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Cuba continued within Spain’s empire while expanding sugar production and imports of enslaved Africans long into the nineteenth slavery. It has long been presumed that Cubans remained Spanish to gain protection for the slave trade and slavery. This chapter complicates that argument by exploring how rights and participations that came out of Cádiz liberalism offered free Cubans, planters and others, ways to participate in governance as sugar and slavery expanded along with trade ties to the United States. Cuba remained in Spain’s empire yet became a new country in many ways. Free Cubans negotiated rights and trades while expanding sugar and slavery to prosper in the new world of industrial capitalism through complex ties to Spain, Britain, and the United States.

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