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He wanted independence for Cuba, which he announced through the Grito de Yara (Cry of Yara). Guerilla warfare was practiced by the revolutionaries, whose numbers soon grew. Céspedes became the general in chief. His forces captured the city of Bayamo and made it their capital. When Spanish troops were sent to take the city, the outnumbered revolutionaries left and burnt it to the ground. Céspedes' birthplace was one of a few buildings that did not burn. As the war went on, Céspedes' major goal was to attain American recognition of the new Cuban government, though it was to be an unrealized goal.
Céspedes ran a constitutional convention, which decided upon a representative government for Cuba and proposed the abolition of slavery. Céspedes was deposed by other revolutionaries in 1873. A year later, he was apprehended by the Spanish and executed. During the war, the United States supplied Spain with 90,000 rifles and internal problems hurt the revolutionaries. Eventually Spain reached a settlement with the revolutionaries, but broke many of its promises. Céspedes also published Cuba's first independent newspaper, the Cubano Libre (The Free Cuban).
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