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The War in Cuba

To be ignorant of history is to remain always a child - Cicero
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 "Out of the frying pan and into the fire"

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a classic work of American involvement in Cuban history

The Cubans had been fighting the Spanish for independence on and off since 1868. When Cubans revolted again in 1892, the American people debated whether to intervene. An explosion on the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898 aroused the American public to action. The United States declared war on Spain.

American forces engaged in a fierce battle with the Spaniards at El Caney and San Juan Hill in Cuba. After the skirmishes, they occupied the high ground overlooking Santiago. The Spaniards attempted to escape toward the west along the coast, but they were no match for the American forces - all the Spanish ships either burned or sank. The American troops moved on to invade Puerto Rico which they quickly captured.

The war was over, and Spain's possessions in the western hemisphere fell into America's lap. The question then for McKinley and the United States government was what to do with these territories.

The first issue was Cuba. Many Americans felt that Cuba couldn't govern itself if it became independent. Others insisted that Cuba must be granted its independence. After much debate, the United States decided to grant Cuba limited independence, but wrote into its constitution (over strenuous Cuban objection) the Platt Amendment, which gave the United States broad powers to intervene in Cuban internal affairs. It did so several times to protect American investments and keep friendly rulers.

On December 10. 1898, the Treaty of Paris, was signed by Spain and the United States. It formally ended the war between them. Under this treaty, Spain recognized the independence of Cuba; ceded Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the United States. The Philippines presented a problem.


The Treaty of Paris

On America's Territorial Possessions and Interests - Theodore Roosevelt

Part of Uncle Sam Plants the Flag: Imperialism in Latin America exhibit

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