Treaty of Paris (1898)
|Signed||10 December 1898|
|Effective||April 11, 1899|
|Condition||Exchange of ratifications|
|Citations||30 Stat. 1754; TS 343; 11 Bevans 615|
|Treaty of Paris (1898) at Wikisource|
|Article IX amended by protocol of March 29, 1900 (TS 344; 11 Bevans 622). Article III supplemented by convention of November 7, 1900 (TS 345; 11 Bevans 623).|
The Treaty of Paris of 1898 (Filipino: Kasunduan sa Paris ng 1898; Spanish: Tratado de París de 1898) was a treaty signed by Spain and the United States on December 10, 1898, that ended the Spanish–American War. Under it, Spain relinquished all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba and also ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. The cession of the Philippines involved a compensation of $20 million from the United States to Spain.
The Treaty of Paris marked the end of the Spanish Empire, apart from some small holdings in Northern Africa and several islands and territories around the Gulf of Guinea, also in Africa. It marked the beginning of the United States as a world power. Many supporters of the war opposed the treaty, which became one of the major issues in the election of 1900 when it was opposed by Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who opposed imperialism. Republican President William McKinley supported the treaty and was easily reelected.
The Spanish–American War began on April 25, 1898, due to a series of escalating disputes between the two nations, and ended on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. It resulted in Spain's loss of its control over the remains of its overseas empire. After much of mainland Latin America had achieved independence, Cuba tried its hand at revolution in 1868–1878, and again in the 1890s, led by José Martí, or "El Apóstol." Martí returned to Cuba and participated at first in the struggles against the Spanish government, but was killed on May 19, 1895. The Philippines at this time also became resistant to Spanish colonial rule. August 26, 1896 presented the first call to revolt, led by Andrés Bonifacio, succeeded by Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy, who had his predecessor arrested. Bonifacio was executed on May 10, 1897. Aguinaldo then negotiated the Pact of Biak-na-Bato with the Spaniards and was exiled to Hong Kong along with the other revolutionary leaders.
The Spanish–American War that followed had overwhelming U.S. public support due to the popular fervor towards supporting Cuban freedom as well as furthering U.S. economic interests overseas. The U.S. was particularly attracted to the developing sugar industry in Cuba. The U.S. military even resorted to falsifying reports in the Philippines in order to maintain public support for U.S. involvement abroad. The U.S. appealed to the principles of Manifest Destiny and expansionism to justify its participation in the war, proclaiming that it was America's fate and its duty to take charge in these overseas nations.
On September 16, U.S. President William McKinley issued secret written instructions to his emissaries as the Spanish–American War drew to a close:
By a protocol signed at Washington August 12, 1898 . . . it was agreed that the United States and Spain would each appoint not more than five commissioners to treat of peace, and that the commissioners so appointed should meet at Paris not later than October 1, 1898, and proceed to the negotiation and conclusion of a treaty of peace, which treaty should be subject to ratification according to the respective constitutional forms of the two countries.
For the purpose of carrying into effect this stipulation, I have appointed you as commissioners on the part of the United States to meet and confer with commissioners on the part of Spain.
As an essential preliminary to the agreement to appoint commissioners to treat of peace, this government required of that of Spain the unqualified concession of the following precise demands:
The relinquishment of all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba. The cession to the United States of Puerto Rico and other islands under Spanish sovereignty in the West Indies. The cession of an island in the Ladrones, to be selected by the United States. The immediate evacuation by Spain of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other Spanish islands in the West Indies. The occupation by the United States of the city, bay, and harbor of Manila pending the conclusion of a treaty of peace which should determine the control, disposition, and government of the Philippines.
These demands were conceded by Spain, and their concession was, as you will perceive, solemnly recorded in the protocol of the 12th of August. . . .
