January 24. The U.S. sends the battleship USS Maine to Havana.
February 15. The USS Maine explodes in Havana's harbor. The U.S. blames Spain, and so begins the Spanish-Cuban-American War.
February 25. Acting on his own initiative, Assistant Secretary of State Theodore Roosevelt puts the U.S. Navy on full alert.
March 16. From a report of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations: “The unoccupied territory has been taken up, and while much remains to be done, the creative energy of the American people can no longer be confined within the borders of the union. Production has so outrun consumption in both agricultural and manufactured products that foreign markets must be secured or stagnation will ensue.
March 19. The Wall Street Journal reports that “a great many people in Wall Street” are demanding immediate action against Spain.
April 9. Hoping to avoid a war, Spain agrees to every demand made by the U.S.
April 20. The U.S. Congress adopts the Teller Amendment, which disclaims intention to take control of Cuba after the war. Two days later the President issues a proclamation calling for 125,000 volunteers for the Armed Forces. The number is later increased to 200,000.
April 25. The U.S. President approves the declaration of war issued by congress. In Cuba, this is regarded as an intervention in Cubas war of independence.
May 5. From an editorial in the New York Tribune, “…this country will be bound, in honor and in morals, either itself to assume the administration of the islands or to empower some other competent authority to do so.”
June 10. A battalion of U.S. Marines camps in Guantánamo Bay.
June 15. At a mass meeting in Boston’s Faneuil Hall, the American anti-Imperialist League is formed.
June 22. The Chicago Tribune argues for Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines: "All of these islands will belong to us by sovereign right of honorable conquest. They will be American soil from the moment the Stars and Stripes float over them. Annexation of all three is the natural outcome"
July 1-2. After serious losses to U.S. troops in San Juan, Lawton, and El Caney, the entire Spanish squadron is annihilated. A few days later, Santiago is occupied by American forces, which forbid the Cuban rebels from entering.
July 3. In Manila, U.S. naval forces unanimously defeat the Spanish fleet.
July 16. In Santiago de Cuba, Spain and the U.S. sign a peace agreement.
July 28. The Cleveland Leader publishes an editorial in favor of annexing Cuba: "While our government disavowed a purpose of conquest, it may be absolutely necessary for us to keep Cuba and make it a part of the United States."
August 12. In Washington, Spain and the U.S. sign a bilateral armistice. Cuba is not represented at the negotiations.
September 27. U.S.-owned Island of Cuba Real Estate Company opens for business.
October 1. A meeting begins in Paris between Spain and the U.S. to work out terms for ending the war. Neither Cubans nor Filipinos are invited.
October 27. Spain accepts the American position on the Cuban debt: neither the U.S. nor a Cuban government will be required to assume this debt (mostly from the war).
November. In American Federationist, Samuel Gompers writes: "Where has flown this great outburst of our sympathy for the self-sacrificing and liberty loving Cubans? Is it not strange that now, for the first time, we hear that the Cubans are unfit for self-government?"
December 1. The Cuban Educational Association (formed by the Wood administration) reports that only certain Cubans are considered fit to be "Americanized," and that darker skinned Cubans "could not gain admission" to many American universities and colleges.
December 10. In the last session of the peace conference, Spain and the U.S. sign the Treaty of Paris. The U.S. is granted control of four new territories: Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam. Although the treaty officially grants Cuba independence, the U.S. flag, not the Cuban flag, is raised over Havana, and Cuban representatives are not allowed at the signing. [Anti-imperialists later point out that the $20 million paid to Spain for the Philippines amounts to $2 per person.]
Máximo Gómez refuses to go to Havana for the raising of the American flag at Morro Castle. "Ours," he writes, "is the Cuban flag, the one for which so many tears and blood have been shed we must keep united in order to bring to an end this unjustified military occupation."
During a debate over Hawaii, Senator Pettigrew discusses the reality
of Manifest Destiny:
Throughout all recorded time manifest destiny has been the murderer of men. It has committed more crimes, done more to oppress and wrong the inhabitants of the world than any other tribute to which mankind has fallen heir. Manifest destiny has caused the strong to rob the weak and has reduced the weak to slavery. Manifest destiny built the feudal castle and supplied the castle with its serfs. Manifest destiny impelled republics that have heretofore existed and perished to go forth and conquer weaker races and to subject their people to slavery, to impose taxation against their will, and to inflict governments odious to them. Manifest destiny is simply the cry of the strong in justification of their plunder of the weak.
December 11. Calixto García dies in Washington, after being sick with pneumonia. He is temporarily buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
December. At the urging of Estrada-Palma, the Cuban Revolutionary Party, founded by José Martí, is dissolved.
Read about Cuba after the war.
