The Year of the Lash and La Conspiración de La Escalera

1 Posted by - May 3, 2023 - Black History, SLAVERY

The Year of the Lash occurred in 1844 and saw the Spanish hunt for a slave conspiracy in Cuba. This particular conspiracy seemed to be one that could rock Spanish power in Cuba. At the root of this was La Conspiración de La Escalera or the Ladder Conspiracy.

The conspiracy took its name from a torture method where people were tied to a ladder and beaten. It was believed that free Blacks, slaves, and White supporters were all working to force Spain out of power. The theory led to many innocent people being tortured, banished, imprisoned and killed.



The number rebellions popping up in Spanish colonies were increasing. At home in Cuba, the ones in Havana and Matanzas were violent and rapidly organized. It was the establishment of the rebellions that raised concern on the island. If they could be put together so quickly and concealed until it was too late, no White planter or politician was safe. Also, being on an island meant nowhere to hide since the elites weren’t as familiar with the terrain or on great terms with the native people.

Due to the concerns, a respected writer named Domingo del Monte contacted influential friends in the U.S. about the rebellions. Del Monte is particularly interesting for his views on what to do about Black people in Cuba such as:

“… that the purpose of every Cuban should be in terminate the slave trade, and then, insensibly, the slavery, without upheaval or violence; and finally,… cleanse Cuba of the African race.”

The intent was to get some sort of back up in case a power shifting rebellion erupted. This was all as a worst-case scenario as the rebellion raging through 1843 appeared to be ramping up when in reality 1843 was the peak of the Cuba slave rebellions.

It would be after Governor and Captain General Jeronimo Valdes was replaced with Captain General Leopoldo O’Donnell that steps would be taken at pulling out perceived conspirators. As a result, the Year of the Lash would be fully underway and many people would be in O’Donnell’s crosshairs.

- (in Spanish)

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