It is my wish that throughout the negotiations entrusted to the Commission the purpose and spirit with which the United States accepted the unwelcome necessity of war should be kept constantly in view. We took up arms only in obedience to the dictates of humanity and in the fulfillment of high public and moral obligations. We had no design of aggrandizement and no ambition of conquest. Through the long course of repeated representations which preceded and aimed to avert the struggle, and in the final arbitrament of force, this country was impelled solely by the purpose of relieving grievous wrongs and removing long-existing conditions which disturbed its tranquillity, which shocked the moral sense of mankind, and which could no longer be endured.
It is my earnest wish that the United States in making peace should follow the same high rule of conduct which guided it in facing war. It should be as scrupulous and magnanimous in the concluding settlement as it was just and humane in its original action. The luster and the moral strength attaching to a cause which can be confidently rested upon the considerate judgment of the world should not under any illusion of the hour be dimmed by ulterior designs which might tempt us into excessive demands or into an adventurous departure on untried paths. It is believed that the true glory and the enduring interests of the country will most surely be served if an unselfish duty conscientiously accepted and a signal triumph honorably achieved shall be crowned by such an example of moderation, restraint, and reason in victory as best comports with the traditions and character of our enlightened republic.
Our aim in the adjustment of peace should be directed to lasting results and to the achievement of the common good under the demands of civilization, rather than to ambitious designs. The terms of the protocol were framed upon this consideration. The abandonment of the Western Hemisphere by Spain was an imperative necessity. In presenting that requirement, we only fulfilled a duty universally acknowledged. It involves no ungenerous reference to our recent foe, but simply a recognition of the plain teachings of history, to say that it was not compatible with the assurance of permanent peace on and near our own territory that the Spanish flag should remain on this side of the sea. This lesson of events and of reason left no alternative as to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the other islands belonging to Spain in this hemisphere.
The Philippines stand upon a different basis. It is nonetheless true, however, that without any original thought of complete or even partial acquisition, the presence and success of our arms at Manila imposes upon us obligations which we cannot disregard. The march of events rules and overrules human action. Avowing unreservedly the purpose which has animated all our effort, and still solicitous to adhere to it, we cannot be unmindful that, without any desire or design on our part, the war has brought us new duties and responsibilities which we must meet and discharge as becomes a great nation on whose growth and career from the beginning the ruler of nations has plainly written the high command and pledge of civilization.
Incidental to our tenure in the Philippines is the commercial opportunity to which American statesmanship cannot be indifferent. It is just to use every legitimate means for the enlargement of American trade; but we seek no advantages in the Orient which are not common to all. Asking only the open door for ourselves, we are ready to accord the open door to others. The commercial opportunity which is naturally and inevitably associated with this new opening depends less on large territorial possession than upon an adequate commercial basis and upon broad and equal privileges. . . .
In view of what has been stated, the United States cannot accept less than the cession in full right and sovereignty of the island of Luzon. It is desirable, however, that the United States shall acquire the right of entry for vessels and merchandise belonging to citizens of the United States into such ports of the Philippines as are not ceded to the United States upon terms of equal favor with Spanish ships and merchandise, both in relation to port and customs charges and rates of trade and commerce, together with other rights of protection and trade accorded to citizens of one country within the territory of another. You are therefore instructed to demand such concession, agreeing on your part that Spain shall have similar rights as to her subjects and vessels in the ports of any territory in the Philippines ceded to the United States. 
The United States and Spain will each appoint not more than five commissioners to treat of peace, and the commissioners so appointed shall meet at Paris not later than Oct. 1, 1898, and proceed to the negotiation and conclusion of a treaty of peace, which treaty shall be subject to ratification according to the respective constitutional forms of the two countries.
The composition of the American commission was somewhat unusual in that three of its members were senators, which meant, as many newspapers pointed out, that they would later vote on the ratification of their own negotiations. These were American delegation's members:
- William R. Day, chairman, a former US Secretary of State who had resigned from the position to lead the commission
- William P. Frye, a senator from Maine
- Cushman Kellogg Davis, a senator from Minnesota
- George Gray, a senator from Delaware
- Whitelaw Reid, a former diplomat and a former nominee for Vice President
The Spanish commission included the Spanish diplomats Eugenio Montero Ríos, Buenaventura de Abarzuza, José de Garnica, Wenceslao Ramírez de Villa-Urrutia, Rafael Cerero, and the French diplomat Jules Cambon.
