Incurring a Debt of Gratitude: 1898 and the Moral Sources of United States Hegemony in Cuba

by Louis A. Pérez, Jr.
Incurring a Debt of Gratitude: 1898 and the Moral Sources of United States Hegemony in Cuba
Louis A. Pérez, Jr.
The American Historical Review
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Incurring a Debt of Gratitude: 1898 and the Moral
Sources of United States Hegemony in Cuba


I expect nothing from the Americans. We should entrust everything to our own efforts. It is better to rise or fall without help than to contract debts of gratitude with such a powerful neighbor.

General Antonio Maceo (1896)

"I READ ABOUT THE . . . PEOPLE of Cuba who wanted independence and a republic," poet Carl Sandburg years later recalled, referring to his decision in 1898 to volunteer for military service in the Sixth Infantry Regiment of Illinois. "I read about Gomez, Garcia, the Maceos, with their scrabbling little armies fighting against Weyler. They became heroes to me. I tried to figure a way to get down there and join one of those armies." Sandburg continued: "I was going along with millions of other Americans who were about ready for a war to throw the Spanish government out of Cuba and let the people of Cuba have their republic. If a war did come and men were called to fight it, I knew what I would do."l

Sandburg gave poignant expression to what subsequently developed into the enduring North American representation of the war of 1898. For more than three years, the American public had followed accounts of the expanding insurrection in Cuba closely if not impartially, for popular sympathy for the Cuban cause had always been stronger than support for Spanish rule. The war in Cuba acquired immediacy in February 1898 with the tragedy of the U.S.S. Maine, whereupon the United States had additional cause for ill-will toward Spain. The loss of American lives in the Spanish colony conferred on the United States something of a direct stake in the resolution of the conflict, adding motive and momentum to U.S. involvement.

The U.S. war against Spain was a popular war, a war declared amid great excitement and enthusiasm, proclaimed just and justifiable, waged to put an end to conditions that spoke directly to the conscience of the nation, simultaneously a calling and crusade in pursuit of liberty and liberation for an oppressed people. The Cuban struggle was perceived as a righteous cause, a conflict that, early on, entered mainstream familiarity through such accessible discursive dichotomies as right versus wrong, liberty versus tyranny, underdog versus overlord. Cubans were

The author wishes to acknowledge with appreciation helpful suggestions received from Lars Schoultz and Rebecca J. Scott. Carl Sandburg, Always the Yozlng Strangers (New York, 1953), 376-77, 403-04.

Incurring a Debt of Gratitude

depicted as a heroic people, of firm resolve and bold spirit, but seemingly over-matched and out-fought, confronting insurmountable obstacles in the face of insuperable odds, theirs a cause that appeared in 1898 at risk of faltering and falling short of its lofty goals.

The proposition of a popular mobilization on behalf of Cuba Libre was registered then and remembered later as the principal rationale of war with Spain. Popular narratives in 1898 celebrated the call to arms as a project of beneficent sentiment, explicitly a mission of rescue and redemption. Harper's Weekly described the "popular movement in this country" and the "wild frenzy of desire" to free Cuba, and added: "The horrible tales . . . have fired the imaginations of our people, and have made them ready to incur the miseries and horrors of war in behalf of a struggling people." Carl Schurz wrote with heartfelt sincerity of "a war of liberation, of humanity, undertaken without any selfish motive, . . . a war of disinterested benevolence."2

The popular music of the time is rich with representations of the war as a project of liberation. Sheet music titles alone are suggestive: "Cuba Shall Be Free," "Set Cuba Free," "Fighting for Cuba," "Columbia, Make Cuba Free," "Cuba Must Be Free," and "For the Boys Who Have Gone to Set Cuba Free" are among the scores of songs written to celebrate the cause.3 The pages of newspapers and magazines across the country filled with solemn outpourings in the form of poems and odes eulogizing Cuba Libre.4 The letters, diaries, and journals of the men who rushed to volunteer for military service similarly provide powerful testimony of the extent to which the cause of a free Cuba moved a people to action.5

Political leaders were especially fond of proclaiming the generosity of the American purpose, and indeed these pronouncements served further to confirm the moral rationale for war. The United States was inspired by the need to "discharge . . . its responsibilities to civilization," Secretary of War Russell Alger insisted. "The American people naturally sympathize with all who struggle for liberty and independence," Senator Joseph B. Foraker reflected, "but especially with those who are of this hemisphere and our immediate neighbors. The struggle of the Cubans has been so heroic, and against such odds and wrongs, that it has excited the greatest interest and admiration." Action had to be taken, Foraker insisted, "to end the war, stop starvation, and give the Cubans their independence." Senator John Spooner was eloquent in his appeal to conscience. "We intervene to put an end to savagery," Spooner proclaimed during the Senate debate over the war resolution, and concluded: "We intervene . . . to aid a people who have suffered every form of

"The War Spirit of the People," Harper's Weekly 43 (April 16, 1898): 363; Carl Schurz, "Thoughts on American Imperialism," The Century Magazzne 56 (September 1898): 783. The most complete collection of war music is found in Sidney A. Witherbee, ed., Spanish-American War Songs: A Complete Collection of Newspaper Verse during the Recent War wlth Spain

(Detroit, Mich., 1898), 400. See James Henry Brownlee, ed., War-Time Echoes: Patriotic Poems, Heroic and Pathetic, H~lmorous and Dialectic, of the Spanlsh-American War (Akron, Ohio, 1898).

Harry H. Ross to Editor, The Freeman, September 30, 1898, in Willard B. Gatewood, Jr., "Smoked Yankees" and the Struggle for Empire: Letters from Negro Soldiers, 1898-1902 (Urbana, Ill., 1971), 197; Joseph H. McDermott to Magdalene McDermott, June 25, 1898, Joseph H. McDermott Letters, Manuscript Department, New York Historical Society, New York, N.Y.; Oswald Garrison Villard, Fighting Years: Memolrs of a Liberal Editor (New York, 1939), 134.

Louis A. Pkrez, Jr.

tyranny and who have made a desperate struggle to be free." Senator Henry Cabot Lodge was moving in his description of how the "brave fight for liberty and against Spain presently aroused the sympathy of the American people," and Senator George Hoar was spellbinding in his Senate speech:

It will lead to the most honorable single war in all history . . . It is a war in which there does not enter the slightest thought or desire of foreign conquest, or of national gain, or advantage . . . It is entered into for the single and sole purpose that three or four hundred thousand human beings within ninety miles of our shores have been subjected to the policy intended, or at any rate having the effect, deliberately to starve them to death.6

The national purpose in 1898 assumed fully the form of a moral cause, a summons to deliver an oppressed New World people from the clutches of an Old World tyranny that could not but ennoble all who responded. Certainly the purport of the Joint Resolution of Congress in April 1898-"the people of the island of Cuba are and of right ought to be free and independentn-which included, too, the self-denying Teller Amendment to the war resolution by which the United States disclaimed "any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said island," sewed further to fix the intent of liberation as the dominant representation of U.S. resolve, something to which commentators then and thereafter could point confidently as proof of purpose.

Popular discourse and political pronouncements seemed to validate themselves and pass directly into the collective memory, and they thereupon proceeded to inform the assumptions by which the narratives of the war were recorded and remembered and public policy derived. The notion of a war on behalf of Cuban independence to be waged and won by an explicitly selfless and self-denying United States emerged early as the principal explanatory structure. It is not clear, in fact, how-or even if-popular sentiment, that is "public opinion," shaped public policy in 1898. What is certain, however, is that the conventional wisdom about 1898, from participant observers and commentators at the time and historians later, accorded public sentiment a privileged place in the narrative of the war. Indeed, "public opinion" has been the single most enduring explanatory construct of the vast historical literature on 1898.'

After the war, North Americans understood themselves to have mobilized on behalf of Cuban independence, to have succeeded where the Cubans had failed, from which to infer easily enough a war waged and won for the purpose proclaimed. The narrative assumed fully the proportions of a national truth, incontrovertible precisely because alternative explanations were unimaginable. "Cuba was not able to expel Spain," Senator Albert Beveridge proclaimed in 1901, and thereby gave representative rendering to the American explanation of 1898. "The United States ejected Spanish government from that island. In doing this, the United States

Russell A. Alger, The Spanisl7-American War (New York, 1901), 4; Joseph B. Foraker, "Our War with Spain: Its Justice and Necessity," The Forztrn 25 (June 1898): 388, 390; Congressional Record, 55th Cong., 2d sess., 1898,31: 293; Henry Cabot Lodge, The War with Spain (New York, 1899), 14; Frederick

H. Gillett, George Frisbie Hoar (Boston, 1934), 203.

See Marcus M. Wilkerson, Public Opinion urzd tlze Spanish-American War (Baton Rouge, La., 1932); Thomas A. Bailey, Tlze Man in the Street: Tlze Irnpact of American Public Opinion on Foreign Policy (New York, 1948); and Gabriel A. Almond, Tlze Ariterican People and Foreign Policy, 2d edn. (New York, 1960).

Incurring a Debt of Gratitude

expended many scores of millions of dollars. Our soldiers gladly gave their lives." Champ Clark wrote about the United States "having freed Cuba," and Congress- man J. Hampton Moore alluded to the drawing "upon our blood and treasure to liberate the Cubans," adding, "Cuba was given her liberty through the intervention of the United States."8

The United States early assumed full credit for the victory over Spain, with none shared with the Cubans. Cubans were excluded from the surrender negotiations, denied participation in the armistice arrangements, and ignored during the peace negotiations. The moral, sometimes stated explicitly, other times left to inference, but always central to the emerging U.S. narrative on 1898, was unambiguous. Spain had been defeated and expelled, the North Americans affirmed, through the resolve and resources of the United States, as a result of the effort and exertion of Americans, through their sacrifices, at the expense of their lives and the expendi- ture of their treasure.

The United States took on and in the process took over the Cuban cause. The appropriation began almost immediately, in the very name by which the conflict became known. Silences betrayed assumptions. The representation of a "Spanish- American" war suggested in more than symbolic terms a conflict without a history, limited to only two parties.

The proposition of war waged and won by the United States purported nothing less than to redefine Cubans' relationship to their own independence. The denial of agency to Cubans served immediately to silence the Cuban voice in the discussions concerning postwar settlements. Cubans could hardly demand to be present at the peace table if they had been absent on the battlefield. The North American representation also changed the Cuban relationship to the United States. Cubans were henceforth proclaimed beneficiaries of the generosity of the United States, to whom they owed their deliverance and for which they were expected to be properly grateful.

THE SALIENCE OF GRATITUDE AS A DISCURSIVE MOTIF of the North American representation of 1898 gave definitive form to the normative context in which the United States subsequently arranged the terms of its relations with Cuba. The account served to insinuate gratitude as a source of binding reciprocity, simulta- neously a source of moral entitlement and means of social control by which to transact assumptions of domination. The narrative of 1898 served as a subject of multiple subtexts, central to which was the representation of an American war waged and won against Spain for Cuban independence. The proposition imposed a moral hierarchy as the principal explanatory framework of the war, with the Cubans (beneficiaries) having incurred a debt to the Americans (benefactors), by which Cubans were subsequently duty-bound to the United States.

The importance of gratitude in the construction and maintenance of binding social exchanges has long been recognized by philosophers and social scientists

Albert J. Beveridge, "Cuba and Congress," North American Review 157 (April 1901): 541; Champ Clark, My Q~larter Cent~~ry

of American Politics, 2 vols. (New York, 1920), 2: 401; J. Hampton Moore, With Speaker Carznon thro~lgh the Tropics (Philadelphia, 1907), 300, 405.

