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This chapter explores Spanish foreign and colonial policy at midcentury. By 1861, moderate governments had held power in Spain for the previous eighteen years, and economic growth, internal tranquility, and stable alliances benefited the empire. Liberal reforms on the peninsula did not reflect the zeitgeist of government in Puerto Rico and Cuba, however. Imperial authorities felt threatened by colonial disaffection, antislavery resistance, and U.S. incursion. Into a strange mix of imperial energy and disaffection, the Cuban governor and the Dominican caudillo president orchestrated an event heretofore unprecedented in Spanish imperialism: the reannexation of an independent territory. Together, the pro-annexation collaborators emphasized Dominican loyalism and Spanishness, redrafting the history of the island itself. Spanish officials hoped that the project represented a potential wedge for legislative reform on all three islands and a potential postslavery future for Spanish empire.

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