Robertson

The University of North Carolina Press
1929

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Chapter 3

Vol. I
p11
Chapter II

Following the Spanish Flag

Sebastián Francisco de Miranda soon found a Spanish hostelry. Letters from his relatives introduced him to a Spaniard named José de Aniño. That hospitable merchant invited Miranda to his home. The inquisitive youth from South America beheld with interest the sights of a great seaport of Spain: its bustling harbor, its castellated forts, and antique palaces. Señor Aniño had been instructed by a correspondent in Caracas to advance funds to the Venezuelan. Miranda's memoranda contain an entry stating that after he reached Cadiz this merchant furnished him with two thousand pesos which were mainly used to purchase a new wardrobe.

With the spirit of a merchant Sebastián de Miranda had calculated that his son could be more advantageously fitted out in Spain than in Venezuela. Either the young creole was anxious to equip himself well for his contemplated visit to Madrid or else contact with Spanish culture had stimulated a taste for elegant attire. Various articles which he purchased in Cadiz indicate that he spent his father's money in lavish fashion. Among the expenditures for wearing apparel were the following items: four yards of blue cloth for a cloak, 288 pesos; gold braid, 215 pesos; a pair of silk stockings, 64 pesos; a silk handkerchief, 27 pesos; 2 black hats, 108 pesos; a silk umbrella, 88 pesos; 4 pair of shoes, 88 pesos; and a hair net, 10 pesos.1 Early in March, 1771, the young dandy, who had patronized many shopkeepers of Cadiz, left that city in a coach bound for Madrid.

While on his journey to that city the curious creole stopped at Jerez where he visited an old monastery of the Carthusian order. After viewing from his coach the stubble fields of Andalusia, he reached Córdoba. There he admired the chapel that Spanish vandals had erected amidst majestic columns  p12 of the mediaeval mosque.a "The high altar," he wrote in his diary, "is a magnificent work." From Córdoba the traveler ascended by way of Andújar to the Sierra. While traversing these snow-clad mountains his carriage broke down, and he was forced to take refuge in a hermitage. After the vehicle was repaired, he proceeded through bare, undulating vineyards to Valdepeñas where he did not fail to sample its famous wine. Past whirling windmills and through clouds of dust his coach rolled over the baked and rocky tableland of La Mancha. On the night of March 27 he secured lodgings in the Spanish capital.2

Miranda was still dependent on his father's bounty. After reaching Madrid he received from Aniño one hundred and fifteen pesos, the net proceeds from a consignment of Venezuelan cacao that had been sold on his account in Spain. From this sum the creole paid the expenses of his journey from Cadiz. He soon incurred other expenditures because of trips from Madrid to certain historic towns.3

Accompanied by a teacher of French, in August, 1771, Miranda made a trip to view the royal residence at San Ildefonso. In a memorandum he expressed his admiration for its "magnificent gardens, fountains, and statues, especially the fountain of Diana." The palace with its infinite number of statues, both ancient and modern, he described as "very magnificent." From San Ildefonso the tourist and his tutor went to the antique city of Segovia. There they visited the Gothic cathedral with its beautiful cloisters as well as the famous alcázar where an academy of artillery had been installed. The observant South American then journeyed to the Escorial, that fortress, church, and palace which he appropriately described as a most magnificent structure. Within its forbidding walls he noticed some sacred relics, beheld the immense store of royal treasure, and admired the canvasses of Raphael, Titian, and Michelangelo; he visited the library adorned by portraits  p13 of wise men, the royal apartments embellished by wonderful furnishings, and the hall of battles decorated by mural paintings depicting Spanish military exploits.4

Not only did Miranda gloat over Spanish castles and palaces but he devoted some time to serious study. Soon after his arrival at Madrid he secured a tutor in French. Under another teacher he took a course in mathematics. Among the scientific apparatus that he bought in the capital city he mentioned an atlas, a globe, and an armillary sphere.

At this juncture Miranda also began to collect books. In a long list of volumes purchased in Madrid were the following items: a history of Spain; treatises on mathematics and geography; the works of Pope, Young, and Vergil; a work in four volumes concerning English revolutions; two volumes dealing with Russian revolutions; an English grammar; an Italian grammar; Spanish-English, French-English, and French-Spanish dictionaries; and treatises concerning the military art. At some time during his sojourn in the Iberian Peninsula the creole evidently secured literary advice from an Englishman. A schedule of prospective purchases prepared for Miranda includes Hume's essays, Robertson's Charles V, the works of Lord Bolingbroke, and a treatise of John Locke on government. Among the French books that he had decided to purchase was Abbé Raynal's history of the Indies. In another undated list is named the polemical work by Las Casas that denounced the enslavement of the American aborigines. As his purchases included cedar cases for his books and globes, it is evident that Miranda had begun to treat his belongings with loving care.5

After spending more than a year in this pleasant fashion, Sebastián Francisco de Miranda took steps to carry out the purpose of his voyage. At Madrid on November 9, 1772, a scribe named Manuel Toledo, who affirmed that he was a secretary  p14 of the King, affixed his signature to a paper which attested that there had appeared before him one Francisco Sebastián de Miranda, a resident of Madrid who was a native of Caracas. This document stated that the Venezuelan was a "legitimate son of the lawful marriage" of Captain Sebastián de Miranda and Francisca Antonia Rodríguez Espinosa and "that said Francisco Sebastián had been a student at the Royal Seminary of the city of Caracas." This instructive certificate, which was evidently prepared in support of Miranda's application for a commission in the Spanish army, proves that in November, 1772, perhaps because his brother, Francisco Antonio, had died, the Venezuelan had formally reversed the order of his Christian names.6

