Why did the United States invade Cuba? (Read each source below, then answer the questions in the notebook. Ask your teacher for an inquiry organizer worksheet to help you think about the ways that the sources support and contradict each other.)


READ: President McKinley's State of the Union Address

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

The grounds for such intervention may be briefly summarized as follows:

First, in the cause of humanity and to put an end to the barbarities,1 bloodshed, starvation, and horrible miseries now existing there....

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

Third, the right to intervene may be justified by the very serious injury to the commerce, trade, and business of our people, and by the wanton destruction of property and devastation of the island.

Fourth, and which is of the utmost importance.... With such a conflict 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 are liable to seizure and are seized at our very door by warships of a foreign nation, ... -- all these and others ... are a constant menace to our peace....

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

[T]he destruction of the Maine, by whatever exterior cause, is a patent and impressive proof of a state of things in Cuba that is intolerable.... [T]he Spanish government cannot assure safety and security to a vessel of the American Navy in the harbor of Havana on a mission of peace, and rightfully there....

1The phrase "end to the barbarities" refers, at least in part, to the camps set up by Spanish governor Weyler to squash the Cuban independence movement and restore order. A popular topic for American newspapers, Americans read graphic stories about the horrible conditions within these camps that housed about 300,000 Cubans.

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

USE THE NOTEBOOK (instructions):

To answer these questions, log in below

Sourcing: Consider a document's attribution (both its author and how the document came into being).

What is McKinley's intention in speaking to Congress? What does this suggest about the tone and message that President McKinley might adopt in the speech?

Close Reading: Read carefully to consider what a source says and the language used to say it.

McKinley lists four reasons that justify U.S. intervention in Cuba. What are these reasons? Why might McKinley have arranged them in this particular order?

Contextualizing: Situate the document and events it reports in place and time.

Based on McKinley's speech, describe the state of affairs in Cuba. Find three phrases from the text that support your answer.

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