Born in Havana, Cuba, on January 28 of 1853 to Spanish parents, José Julián Martí y Pérez is celebrated as the island’s apostle for paving the way towards Cuba’s national independence.

Although his father was a sergeant in the Spanish army, and his grandfather from his mother’s side was a decorated officer representing Spain in Cuba, Martí opposed Spain’s colonial rule in Cuba from a young age. As a teenager, he served time as a political prisoner for writing a disapproving letter to a classmate who joined the Spanish army. Through his mother’s connections, he was released and exiled to Spain, where he pursued a law degree and continued to protest Spain’s colonial policies, this time in the form of an essay titled, “Political Imprisonment in Cuba” (1871).

He later moved to Mexico, where he became active in the artistic community and learned about that nation’s own struggles for sovereignty. He lived in Guatemala and Venezuela for a short period of time as well, but it was in New York City where he spent most of his life serving as an ambassador for Uruguay and Argentina, writing prolifically, and garnering support for Cuba’s liberation. From 1880 until his death in 1895, he published several important works from NYC, including his two renowned poetry collections Los Versos Sencillos and Ismaelillo as well as the children’s magazine La Edad de Oro. It was also from NYC that he published Patria, the official newspaper of the Cuban Revolutionary Party. In 1895, after having traveled to Tampa, Florida, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, among other nations forming coalitions to fight the colonial army in Cuba, Martí made his return to the island to fight and died in battle. 

Other works by the author in the University of Florida Digital Collections can be found here.