What appears even more strange is that in no available document of a later date emanating from him did he use the baptismal name of his father, even as a secondary appellation. Henceforth Francisco Sebastián de Miranda omitted Sebastián from his signature: — he invariably styled himself Francisco de Miranda. An odd interchange of Christian names thus helps to explain why the certificate of baptism of his brother Francisco Antonio Gabriel was long considered to be the baptismal certificate of the precursor of Spanish-American independence. This epoch in his career was thus described in a memorial that the elder brother later sent to Charles III:

"I proceeded to Europe with the design of serving Your Majesty in the army. For this purpose I fixed my residence in Madrid and applied myself with much ardor to the study of mathematics, especially to those branches that most closely pertained to the military art, and to the living languages of Europe. I brought from foreign countries the teachers and books that were best suited for my purpose. In this educative process I spent a considerable portion of my patrimony, but I procured sufficient knowledge to warrant whatever expense it caused me. I am sure that this instruction formed the basis  p15 of a sound training and lasting interest."7

The desire of his son to secure a commission in the Spanish army induced Sebastián de Miranda to request a court chronicler named Ramón Zazo y Ortega to prepare from documents in the royal archives a certificate concerning the lineage and services of the Mirandas. The result was an informe de hidalguía. This document was an illuminated tract that recounted the achievements of Sebastián's family, authoritatively described its historic coat of arms, and even mentioned the helmets of burnished steel that were occasionally worn by its valiant sons.8 Thus reënforced, the effort of Francisco de Miranda was not fruitless. On December 7, 1772, he entered the Spanish service as captain in a battalion of the infantry regiment of the Princess.9 This commission was undoubtedly purchased by his father's silver. Thirteen years later Miranda stated that the price of his captaincy was eight thousand pesos.

When he was assigned to a company of the Princess Regiment its members were distributed among those presidios of northern Africa that were on the fringe of the far‑flung empire of Charles III. Either service in frontier garrisons did not please Captain Miranda or else he was anxious for advancement. When he became aware that some officers might be selected from his regiment for service in the Spanish Indies, at Melilla, on June 15, 1774, Miranda addressed a petition to Count O'Reilly, inspector general of the Spanish army, to state that, as he had promoted his education in military science, geometry, geography, English, French, Italian, and Latin, he wished to be considered as a candidate for a post which would enable him to display his zeal and energy.10

Visions of a transfer to Spanish America, however, were soon dispelled by threatening danger. On October 23, 1774, in response to an ominous warning that the Algerians and  p16 Moroccans would not suffer any Christian establishments on the southern coast of the Mediterranean between Orán and Ceuta, the King of Spain declared war on the African Moslems. The prime object of the ensuing Moslem campaign was to drive the Spaniards from their fortified towns in northern Africa. During a heroic defense of the fortress of Melilla against a siege directed by the Moroccan Emperor that lasted from December 9, 1774, to March 16, 1775, Captain Miranda served as a volunteer.11 According to his own story, which at this point there seems no good reason to doubt, on January 20, 1775, Miranda presented to General Juan Sharlock, the commander of Melilla, a daring plan for a sally from its fortress.12 After the African war had terminated in the discomfiture of the Moors, the young officer felt that he was entitled to special recognition. On June 20, 1775, he addressed a memorial to Charles III urging that because of his services in the Moroccan campaign he should be rewarded with the insignia of a military order. He even suggested that he should be decorated with the red Cross of the Order of Santiago.13

Among his papers there is also found a petition that on June 20, 1775, he addressed to General Sharlock. On behalf of those soldiers who had participated in the defense of Melilla he requested that a corps should be selected from their number to join a projected Algerian expedition. So far as Miranda is concerned, this request was conceded; for he wrote a memoir describing the expedition under Count O'Reilly that early in July, 1775, made a misguided attack on Algiers. He asserted that during the ensuing mêlée, when many Spanish soldiers were slaughtered on Algerian sands, his musket was shattered by a Moorish ball, and that, although three bullets struck him on the legs, yet he escaped miraculously without injury.14 But the ambitious captain was disgusted with the treatment accorded him by Spanish officials. In a petition to  p17 Charles III he later declared that "the prizes with which the piety of Your Majesty destined to reward the merit and valor of the garrison of Melilla were bestowed upon various persons who in no manner deserved them, — thus not only depriving worthy warriors of their meed but giving them a rebuff!"15

In the end of 1775 he made a journey to the much-coveted Gibraltar, which Spain had left in the hands of England by the Treaty of Utrecht. The object of this trip he later explained as being to view the fortress, the garrison, and the Hanoverian mercenaries who came to relieve a contingent of English soldiers.16 During his visit Captain Miranda became well known to officers of the Gibraltar garrison. On January 3, 1776, Commander Boyd even invited him to attend a ball at the Governor's House.17 Allusions which Miranda later made to this charming glimpse of English culture lead us to imagine that it left a vivid and enduring impression upon his mind.

This experience did not render him more contented with his post. He subsequently dreamed of being transferred to the Spanish naval service, of securing a commission in the Spanish militia, and of making a visit to Prussia to examine her military system. In an autobiographical sketch Miranda later expressed the opinion that the Inspector General refused to allow him to visit Prussia because he had dared privately to express disapproval of that officer's management of the Algerian expedition.