Louis A. Pdrez, Jr.

alike. Immanuel Kant wrote at length on gratitude as a "moral duty," insisting that "[glratitude consists in honoring a person because of a kindness he has done us. The feeling connected with this recognition is respect for the benefactor (who puts one under obligations)." Kant explained gratitude as an obligatory display attesting to "indebtedness . . . for a past kindness," necessitated "by moral law, i.e., duty." Conversely, ingratitude was characterized as "one of the most detestable vices" and "the essence of vileness and wickedne~s."~ Sociologist Edward Westermarck insisted that "to requite a benefit, or to be grateful to him who bestows it, is probably everywhere . . . regarded as a duty," while Benedetto Croce rendered gratitude as a "duty devolving upon an individual to repay with benefit the benefit received from another individual." Philosopher Fred Berger similarly argued that gratitude was "intertwined with an aspect of our moral relations," principally "as a response to the benevolence of others," and added: "[E]xpressions of gratitude are demonstrations of a complex of beliefs, feelings, and attitudes. By showing gratitude for the benevolence of others, we express our beliefs that they acted with our interests in mind and that we benefitted; we show that we are glad for the benefit and the others' concern-we appreciate what was done." The ties are indissoluble, Berger suggests, noting that "some form of reciprocation is requi- site."1°

The power of gratitude as a means of social control was suggested in clinical studies completed by Jack Brehm and Ann Himelick Cole, who concluded that "a favor tends to put pressure on the favored person to return the favor. The pressure to return the favor is a threat to the freedom of the favored person in his relations with the favorer." Indeed, Kant was entirely clear on the larger implications of indebtedness: "If I accept favours, I contract debts which I can never repay, for I can never get on equal terms with him who has conferred the favours upon me; he has stolen a march upon me . . . I shall always owe him a debt of gratitude, and who will accept such a debt? For to be indebted is to be subject to an unending constraint. I must for ever be courteous and flattering towards my benefactor." Philosopher Claudia Card reflected on the ethics of gratitude with particular attention to parties who were "distinctly unequal in power," and observed, "Historically, the powerful and the privileged have imposed their guardianship upon the powerless and have felt the latter should be grateful for their 'care.' " Sociologist Georg Simmel similarly understood that power "actually consists, not in the return of a gift, but in the consciousness that it cannot be returned, that there is something which places the receiver into a certain permanent position with respect to the giver, and makes him dimly envisage the inner infinity of a relation that can neither be exhausted nor realized by any finite return gift or other activity . . . The reason is that his gift, because it was first, has a voluntary character which no return gift can

Immanuel Kant, The Doctrlne of Virtue, Mary J. Gregor, trans. (New York, 1964), 123, 128; Kant, Lectures on Ethics, Lewis White Beck, ed., Louis Infield, trans. (New York, 1963), 218 (emphasis is original). For a historical survey of the place of gratitude in philosophical treatises, see Charles Stewart-Robertson, "The Rhythms of Gratitude: Historical Developments and Philosophical Con- cerns," A~~stralasian

Jo~lrnal of Philosophy 58 (June 1990): 189-205.

lo Edward Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, 2 vols. (London, 1917), 2: 155; Benedetto Croce, The Cond~lct of Life, Arthur Livingston, trans. (New York, 1924), 85; Fred R. Berger, "Gratitude," Ethics 85 (July 1975): 300-02.

Incurring a Debt of Gratitude

ever have. For, to return the benefit we are obliged ethically; we operate under a coercion which, though neither social nor legal but moral, is still coercion."ll

The proposition of gratitude as an analytical construct has obtained useful if limited application in the study of unequal power relations, nowhere perhaps with greater effect than in the literature on New World slavery. Certain informal types of paternalistic behaviors, most notably the display of kindness and compassion, have been recognized as strategies within complex systems of social control calculated to induce desired behaviors in slaves. Slaveowners could appreciate the capacity of paternalism to implicate slaves in binding reciprocities, whereby slaveowners attempted to parlay a display of compassion into obedience and a demonstration of kindness into loyalty. David Barry Gaspar recognized the resonance of such types of reciprocal ties in the slave system of Antigua. Gaspar addressed specifically the ways in which "that elusive but perhaps universal phenomenon of paternalism helped mold desirable slave behavior," noting: "Pa- ternalistic slaveowners endeavored to convince their slaves that, in return for humane treatment, they owed gratitude, which was most suitably expressed in loyalty and submission." In a compelling account of daily life on the James Henry Hammond plantation in South Carolina, Drew Gilpin Faust detailed the variety of strategies of domination, including "positive inducement [that] evolved into an elaborate system designed to win the slaves' allegiances." Concluded Faust: "Hammond had supplemented his use of rewards with rituals and symbols designed to persuade the slaves to accept their master's definition of their own inferiority and dependence and simultaneously to acknowledge the merciful beneficence of his absolute rule . . . [Glradually he sought to establish a system of domination in which he could extract willing obedience from compliant slaves, a system in which he could regard himself as benevolent father rather than cruel autocrat." Eugene Genovese commented extensively on "the doctrine of reciprocal duties," inherent in which were "dangerously deceptive ideas of 'gratitude,' 'loyalty,' and 'family' " that transformed "every act of impudence and insubordination-every act of unsanctioned self-assertion-into an act of treason and disloyalty, for by repudiat- ing the principle of submission it struck at the heart of the master's moral self-justification." Observed Genovese:

But just what is gratitude? Why did slaveholders dwell on it so? . . . In society much turns on the giving and receiving of equivalences, but where equivalence is out of the question, gratitude enters as a substitute. People are expected to be grateful not so much for the object received as for the experience of the giver himself. Between equals gratitude becomes a mediating force, which binds men into an organic relationship. But paternalism rested

Jack W. Brehm and Ann Himelick Cole, "Effect of a Favor Which Reduces Freedom," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 3 (1966): 421; Kant, Lectures on Edlics, 118-19; Claudia Card, "Gratitude and Obligation," American Philosophical Quarterly 25 (April 1988): 115, 124 (emphasis is original); Georg Simmel, The Sociology of Georg Simmel, Kurt H. Wolf, ed. (New York, 1950), 387, 392. Philosopher Terrance McConnell alluded to a "contractual relationship" that binds the benefactor to the beneficiary. See McConnell, Gratitude (Philadelphia, 1993), 19-26. These themes are further elaborated on by Alvin W. Gouldner, "The Norm of Reciprocity: A Preliminary Statement," American Sociological Review 25 (April 1960): 161-78; Martin S. Greenberg and Solomon P. Shapiro, "Indebt- edness: An Adverse Aspect of Asking for and Receiving Help," Sociometry 34 (1971): 290-301; Abraham Tesser, Robert Gatewood, and Michael Driver, "Some Determinants of Gratitude," Jo~trnal of PersonaliQ and Social Psychology 9 (1968): 233-36.

Louis A. Pkrez, Jr.

precisely on inequality. The masters desperately needed the gratitude of their slaves in order to define themselves as moral human beings.'"

Such relationships have still larger implications and must be seen as central to systems of colonial domination. Colonializers historically have sought validation in the self-proclaimed role as transmitters of progress and civilization, to which "natives" were proclaimed beneficiary and for which they were expected to display proper appreciation, most appropriately through submission to their colonial benefactors. Octave Mannoni wrote at length about Europeans in Madagascar and the "bonds of dependence" forged by gratitude, which "cannot be demanded, even though in a way it is obligatory." Frantz Fanon addressed the larger ideological implications in French claims of medical progress in AlgeriaPuThis is what we have done for the people of this country; this country owes us everything; were it not for us, there would be no country"-and deciphered the larger meaning of the French claim: "The fact that the colonization, having been built on military conquest and the police system, sought a justification for its existence and the legitimization of its persistence in its works." Of course, the spurning of the blessings of civilization introduced by the colonizer, Albert Memmi understood, served to expose a "notorious ingratitude," with far-reaching implications: "[Tlhe colonizer's acts of charity are wasted, the improvements the colonizer has made are not appreciated . . . [A] portrait of wretchedness has been indelibly engraved."l3

THEPOWER OF THE NORTH AMERICAN OF 1898 resided precisely in


its capacity to implicate Cubans in binding reciprocities derived from the moral calculus of the intervention. Americans arrived in Cuba on a self-proclaimed mission of redemption, self-consciously in the role of liberators, to release the downtrodden Cubans from Spanish colonial oppression. Spain had indeed been defeated and expelled, thus they inferred easily enough that the mission of liberation had been achieved. Intention of purpose shaped the perception of outcome. The United States had accomplished what it set out to do, thereby fixing the enduring representation of 1898. In the process, Cubans were transformed from active to passive, from subjects to objects, from agents of their own liberation to recipients of North American largess.

Cubans had a different view. They defended their claim to independence as an achievement rightfully obtained through their own efforts. They recalled more than three years of relentless war, not just 1898, during which they had inflicted countless thousands of casualties on Spanish soldiers and effectively driven Spanish units into beleaguered defensive concentrations in the cities, there to suffer further the debilitating effects of illness and hunger, circumstances that in no small fashion

l2 David Barry Gaspar, Bondmen and Rebels: A Study of Master-Slave Relations in Antigua (Baltimore, Md., 1985), 130: Drew Gilpin Faust, James Hen~y Hammorzd and the Old South: A Design for Mastery (Baton Rouge, La., 1982), 89, 101; Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York, 1974), 91, 145-46.

IWctave Mannoni, Prospero and Calibart: The Psychology of Colonization, Pamela Powesland, trans. (New York, 1964), 44-47; Frantz Fanon, A Study in Dying Colonialism, Haakon Chevalier, trans. (New York, 1965), 122; Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colorzized, Howard Greenfield, trans. (Boston, 1967), 82.

Incurring n Debt of Grntitzlde

contributed to the ease with which Spain was defeated in 1898. Cubans had already brought the Spanish army to the brink of defeat and more than adequately contributed to the vastly weakened condition in which Spain labored to mobilize for war with the United States. The role played by the Cuban army in joint operations with the United States, moreover, at Daiquiri and Siboney, in the engagements at Las Guasimas, El Caney, and San Juan, during the siege of Santiago de Cuba, as well as the success of Cubans in preventing reinforcements and relief supplies from reaching the besieged Spanish army in Santiago de Cuba, contributed decisively to the final military defeat of Spain.I4

Cubans acknowledged with appreciation U.S. assistance, but they were also impatient to bid the North Americans farewell and get on with the project of independence for which they had struggled so long. "We thank the United States for the assistance it has given us," General Jos6 Mayia Rodriguez said in October 1898, "but the time has now arrived when Cubans should be placed in the highest offices and should be prepared to take over the island on the departure of the Spanish." General Maximo Gomez brooded in late 1898 and confided to an aide, alluding to the conditions of Cuban gratitude:

What is going to be done about independence? The Americans, it seems. are not thinking about it . . . Even if finally they give it to us, it will be as a gift, while we have gained it. And more than gained it with continuous efforts during more than half a century. The Americans have had an easy campaign because we have exhausted Spanish soldiers and resources. I am obligated to be grateful to the Americans, but only when they fulfill their promises, and if they fulfill them with decency and without aggravation to the Cubans.1'

The continued U.S. presence on the island after the cessation of hostilities aroused Cuban suspicions. Impatience at times assumed menacing tones. "We have made a revolution against Spain specifically for our independence, and nothing else," General Pedro Betancourt warned, "we will not put down our arms until Cuba is, absolutely, independent . . . We are capable and sufficient in numbers to take care of ourselves and our own affairs." General Pedro Pirez was blunt. "If our independence is not secured now," Pirez threatened menacingly in August 1898, "I am willing to continue the fight for another thirty years, if necessary. The Cuban army has not fought for annexation or American control of our affairs. Our fight has been for independence, and the army will not be satisfied with anything else."'"

However, the United States had interests of its own in Cuba, many with antecedents that reached early into the nineteenth century and not all compatible with the proposition of Cuban independence. Expansionist aspirations were very much in the ascendancy, and the prospect of seizing Spanish possessions in the

Ii Among the best accounts of the Cuban campaign are "La cooperacion militar de 10s cubanos," Mnceo 1 (October 20, 1898): 15-28: Enrique Collazo, Los nnzericartos ert Cuba (Havana, 1905); Cosme de la Torriente, Cnlixto Garcia cooperd corz las fzlerzas arrnndas de 10s EE. UU. erz 1898, czrmpliendo brderzes del gobierno cllhnrzo (Havana. 1952); Anibal Escalante Beatbn, Cnlixto Garcia: Sli cnmpnrin erz el 95 (Havana, 1978), 465-672; Herminio Portell Vila, Historia de la gzlerrri de Cuba y 10s Estados Unidos contra Espnrin (Havana, 1949).

'jNew York Jol~ntnl (October 27, 1898): 14; Orestes Ferrara y Marino, Mis relaciorzes corz Mrixirno G6rnez. 2d edn. (Havana, 1942), 220-21. 'Vatria (October 1, 1898): 2; New York Herald (August 10, 1898): 5. See also the editorial "Nuestra impaciencia," Pntrin (October 5, 1898): 1.

Louis A. P&rez, Jr.

