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Article

Like many slaves from Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) during the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), Pablo Alí crossed the border to serve in the Spanish colonial army of Santo Domingo (present-day Dominican Republic) as a means of obtaining his freedom. In 1795Spain ceded Santo Domingo to France. Alí subsequently participated in the War of Reconquest, in which French troops were defeated and Santo Domingo was reunited with Spain (1809). In 1811 the Spanish throne named him first colonel and granted him a gold medal in recognition of his service to the Crown.

In 1820 Alí served as colonel of the Batallón de Morenos (Black Batallion) in Santo Domingo. After learning that his application for Spanish citizenship had been denied, in 1821 Alí pledged his loyalty to the insurrectionists, led by José de Núñez Cáceres and served as their chief military commander That same year ...

Article

Eric Paul Roorda

one of the most famous and prolific poets of the Dominican Republic, was born on 6 September 1833 in the town of Moca, in the Cibao Valley, the son of Félix Alix and María Magdalena Rodríguez. The Cibao, the breadbasket region of the country, fringed by mountains and home to tobacco cultivation, is its own patria chica, or “little country,” an area of strong personal identification for those people who are native to it. Alix began writing poetry there at the age of 16, mastering the distinctive Cibao dialect that he would use extensively in his work. After his rural upbringing in the valley, Alix went on to lead a picaresque existence. He is best known for composing in a popular form of verse called the décima, which has ten lines and a complicated rhyme scheme. Décimas typically comment on a wide range of issues of a ...

Article

Haggai Erlich

Ethiopian military leader, is considered by many in Ethiopia as the country’s national hero and “Africa’s greatest general” of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, an era during which he was a pivotal figure in Ethiopia’s internal and external affairs. This was a period of formative significance, during which the Ethiopian empire managed to stem Western imperialism, defeat Islamic neighbors, and double its territory. Ethiopia’s victories at that time ensured her unique independence, but also solidified her traditional institutions, which remained almost unchallenged until the final decades of the twentieth century. He is better known as Ras Alula. Ras was the highest rank in Ethiopia of the time, similar to duke in medieval Europe. Another form of his name is Alula Engeda.

Alula was born into a peasant family in Tigray but was talented and ambitious enough to climb the ladder of local administrative and military service In November ...

Article

Richard Roberts

French general and architect of military conquest and the early colonial state in the French Sudan, was born in Le Havre, France on 11 February 1850. His father, also Louis Archinard, was born into a Protestant peasant family and moved to Le Havre, where he taught in a Protestant school. His mother, Sophie (née Cattelain), grew up in an artisanal family and also moved to Le Havre, where she too taught school. Le Havre benefited from the expanding Atlantic commerce, including the slave trade. In 1850, it was a major French port with deep connections with the colonial world, feeding the textile manufacturing sector in Normandy with imported raw materials, and exporting finished goods.

Archinard was admitted in 1868 into the École Polytechnique in Palaiseau near Paris which trained students to become civil or military engineers The school stressed science in the service of the state Although ...

Article

was born to free black parents in Santiago de Cuba, in the province of Oriente. Quintín Bandera, as he was commonly known, enlisted as a private in the Cuban Rebel Army, in 1868, just as the anticolonial movement against Spain erupted into a full-scale insurgency, known as the Ten Years’ War (1868–1878). He eventually rose to the rank of general. In 1897, during the Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898), the general was court-martialed and stripped of his rank, an ominous precursor of the shortcomings of Cuba’s colorblind nationalist discourse. So frustrated were Bandera and other blacks with the island’s post-revolutionary political course that he led a group of veteran officers and soldiers in an uprising against then president Tomás Estrada Palma in what was known as the 1906 Constitutional Revolution Shortly after this Bandera was brutally killed by rural guardsmen Today Bandera is ...

Article

Quintín Banderas's parents were free but poor. To help support his family, Banderas began to work in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba as a bricklayer at the age of eleven. Dissatisfied with the profession, he left home when he was thirteen years old and enlisted as a sailor on a Spanish merchant ship. After he was in Spain for a few months, his mother filed a petition before the merchant for his return because he was a minor. Banderas was returned to Santiago and went back to working as a bricklayer.

During the Ten Years' War (1868–1878), Cuba's first major war of independence, Banderas joined the revolutionary army led by the black military leaders Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo and the white Creole Carlos Manuel Céspedes. Due to his bravery and military achievements, Banderas soon attained the military rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1879 ...

Article

Geoffrey Roper

Egyptian poet, diplomat, military commander, and politician, was born in Cairo on 6 October 1839. His family claimed descent from a medieval Mamluk royal line, but his surname (nisba) refers to the district of Ityay al-Barud in Lower Egypt, of which his ancestors had once been tax farmers (multazims). His father, an artillery officer under Muhammad Ali, died in Sudan when al-Barudi was only seven years old. After primary education, al-Barudi entered the Military Training School in Cairo, in 1851, and graduated from it in 1855 with the rank of bash-jawish (sergeant-major). During the reign of the viceroy Saʿid (r. 1854–1863), he served in Istanbul as a diplomat and during this time acquired a lifelong enthusiasm for literature.

