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THE LITTLE WAR THAT FREED CUBA
FOR centuries Cuba was a Spanish possession. Spain governed Cuba badly, and instead of getting better everything got worse and worse, until in 1895 Cuba rebelled. To crush the rebellion, the Spanish Government of the Island drove the people into concentration camps where they starved and died in great numbers.
By 1898 it was clear that the United States must do something. And while we were talking about what could be done, the splendid battleship Maine, sailing into Havana harbor on a friendly visit, and anchoring where the Spanish authorities told Captain Sigsbee to anchor, was blown up and sank with all on board.
From all parts of the country came the demand for war. But President McKinley would not be hurried. He waited until a committee had explored the wreck and determined that it was caused by an explosion outside the ship. That took two months. The President then put the facts before Congress and Congress told the President to engage in war with Spain.
It was a short war, but when it was over the United States found itself not only responsible for peace and order in Cuba, but also were in possession of Porto Rico and the great Philippine archipelago, which were Spanish possessions before the war. On all these new islands the United States has bestowed as rapidly as possible the blessings of selfgovernment.
PRESIDENT MCKINLEY'S WAR
MESSAGE From the Message of President WILLIAM McKINLEY to the House of Representatives, April 11, 1898. : It becomes my duty now to address you with regard to the grave crisis that has arisen in the relations of the United States to Spain by reason of the warfare that for more than three years has raged in the neighboring island of Cuba.
Since the present revolution began in 1895 this country has seen the fertile domain at our threshold ravaged by fire and sword in the course of a struggle unequalled
WILLIAM MCKINLEY in the history of the island and rarely paralleled as to the numbers of combatants and the bitterness of the contest by any revolution of modern times where a dependent people striving to be free have been opposed by the power of the sovereign state.
As I said in my message of last December, it was not civilized warfare; it was extermination.
The only peace it could beget was that of the wilderness and the grave.
Forcible intervention is justifiable:
First. In the cause of humanity and to put an end to the barbarities, bloodshed, starvation and horrible miseries now existing there.
It is no answer to say that this is all in another country, belonging to another nation and is therefore none of our business. It is specially our duty for it is right at our door.
Second. We owe it to our own citizens in Cuba to afford them that protection for life and property which no government there can or will afford.
Third. The right to intervene may be justified by the very serious injury to the commerce, trade and business of our people and by the wanton destruction of property and devastation of the island.
Fourth. The present condition of affairs in Cuba is a constant menace to our peace. I have already sent to Congress the report of the naval court of inquiry on the destruction of the battleship Maine in the harbor of Havana during the night of the fifteenth of February. The destruction of that noble vessel has filled the national heart with horror. Two hundred and fifty-eight brave sailors and marines and two officers of our navy reposing in the fancied security of a friendly harbor, have been hurled to death.
The issue is now with Congress. It is a solemn responsibility. I have exhausted every effort to relieve the intolerable condition of affairs which is at our doors. Prepared to execute every obligation imposed upon me by the Constitution and the law I await your action.
ONLY ONE MONUMENT FOR THE
SAILORS OF THE MAINE
How the Nation felt about the sinking of the Maine and our duty to Cuba was told by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in a speech in the Senate the day that war was declared. It was because the sailors of the Maine were murdered that we went to war, but we were resolved that the war should not only avenge the death of these men, but that it should bring liberty and independence to Cuba in place of cruelty and oppression.
SENATOR LODGE'S SPEECH ON
WAR WITH SPAIN
April 13, 1898 IF war must be — I hope and pray that it may yet be avoided — no nation ever went to war on higher grounds or from nobler or more disinterested motives. War is here, if it is here, by the act of Spain. We have grasped no man's territory. We have taken no man's property. We have invaded no man's rights. We do not ask their lands. We do not ask their money. We ask peace in that unhappy island — peace and freedom, not for ourselves, but for others.
It is an unselfish, a pure, a noble demand,