The American delegation, headed by former Secretary of State William R. Day, who had vacated his position as US Secretary of State to head the commission, arrived in Paris on September 26, 1898. The negotiations were conducted in a suite of rooms at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the first session, on October 1, the Spanish demanded that before the talks got underway, the return of the city of Manila, which had been captured by the Americans a few hours after the signing of the peace protocol in Washington, to Spanish authority. The Americans refused to consider the idea and, for the moment, it was pursued no further.
For almost a month, negotiations revolved around Cuba. The Teller Amendment to the US declaration of war made it impractical for the US to annex the island, unlike Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. At first, Spain refused to accept the Cuban national debt of four hundred million dollars, but ultimately, it had no choice. Eventually, it was agreed that Cuba was to be granted independence and for the Cuban debt to be assumed by Spain. It was also agreed that Spain would cede Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States.
The negotiators then turned to the question of the Philippines. Spanish negotiators were determined to hang onto all they could and hoped to cede only Mindanao and perhaps the Sulu Islands. On the American side, Chairman Day had once recommended the acquisition of only the naval base in Manila, as a "hitching post." Others had recommended retaining only the island of Luzon. However, in discussions with its advisers, the commission concluded that Spain, if it retained part of the Philippines, would be likely to sell it to another European power, which would likely be troublesome for America. On November 25, the American Commission cabled McKinley for explicit instructions. Their cable crossed one from McKinley saying that duty left him no choice but to demand the entire archipelago. The next morning, another cable from McKinley arrived:
to accept merely Luzon, leaving the rest of the islands subject to Spanish rule, or to be the subject of future contention, cannot be justified on political, commercial, or humanitarian grounds. The cessation must be the whole archipelago or none. The latter is wholly inadmissible, and the former must therefore be required.
On November 4, the Spanish delegation formally accepted the American demand, and Spanish Prime Minister Práxedes Mateo Sagasta backed the commission. With the growing risk of the negotiations collapsing, there were mutters about resuming the war. The US elections on November 8, however, cut McKinley's Republican majority in the US Congress less than had been anticipated. The American delegation, therefore, took heart, and Frye unveiled a plan of offering Spain ten or twenty million dollars for the islands.
After some discussion, the American delegation offered twenty million dollars on November 21, one tenth of a valuation that had been estimated in internal discussions in October, and requested an answer within two days. Montero Ríos said angrily that he could reply at once, but the American delegation had already departed from the conference table. When the two sides met again, Queen-Regent Maria Christina had cabled her acceptance. Montero Ríos then recited his formal reply:
The Government of Her Majesty, moved by lofty reasons of patriotism and humanity, will not assume the responsibility of again bringing upon Spain all the horrors of war. In order to avoid them, it resigns itself to the painful task of submitting to the law of the victor, however harsh it may be, and as Spain lacks the material means to defend the rights she believes hers, having recorded them, she accepts the only terms the United States offers her for the concluding of the treaty of peace.
Work on the final draft of the treaty began on November 30. It was signed on December 10, 1898. The next step was ratification. In Madrid, the Cortes Generales, Spain's legislature, rejected it, but Maria Christina signed it as she was empowered to do by a clause in the Spanish constitution.
In the US Senate, there were four main schools of thought on US imperialism that influenced the debate on the treaty's ratification. Republicans generally supported the treaty, but those opposed either aimed to defeat the treaty or exclude the provision that stipulated the acquisition of the Philippines. Most Democrats favored expansion as well, particularly in the South. A minority of Democrats also favored the treaty on the basis of ending the war and granting independence to Cuba and the Philippines. During the Senate debate on ratification, Senators George Frisbie Hoar and George Graham Vest were outspoken opponents. Hoar stated:
This Treaty will make us a vulgar, commonplace empire, controlling subject races and vassal states, in which one class must forever rule and other classes must forever obey.