Pacific and Caribbean had given flight to the imperialist imagination. Vital commercial and strategic interests were implicated in the outcome of the Cuban insurrection, interests that were in fact at the heart of the U.S. decision to intervene. The representation of the war as an act of disinterested benevolence, from which the enduring moral vitality of the U.S. purpose in 1898 was derived, was not incompatible with the proposition of war in defense of national interests. On the contrary, the efficacy of the former as a means to the latter became evident early. For almost a century, the United States had contemplated the prospects of Cuban independence with a mixture of alarm and apprehension, fearful that a free Cuba would pose a source of regional instability and international tension, or worse: that an independent Cuba would pass under the influence of a hostile country capable of menacing U.S. interests in the region. The issue of Cuban independence may well have contributed to the decision for war in 1898, but as an eventuality to resist, restrict, or otherwise regulate.

The proposition of independence as an achievement properly obtained by Cuban efforts thus challenged the terms by which the Americans had assigned meaning to their mission and value to their victory. The Cuban claim was inadmissible precisely because, drawn to its logical conclusion, it negated the American rationale to rule. Cubans were rebuked for their pretensions but mostly for their ingratitude, attributed to unappreciative malcontents seeking to evade their obligations to the United States. When the newspapers Las dos republicas and La verdad in Puerto Principe demanded independence in July 1899, the local U.S. military commander could hardly contain his ire. "The two newspapers . . . are against American intervention," bristled Colonel L. H. Carpenter. "They go as far in this direction as to appear oblivious that they owe anything to the Americans." Correspondent Francis Nichols reached a similar conclusion. "Many of them sincerely believe that the war would have ended just as quickly without the slightest aid from the Americans," scoffed Nichols. "It has always seemed to me that this national conceit is at the root of the national ingratitude . . . Cubans are, as a rule, one of the most ungrateful peoples on earth . . . [Elveryone who knows the Cuban people knows that down in the bottom of their hearts there is no real gratitude, only a hope that Americans will soon receive enough thanks to leave them forever."l7

Cuban demands for independence were specious or suspect, North Americans charged, whereupon they drew another inference. Independence sentiment was the doing of persons engaged in mischief or influenced by wicked men, or people who knew no better. The Americans turned the Cuban demand for independence on its head, suggesting that Cuban aspirations confirmed their incapacity for self-government. Gratitude became a measure of civility and civilization, a standard by which to assess fitness for self-government, the absence of which cast larger doubts about Cuban capacity for independence. Major James Bell said what many were thinking: "What they want is to see us do the work and themselves reap the fruits." "In plain terms," the New York Evening Post declared as early as July 1898, "it has

l7 L. H. Carpenter to Adjutant General, Division of Cuba, July 10, 1899, War Department, Annual Reports of the War Department, 1899, House of Representatives, 56th Cong., 1st sess., serial 3901 (Washington, D.C., 1899), 316-17; Francis H. Nichols, "Cuban Character," The O~~tlook

62 (June 29. 1899): 710-11.

Incurring a Debt of Gratitude

been discovered that. . . the Cubans themselves were not worth one gill of the good American blood spilled for their benefit . . . They are obviously a wretched mongrel lot, . . . ungrateful to the last degree for the condescension of the United States in coming to their relief." Captain H. L. Street expressed a view common among U.S. army officers. "I think they are the most ungrateful set I have ever come across," Street complained, "and no one was a stronger pro-Cuban than I was before the war was begun." General Otis 0.Howard, former director of the Freedmen's Bureau, invoked a familiar frame of reference. He attributed the deepening "prejudice against the Cubans" principally to "a feeling that these patriots have not properly appreciated the sacrifices of life and health that have been made to give them a free countryn-circumstances similar to the "dislike of black men in 1863 in our own country because so many of them did not seem to understand, or be grateful for, what had been done for them."ls

General Howard's allusion to race relations in the United States was not without implications in Cuba. The realization that the armed ranks of Cuba Libre included large numbers of Cubans of color immediately had a sobering effect on American enthusiasm for independence. Color was indeed one of the first things race-conscious Americans noticed. "The valiant Cuban!" one officer scoffed. "He strikes you first by his color. It ranges from chocolate yellow through all the shades to deepest black with kinky hair." Lieutenant A. P. Berry discredited independence sentiment by suggesting that the population demanding "a government republican democratic in form and entirely independent of the United States . . . is made up of the turbulent class of the ignorant and the negroes." A New York Times correspon- dent wrote with concern about "an irresponsible government of half-breeds. The negroes, too, who, in varying degrees of mixture, constitute nearly one-half of the populatiop are another uncertain element . . . We cannot afford to have another Haiti." It was left to Governor General Leonard Wood to make the definitive pronouncement on the character of proponents of independence: "The only people who are howling for [self-government] are those whose antecedents and actions demonstrate the impossibility of self-government at present."l9

The representations of 1898, with the attending emphasis on American gener- osity and Cuban ingratitude, acquired commonplace familiarity as the dominant renderings by which knowledge of the war passed into popular texts and the historical literature. The Havana Post, an American-owned newspaper published in Cuba, denounced Cuban pretensions to self-government as "the most remarkable exhibition of affrontiveness and ingratitude that the leaders of a race saved from destruction and annihilation have ever shown towards its rescuer."20 "It is forgotten

l8 New York Times (July 23. 1898): 1; New York Everting Post (July 21, 1898): 2: Wnshirzgton Evening Star (May 2, 1899): 3; Otis Oliver Howard, "The Conduct of the Cubans in the Late War," Forum 26 (October 1898): 155.

lYJohn H. Parker, Histoly ofthe Gntling Gun Detnchmerzt, Fifth Army Corl~s, at Snrztingo, with n Few Unvnrrzished Truths Concerning That Expedition (Kansas City, 1898), 76-77; Lieutenant A. P. Berry to Adjutant General. Department of Matanzas and Santa Clara, August 26, 1899, File 995124, Records of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, Record Group 350, National Archives, Washington, D.C. (hereafter. BIAIRG 350); New York Times (August 1, 1898): 6: Leonard Wood to William McKinley, February 6. 1900, Special Correspondence, Elihu Root Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

20 Hcivnnn Post (December 8, 1900): 2.

Incurring a Debt of Gratitude

and political intriguers, and Cuba is placed in the false position of being an ingrate and turning upon the very hand that saved her from destruction.2'

The larger moral was unambiguous. "It is an old and time-worn saying that ingratitude is the basest of crimes," David Copeland wrote in the Washington Post in 1900:

From the days of Moses to the present hour no instance in history can compare with the action of so-called Cuban leaders. After our country, out of pure sympathy, has spent millions upon millions of treasure and sacrificed many of her noble sons upon the altar of humanity to rescue the Gem of the Antilles from Spanish greed and oppression, we are now called upon to give up all and retire from the field of action so that a hungry horde may reap what we have sown. And must we give the government over to men who have never received one lesson in the intricate school of civil affairs? . . . The amazing impudence . . . to demand immediate independence is unparalleled in all history . . . We are dealing with base men, devoid of magnanimity, and we must give them to understand that we have fathomed their true nature.22

"The Cubans have not generally been accredited with being a very grateful and generous people," lamented the San Antonio Express, "nor with having shown very high appreciation of the efforts of the American people in their behalf":

When matters had finally reached such a point that nothing short of armed intervention would save the Cubans from the prospective extermination at the hands of the Spaniards the . . . American armies landed on the soil of the Faithful Isle to aid in driving the Spaniards off and to give liberty and peace to the inhabitants . . . From the day the American troops landed in Cuba until the Stars and Stripes floated over every part of the island it was a Spanish-American war for the deliverance of Cuba. The Cubans really took no further part in the struggle . . . The Cubans had done little more than help to consume the American rations, yet they were immediately ambitious to assume the reins of government and bid the Yankees good-bye. They have been more or less restless every since, chafing under the restraint it was necessary to impose to save the Cubans from themselves. It cost the United States many millions of dollars and many precious lives to do what she has done . . . ,but the Cubans care nothing for thz~t.~3

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat used the occasion of the third anniversary of the founding of the Cuban republic to affirm the conventional wisdom that "it- was the Americans who emancipated the Cubans": "The insurrection which began in 1895 was on the point of collapse when the United States intervened in 1898 . . . Every sane Cuban of to-day understands this. It was the United States, and not [Mhximo] Gomez and his followers, who expelled Spain and gave freedom to the Cubans."24

Cuban independence as the objective and outcome of a war won by the United States soon emerged as the dominant U.S. historiographical rendering of 1898. Arthur Hendrick Vandenberg celebrated the liberation of Cuba as "one of the loftiest purposed acts in the history of civilization . . . [The Teller Amendment] compliments the altruism of a nation which . . . is prepared to serve human-kind in its own way and on its own initiative with a purity of dedication unmatched in any

21 Havana Post (July 13, 1900): 2.

22 Washington Post (August 27, 1900): 9.

23 Sun Antonio Express (November 30: 1900): 6.

24 St. Louis Globe-Democrat (June 4, 1905): 4.

Louis A. Ptrez, Jr.

THELOGIC OF THE NARRATIVE OF 1898 soon expanded to include the proposition that the expulsion of Spain conferred on the United States special responsibilities. The line between the rationale for war and reason to rule was straight and direct. That the Cuban republic had come into existence as a result of U.S. efforts, North Americans insisted, necessarily meant that the United States had incurred a moral obligation to guarantee the well-being of the nation it claimed to have created. "The self-government which we are called upon to establish is self-government guided by equity and common sense," the New York Times pronounced in July 1898. "The sacrifices of treasure and life that we have made clearly entitle us to fix the conditions under which the observance of these principles shall be secure, and to retain whatever power is requisite to enforce these condition^."^^ Whitelaw Reid, the publisher of the New Yo?-kTribune, who often served as the editorial voice of the McKinley administration, made an eloquent case for U.S. authority over Cuba, rich with allusions to moral obligations and ethical responsibilities. "Are we not . . . bound in honor and morals to see to it that the government which replaces Spanish rule is better?" Reid asked rhetorically, "Are we not morally culpable and disgraced before the civilized world if we leave it as bad, or worse? Can any consideration of mere policy, of our own interests, or our own ease and comfort, free us from that solemn responsibility which we have voluntarily assumed, and for which we have lavishly spilt American and Spanish blood?" And he answered:

If the last state of that island should be worse than the first, the fault and the crime must be solely that of the United States. We were not actually forced to involve ourselves; we might have passed by on the other side. When, instead, we insisted on interfering, we made ourselves responsible for improving the situation . . . no matter what Congress "dis- claimed.""'

Senator Orville Platt was categorical. "We became responsible to the people of Cuba, to ourselves, and the world at large," he insisted, "that a good government should be established and maintained in place of the bad one to which we put an end." "Our work was only half done when Cuba was liberated from its oppressor." Secretary of War Elihu Root drew a direct connection between representation of the war and authority over Cuba. "The United States," he wrote in 1901, "has . . . a moral obligation arising from her destruction of Spanish sovereignty in Cuba, and the obligations of the Treaty of Paris, for the establishment of a stable and adequate government in Cuba." Root insisted that, "after all the expenditure of blood and treasure by the people of the United States for the freedom of Cuba," and by virtue of "expelling Spain from Cuba, [we] have become the guarantors of Cuban independence and the guarantors of a stable and orderly government protecting life and property in that I~land."~~

The U.S. narrative on 1898 provided the moral rationale by which to mediate the

New York Tinzes (July 19, 1898): 6. Whitelaw Reid, "The Territory with Which We Are Threatened," The Cent~uy Magazine 56 (September 1898): 789.

Orville H. Platt, "Our Relation to the People of Cuba and Porto Rico," Annals of the American Academny of Political and Social Sciences 18 (July 1901): 147; Platt, "The Solution of the Cuban Problem," Tlze World's Work 2 (Map 1901): 730; Elihu Root to Leonard Wood, February 14, 1901, Correspondence between General Leonard Wood and Secretary of War, 1899-1902, BIAIRG 350.

