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February 6, 1899: Treaty of Paris ratified

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HeadlineAfter heated debate, United States Congress approved the Treaty of Paris on February 6, 1899, by a two-thirds margin (57 to 27). The following day, President McKinley signed the treaty, and the United States officially controlled Spain's former colonies—Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. With the Treaty of Paris, the United States emerged as an imperial power.

Under the treaty's terms, the U.S. gained possession of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and for $20 million, the Philippines. As for Cuba, the U.S. could neither keep it without reneging on the Teller Amendment, nor release the island without abandoning it to the revolutionary aims of the Cuban insurgency. Despite U.S. support for pro-American candidates, Cubans elected the more radical forces of Cuba Libre, forcing policy-makers in Washington to reinterpret the Teller Amendment. Connecticut Senator Orville Platt insisted that the Teller Amendment's reference to the “pacification” of Cuba meant the establishment of a government approved by the United States and proposed an amendment to the Cuban Constitution to that effect. In June 1901, Cuba succumbed to U.S. pressure and accepted the Platt Amendment, which secured the right of American intervention, restricted Cuba's conduct of foreign affairs, and gave the U.S. a naval base at Guantánamo Bay.

Bibliography:

Beisner, Robert L. Twelve Against Empire: The Anti-Imperialists, 1898-1900. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968.

Dyal, Donald H.. Historical Dictionary of the Spanish American War. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT, 1996.



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