Classic History Books


The Path of Empire. A Chronicle of the United States as a World Power
by Carl Russell Fish

message, "I will get you the peace you desire so much and for which you have labored so hard." To this
the Secretary of State immediately replied that the President would not ask the intervention of the Pope,

and that the Government would use the fleet as it saw fit. "Would the peace you are so confident of

securing," asked the Secretary, "mean the independence of Cuba? The President cannot hold his message

longer than Tuesday." On Tuesday, the 5th of April, General Woodford cabled:

"Should the Queen proclaim the following before twelve o'clock noon of Wednesday, April 6th, will you
sustain the Queen, and can you prevent hostile action by Congress? "At the request of the Holy Father, in

this Passion Week and in the name of Christ, I proclaim immediate and unconditional suspension of

hostilities in the island of Cuba. This suspension is to become immediately effective as soon as accepted

by the insurgents of that island, and is to continue for the space of six months to the 5th day of October,

1898. I do this to give time for passions to cease, and in the sincere hope and belief that during this

suspension permanent and honorable peace may be obtained between the insular government of Cuba

and those of my subjects in that island who are now in rebellion against the authority of Spain...." Please

read this in the light of all my previous telegrams and letters. I believe this means peace, which the sober

judgment of our people will approve long before next November, and which must be approved at the bar

of final history."

To this message the Secretary of State replied:

"The President highly appreciates the Queen's desire for peace. He cannot assume to influence the action
of the American Congress beyond a discharge of his constitutional duty in transmitting the whole matter

to them with such recommendations as he deems necessary and expedient."

On the 9th of April the Queen granted the amnesty, on the formula of a request by the European powers.
On the next day, General Woodford cabled that the United States could obtain for Cuba a satisfactory

autonomy, or independence, or the cession of the island.

It was evident that there was no difference of opinion among those in authority in the United States as to
the fact that Cuba must be severed from Spain. There were, however, differences of judgment as to

which of the three methods suggested by Woodford was preferable, and there was a substantial

disagreement as to the means necessary to realize the aims of the American Government. General

Woodford believed that Spain would grant the demands of the United States, if she were given time and

were not pressed to the point of endangering her dignity. The overwhelming majority in Congress, and

particularly the leaders of the dominant Republican party with the exception of Speaker Reed, refused to

believe in the sincerity of the Spanish Government. The Administration could not overlook the fact that

the Spanish Government, however sincere it might be, might not be able to execute its promises. Great

Britain had just recognized the United States as intermediary in a dispute between herself and one of the

American nations. Spain, in a dispute much more serious to the United States, refused publicly to admit

American intervention, while she did recognize that of the Pope and the European powers. Was it then

possible that a Government which was either unwilling or afraid openly to acknowledge American

interest in April would, by October, yield to the wishes of the Administration? Was it certain or likely

that if the Spanish Government did so yield, it would remain in power?

Reluctantly President McKinley decided that he could not announce to Congress that he had secured the
acceptance of the American policy. In his message to Congress on the 11th of April, he reviewed the

negotiation and concluded by recommending forcible intervention. On the 19th of April, Congress, by

joint resolution, called upon Spain to withdraw from Cuba and authorized the President to use force to

 

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