Incurring a Debt of Gratitc~de

terms of Cuban independence and from which to reconfigure the meaning of independence around American interests. The defeat of Spain enabled the United States to subsume Cuban independence into the larger logic of U.S. national interests. American officials fashioned a particular version of independence, one nominally consistent with the Joint Resolution but also compatible with U.S. needs. Cuba would be free and independent of all countries-except the United States. The defense of national interests did indeed commit the United States to Cuban independence against the world, but it also obliged the United States to mediate the terms by which Cubans would exercise the attributes of sovereignty. Cubans could not be permitted to compromise or otherwise jeopardize the independence obtained at such great cost by North Americans. The United States had secured Cuban liberty and independence, Root asserted, and added: "It forbade her ever to use the freedom we had earned for her by so great a sacrifice of blood and treasure, to give the island to any other power." "[Tlhe peace of Cuba is necessary to the peace of the United States," Root insisted at another point, "the health of Cuba is necessary to the health of the United States, the independence of Cuba is necessary to the safety of the United state^."^^

North American authorities were prepared to concede self-rule to Cubans but not without reservations and not without restrictions. The Platt Amendment to the military appropriations bill of 1901 met U.S. needs. By its terms, the Cuban republic was denied precisely those attributes of sovereignty deemed most likely to jeopardize U.S. interests. Cuba was denied the authority to assume or contract a public debt beyond its normal ability to repay, denied, too, the authority to enter into "any treaty or other compact with any foreign power or powers . . . or in any manner authorize or permit any foreign power or powers to obtain by colonization or, for military or naval purposes or otherwise, lodgment in or control over any portion of said island." Cuba was obliged to cede to the United States-"to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuban-national territory "necessary for coaling or naval stations." The United States also exacted the right to intervene for the "preservation of Cuban independence [and] the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual 1iberty."33 The Platt Amendment was presented to the Cuban constituent assembly, which was enjoined to append it to the Constitution of 1901 as the non-negotiable condition to the termination of the U.S. military occupation.

News of the Platt Amendment precipitated protests across the island. Cubans took to the streets in organized demonstrations, marches, and rallies. Municipali- ties, civic associations, and veterans' organizations passed resolutions and orga- nized petition drives against the proposed appendix to the constitution. The Cuban protests evoked a sense of betrayal and breach of faith, of deception and duplicity. What of the Joint Resolution pledge to independence? Cubans asked. "Such an

i2 Elihu Root, The Military and Colonial Policy of the United States. Robert Bacon and James Brown Scott, eds. (Cambridge, Mass., 1916), 99, 219. "It would be a most lame and impotent conclusion," Root explained to Wood, "if, after all the expenditure of blood and treasure by the people of the United States for the freedom of Cuba . . . we should. through the constitution of the new government, by inadvertence or otherwise, be placed in a worse condition in regard to our vital interests than we were while Spain was in possession." See Root to Wood, February 14, 1901.

33 Congressional Record, 56th Cong., 2d sess., 1901, 34, pt. 3: 2954.

Louis A. Pkrez, Jr

order," former provisional president Salvador Cisneros Betancourt protested. "if carried out. would inflict a grievous wrong on the people of Cuba, would rob them of that independence for which they have sacrificed so much blood and treasure, and would be in direct violation of the letter and purpose of the solemn pledge of the people of the United States to the world as consigned in the Joint Resolution." General Juan Rius Rivera. a member of the constituent assembly, was indignant: "And I ask, if we concede to all or part of this, what remains of the independence and sovereignty that the American Congress recognized and committed itself to when the island was pacified in accordance to the Joint Resolution?" The Regla municipal council exhorted Secretary Root "to comply with the terms of the Joint Resolution." Republican Party president Rafael Garcia Cafiizares protested the Platt Amendment and asked for "its complete revocation and fulfillment of the American commitment to absolute independence for Cuba," while Federal Party president Pelayo Garcia called for the "complete fulfillment of the Joint Resolution which embodies the constant aspiration of the Cuban people. that for which they have sacrificed so many lives and wasted so much property." El cubano libre was incredulous: "Is it possible that the American people will permit their government to despoil us of what we have obtained?" Not a few shared the sentiments expressed in a letter published in Diario de la marina, signed as "A Veteran of Independence":

Rather than living under the "hurnanitarian" Saxon race we prefer death, because death is preferable to humiliating slavery. We, the veterans of the independence struggle, who took to the fields of the revolution in order to defend the sacrosanct cause of Cuban liberty, should force the complete fulfillment of the program of the Revolution. Independence or death! That is. the absolute independence of the Cuban people, or death and destruction of everything that rests on the face of this rich and today disadvantaged Pearl of the Antilles.34

Cuban protests were dismissed as further evidence of the general thanklessness with which Cubans repaid U.S. generosity. The United States had interests to defend, American authorities countered. to which Cubans could not be indifferent. The very independence of Cuba from Spain was due to U.S. beneficence, at great cost of blood and treasure; the United States would simply not permit Cubans to evade their obligations. The continued display of ingratitude, U.S. authorities warned, raised grave doubts about the Cuban capacity for self-government, with far-reaching consequences. "These people are base ingrates," former Consul Walter B. Barker wrote from Cienfuegos. "I pity this people for . . . they are incapacitated for self-government." With "minds of no greater scope than chil- dren," Barker asked rhetorically, "how could they be expected to conduct success-

"Salvador Cisneros Betancourt, Appeal to the Alnericarr People on Behalf of Cuba (New York, 1901), 13: "Opini6n del delegado Sr. Juan Rius Rivera." February 19, 1901, in Cuba, Senado, ~Zilernoria de 10s trnbajos realizados durante lus cuntro legislaturas y sesi6n e,xtraordinaria del primer periodo congresional, 1902-1904: ~Werzcidn histbrica; Documenlacion relacionada con 10s rrcontecimientos qcle dieron, cotno resz~ltado definirivo, la independencia y el establecimiento en republics ric Cuba, 1892-1902 (Havana, 1918), 396-97; Council of Veterans to Leonard Wood, March 9, 1909, File 3051, Letters Received, Records of the Military Government of Cuba, Record Group 140. National Archives, Washington, D.C. (hereafter. MGOCIRG 140); Municipal Council, Regla to War Department, March 7, 1901, File 568-28, BIAIRG 350; Rafael Garcia Caliizares to Leonard Wood, March 9, 1901, File 3051, Letters Received, MGOCIRG 140; Pelayo Garcia to William McKinley, March 4, 1901, File 568-64. BIAiRG 350; El cubano libre (March 12, 1901): 2: Diario ck la marina (July 21, 1901): 2.

Incurring a Debt of Gratitude

fully a Government of their own?"35 Washington Evening Star. correspondent Thomas Noyes could not conceal his disappointment. "Absolutely nothing is to be expected on the line of gratitude from these people," Noyes cabled from Havana in March 1901. "Many, in fact, are bitter in their remarks concerning the United State~."~6Governor General Wood fumed that the "political element are an ungrateful lot and they appreciate only one thing, which is, the strong hand of authority and if necessary we must show it.""

However, North Americans were reluctant to obtain compliance through coer- cion, although the availability of force as ultimate recourse was a contingency understood by all. Negotiations-such as they were-were conducted between two countries of vastly unequal power, with one occupied militarily by the other. U.S. policymakers sought to secure Cuban acquiescence through moral suasion, a way to act out the formulations by which North America had represented the motives and meaning of 1898 and on which rested the moral claim of domination. It was thus possible to shame Cubans into submission. "[Tlhe fact that so many of their leaders seem devoid of all gratitude to the United States for the many millions of dollars we have spent in their behalf," Congressman Henry F. Gibson remarked on the floor of the House, "makes me suspicious of what Cuba's fate may be when wholly committed to their hands." Gibson denounced the Cubans. "We found her people dying of starvation in prison pens," he retold the familiar story, "or slaughtered by a merciless foreign soldiery; and we have driven out these soldiers, opened the prison doors and made every Cuban free, and fed them generously from our own table." Gibson continued: "In a word . . . we found Cuba a hell, and we are fast converting it into a paradise . . . And shall we have no right to guard this island and see to it that disorder shall not take the place of order, and see to it that the island, by unwise treaties, be not given over to our enemies[?] . . . This is all that the [Platt] amendment proposes to do." Congressman Townsend Scudder agreed. "[Wle are in a position to make demands upon the island much more severe than any we will make, and still the Cubans would have no cause to complain." "We also should have the privilege of establishing naval stations . . . All these things Cuba ought to be more than willing to grant, but it seems that the convention delegates have very little gratitude . . . [I]n view of the cost of Cuba's freedom to this country in treasure and in blood, gratitude should impel her to lean upon America as her best friend and protector." Concluded Scudder, "[Ilt is not pleasant to have to urge upon one whom you have greatly benefitted the duty of manifesting a reasonable gratitude for such benefits, but it would be well were Cuba to show a bit more appreciation of what this Government has done for her . . . They have a sacred duty to perform toward us, just as we have toward them. A bit of gratitude and friendly feeling on the part of the people whom we brought out of bondage would be a pleasant thing to contemplate just now."" Senator Orville Platt could hardly contain his indigna- tion. Platt denounced Cuban "false pride," expressing dismay that there was "no

"Walter B. Barker to Senator John T. Morgan, April 2, 1901. Philip Jessup Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

"Washington Evening Star. (March 21, 1901): 11.

"Leonard Wood to Elihu Root. February 27, 1901. File 331-71. BIAIRG 350.

"Congressional Record. 34, pt. 4, March 1, 1901. 3375; Congressior~al Record. 34, pt. 4, March 1, 1901, appendix, 357-58.

Louis A. PCrez, Jr.

recognition of the United States, no expression of gratitude or friendliness." The constitutional convention represented the "most radical element of the Cuban electorate," Platt argued, "irresponsible as children, jealous of outside influences, dazzled with the prospects of at last being their own master^."'^ Secretary Root warned of dire consequences attending the Cuban refusal to meet their obligations. "If the American people get the impression that Cuba is ungrateful and unreason- able," Root threatened in an allusion to the Joint Resolution, "they will not be quite so altruistic and sentimental the next time they have to deal with Cuban affairs as they were in April, 1898." Two months later, Root was categorical. "[Tlhere is only one possible way for them to bring about the termination of the military government," Root warned, "and . . . that is to do the whole duty they were elected for . . . If they continue to exhibit ingratitude and entire lack of appreciation of the expenditure of blood and treasure of the United States to secure their freedom from Spain, the public sentiment of this country will be more unfavorable to them."40

The Cuban constituent assembly acquiesced and in June 1901 voted to adopt the Platt Amendment by one vote. The need to register gratitude played a decisive role. The weekly La tribuna justified the adoption of the Platt Amendment as a "duty of our people to assist the nation which helped to rescue us."41 "The brusque and precipitous manner in which the Platt resolution was imposed," future president Tomas Estrada Palma complained, "has injured my dignity as a Cuban and has caused me profound resentment." However, he added, in view of the fact that the United States was "a decisive factor in the achievement of our independence and in the creation of the Republic," an accommodation of U.S. interests was necessary as a way to "give full expression to our gratit~de."~~

The U.S. military occupation came to an end on May 20, 1902, amid ceremonies of what was celebrated as Cuban independence. North Americans congratulated themselves, then and thereafter, for a pledge nobly made and honorably kept. President Theodore Roosevelt was positively exultant on the evening of May 20. Speaking at Carnegie Hall in New York before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, Roosevelt celebrated "the spirit of character and decency and the spirit of National righteousness" that culminated in "starting a free republic on its course" and "setting a new nation free," adding: "I think that the citizens of this republic have a right to feel proud that we have kept our pledges to the letter."4'

Historians followed suit. With the end of the military occupation, R. D. W. Connor wrote in 1916, "Cuba was at last free and independent." Randolph Greenfield Adams pointed with pride to "one of the most creditable pages in

Platt, "Solution of the Cuban Problem," 731; Louis A. Coolidge, An Old-Fashioned Senator: Owille H. Platt of Conrzecticut (New York, 1910), 337. 40 Elihu Root to Leonard Wood. January 9, 1901. Root Papers; Root to Wood, March 2, 1901. File 331-71, BIAIRG 350. La tribuna (March 26. 1901): 1. 42 Tomas Estrada Palma to Gonzalo de Quesada, March 14. 1901. in Gonzalo de Quesada, Archivo de Gonzalo de Quesada, Gonzalo de Quesada y Miranda, ed.. 2 vols. (Havana, 1948-51), 1: 151-52.

4Wew York Times (May 21, 1902): 2. Fifteen years later, Theodore Roosevelt could unflinchingly continue to sustain the proposition of Cuban independence. "We made the promise to give Cuba independence," he proclaimed in his Azltobiography, "and we kept that promise." See Roosevelt, A~ltobiography(1913; rpt. edn.. New York, 1946), 504.

