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The Teller Amendment

The Teller Amendment (1898), sponsored by Republican senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado, was adopted along with congressional authorization, 20 April 1898, for the use of U.S. military force to establish Cuban independence from Spain, following President William McKinley's request for force on 11 April.In the amendment, the United States disclaimed any “intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over [Cuba] except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determination when that is accomplished to leave the government and control of the island to its people.”

Teller was a friend of Cuban independence and had unsuccessfully supported U.S. recognition of the Cuban insurgents. The unanimous adoption of his amendment reflected considerable opposition to the annexation of Cuba on various grounds—racial, cultural, and economic (competition with U.S. sugar growers). It did not apply to other Spanish possessions such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. While foreclosing forcible annexation of Cuba, it did not prevent the postwar establishment of a U.S. protectorate over the island under Senator Orville Platt's amendment to the Army Appropriations Bill of 2 March 1901 (the Platt Amendment), which was made part of the Cuban Constitution, 1901–34, and authorized U.S. military intervention in Cuba when deemed necessary.
[See also Cuba, U.S. Military Involvement in; Spanish‐American War.]


John L. Offner , An Unwanted War: The Diplomacy of the United States and Spain Over Cuba, 1895–1898, 1992.
Jose M. Hernandez , Cuba and the United States, Intervention and Militarism, 1898–1933 1993.

Jorge Rodríguez Beruff

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