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: Reconcentration Camps

Head Note: By the late 1800’s, the Spanish were losing control of their colony, Cuba. Concerned about guerilla warfare in the countryside, they moved rural Cubans to "reconcentration" camps where the Spanish claimed they would be better able to protect them. However, people around the world saw newspaper reports that described horrible conditions in the camps for the Cuban people, who were called "reconcentrados." This account was forwarded to Washington D.C. by Fitzhugh Lee, who said its author was "a man of integrity and character."


[W]e will relate to you what we saw with our own eyes:

Four hundred and sixty women and children thrown on the ground, heaped pell-mell as animals, some in a dying condition, others sick and others dead, without the slightest cleanliness, nor the least help....

Among the many deaths we witnessed there was one scene impossible to forget. There is still alive the only living witness, a young girl of 18 years, whom we found seemingly lifeless on the ground; on her right-hand side was the body of a young mother, cold and rigid, but with her young child still alive clinging to her dead breast; on her left-hand side was also the corpse of a dead woman holding her son in a dead embrace....

The circumstances are the following: complete accumulation of bodies dead and alive, so that it was impossible to take one step without walking over them; the greatest want of cleanliness, want of light, air, and water; the food lacking in quality and quantity what was necessary to sustain life....

From all this we deduct that the number of deaths among the reconcentrados has amounted to 77 per cent.

Source: Excerpt from an unsigned enclosure included with a telegram sent by Fitzhugh Lee, U.S. Consul-General in Cuba, November 27, 1897. Havana, Cuba.

USE THE NOTEBOOK (instructions):


These definitions should help with reading comprehension.

  • Consul-General: a government official living in a foreign city charged with overseeing the protection of U.S. citizens and promoting trade. He would make periodic reports to his superiors in the U.S. Dept. of State
  • pell-mell: state of disorder or confusion
  • reconcentrados: those Cubans who had been moved into the reconcentration camps


Listen to Historian Mike O'Malley discuss the Spanish response to Cuban insurrection movements.

Historian Think Aloud

Natalia is reading “Reconcentration Camps,” In this clip, she begins reading at the top of the second paragraph, “Among the many deaths.”

Using the Think Aloud

Listen to educator Daisy Martin explain how to use the Think Aloud in analyzing the document.

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