Incurring a Debt of Gratitude

American foreign policy when the United States kept its promise to make Cuba a free and independent nation," and James Ford Rhodes flatly asserted that the "pledge contained in the Teller amendment was faithfully kept." John Holladay Latane and David W. Wainhouse were unabashedly celebratory: "Never has a pledge made by a nation under such circumstances been more faithfully carried out."44

Those who understood what had actually transpired knew better. Until its abrogation in 1934, the Platt Amendment served to deprive the republic of the essential properties of sovereignty while preserving the appearance of indepen- dence, permitting self-government but precluding self-determination. "There is, of course, little or no independence left in Cuba under the Platt Amendment," Leonard Wood acknowledged privately to Roosevelt in 1901. The next step was obvious: "The only consistent thing to do now is to seek annexation."" Certainly Cubans understood what had happened. Independence had been compromised and sovereignty curtailed. "The Republic will surely come," a disconsolate General G6mez wrote to a friend in May 1901, "but not with the absolute independence we had dreamed about." And on the matter of gratitude, the newspaper Patria was unequivocal:

If there is no independence and sovereignty, why should Cubans have to show themselves to be grateful to the United States? For having deceived them? For having replaced Spain as master? . . . What service has [the United States] rendered to Cubans that warrants appreciation? Is it not as clear as daylight that they intervened for their own benefit? And in this instance, should it not be the United States which should be grateful to poor and trusting Cuba for having provided the circumstances for its self-aggrandizement?4"

The North American representation of 1898 served to sustain the U.S. claim of authority over the new republic and supplied the leverage with which to obtain Cuban acquiescence to the primacy of U.S. interests. It emerged as the principal source of validation of North American influence over virtually all spheres of the Cuban national system and indeed must be considered as the dominant discursive modality by which the United States achieved domination.

Nor did the Cuban debt of gratitude end with independence from Spain. On the contrary, it appeared to have increased. During three years of military occupation, the United States had borne the cost of extensive postwar reconstruction projects, including public works, public health programs, and educational reforms: some- thing more for which Cubans were expected to be grateful. "[Wlhat did we do?" Senator George Hoar asked rhetorically on May 20, 1902. "We not only lifted from Cuba the dark and heavy weight of Spanish misrule, but we threw around that island our great, strong arm, and while in the path of peace and the methods of orderly administration the people of that island were enabled to form their own govern-

44 R. D. W. Connor, The Stoiy ofrhe United States (Raleigh. N.C.. 1916), 366; Randolph Greenfield Adams, A History ofthe Foreign Policy ofthe United States (New York, 1933), 277; James Ford Rhodes, The McKitzley and Roosevelt Adnzitzistrations, 1597-1909 (New York, 1922). 177; John Holladay Latane and David W. Wainhouse, A History ofAinericatz Foreign Policy, 2d edn. (New York, 1940). 511.

d5 Leonard Wood to Theodore Roosevelt. October 28, 1901, Leonard Wood Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. 4h Maximo G6mez to Sotero Figueroa, May 8. 1901, in Maximo Gomez. Papeles dominicanos de 1l4a,ximo Gomez, Emilio Rodriguez, ed. (Ciudad Trujillo, 1954). 396-97; Patria (March 19, 1901): 2.

Louis A. P6rez. Jr.

ment, and to-day Cuba stands out among the nations of this earth." Senator Charles Fairbanks agreed, and on the day following the end of the occupation exulted:

In the history of this country and of civilized government there has never been an event of such splendid significance as that which was witnessed in that island yesterday. A solemn national pledge has been redeemed. A Republic has been erected under the authority of the United States, and the possession of the island has been surrendered to that Republic under happy auspices . . . Where there was monarchical power and tyranny four years ago a Republic has arisen and starts peacefully upon her career with the congratulations of the nations of the earth. The freedom of Cuba is accomplished-accomplished through the valor of American arms and the wisdom of American state~manship.~~

The national consensus on occupation was striking and unabashedly celebratory. North Americans congratulated themselves for a mission accomplished and a purpose achieved. Editorial comments echoed official thinking and shaped popular perceptions. "Vast improvements have been effected," proclaimed the Havana Post in 1900, "and we have given the people the first good government they have ever known." Continued the Post: "We found its cities beds of pestilence. We have stamped out yellow fever and made Havana as healthy a city as exists at that latitude. We took its starving reconcentrados [war-time internees] who have survived the war and other poverty-stricken people and fed them and clothed them. We organized a public school system, and have everywhere established law and order."48 "[Iln three years," exulted the New York Times at the end of the occupation, "we have put the Cubans in a better position for successful self- government than they could have been put by their own unaided efforts." The Times enjoined Cubans to appreciate the "new and better day" provided by the United States:

The sanitary work that we have done for them has alone compensated them a thousand fold for any sufferings of spirit they may have undergone through the postponement of their independence. We have established schools at which 75,000 of the children of the island are attending-certainly that is an achievement far beyond the expectations of the Cubans themselves. We have left them an orderly financial system . . . It is useless to speculate upon the ills that might have befallen them had we adopted the disgraceful and heartless course of leaving them to work out their own destiny unaided. The very real and living results of our care for them are pleasanter to ~ontemplate.4~

Cuba was launched into nationhood under optimum circumstances, North Americans insisted. "To-day we inaugurate in Cuba the experiment of building upon the ashes of extinct monarchical institutions the fabric of free representative government," the Washington Post proclaimed on May 20,1902. "No republic in the history of man was ever born under more auspicious circumstances . . . We desire only peace, order, prosperity, and strength for the new republic, which owes its existence to us, and which can do nothing so graceful as to make us proud of it." The Chicago Tribune agreed, noting that Cubans "have had the advantage of three years' tutelage under American administrators." Successful government would be

47 Congre.essiona1 Record, 57th Cong., 1st sess.. 35. pt. 6: 5686, 5719.

Hnvn~tnPost (June 26. 1900): 2.

J9 New York Times (May 22, 1902): 8.

Louis A. Pkrez, Jr

insisted, "it would be no more than fair that the Cubans should enter into an agreement with us by which they should give free entrance to our natural and manufactured products . . . and at the same time establish tariffs identical with our own against all European countries."jl When the newly installed Estrada Palma government contemplated a new trade agreement with England in 1902, U.S. minister Herbert Squiers bristled with indignation. "I cannot believe that the Cuban Government seriously considers England as a market," he cabled to Washington, and speculated that they were only after better terms from the United States. "The Cuban Government is prepared to make the best possible bargain, regardless of what they may owe the United States," he continued.j2 Squiers reported learning from Fermin Goicochea, a member of the board of directors of the Planters Association, that Cuban sugar growers supported expanded trade relations with Europe. "Mr. Goicochea belongs to a class of Cubans who are willing to sell their souls for the benefit of their pockets," Squiers complained; "they have no love or respect for our flag or any other . . . They are devoid of gratitude, devoid of any feeling other [than] mercenary."" In the end, U.S. pressure was not without effect, for the proposed trade agreement was defeated in the Cuban senate. "Unhappy will it be for us," Senator Antonio Sanchez Bustamante explained in opposition to the proposed agreement, "if public opinion in the United States shall come to believe that this people, which has received only favors from the noble and heroic republic of North America, looks upon the United States only with jealousy and suspi- cion."j4

THEMEANINC; OF 1898 ASSUMED MANY FORMS, designed in the north always to convey the larger obligations derived from the "Spanish-American War." In the decades that followed, the United Spanish War Veterans Association convened annually in Cuba to celebrate 1898. In what must be viewed as a ritualized enactment of U.S. representations, North American veterans marched annually in a parade in Havana to commemorate the U.S. liberation of the island.

Cubans obliged, and also engaged in the annual rite of acknowledging the national debt of gratitude. Commented the Diario de la marina in 1925,

Cuba knows how to appreciate the sacrifices made by these heroes. . . We are sure that those veterans who after twenty-five years have come to visit us, each in his heart feels that his offering was not made in vain, and that Cuba has shown its worthiness by developing, in a comparatively short period of time, into one of the most modern rep~lblics in the Western Hemisphere . . . We must confess, however that on more than one occasion we have probably disappointed our neighbors of the North by committing errors that resulted from lack of experience in self-government . . . We hope that we can show and demonstrate in

a James H. Wilson to Joseph Benson Foraker, May 12, 1899, General Correspondence, James H. Wilson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

'? Herbert Squiers to John Hay, October 9, 1902. Despatches of U.S. Ministers to Cuba, 1902-1906, General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59, National Archives, Washington, D.C. (hereafter, DS!RG 59.)

Herbert Squiers to John Hay, October 23, 1902, DSIRG 59.


Daily Telegrupl~ (May 23. 1905): 1.

Itzcurring a Debt of Gmtitude

other ways to our visitors that their efforts to aid LIS have not been in vain . . . We hope that the American people will forgive us, even if they do not entirely forget our errors.s5

In 1928, CBndida Cruz Miranda of the Ministry of Public Health addressed visiting members of the Florida delegation of the United Spanish War Veterans as "our saviors," adding, "[Hlad it not been for the great American republic which sent these brave soldiers down here to help us obtain our liberty, we would have never been free and probably all Cubans in the woods would have perished . . . We must be grateful to the United States."j6

Gratitude obtained other expressions, none perhaps more public than the commemorations associated with monuments and memorial statues. The island filled with markers and statues memorializing the liberation of Cuba by the United States. In 1901, the U.S. military government placed a monument on San Juan Hill to commemorate the victory of the Rough Riders. Three years later, the "First Landing Monument" was erected at Daiquiri. In 1906, a battle monument at El Caney, with a roster tablet, commemorated the role of Captain Allyn Capron's Artillery Battery E in the U.S. victory. In 1908, a bronze plaque was dedicated in Siboney to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the U.S. landing. The site of a great Ceiba tree in Santiago de Cuba, whose expansive branches provided the shade under which representatives of Spain and the United States negotiated the terms of the surrender of Santiago de Cuba, was made into a small public park. An open bronze book was placed at the base of the "Peace Tree" recording the names of American servicemen who lost their lives in land and sea operations. In 1924, a monument to Theodore Roosevelt was dedicated in the new "Roosevelt Park" in Santiago de Cuba, in recognition, U.S. Consul Francis Stewart reported, of the "valiant service in the capture of Santiago from the Spanish forces in July 1898" and "symbolizing the creation of the Cuban nation by the people of the United States."j7 In the same year, a memorial to the Eighth Massachusetts Regiment was dedicated in Matanzas. In 1925, the Veterans Association 71st Regiment New York Volunteers dedicated an eight-foot bronze figure of a U.S. soldier in honor of the volunteers who lost their lives in the Santiago campaign. In March 1925, President Alfredo Zayas dedicated a monument to the Maine in Havana on which was inscribed simply:

To the Victims of the Maine.

The People of Cuba

"The kindly sentiments of gratitude shown by the people of Cuba in erecting this exceptionally beautiful monument," said General John Pershing, himself a veteran of the war and heading the U.S. delegation on the occasion of the dedication ceremonies, "will be warmly appreciated by the American people as a new evidence of friendship and good will." Pershing extolled the "very intimate relationship" between Cuba and the United States, adding, "By our association with her on the

"Diario de la marina (October 5, 1925): 2.
sh Havana Post (October 13, 1928): 2.
57 Francis R. Stewart to Secretary of State. December 16, 1924, 837.413T26i7. DSiRG 59

Irzczirring a Debt of Gr.atitucle

battlefield we helped secure the independence she now enjoys."" The Maine monument, the Havana Post proclaimed, represented "one more link to the cordial and friendly relations existing between Cuba and the United States and in granite and marble perpetuates the gratitude of the Cuban people for America's generous aid in her struggle for freedom."-i9 Every year thereafter, through the late 1940s, the Maine monument served as the site of February 15 commemorative ceremonies, in which soldiers and sailors from both countries joined together to march in a parade.