In 1863 the new viceroy, Ismaʿil (r. 1863–1879 visited Istanbul and recruited al Barudi as commander of his Viceregal Guard in Cairo with the ...

Article

Adriana Barreto de Souza

honorary alferes (junior level officer) of the Brazilian army, was born in 1833 to Francisco Xavier (c. 1780–1838) in the town of Bahia. Bigode and his father exemplified the pride that many black military men found in defending the Brazilian nation in the nineteenth century. Yet, in spite of their claims to patriotic citizenship, these men faced a decline in their social and institutional field of action as liberalism took hold after 1831.

The archival records of Bigode s life are incomplete and what is known is connected mainly to military service That record of service begins with Bigode s father Initially known as Pereira Francisco adopted for reasons unknown the surname Bigode Moustache The elder Bigode was a militiaman who took part in many revolts that broke out in Salvador the capital of the northeastern province of Bahia and the second most important city in Brazil during ...

Article

Dario A. Euraque

was born in the Department of Olancho, in eastern Honduras, in the municipality of Juticalpa. His parents were Jorge Bonilla and Dominga Chirinos. He received a rudimentary primary education in the 1850s, and enjoyed no formal high school, much less a university education. We know almost nothing of his infancy and youth, and his black and mulatto ethno-racial background are only discreetly mentioned by his major biographers. However, there is no doubt that General Bonilla was phenotypically black or mulatto, in addition to having been born in a town whose ethno-racial background was the same.

According to Jose Sarmiento, the most important historian of Olancho and Juticalpa, Bonilla’s city of birth, in 1810 in the parish registries we find that nearly all the population is registered as mulatto One of General Bonilla s lesser known biographers also affirms as much Moreover his most important biographer characterizes him as dark ...

Article

Salvador Suazo

in the early-nineteenth-century civil wars in the years following Honduran independence from Spain, and supporter of Central America’s first president, Honduran Francisco Morazán (1792–1842). Bulnes spoke Garifuna, Spanish, English, and Miskito. Precise information about his birth and death, including their exact dates and the names of his family members, remains unknown. A legendary Garifuna military and political leader, Bulnes was known by the Spanish as Juan Francisco Bull, by the English as John Bull, and by the Garifuna as Walumugu or Bebeidi. In modern times, he is remembered, especially among Garifunas, by the name of Juan Francisco Bulnes.

He was born in the Garifuna community of Iriona Viejo in the department of Colón near the Nicaraguan border at the beginning of the nineteenth century He was the son of parents who came at a very young age from St Vincent and the Grenadines and a grandson of Du ...

Article

Bonnie A. Lucero

was born on 25 May 1855 in the town of El Cobre in the Oriente region of Cuba to Librada Sánchez and Francisco Cebreco. He emerged as a prominent figure in the struggle for Cuban independence. Before reaching fifteen years of age, he joined Cuban forces during the Ten Years’ War (1868–1878), alongside at least two of his brothers, Juan Pablo (Pedro) and Juan Bautista. He served under prominent insurgent chiefs, including José Maceo, Antonio Maceo, and Calixto García Iñíguez, ascending to the rank of commandant by 1876. In 1878, like many of his black compatriots, he signed on to the Protest of Baraguá, a demonstration of discontent with the Pact of Zanjón, in which insurgents agreed to lay down weapons without achieving independence or the abolition of slavery.

Cebreco then a lieutenant colonel along with other prominent black officers in the East including the Maceo ...

Article

French military officer, colonial administrator, and governor-general, was born in Annonay, France, on 29 March 1860. Clozel completed his military service in Algeria and entered the colonial service there in 1885. He spent virtually his entire career in Africa. He had earned a degree in Arabic language from the École des Langues Orientales (School of Oriental Languages) in Paris before pursuing further studies in Islamic culture at the Faculté des Lettres in Algiers. In 1892 he joined an exploration group to Chad and the Congo. In 1894–1895 he led his own expedition to the north of Congo. He met Louis-Gustave Binger, the first governor of the Ivory Coast (1893–1895), upon his return to France.

In 1896 he was posted to the Ivory Coast as a young colonial officer and assigned to the Anyi Ndenye region where he was attacked and wounded by Anyi warriors Unlike his successor ...

Article

Angie Colón Mendinueta

was born in San Francisco de Cara, in the state of Aragua on 22 August 1841. The son of Leandro Crespo and María Aquilina Torres, he was also known as “The Tiger of Santa Inés” and “El Taita” (Daddy). Although the evidence is not conclusive, several sources have suggested that Crespo was of partial African descent. Writing in 1892, the US ambassador to Venezuela described Crespo as a “mulatto,” while the modern historians Winthrop R. Wright (1993) and George Reid Andrews (2000) have claimed that Crespo, like many nineteenth-century Venezuelans, and several South American politicians of that era, was of partial African descent (see Wright, 1993, pp. 66–67). During his youth he lived in Parapara, a plains town in the state of Guárico, where he learned to read and write.

