I read Henry M. Teller’s The People of the Island of Cuba Are, and of Right Ought to Be, Free and Independent. The primary source is preceded by a bit of context that is helpful in understanding the contents and backstory of the primary source. Basically, the introduction states that President McKinley didn’t convince congress that Cubans were fighting for an independent republic. Supporters of Cuban independence were pacified by the ratification of the Teller Amendment. The primary source reveals that the U.S. was aware of the terrible environment that Cubans were living in, but failed to act until the U.S. battle ship The Maine was sunk. This is seen in The People of the Island of Cuba Are, and of Right Ought to Be, Free and Independent by “Whereas the abhorrent conditions which have existed for more than three years in the island of Cuba, so near our own borders, have shocked the moral sense of the people of the United States, have been a disgrace to civilization, culminating as they have in the destruction of a United States battle ship” (69). Essentially, the sinking of The Maine was the last straw for the U.S., and caused them to intervene in Cuba.
Congress decided four things: that the people of Cuba deserve independence, that the U.S. is obligated to to force Spain to renounce control, that the President is allowed to send in armed forces, and that the U.S. will prevent any intention to control Cuba. I think that the obligation aspect of this is particularly interesting, as it reminds me of The White Man’s Burden and the discussion we had in class how the U.S. feels obligated to police and “improve” the world. Teller states “That it is the duty of the United States to demand, and the Government of the United States does hereby demand, that the Government of Spain at once relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba” (69). This statement proves the existence of the mental attitude that the U.S. believes it has an obligation to better the world. However, the U.S.’s intentions might be more genuine this time around because they are enforcing Cuban sovereignty, although it did take the sinking of The Maine for it to happen.