In the early 19th century three different currents characterizing the political struggles of that century took shape: reformism, annexation and independence. In addition to that there were spontaneous and isolated actions carried out from time to time and growing in organization, adding a current of abolitionism.
Black unrest and British pressure to abolish slavery motivated many Creoles to advocate Cuba's annexation to the United States, where slavery was still legal. Other Cubans supported the idea because they longed for what they considered higher development and democratic freedom. Annexation of Cuba was repeatedly supported by the US. In 1805 President Thomas Jefferson considered possessing Cuba for strategic reasons, sending secret agents to the island to negotiate with Governor Someruelos.
Secretary of State John Quincy Adams
In April 1823 US Secretary of State John Quincy Adams discussed the rules of political gravitation, in a theory often referred to as the "ripe fruit theory".
Adams wrote, “There are laws of political as well as physical gravitation; and if an apple severed by its native tree cannot choose but fall to the ground, Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain, and incapable of self-support, can gravitate only towards the North American Union which by the same law of nature, cannot cast her off its bosom.
Adams described Cuba as “incapable” and described its separation from Spain as inevitable. He specified the islands gravitation towards North America rather than Europe. As he explained that, “the transfer of Cuba to Great Britain would be an event unpropitious to the interest of this Union.
Adams voiced concern that a country outside of North America would attempt to occupy Cuba upon its separation from Spain. He wrote, “The question both of our right and our power to prevent it, if necessary, by force, already obtrudes itself upon our councils, and the administration is called upon, in the performance of its duties to the nation, at least to use all the means with the competency to guard against and forefend it.”
On December second of that year US president James Monroe specifically addressed Cuba and other European colonies in his proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine.
US President James Monroe
Cuba located in the Western Hemisphere just 94 miles (151 km) from the US city Key West was of interest to the doctrine’s founders as they warned European forces to leave "America for the Americans".
General Narciso López
The most outstanding attempts in support of annexation were made by Spanish Army General Narciso López, who prepared four expeditions to Cuba in the US.
The first two in 1848 and 1849 already failed before departure due to US-opposition. The third one, made up of some 600 men, managed to land on Cuba and take the central city of Cárdenas. Lacking popular support, this expedition failed.
His fourth expedition landed in Pinar del Río province with around 400 men in August 1851; the invaders were defeated by Spanish troops and López was executed.
In the 1860's Cuba had two more liberal minded governors, Serrano and Dulce, who even encouraged the creation of a Reformist Party, despite the fact that political parties were forbidden. But a reactionary governor, Francisco Lersundi, followed, who suppressed all liberties granted by the previous ones and maintaining a pro-slavery regime with all its rigour.
Carlos Manuel de Céspedes made the "Grito de Yara"
On 10 October 1868, landowner Carlos Manuel de Céspedes made the "Grito de Yara", the "Cry of Yara", declaring Cuban independence and freedom for his slaves.
This was the began of the "Ten Years' War" which lasted from 1868 to 1878.