In the autumn of 1776, when the second battalion of his regiment was selected to join the expedition of Pedro de Cevallos to South America, Captain Miranda again vainly aspired to change the scene of his activities. Even when he cast aside his beloved books and plunged into the dissipations that Cadiz afforded, he apparently did not escape annoyance.18 It seems not without significance that in the official report  p18 of his regiment prepared in December, 1776, the statement was made that Miranda possessed proved valor, great application, and undoubted capacity, but that he ought to display more prudence.

In the spring of 1777 Captain Miranda became acquainted with an Englishman named John Turnbull who was visiting Cadiz with some friends. On June 7 Turnbull sent a letter from Gibraltar to Miranda in which he thanked the captain for his friendly attentions and promised to send him some books and sheet music. "We are all exceedingly sensible of your Civilities and Politeness," said the Englishman, "and it would make me, in particular, very happy, to have the opportunity of rendering you any Services, that were useful or agreeable."19 Though he knew it not, through a gift for making friends, Miranda had won the attachment of an influential business man who became deeply interested in his career.

From 1777 to 1780 Miranda's fortunes fluctuated. In July, 1777, he was imprisoned in a castle at Cadiz because of disobedience. Still, in a report of his company drawn up in the following November he was highly praised. Instead of criticizing him for lack of prudence, the inspector declared, "this captain performs his duties well."20 Yet during the next year, he was placed under arrest and accused of insubordination. Subsequently, however, he was exonerated of this charge.21 In the autumn of 1778, on the occasion of the return of the Portuguese Queen Dowager from Madrid to Lisbon, a company of fusileers belonging to the Princess Regiment, which was directed to act as her escort during a sojourn at Jaraicejo, was placed under the command of Miranda, who was instructed to see that she was accorded the same honors as the Queen of Spain. In November, 1778, after visiting a famous sanctuary at Guadalupe, by way of Córdoba, Andújar, Valdepeñas, and Toledo, Captain Miranda led his men to Madrid.22

 p19  Soon afterwards an estimable officer named Juan Manuel de Cagigal became colonel of the Princess Regiment. Cagigal, who had entered the royal service about 1750 as cadet in an infantry regiment, had fought in a campaign in Portugal, commanded a regiment in Algiers, and served as a brigadier in South America. Between the genial colonel and the aspiring captain an intimate friendship sprang up which was not without influence upon Miranda's fortunes.

[image ALT: An engraving of a nattily dressed man in an 18c military uniform coat with lace and ruffles, three-quarters length, seen in right profile. He wears a period wig with the tied pigtail, and stands with his right hand on his hip, his left hand on a table partly seen. The portrait is framed in a medallion surmounted by an elaborate wreath of laurel leaves with a crown of oak leaves tied to it by a ribbon: inside the crown, a brief inscription. Under the medallion, a composition of tasseled flags, laurel and palm fronds, below which there is a further inscription, of two lines. He is Juan Manuel de Cagigal, an 18c‑19c Venezuelan army officer; the inscriptions are transcribed in my caption to this image.]

Juan Manuel de Cagigal. Portrait in the Miranda Manuscripts. With an inscription in Miranda's handwriting. In the Academia Nacional de la Historia, Caracas.

[Thayer's Note] The upper inscription reads:

Piratarum debellator

The lower inscription reads:

Sacrifiant sa vie à son Pais à l'État

Cagigal est l'amour du Peuple et du Soldat.

For the time being, however, this attachment was transient, for Cagigal was soon succeeded by Colonel Juan Roca. In sharp contrast with his predecessor, this officer became so dissatisfied with Miranda's conduct that he placed him under arrest. In December, 1779, Colonel Roca drew up a formal complaint against the Venezuelan. Roca's arraignment contained the following charges: that Miranda had purchased provisions in a manner contrary to military regulations; that he had neglected to give a soldier funds which were due him; that clothing belonging to Miranda's men had been stolen; that members of his company had been unjustifiably imprisoned; that he had palliated the conduct of a merchant who had mistreated his soldiers; that he had failed to pay promptly the just bill of a Madrid merchant; that he had taken no steps to apprehend a thief who he alleged had filched money from the company's treasury; and that, during an acrimonious controversy, he had drawn his sword against a soldier and inflicted serious wounds.23

Miranda ascribed these grave accusations to Roca's jealous disposition. As a result of the unedifying controversy the Spanish Government soon directed that the accused captain should exchange his post for an appointment of the same rank in a battalion of the Princess Regiment that was stationed at Cadiz. On March 20, 1780, Miranda's accounts were approved by ranking officers; and he relinquished the regimental properties that had been intrusted to him. Shortly afterwards  p20 he left the capital for the seacoast.24 For the time being, at least, he had triumphed over his harsh critics.