January 1. The U.S. installs a provisional military government in Cuba led by General John R. Brooke. In the throne room at the Palace of the Captain-General, Spanish General Adolfo Jiménez Castellanos turns Cuba over to the U.S. The Spanish flag comes down and the U.S. flag is raised.
January 8, 1899. An excerpt from the diary of General Máximo Gómez
January 10. The first organized work stoppage takes place on the dockyard in Cárdenas. The workers demand to be paid in U.S. dollars, not in Spanish dollars.
January 16. Port workers in Havana walk out on strike and ferry operators join in. They demand a pay increase, overtime pay, and double-pay for Sundays, holidays and for working during the night. Employers promise to revise the pay scale, and work resumes.
February 6. The U.S. Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris, as newspapers in all states bring the news that war has broken out in the Philippines.
February 17. U.S. forces in Cuba number almost 45,000, including 15 regiments of infantry and four battalions of artillery. "Larger than the entire body of men who engaged in fighting against Spain," writes Foner in The Spanish-Cuban-American War, Vol. 2.
March. Street laborers in Matanzas go on strike. Major Cartwright delivers a speech announcing plans to continue with strikebreakers, and that if anyone interferes, they are to be "court-martialed and shot."
March. Street laborers in Matanzas go on strike. Major Cartwright delivers a speech announcing his plans to continue operations with strikebreakers, and that if anyone interfered, they "would be court-martialed and shot."
March 26. From an article in the New York World: “More industrial trusts and monopolistic ‘combines’ were formed in 1898 than in the entire quarter of a century since the Standard Oil Company, parent and pattern of American monopoly, first began to destroy competition in illuminating oil.”
March 29. A manifesto addressed "To the People of Cuba," is distributed throughout Havana announcing the birth of the Partido Socialista Cubano (Cuban Socialist Party).
April 11. The Spanish-American war formally ends with the exchange of ratifications of the peace treaty by the U.S. and Spain.
April 15. Writing in the Indianapolis News, American Negro leader Booker T. Washington: "My General feeling is that Cubans ought to be left to govern themselves. In bringing Cuba into our American life we must bear in mind that, notwithstanding the fact that the Cubans have certain elements of weakness, they already seem to have surpassed the Untied States in solving the race problem, in that they seem to have no race problem in Cuba. I wonder if it is quite fair to the white people and the colored people in Cuba to bring them into our American conditions and revive the race antagonism so that they will have to work out anew the race problem that we are now trying to solve in this country."
June. Robert P. Porter's book, Industrial Cuba, is published. Porter is a personal friend of McKinley and the book strongly favors annexing Cuba.
June 13. Recruiting posters for the U.S. Army hang in postal offices throughout the U.S., asking young men to join "Uncle Sam's Personally Conducted Excursion to his new possessions Manila, Cuba and Porto Rico."
Summer. The American Anti-Imperialist League urges the end of the occupation and the beginning of self-government for Cuba.
August 14. In Massachusetts, the Worcester Gazette reports "newspapers are receiving printed sheets containing the argument that Cubans want to be annexed."
August 27. In Havana, the masons go on strike ask for higher wages and an 8-hour workday.
September. A manifesto appears in Havana signed by a group of Cuban working class leaders complaining of current working conditions.
September 1. At a meeting in Havana, the General League of Cuban Workers is formed, with Enrique Messonier as president and Pedro A. Navarro as secretary. The program stresses five issues: 1) That the Cuban workers in general should enjoy the same advantages and guarantees enjoyed by foreigners in different industries in this country. 2) To achieve employment in all workshops of Cuban émigrés forced to return to the island. 3) To initiate a campaign on behalf of the moral and material interests of Cuban women workers. 4) To provide for the welfare of all orphans (whether or not they were children of the Liberators) who were crowding the streets in great numbers. 5) To be prepared for defense against every harmful element that tries to place obstacles in the path of the advance of the Cuban Republic.
September 11. At a banquet in his honor in Santiago de las Vegas, Havana, General Maximo Gómez is moved to tears recalling the brave acts of Antonio Maceo and the death of his son Francisco "Panchito" Gómez.
September 12. In an interview that appears in the Chicago Chronicle, General Carlos García warns that Cubans would not surrender their independence, and that if the U.S. attempts to annex the island, it would meet with armed resistance.
September 19. At a meeting in Havana's Workers' Circle, representatives from all labor organizations in the city vote unanimously to call a general strike (in support of the ongoing mason's strike) the following morning at 6 a.m.
September 24. Up to 8,000 workers gather in the Little Square Balboa in Havana to hear union leaders speak in support of the masons. A committee is elected to direct the general strike.
October. The masons become the first workers in Cuba to win a working day of eight hours.