The representation of "Spanish-American War" had far-reaching and long- lasting implications. Claims advanced first in 1898 as political propositions and subsequently transformed into historical truths developed into the conventional wisdom from which policy assumptions seemed as self-evident as they were self-explanatory. More than half a century of US.-Cuba relations were driven by North American policy paradigms first fashioned in 1898, always with a clear if unstated moral, a reminder of what had been done for Cubans as a way to insinuate what was expected of them. The line of reasoning was straight and unbroken. "Cuba . . . owes to us her birth," Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed on one occasion.Gu Twenty-five years later, U.S. Ambassador to Cuba Harry Guggenheim made the same point, reiterating that "American intervention gave to Cuba its indepen- dence," and the obligatory inference: "We then felt a moral responsibility for the new State which we had brought into being."hl

Something special linked Cuba to the United States, North Americans pro- claimed repeatedly. "We gave her liberty," Roosevelt pronounced in 1903. "We are knit to her by memories of the blood and courage of our soldiers who fought for her in war; by the memories of the wisdom and integrity of our administrators who served her in peace and who started her so well on the difficult path of self-government."" The year 1898 was the moment in which the U.S. relationship to Cuba was fixed, and in a particular way: as benefactor, as protector-as progenitor of sorts, what U.S. Ambassador Earl E. T. Smith later characterized as a "special relationship" and historian Lynn-Darrell Bender described as a "senti- mental relationship." Preparations for the Maine day celebrations in 1948 prompted the State Department Office of Inter-American Affairs to declare that the "people

"Pershing's speech was forwarded to the Department of State in John Pershing to Secretary of State. n.d.. John Pershing Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. "The Cuban people;" President Zayas responded to Pershing's comments. "like all beings inspired by loyal and noble sentiments, must be eternally grateful to the United States." See La l~lclzn (March 9; 1945): 4. The most complete account of the construction and dedication of the Maine monument is found in the bilingual edition of Emeterio S. Santovenia. Libro conrnenzor.ativo de la inaclg~lrucion del ~Vluirle erz La Habarza (Havana, 1928).

j9 Huvunu Post (March 9; 1925): 9. "Grateful Cubans erected this monument," Melville Bell Grosvenor observed in ,Vntiotlal Geographic Mugcrzine twenty years later. See Grosvenor. "Cuba- American Sugar Bowl," Nntioncrl Geogruplzic Mnguzirze 91 (January 1947): 2. In February 1998. on the occasion of the centennial of the explosion of the ~Vluine;the New York Times described the memorial as an expression of Cuban "gratitude for the United States role in the struggle for independence." See New Yo1.k Tinzes (February 14, 1998): A4.

Theodore Roosevelt. "Special Message," June 13, 1902. United States Congress; Joint Committee on Printing, A Cornpilutiorz ofthe 1Vfessages crnd Papers of the Plssicier~ts, 15 vols. (New York. n.d.). 15: 6683.

h1 Harry F. Guggenheirn, The United Stutes clrld Cuba (New York, 1934), 45-46, 243. Theodore Roosevelt, "Special Session Message.'' November 10. 1903. Conzpilatiorz of ikfessuges and Papers of tlze Plssiilents. 15: 6742-43.

of the United States and Cuba . . . share a bond, unique among the other republics of Latin America, of having striven side by side for the liberation of the island.""'

North Americans expected gratitude to bind Cuba to the United States forever, as Cuba would be under eternal obligation to the United States for its very llatiollal existence. Senator Platt foresaw Cuba "bound to us by location. helplesslless and . . . by the sentiment of gratitude." TIze Natiorl confidently predicted eventual annexation, "coming in the natural way, as the result of gratitude, friendly intercourse, and trade."" Destinies were proclaimed joined in 1898. illdissolubly and in perpetuity, a relationship consecrated by the U.S. sacrifices. "Thirty-five years ago," Assistant Secretary of State Sumner Welles explained in 1934, "the United States helped the Cuban people win their independence as a free people. American blood was shed upon the soil of Cuba . . . to obtain Cuban liberty." Fifteen years later, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the war with Spain. President Harry Truman pointed to the Joint Resolution as "the foundation upon which our relations with the Cuban Republic are based," a cornmitmellt that "expressed our determination that once the Cuban people were liberated, they, and they alone, should govern the Island of Cuba." Added Truman: "[Flew nations of differing languages and cultures have drawn so closely together during the last 50 years, freely and without duress, as have Cuba and the United States." On the same occasion, the Wrrshirzgtorz Post was unabashedly celebratory: "It was just 50 years ago . . . that Cuba with American help attained her independence . . . and respect. and the two countries have perhaps a closer bond .than most because of the circumstances of Cuba's deliveran~e."~~

Such pronouncements were simultaneously consequence and confirmation of narratives first formulated in 1898 and indeed must be placed at the heart of North American understalldillg of the reciprocities by which Cuba was bound to the United States. Cuban conduct was measured in relationship to 1898, deemed appropriate and adequate-or not-as a function of obligations owed to the United States. Thus Cuban participation in World War I was represented as repayment of 1898. "The United States came to the aid of Cuba in her great struggle for liberty in 1898," pronounced U.S. Ambassador Noble Judah in 1929. "Twenty years later Cuba repaid her debt when the United States entered the World War."f36

The narrative also served as the script by which to rebuke Cubans for policies opposed by the United States. When the Cuban Ministry of Education repealed mandatory English-language instruction in 1915, the Memphis Conzr71el-cia1Appeal remembered 1898: "The American people are the best friends the Cubans have

h"arl E. T. Smith, The Forcrtll Floor (Ncw York, 1962). 23; Lynn-Darrell Bender. Crtba 1,s. Crilited States: Tile Politics of Hosrilih. 2d cdn. (Hato Rey. P.R.. 1981), 2; Office of Inter-American Affairs. "Maine Day Congressional Dclegation,'' February 12, 19438, 837.315,'2-1248, DSIRG 59.

hWrville H. Platt. "Cuba's Clailn upon the United Statcs." 1mi.rll Ail~ericcii~ Rel,ieit, 165 (August 1902): 146; The S(rfior1 71 (August 2, 1900): 85. h5 Sumncr Welles, Rel~irioi~shetn,eei~tile Crilitetl Stares ~tiicl CrtOli (Washington. D.C.. 1934), 2; Harry

S. Truman, "Address bcfore a Joint Session of the Congress in Observance of the 50th Anniversary of Cuban Indepcndcncc," April 1") 1948. in Plrblic Pti11cr:c of' rile Pi.esidcrlt,c of rile Criiirerl Sttrtes: Hfrl.iy S. Truman, I948 (Washington, D.C.. 1963): 225; Wct,'ci.rl~irigroil

Post (April 27; 1948): 12.

hv'Ambassador Judah's Address at Maine Melnorial Exercises." Fcbruary 15, 1929. 837.313,'h128- 33, DS/RG 59: Noble Brandon Judah, "Diary of My Stay in Cuba." February 15, 1929, Noblc Brandon Judah Papers, Manuscript Division. Library of Congress.

Louis A. Ptrez, Jr.

today. . . It was the people of the United States who gave the Cubans their freedom. It was because of American influence that the Spanish yoke was cast aside. Cuba has not been a grateful nation." The Havana Post agreed: "It need not be a matter of pride with Americans, for English needs no defense. But it may seem to some rather ungracious . . . for the Cubans to cut the language of their deliverers from the public school curric~lum."~~

Representations of 1898 were employed to counter Cuban criticism of U.S. policy in Latin America, which served also to discourage Cuban solidarity with Latin America. When El heraldo de Cuba criticized U.S. policy in Mexico in 1916, the Havana Post retorted:

One would think that after the Americans set Cuba free and guaranteed her sovereignty . . . that there would never be heard anything but kindly phrases for the great and good friend of the North, but such is not the case, for it is a startling fact that practically . . . all [newspapers] are in active sympathy with Mexico in the present controversy between that country and the United States . . . Has Mexico spent millions for Cuban independence for which she has never rendered a bill as the United States? Did Mexico, when the Cuban reconcentrados were starving by the thousands, send millions worth of foodstuffs here and in every town and village distribute free American army rations to the needy ones as the United States did? . . . Has Mexico guaranteed to the world that the sovereignty of Cuba shall never be impaired, as the United States has? No? Then why this sympathy with Mexico when the United States has borne patiently hundreds and hundreds of insults, has seen its citizens robbed and murdered in Mexico time after time, and finally has even had its own territories invaded by armed me xi can^?^^

The Post similarly attacked the conservative and formerly pro-Spanish Diario de la rnarina, which also criticized U.S. policy in Mexico: "Such ingratitude! If there is a paper in Cuba that should be grateful to Americans it is the Diario de la Marina . . . So bitter had been the Diario against everything Cuban that once the Spanish regime was withdrawn from Cuba the natives wanted to rid themselves once and forever from the newspaper that had occupied itself through its existence in sneering at everything Cuban . . . The protection of the American government, however, saved the Diario . . . [and] so does the Diario show its gratitude."" When La noche criticized the U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic, the Havana Post excoriated Cubans for their misplaced sympathies. "What is the purpose of La Noche in making such allegations against the American government?" Did it wish to arouse "against the United States the hatred of all Latin Americans, especially of the Cubans," against the nation that in 1898 had "sent Americans to bleed in Cuba's ca~se"?7~

The North American narrative of 1898 entered fully into the realms of popular imagination as the ordinary and commonplace terms by which the Cuban relation- ship to the United States was defined. It provided the imagery through which vast numbers of Americans acquired familiarity with Cuba. Popular writers in particular were given to describing Cuba in relationship to 1898. The Cuban "has neither the

"Coinn?etccal Appeal (Septemhel 27. 1915) 6. Hcrl arlcr Post (September 28, 1915): 2.
6S Havatla Post (June 28, 1916). 3.
"Havana Post (May 17, 1014): 3.
70 Havaila Post (September 18. 1920): 4.

Inc~irrilzga Debt of Gmtitude

force nor the executive ability to carry out his designs," Forbes Lindsay concluded in 1911. "For a full century he has conspired to throw off the galling yoke of Spain, and he would never have done it but for the intervention of the United States." Henry Phillips characterized the Cuban as "the problem stepchild of the United States" and added: "While Cuba owes her very existence as a nation to the United States, her gratitude and friendliness have been of a most doubtful character . . .No other nation, perhaps, have we aided so constructively, and been rewarded with so much distrust and lack of confidence." Travel writer Marian George suggested that, prior to 1898, Cuba "had no government; there were no schools outside of a few of the largest towns, the country was full of beggars, the towns were unclean, and . . . there were swarms of hungry, homeless, destitute people everywhere. There were no proper hospitals or charities, no money in the public treasuries." Henry Wack offered a similar judgment in 1931: "But for the liberation of our Cuban neighbors by the U.S. . . . Havana would still be the dump it was in the last century." Hyatt Verrill wrote of the "competent, enthusiastic, trained, honest and zealous men" of the U.S. military occupation under whom "an almost inconceivable amount of reconstruction, sanitation, reformation and improvement was carried out," adding: "[Elverything possible was done to place Cuba and Havana in perfect condition before turning the island over to the Cubans." Continued Verrill, "Since then its history has been largely made up of mismanagement, graft, political intrigues, sporadic revolts, plots, mad financial speculations, unwonted prosperity and riches, and periods of depression . . . [Wlorst of all is the ingratitude of the people whom we helped to freedom, for whom we did everything possible to assure their future. It was a thankless task."71

At a critical point in their national formation, Cubans seemed to have been dislodged from their own history. North American representations of 1898, at the time and continuing thereafter, served to weaken Cuban claims to sovereignty and self-determination. Cubans were denied the moral authority to advance the primacy of national interests as an attribute of national sovereignty, obliged instead to accommodate U.S. interests as the principal rationale of independence.

These developments had far-reaching implications. Three decades of Cuban liberation struggles in the nineteenth century seemed to have dissolved into a futile project, producing a crisis at the very point of national origins and troubling ambiguities on the sources of national identity. The subordination of Cuban interests to U.S. needs produced national frustration and in the process contributed to the development of nationalist impulses driven principally by anti-American sentiment.

The question of 1898 insinuated itself deeply into Cuban national sensibilities, which meant, too, that it loomed large in public forums and political debates. In the emerging nationalist discourse, the year 1898 was remembered as an usurpation, a point of preemption, when Cubans were displaced as actors and transformed into the audience. The proposition of 1898 as a wrong to redress emerged early as one

Forbes Lindsay, Cuba and Her People of To-Day (Boston, 1911); 87; Henry Albert Phillips; White Eleplzaizts in the Caribbean (New York; 1936), 129; Marian M. George, A Little Jolruzey of Cuba nnd Porto Rico (Chicago, 1023), 7S-80; Hcnry W. Wack, "Cuba and Wcst Indics Winter Charm," Arts & Decoration 34 (February 1931): 53; Hyatt Vcrrill, Cuba of Today (Ncw York, 1931); 157-58.