Meantime his artistic and literary interests had developed. A list dated March 6, 1780, shows how he had increased his library. Among his acquisitions were music books and sheet music, which included music for the flute. A Greek grammar as well as English, French, German, and Latin dictionaries were now included in his collection, besides certain works of Corneille, Molière, Pope, Raynal, Sallust, and Vergil. Significant additions that indicated a trend toward the study of politics were various books about the Encyclopédie, Puffendorf's treatise on natural law, the works of Helvetius and Montesquieu, and a French translation of De jure belli et pacis by Grotius. By items designated as Oeuvres de R * * *au and Oeuvres de V * * * Miranda presumably sought to disguise his purchase of French philosophic writings that were prohibited from circulating in the Spanish dominions.25 Still, he was denounced because he owned prohibited books and indecent pictures. It is possible that, as he later alleged, familiars of the Holy Office actually cast some of his beloved tomes into the flames.26

The Treaty of Alliance that France had signed with the United States in February, 1778, eventually afforded Miranda an opportunity to return to the New World. As Spain was bound to France by the Bourbon Family Compact of 1761, which provided that whatever nation attacked either contracting party also attacked the other and that when one party was at war either offensively or defensively it could call upon the other for military and naval aid, France undertook to obtain assistance from Spain in her war with England. In April, 1779, Montmorin, the French ambassador at Madrid, negotiated a secret treaty with Count Floridablanca, the  p21 Spanish secretary of state, that drew the ally of France into the American Revolution. To the intense horror of some publicists of Spain her soldiers consequently aided the revolutionists of the Thirteen Colonies.

Upon his arrival at Cadiz from Madrid, said Miranda, the Inspector General of the Spanish army privately accused him of attempting "to subvert the laws of the Kingdom" by his importunities, and intimated that, if he desired, he might proceeded to the Indies in a fleet which was anchored in the harbor. Convinced that he would never obtain satisfaction in his controversy with Colonel Roca, the dissatisfied officer resolved "to make a virtue of necessity." Hence he joined the expedition as "a supernumerary of the Aragon regiment."27

Francisco de Miranda sailed from Cadiz for America in April, 1780, in the forces commanded by Marshal Victoriano de Navia. The Spanish fleet, composed of ships of the line and transports conveying some ten thousand troops, evaded the English frigates under Admiral Rodney that sought to intercept them. Under the protection of a squadron commanded by De Guichen, who had succeeded D'Estaing as admiral of the French fleet in American waters, the Spanish forces reached Martinique. On June 29, 1780, Miranda was made a captain in the regiment of Aragon.28 His delight must have increased when he was appointed aide to his former chief, Cagigal, who was attached to the expedition in the capacity of general.

Detachments of Navia's soldiers were used to reënforce Spanish garrisons in Cuba and Puerto Rico. The Spaniards and their French allies soon made preparations for an attack upon certain English colonies. Early in April, 1781, in the company of General Cagigal, who was acting as governor of Cuba, Miranda left Habana with an expedition that was designed to reënforce Bernardo de Gálvez, governor of Louisiana, who, after capturing English posts at Baton Rouge, Natchez, and Mobile, had boldly invested Pensacola, Florida.  p22 The soldiers who beleaguered Pensacola were apparently composed of seven thousand Spaniards, seven hundred Frenchmen, and some American patriots. On May 8 the garrison, which was commanded by General Campbell, hoisted the white flag, and articles of capitulation were signed. On May 10 the allies occupied the post.b

Whether or not he commanded the American volunteers in this operation, as has been alleged, Miranda entered the city with the victors.29 On May 12 he bought some volumes of English literature from a Pensacola bookseller. Soon afterwards he purchased for use as slaves three Negroes and one Negro boy.30 Further, on June 21, 1781, Captain William Johnstone of the Royal Artillery, who was a prisoner at Habana, acknowledged that he had "given to Captain Miranda one Negro Man named Brown as a free gift in consideration of the Valuable and High Esteem" he had for that gentleman.31 Obviously Miranda was interested in the slave trade.

As a reward for meritorious conduct in the Pensacola campaign, on July 20, 1781, Governor Cagigal brevetted him lieutenant colonel. Pottery because of the favor that the creole had found in Cagigal's eyes, certain Spanish officials now viewed him with jealousy. The first incident that gave this spirit a chance to manifest itself was a visit to Cuba by General Campbell on his voyage from Pensacola to New York. Soon afterwards a complaint was lodged with the Spanish Government that Colonel Miranda, "a passionate enthusiast of the English," had guiltily connived at the inspection of the defenses of Habana by that general.32 When Miranda became aware of this accusation he secured convincing evidence that he was actually absent from that city when Campbell paid his visit, and that a private named Montesinos had escorted the English general to the fortifications.33 On the other side, it  p23 was later asserted that Miranda used his influence in Cuba to secure for the French admiral, Count de Grasse, the funds that aided him to take his fleet to Chesapeake Bay, — a maneuver which enabled that commander to play an important part in the operations that culminated in the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown.34

On August 9, 1781, Governor Cagigal intrusted Colonel Miranda with a mission to Jamaica. The colonel was authorized to arrange for a cartel for the exchange of prisoners between the English and the Spanish. The last clause of the governor's secret instructions to his aide-de‑camp ran as follows: "From your zeal and activity I anticipate all the advantages that would naturally be expected from this commission, as well as from those other matters which I intrust to your penetration and discretion."35 It would thus seem that the aide was intrusted with a task which was too delicate to permit elucidation even in his secret instructions. About two months later José de Gálvez, minister of the Indies, sent a letter to Cagigal stating that although he approved of the proposed exchange of prisoners yet he desired him immediately to appoint another commissioner to take Miranda's place.36

Meantime that officer had reached Kingston. On September 28 Governor Dalling asked him to dinner but Miranda declined because of other engagements. This response aroused the ire of Dalling who felt that his invitation should receive first consideration and who consequently directed him to change his abode to that part of the city which was called Spanish Town until he could be dispatched to Cuba.37 Despite this incident the Spanish commissioner soon gained the governor's favor. In response to Dalling's request, on November 6 Miranda sent him a detailed account of certain fleets which the Spaniards had equipped to attack Pensacola.38 Perhaps the clever commissioner sought thus to ingratiate himself with  p24 the English.

