The United States Became an Imperial Power

The first page of the Platt Amendment

The US gained the islands of Puerto Rico and Guam and bought the Philippines from the Spanish for $20 million following the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. Subsequently, in 1900, Congress passed the Foraker Act, making Puerto Rico a United States territory.

Additionally, although the United States had granted Cuba independence, the “Platt Amendment” tied Cuba politically to the United States. The Platt Amendment stated:

  1. Cuba could not make a treaty with another nation that would reduce  its independence or offer territory to that foreign power.
  2. The US could buy or lease naval bases in Cuba.
  3. Cuba had to keep its debt low to preclude nations landing troops there to force payment.
  4. The US could intervene in Cuban affairs to preserve its independence and maintain order.

Clearly, the Platt Amendment allowed the United States to substantially determine Cuban affairs. Thus, the US had become an empire with several international holdings.

Unrest in the Philippines

Aguinaldo's guerilla soldiers

Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader of the Philippine Guerrilla movement against the Spanish, strongly hated the US occupation of the Philippines and called on guerrillas to attack US troops. General Arthur MacArthur thus set up “reconcentration camps,” as had the Spanish done in Cuba, resulting in thousands of deaths. These camps only further fueled Cuban resentment, causing a brief Cuban rebellion that lasted until American troops captured Aguinaldo in 1901.

The Reduction of Spain to a Minor Power

Following the Spanish American War, Spain had lost all of its territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Thus, Spain had lost its status as a major imperial power to the United States.

The Spanish American War