Lo~lisA. Ptrez, Jr.

of the central themes of the Cuban counter-narrative. Harvard-educated essayist Jorge Maiiach, always a judicious observer of the Cuban condition, reflected in 1933 on the larger meanings and lasting consequences of 1898:

The Cuban effort for political self-determination resulted thus in semi-subjection, tarnishing the joy and pride of liberation . . . [Dlespite the most generous intention on the part of the United States, Cuban illusions were still to be humiliated further . . . When finally the Cubans were granted permission to write their constitution, the sovereignty of the new state was con~promised by the Platt Amendment, which imposed on Cuba a permanent treaty, by which the United States was conceded the right of intervening in Cuba in certain specified emergencies. Cuba was irremediably a protectorate . . . The paternal and perspicacious prudence of the American Congress resulted in crushing the Cuban sentiment of self- dete~mination.~~

The past developed into contested terrain, the recovery of which was necessary to advance the Cuban claim to national sovereignty. When Cubans contemplated what had become of the independence project for which a generation of men and women had struggled and sacrificed, the year 1898 developed into something of a preoccupation, a brooding sense that history seemed to have gone awry then, and everyone was implicated. "Independence was the result of a century of enormous [Cuban] sacrifices," writer Eduardo Abril Amores wrote in 1922, "but we do not conceive of independence as thus achieved and properly earned . . . We have neither faith and confidence in ourselves. We attribute independence, conquered by the edge of our machetes, to the government of the United state^."^' The angst over 1898 often found expression in popular fiction. In the novel La danza de 10s millones (1923), Rafael A. Cisneros speaks through his protagonist: "In Cuba the Americans helped us to become free, which is the same as if they had loaned us one hundredpesos when we were hungry, and in return we will be paying them back for the rest of our lives. Don't you see, they seized Guantanamo Bay and their troops have not yet left Santiago. And the sugar mills? Ah! They are virtually all American, as are the mines, commerce, the banks, and all the money. And they say that they don't want the land!" Pedro Jose Cohucelo's protagonist in Apostado de amor (1925) attacks the United States "as a usurper of a victory that was ours, . . . [and] first through the military intervention of the Island and then through the odious Platt Amendment, proclaimed that it was not Cuba which, through the efforts of its sons and blood spilled by its martyrs and heroes, had obtained the independence and sovereignty sought for half a century." In Ofelia Rodriguez Acosta's novel Sonata interrumpida (1943), the narrator comments that "we owe everything to the Americans . . . We owe them our independence and . . . we will always owe them . . . our famous sovereignty," to which the protagonist responds: "Owe them! What do we owe them? The Platt Amendment to our Constitution, without which its forced acceptance there would never have been a transfer of power to the Cubans in 1902? Mortgaged forever by our eternal gratit~de."~~

Cuban voices found other forms of self-affirmation, all sharing a common

72 Jorge Mafiach, "Revolution in Cuha;"Foreign Affairs 12 (October 1933): 50-51. See also Mafiach, Pasudo vigente (Havana, 1939), 18.

7"Eduardo Ahril Amores, Bajo la garra (Santiago de Cuba, 1922); 155.

74 Rafael A. Cisneros; La dat~za de 10s nzillotzes (Hamburg, 1923); 316; Pedro Jose Cohucelo,

Irzcurring a Debt of Gratitude

determination to reinstate themselves into the past and confer agency upon their presence. Some of this began by contesting the privileged sites of the American monuments on the island. In 1928, authorities in Santiago de Cuba added a second bronze book under the "Peace Tree," this one recording the names of Cuban soldiers who perished in the Santiago campaign. "The fact that. . .no Cuban heroes were recorded," acknowledged the U.S. consul in Santiago de Cuba, Edward I. Nathan, "has long been irritating to the Cuban officials and people."7' The addition of the second book, asserted the Diavio de Cuba, "will proclaim that Cuba did not receive its independence as a gift. It will no longer be said that Cubans did not fight in San Juan."'" year later, a statue dedicated "To the Glory of the Victorious Liberator" (A la Gloria del Mambi Victovioso) was erected within sight of the bronze statue commemorating the U.S. volunteers. In 1942, as a result of a resolution passed by the Second National Congress of History, a bronze plaque was dedicated in San Juan Park with the inscription in Spanish and English: "In 1898 the victory was won through the decisive support given to the U.S. army by the Cuban Army of Liberation under the command of Lieutenant General Calixto Garcia. Therefore this war must not be called the Spanish-American War but the Spanish-Cuban- American War." Two years later, the Cuban national congress enacted legislation officially changing the name from the "Spanish-American War" to the "Spanish- Cuban-American War."77

The meaning of 1898 developed into a politically charged issue. In early 1949, in response to growing political pressure, the administration of President Carlos Prio Socarras announced it would not participate in the annual Maine commemoration ceremonies. Prio subsequently suspended all future official ceremonies commem- orating the Maine. U.S. historian Duvon Corbitt, a long-time resident of Havana, sought to explain the circumstances to Secretary of State Dean Acheson: "During the fifteen years of residence in Cuba, I saw Cuban soldiers file by the [Maine] monument on the Malecon, but not always joyfully. And in recent years certain groups have used the occasion to stir up anti-American sentiment. This has been increasingly true of the 'revisionists' who are publicizing the thesis that the Cubans had already won the war with Spain and the United States entered only in time to share in the victory."78 Corbitt7s allusion to "revisionists" referred to shifting historiographical currents in Cuba. A new historical self-consciousness was in the making, one in which the Cuban presence in the narrative of liberation acquired relevance to the formation of the nation. The Cuban quest for national sovereignty was obliged to challenge North American versions of 1898, from which so many of

Apostado de anlor (Havana, 1925), 300; Ofelia Rodriguez Acosta, Sonata intern~n~pida (Mexico City,

19431, 117.

75 Edward I. Nathan to Secretary of State, May 11; 1928, 837.313131, DSIRG 59.

7h Diario de C~lba (May 10; 1928): 1. "The pages of the [bronze] hook," Colonel Jose Gonzilez Valdes, the local provincial commander; explained to the U.S. consul, "will he inscribed with the names of the Cuban soldiers who fell side by side with the American officers and soldiers at the glorious engagement on San Juan Hill; thus saving their names from oblivion in an identical form with that which the United States has adopted for the memory of their heroes in said battle. We wish history to perpetuate equally the names of the North Americans and Cubans who died there." See Gonzalez ValdCs to Francisco R. Stewart, March 18, 1927, 837.41316, DSIRG 59.

77 See Congreso Nacional de Historia, Un izistro de revaloracion lzistdricn (Havana, 1947), 43-56.

78 Duvon C. Corbitt to Dean Acheson, March 8, 1949, 837,41513-849, DSiRG 59.

Incurring a Debt of Gratitude

(1950). Roig rejected the notion that Cubans "owed" the North anything, insisting instead that Spain was on the verge of defeat prior to the U.S. intervention. His small monograph gave definitive form to the principal tenets of revisionist historiography: "Cuba does not owe its independence to the United States of North America, but to the efforts of its own people, through their firm and indomitable will to end the injustices, abuses, discrimination, and exploitation suffered under the despotic colonial regime."" The inference was clear. If Cuba had achieved its own independence, Cubans were thereby at liberty to exercise self-determination, without outside encumbrance or hindrance, free to advance the primacy of national interests as the central function of national sovereignty.

By mid-century, U.S. policy officials had developed some appreciation of Cuban disquiet. In 1948, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Maine, U.S. Ambassador R. Henry Norweb sought to bring Cuban sensibilities to the attention of his superiors in Washington. "[Tlhere are many in this country," Norweb reported, "who feel that the important part played by Cubans in bringing about their liberation from Spanish rule has not been adequately recognized, particularly in the United States . . . We should bear in mind that there are many Cubans . . . who are sensitive about what they feel has been our failure to give proper recognition to Cuba's contribution over Spain." Among the "number of sources of friction" identified three years later in a State Department secret memorandum was that "Cubans resent any tendency on our part to minimize their own contribution in gaining their independence. They still criticize us for having reserved and used the right to intervene in their domestic affairs under the Platt Amendment despite the fact that it was repealed in 1934."81

A consensus had developed that something had gone awry in 1898. Memory lingered in places of unsuspected profundity. Restless spirits of a past wrong haunted the national debate on the Cuban relationship with the United States and often appeared in unexpected forms under unforeseen circumstances. The release of the Warner Brothers film Santiago (1956) provoked indignation across the island over the depiction of the Cuban struggle for independence. "It is grievous that the Americans intervened in our war of independence at the final moments and imposed upon us the Platt Amendment," bristled columnist Agustin Tamargo in the popular weekly magazine Bolzemia:

The American insults to our sovereignty did not begin with this Warner Brothers film. They go back much further. In the American public school textbooks, for example, that Cuba was

Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring, Cuba rzo debe su independencia a 10s Estados Unidos (Havana, 1950), 153. Roig de Leuchsenring was a prodigious scholar. and virtually the full weight of his scholarship was dedicated to advancing the principal tenets of revisionist historiography. His other works include Cuba y 10s Estados Unidos, 1805-1898 (Havana, 1949); Los Estados Unidos contra Cuba Libre (Havana, n.d.): La gzlerric hispano-czrbanoamericana file ganada por el lugarteniente general del Ejircito Libertador (Havana, 1952); Por su propio esfzierzo conq~ristd el pzleblo cubaizo szl independencia (Havana, 1957); 1895 y 1898: Dos guerras cubanas; Ensayo de revaloraci61~ (Havana. 1945). Much of the revisionist arguments entered the historical literature in the United States by way of Philip S. Foner,

Tlze Spa~zislz-Cl~ba~z-A~nerica~z

Wur and tlze Birtlz of America11 Imperialism, 1895-1902, 2 vols. (New York, 1972). For a general discussion of revisionist historiography, see Duvon C. Corbitt, "Cuban Revisionist Interpretations of Cuba's Struggle for Independence." Hispanic American Historical Review 32 (August 1963): 395-404.

R. Henry Norweb to Secretary of State, March 18, 1948, 837.41513-1848. DSIRG 59: Department of State, "Policy Statement: Cuba," January 11. 1951, 611.3711-1151. DS1RG 59.

Louis A.Pkrez, Jc

engaged in a struggle for its liberty one hundred years before the explosion of the battleship "Maine" in our harbor is not at all acknowledged. On the contrary, it is said that we obtained independence solely as a result of the yarzqui intervention, as a result of the declaration of war against Spain. That war, which has always been the war of independence of Cuba, is called the "Spanish-American War." Its veterans are veterans of the "Spanish-American War." Nowhere does the name of Cuba appear, as if it were fought in some barren rocky hillside, where one day the soldiers of the yarzqzii democracy clashed accidentally with the soldiers of the Spanish monarchy. It is one more way to deprive a people of the most worthy possession that a people can have, and that is its presence in History.8"

Memories were difficult to reconcile. Americans expected gratitude; Cubans harbored grievances. North Americans remembered 1898 as something done for Cubans; Cubans remembered 1898 as something done to them. For Cubans, the Joint Resolutioll of 1898 appeared as a cruel hoax. Worse still, many Cubans could not escape the sense that they had themselves served as unwitting accomplices to their own undoing. The alliance with the United States was more than a disappointment; it was a deception. This was a profoundly disillusioning denoue- ment to decades of heroic mobilizations. There was something very wrong about the way things ended.

At issue were matters related to the very nature of nationhood, with implications for self-determination and sovereignty, and hence the defense of national interests. These issues were accorded a place of prominence in the 1958 "Manifesto- Program" of the 26 July Movement led by Fidel Castro. The writers of the "Manifesto-Program7' recalled the "high cost paid for liberty" with the lives of martyrs and acts of heroism, yet at the "symbolic moment in which the war ended, Cuba was excluded from the accord in which its political status was settled."

The deed established an unfortunate precedent. The final outcome appeared determined by the intervention of the United States rather than the bloody sacrifices of the Cubans. The island thus appeared liberated from the political yoke of Spain thanks only to the "powerful neighbor." The antecedents and consequences of that episode can perhaps be explained within the logic of the facts, but the result was that from that moment forward the former colony was burdened by a situation equivalent to a protectorate, and by an ironic and costly "debt of gratitude" that would over time serve to cloak countless injustices and arbitrary acts.83

The triumph of the Cuban revolution in January 1959 provided the occasion on which the contest over representations of 1898 moved to center stage between Cuba and the United States. What had happened sixty years earlier now mattered in new ways and with far-reaching consequences. The narrative of 1898 served to frame the relationship between historical circumstances and actual conditions. Again and again, all through early 1959, the events of 1898 were remembered and recounted as an injustice done to the yatria, perceived as the point at which the United States had usurped the Cuban claim to nationhood.

S2 Agustin Tamargo. "Quien injuria a Marti y a Maceo no puede ser amigo de Cuba," Bohenzin 48 (August 26, 1956): 49-50.