On November 18, 1781, a cartel was signed by Miranda as the agent for Governor Cagigal, and on the other hand, by Governor Dalling and Admiral Parker. This cartel arranged that Spanish soldiers and sailors who were held as prisoners of war by the English should be exchanged for Englishmen of equal rank who were detained by the Spaniards. A special stipulation provided that crews captured on English or Spanish vessels which had not been regularly commissioned by their respective governments should be treated as pirates.39 When Miranda sailed for Cuba he transported over one hundred Spaniards who had been held by the English as prisoners of war.40 He also took with him data that he had secretly gathered concerning the personnel of the militia and veteran soldiers at Jamaica.41 This information was doubtless intended to aid the Spaniards who were projecting an attack on that island.

Upon his arrival with two vessels at Batabanó, Cuba, Colonel Miranda wrote to Governor Cagigal concerning his mission. In his letter the colonel declared that he had brought "exact information of the enemies' ships at Jamaica and of the squadrons expected from Europe, statistics of the number of veteran soldiers and militia, topographical plans of the island which are approximately accurate and which may be perfected by the data that I bring with me, and three small swift vessels that will make excellent dispatch boats or corsairs. In addition, there are various other matters and profitable negotiations that I cannot trust to writing of which I shall inform Your Excellency when we meet." It is clear that Miranda had been spying upon an island that the Spaniards wished to conquer from England. He declared that he had been aided in the execution of his secret designs by an English  p25 shopkeeper named Philip Allwood. To reward this merchant, who had served as agent for one Eliphalet Fitch, the Spanish commissioner had undertaken to allow him covertly to transport to Habana among government packages a quantity of English linen.42

On March 11, 1782, Cagigal was informed by a royal order that he was relieved of his duties as governor of Cuba so that he might serve in the army of operations under the command of Bernardo de Gálvez.43 Hence he soon played a part in the attack of the combined French and Spanish forces upon the English garrison in the Bahama Islands. On May 6, 1782, a fleet from Habana commanded by Cagigal, with the aid of vessels manned by insurgents from South Carolina, attacked New Providence, the capital of the Bahamas. In this expedition, which was composed of some two thousand men, Colonel Miranda was enrolled as one of Cagigal's aides. To confront the besiegers the English commander, Colonel Maxwell, had a small, invalid force. After a brief siege General Cagigal summoned the garrison to surrender.44 To arrange the capitulation he sent Miranda to New Providence with the tender Surprise that belonged to an American warship.45

On May 8 Cagigal and Maxwell signed a capitulation by which the Bahamas were surrendered to Spain. Whereupon differences arose between Cagigal and Commodore Gillon of the South Carolina navy in regard to the treatment of vessels of war belonging to the American patriots. In reply to an unfavorable judgment of the American Commodore about Colonel Miranda, Cagigal declared that this merely strengthened his opinion of "the distinguished merit of that officer who, like myself, has the misfortune not to think as you do."46 The discomfited Gillon later alleged that because of Miranda's "misrepresentations" General Cagigal had declined to sign a contract providing that he should pay South Carolina sixty  p26 thousand pesos for the use of her frigates.47

Storm clouds had meantime been gathering around the heads of Cagigal and his favorite aide. Reports of the intendant of Habana had evidently convinced the Spanish Government that a check should be placed on Miranda's activity. As early as November, 1781, a royal order had been sent to Habana that the creole captain should be imprisoned.48 On March 18, 1782, instructions were framed directing a magistrate named Juan de Vrunuela to investigate the complaint that Miranda had been involved with Allwood in illicit trade. As Cagigal had apparently connived at the prohibited traffic, his official conduct was also to be scrutinized. The aide was censured because in the Kingston cartel, contrary to Spanish policy, he had agreed to the stipulation that the crews of certain captured vessels should be treated as pirates.49

Meantime Colonel Miranda had been sent to General Bernardo de Gálvez at Guarico with the glorious news of the capture of the Bahamas. That general now informed his government that Miranda was exerting an evil influence with the soldiers and was stimulating jealousy among the military commanders.50 By order of Gálvez, and in accordance with a royal decree, in August, 1782, the discredited colonel was summarily arrested and sent to Habana. As General Cagigal had returned to that city and was willing to vouch for his good conduct to the Spanish court, Miranda was soon set at liberty.51 Yet after the arrival of Luis de Unzaga, who had been appointed governor of Cuba, the efforts of Vrunuela to thrust the suspect into a dungeon seemed destined to succeed. At this crisis in Miranda's fortunes a rumor reached the West Indies that negotiations for peace were being carried on between England and her revolted colonies.

On December 23, 1783, Vrunuela announced the result of  p27 his investigations. Allwood was condemned to pay a fine and to be imprisoned for eight years in the castle of San Juan de Ulúa on the Mexican Gulf. Judgment upon the proceedings of Cagigal was reserved for the King. The goods and slaves transported from Jamaica to Cuba as well as the vessels that had conveyed them were confiscated to the crown. Miranda was deprived of his commission, sentenced to pay a heavy fine, and banished for ten years to the presidio of Orán.52 An illuminating interpretation of this complicated affair was later made by Cagigal before a Spanish judge named Valcarcel to the effect that under the authority granted by royal orders he had permitted contraband merchandise to be admitted into Cuba in order that he might gather information about the activities of the English.53 With regard to the peculiar rôle of his protégé, it seems not unfair to add that perhaps like other Spanish officials who served in the West Indies during the American Revolution, he aimed to reap private gain as well as public advantage from a participation in illicit trade.

