At once wholly American and something in between, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, sits at the intersection of Cuban sovereignty, American control, and international law. The Guantanamo naval base has long been home to a self-described Mayberry in the heart of Communist Cuba - a model community of U.S. sailors, civilians (and their families) who hold the values of liberty and the rule of law in highest regard, even as their home plays host to one of the most controversial prisons of the modern world. America's presence at Guantanamo did not start with the Spanish-American War. Indeed, Guantanamo figured centrally in the making of the United States long before the American colonies declared independence from Britain. Prized but neglected by imperial Spain, Guantanamo's generous harbour and strategic location at the epicentre of the Atlantic world tempted American empire builders over many generations. Lawrence Washington (George's half brother), Thomas Jefferson, and James K. Polk are just a few of the venerable Americans who tried and failed to bring Cuba - and Guantanamo - into the U.S. orbit.