""Manifesto-Program del Movimiento 26 de Julio," H~rmnnismo7 (November-December 1958):


Ii? a Debt of Gratit~~de

The invocation of the past was not simply an incantation of woeful lament. On the contrary, remembrance of 1898 signified a way to rectify history and reclaim the past. Connections were drawn early and often. Representation of 1898 served anew as a source of moral subsidy, except this time it was employed in the Cuban counter-narrative, a way to confer on the project of revolution a claim of continuity out of which to affirm the historicity of the revolutionary experience. "The Republic was not free in [1898]," Castro recalled on January 3, "and the dream of the liberators [mambises] was frustrated at the last minute." Castro asserted "that those men who had fought for thirty years and not seen their dreams realized" would have rejoiced in 1959 at the achievement of the "revolution that they had dreamed of, the patria that they had imagined."" A month later, he proclaimed outright that "the mambises initiated the war for independence that we have completed on January 1, 1959."8j Raul Castro made the point as well: "Now, with the Revolution, with this civil war that ended on January 1, we have done nothing less than to finish the War of Independence that began nearly one hundred years ago by our ~nambises."g~ Writer Armando J. Florez Ibarra drew the connections succinctly: "Analyzing the historical reach of the triumphant revolutionary movement, it appears to us as if the revolutionary armies of 1895 . . . have reached power, finally, free of all mediating influences. We are witness to the vindication of the triumph that the United States, through its armed intervention in 1898, cheated us of. . . We have finally liberated ourselves from the complex of a pr~tectorate."~~

Fidel Castro carried Cuban grievances about 1898 to the United Nations. "The Spanish power had worn itself out in Cuba," he explained to the General Assembly in September 1959. "Spain had neither the men nor the economic resources left with which to continue the fight in Cuba. Spain had been routed . . . The Cubans who had,fought for our independence, the Cubans who at that very moment were giving their blood and their lives believed in all good faith in the Joint Resolution of the United States Congress . . . But that illusion was ended by a cruel deception."" This was a theme to which Castro would return repeatedly. "That foreign intervention was the source of many of our difficulties," he insisted:

Yes, a brutal sanitation was introduced: they killed the mosquitos, drained many swamps, did a series of things, some were definite improvements. But, what else did they do? They deprived the nation of the prerogatives to govern itself, they deprived the nation of its sovereignty, they treated it like a little child to whom they said: "We give you permission to do just this, and if you do more we will punish you." The Platt Amendment was imposed [and] we either behaved ourselves-behaved ourselves in the manner convenient to the foreign country-or we would lose our ~overeignty.~"

The triumph of the revolution signaled the ascendancy of the nationalist discourse. So much turned on 1898. It reached deeply into a place of unsettled

"Revol~~cicin(January 5, 1959): 4.

Revol~~cicin(February 25. 1959): 4.

8"ev~I~~cicin(April 8, 1959): 8.

fl Armando J. Florez Ibarra, "La hora del deber americano," Revollicicin (February 2. 1959): 2.

""Speech by Fidel Castro to the General Assembly of the United Nations," September 26, 1959.

in Robert F. Smith, ed.. What Happened ir~ Cuba? A Doczlmentar?; History (New York, 1963), 286. 8Tidel Castro, Perzsarniento de Ficlel Castro: Seleccicin teniritica, 2 vols. (Havana. 1959), 1: 5.

Louis A. Pdrez, Jr:

memories, of dormant sensibilities, and served as a powerful source of moral indignation, and hence a catalyst for political mobilization. The new Cuban leadership characterized the North American representation of 1898 as outright deception. "They forced us to live in an illicit concubinage with a lie," Castro thundered in March 1959. "It is preferable to bring down that world than to live within a lie."gO

Cuban evocations appeared slightly incomprehensible to most Americans, many of whom seemed to have no idea what the Cubans were referring to. In Washington, bafflement was as commonplace as it was highly placed. "What do you suppose, sir, is eating [Fidel Castro]?" President Dwight D. Eisenhower was asked at a press conference in October 1959. The president was at a loss:

I have no idea of discussing possible motivation of a man, what he is really doing, and certainly I am not qualified to go into such abstruse and difficult subjects as that. I do feel this: here is a country that you would believe, on the basis of our history, would be one of our real friends. The whole history-first our intervention in 1898, our making and helping set up Cuban independence. . . and the very close relationships that have existed most of the time with them-would seem to make it a puzzling matter to figure out just exactly why the Cubans and the Cuban Government would be so unhappy. . . I don't know exactly what the difficulty

Even as relations were deteriorating, U.S. political leaders continued to view 1898 as a source of cordial relations. "I sincerely hope that the day is not far off," Senator Styles Bridges mused in 1960, "when the traditional friendship forged between our two countries 62 years ago in our joint war for the liberation of Cuba can be firmly and permanently reestablished."g2

North American hostility toward Cuba after 1959 was, in fact, related to 1898. That Cubans, for whom Americans had sacrificed life and treasure to free, would turn against the United States was once again incomprehensible and attributed to persons who knew no better, or were engaged in mischief, in this case most likely


North Americans also invoked 1898, repeatedly, in an attempt to discredit the new Cuban government. Newspaper editorials that were entered into the Congressional Record in early 1960 struck a remarkably common note. "Castro has rejected friendship with the country that liberated Cuba in 1898," lamented the Charleston News and Courier, and the Bangor Daily News asked: "What is Castro doing to us, the country that liberated Cuba in 1898?" The Roanoke World-News recalled 1898 as a "war for Cuba's freedom," and added: "True to the principle that it did not

Revolucicir~(March 17, 1959): 2. 91 Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenholvel; I959 (Washington, D.C.. 1960-61). 271. "2 Styles Bridges, "Red Poison with Our Sugar," n.d. [ca.19601, unpublished speech, Robert C. Hill Papers, Librav Special Collections, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.

93 "He seems to be incredibly naive about Communism or under Communist discipline," Vice- President Richard Nixon described Fidel Castro after their meeting in April 1959. See "Summary of Conversation." April 24. 1959. in United States, Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: Cuba, 1958-1960 (Washington, D.C.. 1991). 476.

Irzcurring a Debt of Gratitude

covet territory, the United States gave full freedom to the Cuban people within 2 years-as soon as they could be prepared for iLH93

The war of 1898 was also very much on the minds of members of Congress, for whom political developments in Cuba assumed fully the proportions of a betrayal. Representative William S. Bloomfield gave a pained account of 1898, recalling how the Mairze "touched off the Spanish-American War":

Americans and Cubans fought side by side in this war. Neither the Cubans nor the Americans were fighting for personal glory, for new territories, for plunder or new possessions. We were fighting for freedom. We Americans were not fighting for our own freedom. We had already achieved this goal. We were fighting for the right of the Cubans to shake off the oppressive yoke of colonialism, to decide their own destinies, to chart their own course in domestic and world affairs.95

With the "long background of historic relations with Cuba," Congressman Mendel Rivers asked, "will . . . we forget our obligations toward the Cuban people whom we helped to liberate?" Rivers denounced "the bearded pipsqueak of the Antilles" who "seized American property in a country that was conceived by America, delivered by America, nurtured by America, educated by America and made a self-governing nation by America." He warned: "When ingratitude on the part of a nation reaches the point that it has in Cuba, it is time for American wrath to display itself in no uncertain terms."96 Indeed, 1898 was precisely the reference that suggested itself to Senator Barry Goldwater. "We won a great victory and we liberated a people," Goldwater proclaimed. "And it cost us dearly. It cost us thousands of lives and millions of dollars. It cost us sickness and suffering and sorrow." Goldwater urged action of "the type the world should expect from a nation whose blood and heartache bought freedom for Cuba in the first place."" Years later, historian Richard E. Welch, Jr., examined the sources of the Cuba-U.S. conflict after 1959 and concluded that among the most important factors of the dispute was the "assumption that Cuba owed its independence to the United States, and was properly dependent on the latter for its diplomatic security and economic prosper- ity." Thus any Cuban leader "who sought to destroy Cuba's historic ties with the United States could not be acting from motives of concern for the Cuban people but must be a power-hungry dictator with regional ambition^."^^

Old representations of 1898 crumbled in the months that followed the triumph of the revolution. On May 1, 1961, only days after the Cuban victory at the Bay of Pigs, a mass rally assembled around the Mairze monument in Havana to witness approvingly a wrecking crew smash the American eagle from atop the forty-foot pedestal. A new inscription was added to the remaining twin columns of the monument: "To the victims of the Maine, who were sacrificed to imperialist greed

g4 Congressional Record. 86th Cong., 2d sess.. 1960, 106, pt. 1: 1200; Congressional Record. appendix, 106, 1960. A2043 and 1329.

"Congressional Record, 86th Cong., 2d sess.. 1960. 106, pt. 4: 5227.

9Vongressional Record, 86th Cong., 2d sess., 1960. 106. pt. 2: 14385; Congressional Record, 87th Cong.. 1st sess., 1961, 197. pt. 1: 108. Barry Goldwater, "Tragic Situation in Cuba," Vital Speeches 27 (May 1. 1961): 422-23. "Richard E. Welch, Jr., Response to Revolc~tion: The United States and the Cuban Revok~tior7, 1959-1961 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1985), 186.

Incurring a Debt of Gratitude

refurbished the grave sites, and a Maine Centennial Commission prepared a traveling exhibit.9'

In Cuba, the centennial year served as the occasion to remember the past as a subtext of the present, where the wrong began and why it mattered. "It is impossible to ignore the fact that Cuba's current difficulties can generally be traced to the United States," proclaimed writer Roberto FernBndez Retamar. "On a humanitar- ian pretext, it invaded Cuba in 1898 and blocked its independence, . . . which was not truly achieved until 1 January 1959." Historian Eusebio Leal struck a similar note: "Upon reflection . . . what we think today about those transcendental historical events allows us to affirm, with our heads held high, that the Cuban nation obtained its right to exist as a result of the immense sacrifice of those who knew how to suffer, to struggle, and to die for the nation. [Independence] was obtained neither as a gift nor by the grace of others."lOO

Through the first half of the twentieth century, the United States exercised wide-ranging authority over Cuba. Certainly one facet of this relationship stemmed from the obvious inequality of power and the imposition of that power on the smaller country. The internal logic of the Cuba-U.S. relationship, however, and especially the assumptions by which the propriety of the relationship was validated, was driven by factors far more complex than unequal power relations. Central to the resilience of U.S. hegemony was the proposition that influence over Cuba was properly derived and exercised as a function of a service rendered, the basis on which the United States could rightfully exact Cuban submission. Representations of 1898 were central to this belief system, on both sides. In the United States, it not only made for the efficacy of domination of the Other but also for the edification of self. The North American claim of authority over Cuba had obtained enduring moral subsidy from the narrative of 1898, to which Cuban acquiescence was expected. The requisite gratitude was demanded for-and the domination derived from-the debt incurred in 1898.

Ambivalences in Cuba were real and substantial. The North American represen- tation of 1898 entered the arena of political discourse, as indeed inevitably it had to, for the matter reached into Cuban national sensibilities and implicated the very sources of nationhood. Given the scope of authority claimed from the narrative of 1898, it is certainly arguable that the larger issues of 1898 could not have been resolved by any means other than political. The challenge to U.S. hegemony, Cubans understood, was obliged to revisit 1898 and contest the dominant repre- sentations by which Cubans were denied agency. The right of self-determination could be exercised only as an act of self-knowledge. The affirmation of an

yy Virtually all published observances of 1898 in the United States centered on the Maine, and almost all remembered the Maine with very similar titles. See Thomas B. Allen, "Remember the Maine?" National Geographic 193 (February 1998): 92-111; Hugh Thomas, "Remember the ~Wairze'?" New York Review of Books 45 (April 23, 1998): 10-12; Larry Rohter, "Remember the Maine? Cubans See an American Plot Continuing to This Day," 1Vel.v York Times (February 14, 1998): A4; Tom Miller, "Remember the Maine," Smitlisoniarz 28 (February 1998): 46-57. Tourism was promoted in Mary Maynard Drake, "'Remember the Maine,' One Hundred Years Later," Raleigh News & Obsen~ei. (February 15, 1998): 1H, 9H.

"") Roberto Fernandez Retamar, "Cuba Defended: Countering Another Black Legend," Sozrtll Atlantic Quarterly 86 (Winter 1997): 102; Eusebio Leal, "Meditacion ante el 98," Debates ainericaizos 4 (July-December 1997): 94.

Louis A. Pkrez, Jr.

instrumental past was perhaps one of the decisive if often unrecognized outcomes of the Cuban revolution of 1959. It was not coincidence that, simultaneously with the triumph of the revolution, the new Cuban leadership reopened the debate on 1898. Once out from under the "debt" of obligation to the United States, Cubans were free to claim their independence. The revolution of 1959 canceled the debt.

Louis A. Pkrez, Jr., is J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His forthcoming book, On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture, will be published later this year by the University of North Carolina Press.

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