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The people of Cuba had many great heroes during the Cuban War of Independence. One of these heroes, Antonio Macéo, contributed strength and bravery as well as leadership and patriotism. Born June 14, 1845, Antonio de la Caridad Macéo y Grajales was raised by his French father and Dominican mother in Santiago, Cuba. His family migrated to Cuba from Venezuela, approximately twenty years before he was born. As a young boy, he was under the influence of his godfather, an educated attorney and active participant of the Masonic lodges, or the fomenters of dissent as they were known by the government. Although he lacked the conventional education attained by many other Cuban heroes, he attempted to educate himself under the guiding influence of his godfather. The Macéo family itself lived quite well in a house in town, as well as, the farmland they acquired.
Throughout his adolescent years, Macéo worked as a product distributor for one of the family farms. Having to travel great distances, he learned to navigate the surrounding terrain which proved to be a great advantage in his later years as a freedom fighter. Outside of his tasks as a product distributor, Macéo roamed the fields with his adolescent companions, avoiding inane conversation to cover a slight stutter in speech. Growing up into a proper and upstanding man, he married his neighborhood sweetheart, Maria Cabrales. They had two children, both of whom died at an early age.
Shortly after his marriage, Antonio Macéo joined the liberation army. He fought with his father and brothers in the Ten Years' War (1868-1878). His effective leadership enabled him to rise in command to the position of second leader. The army, however, endured several changes which would cause its eventual disintegration of power. Many members of this army felt they could accomplish more without the leader, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes. In 1878, at the end of the Ten Years' War, Antonio Macéo refused to cease the war with Spain due to the existence of slavery and the imperial power's continued subordination of the people of Cuba.
He left for New York later that year only to return in 1895 for the War of Independence.
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