In 1858 at the age of 17 Joaquín began his military career ...

Article

Nathaniel Mathews

Baron Dhanis, Belgian soldier and colonial official in the Belgian Congo, was born on 11 March 1862 to Joseph-Edmond Dhanis, the Belgian consul in London, and his Irish wife, Brigitte Maher. His parents had married in Australia, Dhanis was born in London, and when young Francis was seven or eight, his parents moved near Cardiff in Wales. Dhanis studied at Saint Joseph’s Institute before being admitted to the École Militaire in Belgium in March 1882.

After completion of military school in 1884, he volunteered for service in the Congo Free State, which King Leopold II of Belgium had established in 1885 At the Berlin Conference King Leopold had maneuvered to bring this vast region of Central Africa under the control of the Association Internationale Africaine an organization he personally controlled Leopold now needed manpower to establish military control over the vast territory Initially Dhanis conducted missions of ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

African‐American playwright and journalist in London. Downing enjoyed a varied career. In his youth he was a sailor, and later worked for the United States foreign service in Angola. He also managed a New York press agency representing prominent black leaders including Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, and Ida B. Wells. Around 1895 Downing and his reputedly white American wife, Margarita (c.1873–c.1950), arrived in England and settled in Chiswick, west London.

A fortuitous meeting with the African‐American poet Paul Dunbar in London resulted in Downing's management of Dunbar's 1897 successful reading tour throughout England. As Dunbar's manager, Downing played an instrumental role in bringing together two of the most famous and talented black artistes of the 19th century. Impressed by his stewardship of Dunbar's tour, Samuel Coleridge‐Taylor contacted the pair and thus began a series of collaborations between the ...

Article

Valika Smeulders

was born in Paramaribo, Suriname, on 26 August 1846. He was one of ten children born to Johannes Ellis, who was a senior civil servant, and Maria Louisa de Hart. He was born at a time when slavery was still legal in the Dutch colonies, where abolition did not occur until 1863. His paternal grandmother and his maternal great-grandmother were both born in Ghana. They were both enslaved and had children by white men. Several authors, J. J. Vrij (2001) in most detail indicate that Ellis s paternal grandfather must have been Abraham de Veer the governor of Elmina Castle the Dutch trading post De Veer was Dutch born on Curaçao where his father was governor He was a married man and did not officially recognize Johannes Ellis or the other children he fathered out of wedlock but he did take young Johannes with him ...

Article

military leader and French colonial administrator, was born to Louis César Joseph Faidherbe and Sophie Monnier in Lille, France, on 3 June 1818. His family, while not poor, struggled to make a living. His father had served in the French military, and his mother sold hats to support her family with limited success. Although his parents had five children, Faidherbe was the only one who succeeded in an obtaining a higher education. On 1 November 1838 he entered the French military’s renowned École Polytechnique academy. Ironically, given his later achievements and his wide array of intellectual interests, his instructors found him to be a mediocre student at best. Still, he graduated as a sub-lieutenant in an artillery unit on 1 October 1840 At first he had difficulty adjusting to the regimented life of a military engineer He even briefly considered leaving France for the United States where he ...

Article

Eduardo Silva

also known as Dom Obá II D’África, honorary sublieutenant of the Brazilian army and abolitionist, was born in Vila de Lençóis, in the backlands of the province of Bahia, Brazil. His father (?–1877) was born in Yoruba-speaking West Africa and as a child was sold as a slave in Salvador da Bahia where he was baptized and given the name Benvindo. As a slave he had no right to a surname, but when he was later manumitted he adopted the surname of his former master (Da Fonseca Galvão), probably because it held great social prestige. Benvindo became a lifelong Catholic and learned to speak, read, and write Portuguese. After being manumitted, he married Maria de São José (?–1869), also a formerly enslaved African. In 1845 the couple joined the diamond rush to Lençóis where they had two children Cândido da Fonseca Galvão and Francisca Gil ...

Article

Fabre-Nicolas Geffrard was a general in the Haitian army during the reign of Faustin Elie Soulouque. He participated in Soulouque's unsuccessful effort to invade the Dominican Republic in 1849. In 1859 Geffrard led the insurrection which deposed Soulouque, and subsequently assumed the presidency. In 1867 he was ...

Article

Bonnie A. Lucero

was born in 1852 in the city of Concepción de la Vega, Dominican Republic. He was one of ten children, and the legitimate son of Ramona Mauricia de la Rosa Abreu and Basilio Gil. His father, who fought against Spanish colonialism in the Dominican Republic, was killed on 26 August 1863 in a skirmish against the Spanish barracks in Vega.

Gil began his military career in the Dominican army. There he served under the rule of Ulises Heureaux, president of the Dominican Republic (1882–1884, 1887–1889, 1889–1899), who assumed power following the island’s second independence from Spain in 1865. Gil ascended the military hierarchy, eventually reaching the rank of brigadier general. He left the army and his home country in 1895 to join Cuban insurgents in their final anticolonial war of independence against Spain which had broken out on that island in February of that ...