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Sources

President McKinley's State of the Union Address (Modified)

Some of the language and phrasing in this document has been modified from the original.

Head Note: President McKinley went before Congress to ask for a declaration of war against Spain.

The reasons to go to war are these:

First, in the cause of humanity and to put an end to the bloodshed, starvation, and horrible miseries that are now there.

Second, we owe it to our citizens in Cuba to give them protection for life and property which no government there can or will give.

Third, the right to get involved may be justified by the very serious injury to the trade and business of our people, and by the reckless destruction of property and ruin of the island.

Fourth, and this is very important . . . With such a fight waged for years in an island so near us and with which our people have such trade and business relations; when the lives and liberty of our citizens are in constant danger and their property destroyed and themselves ruined; where our trading vessels might be seized by warships of a foreign nation, all these and others are a constant threat to our peace . . .

I have already sent to Congress the report on the destruction of the battleship Maine. The destruction of that noble ship has filled the national heart with horror.

The destruction of the Maine, by whatever cause, is an obvious sign that things in Cuba are intolerable. The Spanish government cannot assure safety and security to the American Navy in the harbor of Havana on a mission of peace, and rightfully there. . . .

[Some of the language and phrasing in this document has been modified from the original.]

Source: Excerpt from President William McKinley’s War Message to Congress, April 11, 1898.