|The St. Augustine Evening News
Genovar-Cuban Patriot and Diplomat.
The following article written by Seward Cramer in Sunday's Tampa Tribune, regarding Mr. Frank
Genovar, formerly of this city, will be of interest to Mr. Genovar's relatives and friends in the
Give Cuba a chance. Rome was not made in a day, and can you expect a weakling babe in
swaddling clothes to become a full-grown man in a mere dozen years? Gomez1 is doing all that is
possible and trying with his might and brain to give to the people of the island a government that
will not only be stable, but which will invite capital and industry to go there and reap the rewards
which a kindly nature will surely give.
Such, in substance, is the implicit faith of Frank B. Genovar statesman, patriot and capitalist, in
the future of the Pear of the Antilles. He is now at the home of M. H. Harrison, his son-in-law, on
Horatio street, just north of the Hyde Park Academy.
If the history of the Republic of Cuba is ever written, Mr. Genovar is entitled to at least a portion
of a big chapter, for what he did, in his quiet and modest way, to help the people of the oppressed
isle to throw off the yoke of servitude to Spain. His mission was not that of becoming glorified by
the boom of cannon, storming of fortifications, defending towns and cities, and then going to
Africa with a hired stenographer and photographer for jungle hunting, with a monthly magazine
eating up all the poses and sayings of the trip. But his services for the freedom of Cuba were just
as great, in that he is a great diplomat, and it was he whom the Cuban leaders sought for advice
on all important matters that were destined to great history and the successful conclusion of the
independence of Cuba.
He became so great a power in Cuba's welfare that he was made the official interpreter for
General Shafter, and was on the spot when Spain finally relinquished all claims to the island and
the island was turned over to the Cubans.
Mr. Genovar was once a great power in the politics of Florida, of which State he is a native. He
made governors, congressmen and senators. It was he who first trotted out Senator Pasco for the
United States Senate, and Senator Pasco has acknowledged, unsolicited, that it was Mr.
Genovar's clever management that finally secured for him the election to the exalted position. It
was Mr. Genovar who nominated Col. Robert Davis for congress. A glance at the magnificent old
man shows his sterling character. His piercing coal-black eyes, as if imbedded in pure alabaster,
his earnestness in every word, makes character reading of the man an easy job. Any purpose he
had to perform would be entered into without such a word as retreat being in the plans and
In brief, his biography in connection with Cuba, is as follows:
He was born in St. Augustine, in 1842, and at one time practically owned all the land that the
outreaching of the historic city has developed.
In 1859 he went to Cuba and saw the sufferings and oppression of the Cuban people. He had
come from the States and appreciated what freedom meant and his big heart was thrown into the
cause of the people of the island.
Was present at the meeting when Gen. Martinez Campos called all the leaders of the Cuban
liberation together and the leaders accepted the Compact of Zanza, which promised them
Was arrested by Spaniards in 1873, and kept in custody for twenty-four hours for alleged
connection with the filibustering expedition of the old ship Vesuvius.
Returned to the States and became interested in Florida politics and was for years chairman of the
St. John's delegation to the State conventions.
At the time of the intervention of the United States for the cause of Cuba, his heart melted for the
people of the islands and he went there and became one of the advisory board of the campaign of
His counsel was eagerly sought for in the development of the political welfare of the country after
peace negotiations were entered into, and he has carefully and honestly watched the development.
Is now in Tampa and Florida for the first time since the intervention by the United States.
Yes, indeed, he said, Cuba is bound to be a great country. There is no doubt but that Gomez
has his dreams of realization to that end, and is lending every bit of energy to bring it about; but
he is hampered. The government has to creep before it can learn to walk, or even stand on its own
footing. The United States is a great father to the Island and will protect it until it secures a good
sound government, free from intrigues, or give it every chance in the world to go it alone, and if
Cuba cannot make the journey among the nations by itself, Uncle Sam will lend the aiding hand
and welcome it as a member of the family.
Take it in Havana and go through the business districts. Read the signs. Spaniard after Spaniard
will be over the door of the big concerns, and while the policy is dormant at present, these
Spaniards are very strong partisans for annexation with the United States. They desire stability. It
presents a rather queer complication. The very Cubans, speaking generally and of the honest men
who are trying to give a good government, whom the United States liberated, are the ones who
are anti-annexationists. They are simply mad that Gomez did into turn over the millions of dollars
as spoils of war to them. And still there is that lingering hope in this class that want to grab that
they may yet become enriched through manipulations if Uncle Sam will only take a nap. It is
simply base ingratitude, and they are retarding the teaching of Cuba how to walk unassisted. The
subject of annexation is one of the future, and no man can now tell what there will be brought
about, but the conscientiousness of the real leaders of Cuba and the watchful eye of the United
States makes it almost a certainty that there is naught but sunshine in the horoscope for Cuba. If
Cuba can standalone and convince capital that crutches are unnecessary, all right. If Cuba needs
assistance and wants protecting arms, I think that the United States will step in and tell all other
nations, Hands off. In other words, it is up to Cuba herself, to make good.
What is your idea of the Maine? Was it blown up by the Spaniards? he was asked.
And the old gentleman's eyes twinkled.
Nobody knows, he replied. â€œIt does seem funny that the wreck of the Maine should be left in
the harbor, in plain sight, for these years. I really think that the Spaniards had nothing to do with
the blowing up of the ship, and that when raised it will show that it was blown from the inside. I
do not think that a living soul, or any who has passed to the beyond, had anything to do with the
destruction of the ship, with any pre-thought of the consequences. It was simply one of those
unaccountable explosions, the same as we often hear of spontaneous combustion that blew
up the Maine.
And just think. Spain could have averted the entire trouble by giving the people of the island half
And he shook his head as a gesture that meant much.
As has been previously outlined, Mr. Genovar was present at the actual scene of the
relinquishment by Spain to all claims to the island. He was the official interpreter for General
Shafter. General Vaar de Vada had been killed in war, General Lenares had gone, General Blanco
would not stay, and General Castellanos went through the motions of delivering over the island to
General Brooks, and Mr. Genovar interpreted the motions.
Is he not entitled to a page of Cuba's history?
1Jose Miguel Gomez (1858-1921), President of Cuba January 28, 1909 to May 20, 1913. He
took part in the 10 Years War (1868-1879). He led an insurrection against the first Cuban
president, Estrada Palma. Gomez dies in exile in New York City.
2 Major General William Shafter commander of the Fifth Corp which contained regular and
volunteer regiments in the attack on Cuba. By the Spanish-American War he was overweight and
suffering from gout. The heat of Cuba only made his condition worse.
3February 11, 1878 - Slaves who fought on either side are freed, but slavery is not ended in Cuba
nor is independence granted. Slavery finally abolished in 1888.
4This was in the period of the 10 Years War (1868-1879). The Virginius was a ship flying the
American flag that was bringing arms to Cuban rebels. Captain Joseph Fry and 52 members of the
crew and passengers were executed by the Spanish. Spain finally paid the U.S. an indemnity of
Cuba and St. Augustine Link
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