In his sentence Vrunuela declared that Colonel Miranda was absent and rebellious. Although that colonel had arrived at Habana in September, 1782, and had been paid his salary, yet, before the judgment was pronounced, he had vanished.54 In a letter to Bernardo de Gálvez on May 30, 1783, Cagigal stated that with his permission the disgraced officer was in the country restoring his health and that he would answer for his person to the court of Madrid. Further, he maintained that Miranda would vindicate himself to Charles III.55

There can be no doubt that other persons than Cagigal were interested in Miranda's fate. In a confidential postscript of a letter from Governor Gálvez to Cagigal concerning Miranda's arrest that governor discreetly said that if he should uncover any papers of a prejudicial nature among the prisoner's  p28 effects he would burn them.56 A sympathetic American acquaintance named James Seagrove had furnished Miranda with newspapers containing information about the United States. On November 26, 1782, he transmitted reports that he had received from Philadelphia respecting a military camp formed by General Washington at White Plains.57 On the other side, it appears that through an American named Smith, the enterprising colonel had an account of the capitulation of the Bahamas published in a Baltimore gazette.58

His service in the New World was notable for other reasons than the development of an interest in the United States. He later asserted that while in the West Indies he received representations from aggrieved provinces of Spanish America.59 A document sedulously preserved among Miranda's papers shows that in 1781 and 1782 he was actually in communication with certain personages in Venezuela who were bitterly dissatisfied with the rule of their Spanish masters. From the city of Caracas, on February 24, 1782, Juan V. Bolívar, Martín de Tobar, and the Marqués de Mixares secretly addressed a missive to their "beloved fellow countryman," Francisco de Miranda. In that seditious letter, after stating that they had fully informed him in letters of July, 1781, about the lamentable situation of the province of Caracas which was groaning under the fiscal exactions of the Spanish intendant, they sent this significant message:

"From these circumstances you can see that we are confined to a dishonorable prison and treated worse than many negro slaves in whom their masters display more confidence. Thus there remains to us no other recourse than to cast off such an insupportable and infamous oppression (as you said in your letter to Don Francisco Arrieta). You are the eldest son from whom the Motherland expects this important service: — we are the younger brothers who on bended knees and with arms outstretched beseech this of you for the love of God!  p29 At the first signal we are ready to follow you as our leader to the end and to shed the last drop of our blood in great and honorable enterprises! * * * We shall not take a single step except by your advice; for in your prudence we have placed all our hopes. * * * We send you the information which we believe necessary in order that in our name and in that of our entire province you may make compacts or contracts with our full power and consent. Lastly, if you judge it convenient, you may treat with foreign powers in order to redeem us from this cursed captivity."60

An exposé of Miranda's sentiments and intentions at this critical moment is found in two letters that he addressed from Matanzas to General Cagigal on April 16, 1783. In the first letter he declared that while the vessel in which he and Cagigal expected to voyage to Europe was being overhauled, there had arrived an agent of the Cuban governor in search of his person. "A little later, and before I returned to my inn," he said, "I learned confidentially that because of dispatches which had just been received from Guarico or from Spain an order had actually been issued to arrest me and to deprive me of all means of communication. I therefore suspended my intention of returning to my abode and proceeded to a friend's house in order to thwart this attempt, to investigate the affair, to reflect upon it, and to reach the wisest decision." Then he intimated that that charges against himself and Cagigal were calumnious, framed so as to destroy his honor and to wound his chief. "It is not the offender whom they seek," continued Miranda, "but my person, — I who am more pure and innocent than Socrates. * * * Under this impression, and to check those harsh designs, I have resolved to withdraw myself from such domination, and to direct my journey toward Europe via the Anglo-American provinces of the North, whence I would write to His Majesty about the affair, beseeching him to deign to grant me a safe-conduct, so that without becoming  p30 a victim to my enemies, I may proceed to Spain to vindicate my honor to a military court of impartial men and to demand formal Rapidan for my injures."

In the second letter, which was marked "confidential," he stated that before reaching any decision about his future conduct he would await advice from Cagigal in Philadelphia. He then proceeded further to unfold his plan of travel:

Nevertheless, in order that you may proceed in everything with the knowledge which is indispensable in such affairs, so that they may end as the interested party desires, I shall say to you that my intention in proceeding to the United States is not only to escape from the outrage that is designed against me, but also to begin at the same time those travels to foreign countries which you know it was my intention to undertake on the completion of the war. Because of this design I have cultivated the principal languages of Europe, as well as the sciences most useful to politics and to militarism, — an art that constitutes the profession in which fate and my birth have placed me since my earliest years. * * * All this seed that with no little labor and expense have been sown in my mind during the thirty years of my life remain as yet without fruit because of the failure to cultivate the plants at the proper season. The experience and knowledge that men acquire by visiting and personally examining with active intelligence in the great book of the universe the most wise and virtuous societies that compose it, — their laws, government, agriculture, police, commerce, military art, navigation, science, and art, — this is the only thing that can mature the fruit and in any manner complete the great work of forming a forceful personality! Thus I shall be indebted to you who can compound my affairs, if you will secure from His Majesty a royal license so that I may proceed for four years to England, Holland, France, Germany, Italy, and other countries in order to improve my defective education."61