November 1. General Maximo Gómez is quoted in the
New York Times:
"Many of those who now occupy public positions in Cuba are convinced, in all good conscience that they are serving the interests of the island, but they are really mistaken. They are actually serving the cause of intervention, which, though accepted and even asked for, it will be found difficult to terminate on conditions which will enable them to transfer their services to the Cuban republic. They should bear in mind that they have taken an oath.
"The honorable Cuban should place before himself the ideal of the republic, remembering that everyday on which the sun sets until the establishment of the republic is an injury to the Cubans."
November 14. An editorial in Havana's La Discusión, states that "Cuba is not American territory, it is not a State, nor a conquered country like Puerto Rico or the Philippines, which was ceded to the United States without reserve condition or restrictions. Regarding Cuba Spain did nothing but renounce its sovereignty and titles."
November 19. A mass funeral is held for Enrique Creci, working-class hero of the Cuban army killed in action against Spain. The police attack the precession (thousands of workers and union leaders from every trade union in Cuba, led by Salvador Cisneros Betancourt and Juan Gualberto Gómez) and many workers are cruelly beaten.
November 29. Between this day and December 7, a series of rallies and protest meetings are held, at which resolutions are adopted calling for the speedy end of the Occupation.
December 5. U.S. president McKinley, in his annual address to Congress, leaves the door open for U.S. annexation of Cuba. "Whether these ties shall be organic or conventional," he says, "the destinies of Cuba are in some rightful form and manner irrevocably linked to our own, but how and how far is for the future to determine in the ripeness of events." The annexationist movement in the U.S. is re-energized by McKinley's words.
The 1899 census reveals that Cuba's total population is 1,572,797.
March. In an article for the Atlantic Monthly, Richard B. Olney, Cleveland's Secretary of State and a Wall Street lawyer and financier, writes that Cuba is already annexed to the U.S. since "the Spanish War ended in the acquisition of Cuba " He advices Congress to make "Cuba in point of law what she already is in point of fact, namely United States territory."
March 7. In a speech given to the US Congress, Senator Lodge answers charges from anti-imperialists, and explains that Filipinos would not become citizens but subjects, just like native Americans: “…the other day a great Democratic thinker announced that a republic could have no subjects. He seems to have forgotten that this Republic not only has held subjects from the beginning, in the persons of those who we euphemistically call the “wards of the nation,” but that we not only hold subjects, but have acquired them by purchase. This Alaskan treaty denied to the Indian tribes even the right to choose their allegiance, or to become citizens.”
April. A delegation of Cubans petition Governor General Wood asking that the use of terms such as "mulatto, colored and brown" (to distinguish people by their skin color) no longer be used in official documents. The petitioners urge Wood to issue a decree making the use of such terms illegal, and that only the word "citizen" is used. Wood ignores the petition.
April 12. The US Congress passes the Foraker Act, which replaces Puerto Rico’s military government with an appointed civil government.
April 13. From an editorial in the New York Sun; "the attitude of the people of Cuba toward annexation seems to be this in brief: the wealth and intelligence of the island are generally in favor of it, and the agitators and their tools, the ignorant Negroes, are opposed to it."
April 18. Electoral law is passed (based on U.S. Secretary of War Elihu Root's plan for a restricted franchise). Potential voters must be male, over twenty-one years of age, citizens of Cuba according to the terms of the Treaty of Paris, and they must fulfill at least one of three alternative requirements: be able to read and write; own property worth $250 in U.S. gold; or have served in the Cuban army prior to July 18, 1898, with an honorable discharge. These restrictions disfranchise large sectors of the population.
May. A serious scandal breaks out in the Cuban postal system, and postal officials Charles F. Neely and higher-ranking postal officers such as Director-General Estes G. Rathbone are accused of embezzling over $100,000 of Cuban money.
May 16. Senator Augustus O. Bacon of Georgia, speaks to the U.S. Senate attacking the Cuban occupation. He accuses the military government of spending many times more for the comfort of American soldiers in the island than would have been the case had they been quartered in the U.S. This, he says, is an extravagant and wasteful use of Cuban funds. He adds that such a large occupation is not only unnecessary, but illegal. He charges that the delay (there has been peace for nearly two years) is in order to find an open door for annexation.
June 16. The first municipal elections since the war are held. The results are a stunning defeat for annexationists. The Cuban National Party, made up of the revolutionary element, takes the most votes in almost every city. The Republican Party, also opposing annexation and containing a large number of black voters, wins significant races. And the Democratic Union Party, representing Cuban moneyed interests and openly favoring annexation to the U.S., does not win in any city.
July 25. General Leonard Wood (the American military governor, publishes a civil order for the establishment of an election of delegates to a Cuban Constitutional Convention.
