Platt Amendment

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Platt Amendment
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act Making appropriation for the support of the Army for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, nineteen hundred and two.
Enacted by the 56th United States Congress
Statutes at Large Chapter 803, 31 Stat. 895, 897
Legislative history

On March 2, 1901, the Platt Amendment was passed as part of the 1901 Army Appropriations Bill.[1] It stipulated seven conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops remaining in Cuba at the end of the Spanish–American War, and an eighth condition that Cuba sign a treaty accepting these seven conditions. It defined the terms of Cuban–U.S. relations to essentially be an unequal one of U.S. dominance over Cuba.

On December 25, 1901, Cuba amended its constitution to contain the text of the Platt Amendment.[2]

On May 22, 1903, Cuba entered into a treaty with the United States to make the same required seven pledges: the Cuban–American Treaty of Relations of 1903.[1] Two of the seven pledges were to allow the United States to intervene unilaterally in Cuban affairs, and a pledge to lease land to the United States for naval bases on the island. (The Cuban-American Treaty of Relations of 1934 replaced the 1903 Treaty of Relations, and dropped three of the seven pledges.)

The 1903 Treaty of Relations was used as justification for the Second Occupation of Cuba from 1906 to 1909. On September 29, 1906, Secretary of War (and future U.S. president) William Howard Taft initiated the Second Occupation of Cuba when he established the Provisional Government of Cuba under the terms of the treaty (Article three), declaring himself Provisional Governor of Cuba.[3][4] On October 23, 1906, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 518, ratifying the order.[3]


During the Spanish–American War, the United States maintained a large military arsenal in Cuba to protect U.S. holdings and to mediate Spanish–Cuban relations.[5] In 1899, the McKinley administration settled on occupation as its response to the appearance of a revolutionary government in Cuba following the end of Spanish control.[6]

In an effort to turn Cuba into a "self-governing colony",[6] the United States established fighters to maintain public order. American General Leonard Wood used the financial resources of the Cuban treasury to create sanitation systems.[6] A handful of civil rights, including the right to vote, were extended to literate, adult, male Cubans with property worth $250 or more, largely resulting in exclusion of the Afro-Cuban population from participation.[citation needed]

Cartoon protesting the Amendment

Provisions of the amendment[edit]

The Platt Amendment was introduced to Congress by Senator Orville H. Platt on February 25, 1901.[7] It passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 43 to 20.[5] Though initially rejected by the Cuban assembly, the amendment was eventually accepted by a vote of 16 to 11 with four abstentions and integrated into the 1901 Cuban Constitution.[5]

The Platt Amendment outlined the role of the United States in Cuba and the Caribbean. It mainly limited the right to make treaties with other nations. It restricted Cuba in the conduct of foreign policy and commercial relations. It established that Cuba's boundaries would not include the Isle of Pines (Isla de la Juventud) until its title could be established in a future treaty. The amendment also demanded that Cuba sell or lease lands to the United States necessary for coaling or the development of naval stations.

It read:

I.-That the government of Cuba shall never enter into any treaty or other compact with any foreign power or powers which will impair or tend to impair the independence of Cuba, nor in any manner authorize or permit any foreign power or powers to obtain by colonization or for military or naval purposes or otherwise, lodgement in or control over any portion of said island.

II. That said government shall not assume or contract any public debt, to pay the interest upon which, and to make reasonable sinking fund provision for the ultimate discharge of which, the ordinary revenues of the island, after defraying the current expenses of government shall be inadequate.

III. That the government of Cuba consents that the United States may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty, and for discharging the obligations with respect to Cuba imposed by the treaty of Paris on the United States, now to be assumed and undertaken by the government of Cuba.

IV. That all Acts of the United States in Cuba during its military occupancy thereof are ratified and validated, and all lawful rights acquired thereunder shall be maintained and protected.

V. That the government of Cuba will execute, and as far as necessary extend, the plans already devised or other plans to be mutually agreed upon, for the sanitation of the cities of the island, to the end that a recurrence of epidemic and infectious diseases may be prevented, thereby assuring protection to the people and commerce of Cuba, as well as to the commerce of the southern ports of the United States and the people residing therein.

VI. That the Isle of Pines shall be omitted from the proposed constitutional boundaries of Cuba, the title thereto being left to future adjustment by treaty.

VII. That to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon with the President of the United States.

VIII. That by way of further assurance the government of Cuba will embody the foregoing provisions in a permanent treaty with the United States.

After U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt withdrew federal troops from the island in 1902, Cuba signed the treaty the next year after which Cuba executed a lease of land to the United States for a coaling and naval station at Guantánamo Bay.


Following acceptance of the amendment, the United States ratified a tariff that gave Cuban sugar preference in the U.S. market and protection to select U.S. products in the Cuban market. Tomás Estrada Palma, who had once favored outright annexation of Cuba by the United States, became president of Cuba on May 20, 1902.

Most of the Platt Amendment provisions were repealed in 1934 when the Cuban-American Treaty of Relations of 1934 between the United States and Cuba was negotiated as a part of U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor policy" toward Latin America. José Manuel Cortina and other members of the Cuban Constitutional Convention of 1940 eliminated the Platt Amendment from the new Cuban constitution.[citation needed]

The long-term lease of Guantánamo Bay continues. The Cuban government under Castro has strongly denounced the treaty as a violation of article 52 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties,[citation needed] which declares a treaty void if procured by the threat or use of force. However, article 4 of the Vienna Convention states that its provisions shall not be applied retroactively.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 1901 Platt Amendment commentary at the US Archives online
  2. ^ US archives online, Date of ratification by Cuba
  3. ^ a b Records of the Provisional Government of Cuba, National Archives and Records Administration. "Established: By a proclamation of the Secretary of War, September 29, 1906, under general authority of the Permanent Treaty of 1903 between the United States and the Republic of Cuba, with oversight responsibilities assigned to the Bureau of Insular Affairs (War Department) by EO 518, October 23, 1906. ... History: Military Government of Cuba established by Maj. Gen. John R. Brooke, December 28, 1898, as a consequence of U.S. invasion and occupation of Cuba in the Spanish-American War, in accordance with Presidential order published in General Order 184, Headquarters of the Army, December 13, 1898. Spanish colonial administration formally terminated, January 1, 1899. Republic of Cuba established by transfer of sovereignty, May 20, 1902. Domestic unrest in Cuba led to the proclamation of September 29, 1906, which designated Secretary of War William H. Taft as Provisional Governor of Cuba. Taft succeeded as Provisional Governor by Charles E. Magoon, October 13, 1906. EO 518, October 23, 1906, ordered Governor Magoon to report to the Secretary of War through the Bureau of Insular Affairs. Military government terminated January 28, 1909."
  4. ^ the 1906 Taft proclamation
  5. ^ a b c Lars Schoultz. Beneath the United States: A History of U.S. Policy Towards Latin America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998)
  6. ^ a b c Benjamin Keen and Keith Haynes, A History of Latin America: Volume 2 Independence to the Present (Boston: Houghton Mifflen Co., 2004), pp. ??
  7. ^ LaRosa, Michael, Frank O. Mora (2007). Neighborly Adversaries. Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 65.