Cagigal's response to this letter was furnished in an epistle  p31 dated May 18, 1783, in which he expressed the opinion that the fugitive officer's business might have been adjusted to another mode than that which he had adopted. "Follow in a happy hour your own plan," said the Spaniard, "but, as a special favor, I beseech you in the name of my friendship and affection that until I inform you from Madrid of the outcome of this affair, you will neither make any decision nor alter your promises in any particular." Cagigal stated that justice and his duty required that he should inform the Spanish King of "the distinguished merit" of Miranda's services. "I must also make known the advantages that the State might derive from your knowledge and constant application. Envy follows merit as a shadow follows the body; thus your experience is not strange, for all persons who excel journey by that road, even though in every respect it is unjust and painful." Cagigal reminded his protégé that he had twice recommended him for appointment to a colonelcy with pay. "I hope that upon my arrival at the court of Madrid, this recommendation will be followed; that, when His Majesty is better informed of your character and services, you will gain greater recognition; that your friends will have the pleasure of seeing you the object of general applause in our country; and that I shall be able to gratify the paternal tenderness with which I have always regarded you."62

It is evident that Miranda still enjoyed the confidence of his chief who was apparently unaware of the revolutionary ferment at work in his mind. In response to an inquiry the governor addressed a letter to Bernardo de Gálvez in which he declared in phrases which were somewhat misleading that the colonel was bound to present their plea for justice to Charles III. "He is absolutely pledged to my honor and to his own," said Cagigal, "to vindicate himself at the foot of the throne, as I have promised to my sovereign. I am responsible to the King for his person. Such is his destination, unless in the meantime His Majesty should decide otherwise."63

 p32  But the Spanish Government did not view Miranda's conduct with sympathy. In a sketch of his career that was circulated in South America it stigmatized him as a "perfidious man, an intriguer without any religion." It denounced him as an officer "whose conscience might rightly accuse him," who "realized that he was not safe on Spanish soil, and who consequently devised a flight."64

Though Francisco de Miranda fled from the Spanish service in disgrace, yet he had profited greatly by his stirring experiences. He had been given a baptism of fire in fierce struggles with African Moslems. He had become acquainted with conditions in Spain and had gained some knowledge of evils prevailing in the Indies. His unpleasant experiences with Spanish officials in Europe and America had not heightened his appreciation of the Spanish administrative system. A receptive youth animated by loyalty to his King had been metamorphosed into a resentful man whose fidelity might well have been suspected. Brief contacts with Englishmen had awakened in him an abiding admiration for English society and institutions. Secretly he was collecting data about the attitude of the Spanish colonists to the Motherland. Although appeals had been made to him by oppressed compatriots in Venezuela, yet he had decided that it would be wise to postpone action until the independence of the Thirteen Colonies was acknowledged, a step which he seemed to consider a necessary preliminary of Spanish-American independence.

By his service under the Spanish banner against outlying English colonies Miranda promoted the cause of the American Revolution. His relations with soldiers who won the independence of the Thirteen Colonies, however, extended little farther than a participation with Spanish troops in the conquest of English posts near the Gulf of Mexico. With French Allies who took part in those operations presumably he became acquainted. Available records of his coöperation with American patriots demonstrate that during the Bahama campaign  p33 he had unpleasant experiences with Carolinian insurgents. An entertaining legend long cherished by South American historical writers that he was a comrade of Lafayette and a soldier of Washington in the American Revolution is thus consigned to limbo.

Yet there had been awakened in the Venezuelan a genuine interest in the destiny of the United States. As was later suggested by a writer in the Edinburgh Review, who was inspired by Miranda himself, "in a scene where the cause of liberty was the object of all men's zeal and enthusiasm," it was only natural that a design to emancipate South America should have taken root in his mind. An autobiographic annotation by Miranda on a copy of a memorial that he later sent to William Pitt indeed affirms that since 1782 he had been directed to solicit succor from England to promote the absolute independence of his native land. It seems scarcely an exaggeration to say that during Miranda's service under the flag of blood and gold in the American Revolution his own inner life had been revolutionized. The circumstance that her Allies had assisted the United States in this struggle had suggested to him the idea that the Spanish Indies might be emancipated by the aid of a foreign hand.


The Author's Notes:

1 "Livro Gral. de Cuentas," Mir. MSS., vol. 1.

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2 "Ruta del Puerto de Santa María á Madrid," Mir. MSS., vol. 1.

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3 "Livro Gral. de Cuentas," ibid.

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4 "Fragmentos del viage desde Madrid al Rl. Sitio de la Granja," ibid.

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5 "Nota de los Livros que he comprado en Madrid"; "English Books"; "Notte des beaux Libres," ibid.

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6 Mir. MSS., vol. 1.

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7 Miranda to Charles III, April 10, 1785, A. G. S., estado, 8141; Grisanti, Miranda y la Emperatriz Catalina la Grande, pp79‑80.

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8 Nov. 28, 1772, Mir. MSS., vol. 1.

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9 Hoja de servicio, Dec., 1774, A. G. S., guerra, 2638.

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10 Mir. MSS., vol. 1.

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11 Hoja de servicio, Dec., 1774, A. G. S., guerra, legajo 2638.

