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“The Splendid Little War” and its effects

Noontime Seminar


“It has been a splendid little war, begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that Fortune which loves the brave.”  John Hay, Secretary of State




·        Treaty of Paris 1899 and the Rise of the Anti-Imperialists

·        The Filipino War

·        The Need for a Canal

·        The Platt Amendment

·        Open Door Notes



A.   The End of the Spanish American War


1.    Terms of Peace

·        Dictated on July 30, 1898 (war began in April 1898)

·        Surrender of Cuba

·        Cession of Puerto Rico, island in Marianas (Guam)

·        Occupation of Philippines until decided what should happen

·        Spain accepted these and Formal negotiations began October 1, 1898

·        McKinley sent Senators to negotiations because he felt the Treaty might face opposition.  He already new about Anti-Imperialism.


2.    What to Do with the Philippines?

·        At Formal negotiation, the Spanish accepted:

Cuban independence

Puerto Rico, Guam cessions

·        The Desire for the Philippines – what motivated the American decision to take the Philippines

If we didn’t take it, would others?

Commercial interests-gateway to China

Strategic interests-Naval (Admiral Mahan)

Spirit of expansionism-the excitement of the US on world stage

“White Man’s Burden”-Kipling/Public justification

·        The United States decided to add the acquisition of the Philippines as part of the formal treaty


3.    Passage of Treaty?

·        Rise of strong anti-imperialist league

o       Taking of the Philippines would violate American principles

o       America would be burdened w/ imperialist problems

1.      militaristic – how to defend the new empire

2.      possible involvement in non-American affairs

3.      rebellions in imperial colonies

·       It looked like opposition to the treaty was strong enough to stop passage.  The treaty would need 2/3 vote. 

·       However, W.J. Bryan urged Democrats to vote for the treaty.  It would bring peace and strengthen a significant campaign issue for him – anti-imperialism.  The Democrats could reverse the decision and free the Philippines if they won in 1900. 


B. Results of Peace/war

        1.Filipino Conflict – U.S. vs. Filipinos

·        Filipino resistance led by Emilio Aguinaldo had believed they would be given their freedom once the U.S. defeated Spain.  Filipinos didn’t want to be ruled-they had previously revolted against the Spanish

·        Lasted 4 years

·        Cost $600 million

·        Lost 4,000 lives

·        Experienced brutal guerilla warfare


2. Desire for the Panama Canal

·        The voyage of USS Oregon – if America was to be an empire it would need a shorter route from East to West than going around the tip of South America

·        From the Puget Sound to Cuba


3. Platt Amendment


·        America couldn’t just give Cuba independence-had to tie it to America (similar to idealology used in taking Philippines)

·        Platt Amendment; military would leave when:

1. Cuban Constitution defined future relations w/ the US

2.  No financial or diplomatic agreements that impaired independence.

3.  US could intervene if necessary

4.      US could buy or lease bases

5.      Permanent treaty with the US


4.    The Road to the Open Door Notes

·        As a result of the Filipino conflict the desire for China’s trade also came

·        Several countries already had “Sphere’s of Influence”

·        Open Door Notes were America’s attempt to be involved in China 1899-1900

Open Economic route (1st set of notes)

Guarantee political freedoms (2nd set of notes – this concept would guarantee economics).  Issued in the wake of the Boxer Rebellion


5.    Life as a World Power

·        World Politics-not just dealing with North American politics, but worldwide