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December, 1897: McKinley Asks Congress for Aid to Cuba

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President McKinleyDuring the month of December in 1897, reports of horrific famine and disease in Cuba prompted a response from the United States government. President McKinley was deeply disturbed by the 1897 effects of Spain's reconcentration policy and appealed for humanitarian aid for starving Cubans. On Christmas Eve, the President made several appeals for help and on January 8, he called for donations to the Red Cross. The President donated five thousand dollars anonymously. Congress

Growing U.S. awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Cuba challenged President McKinley's commitment to solve the Cuban conflict though diplomacy. Pressured by the public and the press to be more aggressive, McKinley labeled the Spanish reconcentration policy as "extermination," and threatened to "intervene with force." Although the President did not formally call for military intervention until April 1898, his 1897 words reveal that the idea of intervention had been building for many months.

Bibliography:

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

Gould, Lewis L. The Presidency of William McKinley. University Press of Kansas, 1980.

O'Toole, G.J.A., The Spanish War: An American Epic-1898. W.W. Norton & Company: New York, 1984



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