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12 Miranda to Charles III, April 10, 1785, and note B, no. 1, ibid., estado, 8141.

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13 Mir. MSS., vol. 2.

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14 "Alicante, 14 de Julio de 1775," ibid.

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15 Grisanti, p80.

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16 Miranda, Diary, p42.

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17 Jan. 3, 1776, Mir. MSS., vol. 2.

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18 Miranda to Cevallos (copy), Aug. 18, 1776, ibid.; Miranda to Charles III, April 10, 1785, and notes C and D, A. G. S., estado, 8141.

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19 Mir. MSS., vol. 2.

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20 A. G. S., guerra, 2638.

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21 Farsis to Miranda, Nov. 11, 1778, Mir. MSS., vol. 2.

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22 Roca to Miranda, Oct. 22, 1778; "Jornal desde Toledo á Jaraiso," ibid.

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23 "Cargos que hace el Brigadier Dn. Juan Roca," ibid.

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24 Report of Marquis Someruelos and others, Mar. 20, 1780, Mir. MSS., vol. 2; Roca to Miranda, Mar. 21, 1780, ibid.

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25 "Equipage de España," ibid., vol. 4.

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26 Medina, Historia del tribunal del santo oficio de la inquisición de Cartagena de las Indias, pp361‑62; Edinburgh Review, XIII, 286.

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27 Grisanti, pp81‑82.

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28 Hoja de servicio, Oct. 25, 1783, A. G. S., guerra, 2513.

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29 Junius, À Jean Skei Eustace, p6.

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30 Receipt of J. Falconer and Co., May 12, 1781, Mir. MSS., vol. 3; receipt of D. Holley, May 15, 1781, and of T. Kelly, June 1, 1781, ibid., vol. 4; and of W. Quinby, May 18, 1781, ibid., vol. 21.

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31 Ibid., vol. 4.

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32 José de Gálvez to Cagigal, Nov. 2, 1781 (copy), ibid.

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33 Miranda to Marqués del Rl. Socorro, Feb. 11, 1783, ibid.

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34 Junius, À Jean Skei Eustace, p6.

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35 Mir. MSS., vol. 3.

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36 Nov. 16, 1781, ibid., vol. 4.

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37 Dalling to Miranda, Sept. 28, 1781, ibid., vol. 21.

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38 Dalling to Germain, Oct. 10 to Nov. 15, 1781, C. O., 137/82.

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39 Cartel entre las yslas de Cuba y Jamaica.

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40 Miranda to Cagigal, Dec. 13, 1781, A. G. I., audiencia de Santo Domingo, estante 84, cajón 2, legajo 9.

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41 "Estado del exercito de Jamaica conforme se hallaba el 28 de Noviembre de 1781," Mir. MSS., vol. 25.

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42 Dec. 13, 1781, A. G. I., audiencia de Santo Domingo, 84‑2‑9.

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43 Ibid.

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44 Maxwell to Germain, May 6 and 14, 1782, C. O., 23/25.

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45 Sparks, Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, VI, 353, 355.

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46 May 13, 1782, Mir. MSS., vol. 4.

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47 Sparks, VI, 332‑34.

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48 José de Gálvez to Cagigal, Mar. 11, 1782, A. G. I., audiencia de Santo Domingo, 84‑2‑9.

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49 Ibid.

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50 Bernardo de Gálvez to José de Gálvez, Nov. 30, 1782, ibid.

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51 "Memoria sucinta," June 30, 1783, Sp. MSS., vol. 101.

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52 Vrunuela to José de Gálvez, April 19, 1783, A. G. I., audiencia de Santo Domingo, 84‑2‑9; inclosure in Allwood to Stoney, Dec. 23, 1783, F. O., 72/2.

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53 "Declaración que hizo en Cadiz Don Manuel de Cagigal ante el oidor Valcarcel acerca de Don Felipe Allwood," Eg. MSS., vol. 520, f. 318.

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54 Urriza to Cagigal, Jan. 13, 1783, Mir. MSS., vol. 4.

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55 Copy, ibid.

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56 Aug. 8, 1782, ibid.

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57 Mir. MSS., vol. 4.

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58 R. Smith to Miranda, Dec. 6, 1782, ibid., vol. 21.

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59 American Historical Review, VI, 510.

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60 Copy, Mir. MSS., vol. 45. In a memorial addressed to William Pitt on Mar. 18, 1799, Miranda stated that in 1782 he had entertained revolutionary propositions from Spanish-American colonists, see Pick. MSS., vol. XXIV, f. 150.

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61 Note P, Miranda to Charles III, April 10, 1785, A. G. S., estado, 8141; drafts of these letters are found in Mir. MSS., vol. 25.

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62 Antepara, South American Emancipation, p254.

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63 May 30, 1783 (copy), Mir. MSS., vol. 4.

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64 Medina, Historia y bibliografía de la imprenta en Buenos-Aires, p263.


Thayer's Notes:

a If this refers to the cathedral of Córdoba, five mistakes in one sentence; something of a record:

The church is not a "chapel", but a cathedral.

It was not built by the Vandals (and the word should have been capitalized), but by the Visigoths.

It was not originally a mosque: the existing church was appropriated by the Moslems and turned into a mosque.

When the mosque was reconverted to its original use as a church in the 13c, both the Vandals and the Visigoths were long gone.

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b Bernardo de Gálvez's log of the siege of Pensacola is onsite in full.


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