Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION– American history in VOA Special English.
The Spanish-American War took place in the late 1800s during the administration of President William McKinley.
Late in July, the French ambassador in Washington gave President William McKinley a message from the Spanish government. Spain asked what terms the United States would demand for peace. President McKinley sent an immediate answer.
Spain, he said, must give up Cuba. It must also give to the United States the islands of Puerto Rico and Guam. And he said Spain must recognize the right of the United States to occupy Manila in the Philippines. The future of the Philippines, he said, would be decided during negotiations on a peace treaty.
The two sides negotiated for days. Finally, they reached an agreement. Spain would give all of the Philippines to the United States. In return, the United States would pay Spain ,000,000.
With this dispute ended, the peace treaty was quickly completed and signed. But trouble developed when President McKinley sent the treaty to the United States Senate for approval.
Many Americans opposed the treaty. They thought McKinley was wrong to take the Philippines. Opponents of the treaty included former President Cleveland, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, labor leader Samuel Gompers, writer Mark Twain, and others.
They organized anti-imperialist groups in many cities to oppose the treaty. They made speeches and published newspapers explaining their opposition. Imperialism, they said, had ruined ancient Rome. And it would ruin the American republic.
They said colonies halfway around the world would be costly to protect. A large army and navy would be needed. They said colonial policies violated important democratic ideas upon which the United States had been built. We went to war with Spain, they said, to free Cuba from its colonial masters…not to make ourselves masters of the Philippines.
Senator Albert Beveridge of Ohio also spoke in support of the treaty. Senator Beveridge said the Pacific would be of great importance in coming years. Therefore, he said, the power that rules the Pacific will be the power that rules the world. And, with the Philippines, that power is– and forever will be– the United States.
Senator Hoar spoke strongly against the treaty. He said that taking over the Philippines would be a dangerous break with America’s past.
He said the greatest thing the United States had was its tradition of freedom. To take the Philippines, he said, would deny that tradition. It would violate the Constitution and the ideas contained in the Declaration of Inde the idea that all men are created equal…and that government exists only with the permission of the governed.
The Senate vote on the treaty was set for February 6th. It seemed that the opposition had enough votes to reject it. But several things happened before the vote.
William Jennings Bryan, the leader of the Democratic Party, opposed the take-over of the Philippines. But he urged Democratic senators to vote for the treaty. Bryan was looking ahead to the Presidential election in 1900. He believed that the Philippines’ takeover would cause the United States nothing but trouble. He could put the blame for all the trouble on the Republicans. Then — if he was elected president — the Democrats could give the Philippines their independence.
Bryan succeeded in getting 17 Democrats and Populists in the Senate to vote for the treaty.
Two days before the vote was taken, violence broke out in the Philippines. President McKinley, without waiting for the Senate to act, ordered the American military government in Manila to extend its control throughout the Philippines.
The leader of the Philippine rebels, Emilio Aquinaldo, opposed the order. Rebel forces prepared to fight. On the night of February 4th, 30,000 rebels attacked American forces around Manila. 60 Americans were killed, and more than 270 were wounded. Rebel losses were much higher.
News of the rebel attack caused some Senators to change their minds about the Philippines. Some who had opposed the treaty now agreed with the Washington Star newspaper that “the Filipinos must be taught to obey.”
84 Senators were present for the vote on the treaty. To pass, the treaty needed a two-thirds majority– 56 votes. One by one, the Senators voted. Then the count was announced.
57 of the lawmakers had voted yes. Only 27 had voted no. The treaty was approved. The Philippines belonged to the United States.
The complicated relationship between the United States and Cuba – Chuck Todd explains…
Video Rating: / 5