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Treaty of Paris (1898): Ending the Spanish-American War

Following the Spanish defeats in Cuba and Puerto Rico, an armistice was arranged on August 12, 1898. Fighting was halted and Spain recognized Cuba`s independence. The U.S. occupation of the Philippines was recognized pending final disposition of the islands. The final treaty was concluded in Paris on December 10, 1898 and provided for the following:

  • Spain agreed to remove all soldiers from Cuba and recognize American occupation of the area; the U.S. had previously pledged not to annex the island in the Teller Amendment
  • Spain ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States
  • The United States compensated Spain for its losses with a payment of $20 million.
Ratification of this treaty was not a foregone conclusion in the United States Senate. A great debate ensued, pitting imperialists against Anti-Imperialists. The point of friction was the Philippines, which were deemed by many not to be an area of vital interest to the U.S. Proponents of expansion argued that other powers (probably Germany) would move into the Philippines if American did not. Further, the U.S. had a duty to export its superior democratic institutions to this region—a revival of the old Manifest Destiny argument. In February 1899, the treaty received the necessary two-thirds ratification approval by a single vote. The United States had emerged as a world power, but its public was divided over the nature of the role to be played.