The Platt Amendment addressed a fundamental problem for the expanding United States. In 1898, the U.S. government had pledged under the Teller Amendment to withdraw from Cuba once Spain had been defeated in the Spanish‐American War. But after the U.S. military victory, Washington wished to maintain the strategic gains of 1898 and did not trust the Cubans to establish a government friendly to American interests. The Platt Amendment resolved this contradiction by in essence making Cuba a U.S. protectorate. However, the amendment also poisoned Cuban‐American relations and encouraged U.S. expansionism in the Americas in the early twentieth century.
[See also Caribbean and Latin America, U.S. Military Involvement in the.]
David F. Healy , The United States in Cuba, 1898–1902: Generals, Politicians, and the Search for Policy, 1963.
Louis A. Perez , Cuba Under the Platt Amendment, 1902–1934, 1986.
John Lawrence Tone
Platt Amendment, an appendix to the Cuban constitution that granted the United States extensive influence in the country, essentially establishing it as a U.S. protectorate. At the conclusion of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the U.S. Army administered Cuba until its adoption of a self-governing constitution. Within the policy parameters that dated to the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the United States desired to keep its influence on the island and secure it from future European advances. Toward that end, Secretary of War Elihu Root persuaded the U.S. Congress to approve a rider, named after the chairman of the Committee on Relations with Cuba, Senator Orville H. Platt, to the army appropriations bill of 1901. Subsequently, the Cubans reluctantly added the Platt Amendment to their constitution formed in that year and incorporated it in the 1903 treaty with the United States. The Platt Amendment secured U.S. interests but limited Cuba's independence. It restricted Cuba's foreign debt to levels acceptable to the United States and limited its ability to make treaties with foreign nations. It permitted the United States to intervene in order to maintain public order and gave that nation rights to naval stations eventually located at Guantánamo Bay. The United States intervened on several occasions after 1903 to supervise elections and provide for peaceful transfer of presidential administrations. The amendment was abrogated by treaty in 1934.
Manual Márquez Sterling, Proceso histórico de la Enmienda Platt, 1897–1934 (1941).
Louis A. Pérez, Cuba Under the Platt Amendment, 1902–1934 (1986), and The United States and Cuba: Ties of Singular Intimacy (1990).
Ibarra, Jorge. Cuba, 1898–1921: Partidos políticos y clases sociales. La Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1992.
Whitney, Robert. State and Revolution in Cuba: Mass Mobilization and Political Change, 1920–1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
Thomas M. Leonard
PLATT AMENDMENT, a rider attached to the army appropriations bill of 1901. It made Cuba essentially a protectorate of the United States until 1934. The amendment began as a series of eight articles drafted by Secretary of War Elihu Root in 1901 as guidelines for United States–Cuba relations. Congress passed the amendment, sponsored by Senator Orville Hitchcock Platt of Connecticut, in an attempt to address the relations between Cuba and the United States in the shadow of the U.S. occupation of postwar Cuba. After Spanish troops left Cuba in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War, the United States occupied Cuba until the provisions of the amendment were incorporated into the Cuban constitution in 1902. The Cuban convention was resistant to passage, and it was only under the threat of continued U.S. occupation that it agreed to accept the amendment, on 13 June 1901. On 22 May 1903, the articles were written into a formal treaty. The terms of the amendment allowed the United States "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." The amendment also permitted the United States to lease lands for the establishment of a naval base in Cuba. The amendment was abrogated on 28 May 1934.
Pérez, Louis A., Jr. Cuba under the Platt Amendment, 1902–1934. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986.
Suchlicki, Jaime. Cuba: From Columbus to Castro and Beyond. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2002.
Platt Amendment: see Platt, Orville Hitchcock.