Exam preparation materials

THE ROLE OF AMERICA: PROTECTOR OR OPPRESSOR?

After victory over the Spanish, the United States was placed in a somewhat uncomfortable position. It had criticized Spain for the way it had controlled Cuba, yet many in America did not want Cuba to be totally free either. The dilemma facing Americans after victory was one that would be rethought throughout the twentieth century: how to combine imperialistic intentions with the deep-seated American beliefs in liberty and self-government.

Fearing that America would want to annex Cuba, supporters of Cuban independence in Congress had inserted the Teller Amendment in the original congressional bill calling for war against Spain. This amendment stated that America would simply not do that under any circumstances. Nevertheless, President McKinley authorized that the Cubans would be ruled by an American military government (which kept control until 1901). The military government did authorize the Cubans to draft a constitution in 1900 but also insisted that the Cubans agree to all of the provisions of the Platt Amendment. This document stated that Cuba could not enter into agreements with other countries without the approval of the United States, that the United States had to right to intervene in Cuban affairs “when necessary,” and that America be given two naval bases on the Cuban mainland. The Platt Amendment remained in force in Cuba until the early 1930s.

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