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cuba history .org - History of Cuban Nation

British Occupation

Nearly a century later, the English were to invade in earnest taking Guantánamo Bay during the War of Jenkins' Ear with Spain.

Edward Vernon, the British Admiral who devised the scheme, saw his 4,000 occupying troops capitulate to local guerilla resistance, and more critically, debilitating disease, forcing him to withdraw his fleet to British owned Jamaica.

Seven years later, in 1748, tensions between the three dominant colonial powers; Britain, France and Spain, were transported to the Caribbean. A skirmish between a British squadron and a Spanish squadron off the coast of Cuba became known as the Battle of Havana.

Havana Under Siege

The Seven Years' War, which erupted in 1754 in three continents, eventually arrived at the Spanish Caribbean. Spain's alliance with the French pitched them in direct conflict with the British, and in 1762 an expedition set out from Portsmouth of 5 warships and 4000 troops to capture Cuba. The British arrived on 6 June and by August had Havana under siege.

Havana surrendered to the British Admiral George Keppel

When Havana surrendered, British Admiral of the fleet George Keppel, the 3rd Earl of Albemarle, entered the city as conquering new governor, taking control of the whole western part of the island.

The arrival of the British immediately opened up trade with their North American and Caribbean colonies, causing a rapid transformation of Cuban society. Food, horses and other goods flooded into the city, and thousands of slaves from West Africa were transported to the island to work on the under manned sugar plantations.

Though Havana, which had become the third largest city in the new world, was to enter an era of sustained development and closening ties with North America, the British occupation was not to last. Pressure from London by sugar merchants fearing a decline in sugar prices forced a series of negotiations with the Spanish over colonial territories.

Less than a year after Havana was seized, the Peace of Paris was signed by the three warring powers thus ending the Seven Years' War. The treaty gave Britain Florida in exchange for Cuba on the recommendation of the French, who advised that declining the offer could result in Spain losing Mexico and much of the South American mainland to the British. This led to disappointment in Britain, as many believed that Florida was a poor return for Cuba and Britain's other gains in the war.