Some anti-expansionists stated that the treaty committed the US to a course of empire and violated the most basic tenets of the US Constitution. They argued that neither the Congress nor the President had the right to pass laws that governed colonial peoples who were not represented by lawmakers.
Some Senate expansionists supported the treaty and reinforced such views by arguing:
Suppose we reject the Treaty. We continue the state of war. We repudiate the President. We are branded as a people incapable of taking rank as one of the greatest of world powers!
Providence has given the United States the duty of extending Christian civilization. We come as ministering angels, not despots.
As the Senate debate continued, Andrew Carnegie and former President Grover Cleveland petitioned the Senate to reject the treaty. Both men adamantly opposed such imperialist policies and participated in the American Anti-Imperialist League, along with other such prominent members as Mark Twain and Samuel Gompers.
The treaty was eventually approved on February 6, 1899, by a vote of 57 to 27, just over the two-thirds majority required. Only two Republicans voted against ratification: George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts and Eugene Pryor Hale of Maine. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich had opposed entry into the Spanish–American War but supported McKinley after it began. He played a central role in winning the treaty's two-thirds majority ratification.
The Treaty of Paris provided for the independence of Cuba from Spain, but the US Congress ensured indirect US control by the Platt Amendment and the Teller Amendment. Spain relinquished all claims of sovereignty over and title to Cuba. Upon Spain's departure, Cuba was to be occupied by the US, which would assume and discharge any obligations of international law by its occupation.
The treaty also specified that Spain would cede the Philippine Islands, including the islands within a specified line, to the US, and that the United States would pay to Spain the sum of twenty million dollars.
Specifics of the cession of the Philippines were later clarified by the 1900 Treaty of Washington. The boundary between the Philippines and North Borneo was further clarified by the Convention Between the United States and Great Britain (1930).
Victory in the Spanish–American War turned the US into a world power because the attainment of the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines expanded its economic dominance in the Pacific. Its growth continued to have effects on US foreign and economic policy well into the next century. Furthermore, McKinley's significant role in advancing the ratification of the treaty transformed the presidential office from a weaker position to a prototype of the stronger presidency that is more seen today.
The US military occupation also continued to have further impacts abroad. In the Philippines, revolts against US involvement, initiated on February 4, 1899, quickly surpassing the fighting that had just ended against the Spanish. As one Filipino writer noted in 1899:
Now here is a unique spectacle – the Filipinos fighting for liberty, the American people fighting to give them liberty.
According to the US National Park Service, "The Spanish–American War and its aftermath delayed Philippine independence until after World War II, but established a relationship that fostered a substantial Filipino population within U.S. borders."
Furthermore, the Platt Amendment allowed the US to continue its occupation of Cuba without annexing it despite promises that had been made during the war and negotiations over Cuban freedom. To maintain control in Cuba, the US government espoused the idea that the Cuban people were unprepared for self-governance. As US Senator Stephen Elkins noted:
When Cuba shall become a part of the American Union and the isthmian canal shall be completed, which is now assured, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Hawaii and the Philippines will be outposts of the great Republic, standing guard over American interests in the track of the world's commerce in its triumphant march around the globe. Our people will soon see and feel that these island possessions belonging to the United States are natural and logical, and in the great part we are to play in the affairs of the world we would not only give them up but wonder how the working of our natural destiny we could get on without them. The splendid chain of island possessions, reaching half-way around the world, would not be complete without Cuba, the gem of the Antilles.
Overall, those occupations greatly contributed to the era's growing economic role of the US.
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- Spanish–American War
- Philippine–American War
- Puerto Rican Campaign
- German–Spanish Treaty (1899)
- Kiram-Bates Treaty
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Treaty of Paris, 1898.|
- Law.yale.edu: Treaty of Peace Between the United States and Spain
- Msc.edu.ph: 1898 Treaty of Paris — full text of the Treaty of Paris ending the Spanish–American War.
- Library of Congress Guide to the Spanish–American War
- PBS: Crucible of Empire: The Spanish–American War Senate Debate over Ratification of the Treaty of Paris