August 13. General Wood begins a tour of Cuba designed to promote the election of the "best men" to serve as delegates to the Constitutional Convention. He warns Cubans not to select "the disturber and malcontent," and to "bear in mind that no Constitution which does not provide a stable government will be accepted by the U.S." He adds that Cubans should select men of "science and experience." Cisneros responds: "General Wood, on the eve of an election in the U.S., would not have dared to utter such words before a body of electors. Why should he, in Cuba, endeavor to restrict the free suffrage, insult the people, and wound their just sense of dignity and manhood by such a threat?"
September 16. In The New York Times, the special correspondent in Havana observes, "Maceo, one of the Cuban idols in the war of independence, was a black man. All Cubans, of whatever color, look upon him as one of the noblest of their countrymen."
September 25. At the Marquette Club in Chicago, U.S. Senator Albert J. Beveridge suggests that the Teller Amendment should not be kept. "The resolution hastily passed by all parties in Congress, at an excited hour, was an error which years of time, propinquity of location, common commerce, mutual interests and similar dangers surely will correct."
November 1. Writing in The Independent, Leonard Wood states, "there is no distrust of the U.S. on the part of Cubans they have perfect confidence that this country will redeem every promise it has made."
November 5. In the Teatro Martí in Havana, 31 delegates representing six Cuban provinces meet to begin the sessions of the Cuban Constitutional Convention. Delegates include Gonzalo de Quesada, General Emilio Núñez, Salvador Cisneros Betancourt, General Julio Sanguily, Alfredo Zayas Alfonso, José Miguel Gómez, Juan Gualberto Gómez, Manuel Sanguily, and Domingo Mendez Capote.
November 6. In the U.S., President McKinley and vice-president Theodore Roosevelt are re-elected by 53 percent of the votes.
December. Charles M. Pepper, Cuban correspondent of the New York Tribune and the Washington Star, declares, "the colored race in Cuba has reached a pretty unanimous decision that its future is not promising if the island becomes a State in the Union. That is the present sentiment, and it is in itself powerful enough to dampen any annexation movement."
January 30. The finished draft of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba is published. The document is basically modeled after the U.S. Constitution. The government consists of legislative, executive, and judicial branches, a president and Vice-President, a Congress composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives and a Supreme Court. The President and Vice-President are to be elected for four years by popular vote. The Senate consists of six members from each of the six departments; Havana, Pinar del Rio, Santa Clara, Puerto Principe, Matanzas and Santiago-elected for six years, one-third going out of office every two years, and chosen by an electoral college.
February. A series of strikes break out among workers of the Central Railway of the Cuban Company.
February 11. The Cuban Constitution is adopted.
February 27. The U.S. Senate votes on the Platt Amendment, and it passes, as submitted, by a vote of 43 to 20.
March 1. The U.S. House of Representatives passes the Army Appropriation bill with the Platt Amendment as a rider. The vote is 161-137, almost exclusively on party lines. From an editorial in The State: “The action of the United States government in breaking its solemn pledge to the whole world as well as to Cuba, in putting a pistol to the head of its protégé and demanding compensation for a volunteered kindness, will disgrace it in the eyes of civilization and mortify its own good citizens for generations to come. The loss and humiliation are ours. The penalty will be ours—the penalty of a national faithlessness which hereafter may well cause every people in the world to withhold all trust from ‘lying America.’”
The amendment stipulates that Cuba has only a limited right to conduct its own foreign and debt policy. It also gives the U.S. an open door to intervene in Cuban affairs. The Isle of Pines (now called Isla de Juventud) is deemed outside the boundaries of Cuba until the title to it is adjusted in a future treaty. Cuba also agrees to sell or lease to the U.S. "lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon."
March 2. At night, over 15,000 Cubans gather for a huge protest torchlight precession. The crowd, representing all classes and political groupings, descents on the Convention, and then moves on to the Governor's palace.
March 3. Parades and meetings with waving Cuban flags and banners denounce the Platt Amendment and continue from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, with increasing numbers of participants.
March 6. Wood writes to Secretary of War, Elihu Root: "Can you indicate our action in case the Cuban Convention should refuse to accept the Platt Amendment?" [Root responds on March 20.]
March 10. In the U.S., The State newspaper reprints an editorial from La Patria, the journal founded by José Martí. It states, in part, "There is no room for doubt that the passage of the Platt Amendment results form the error that the Cuban people will accept it. It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to devote ourselves from this day on to energetically protest against this false supposition, because we entertain no doubt that once the American people become convinced of the real facts, they will retrace their steps, which will be equivalent to a return to the path of honor, as the good name and fame of the American nation are now subject to mistrust, thanks to the policy of audacity, snares, cupidity, and shame which has been systematically carried out by its directors."
March. In spite of the growing number of protests and demonstrations all over Cuba, Wood keeps assuring Washington that there's nothing to worry about, that "the people who matter, the conservative element-business men and wealthy Spaniards-favor adoption of the Platt Amendment."
March 13. Under orders from General Wood, the Rural Guard arrests 51 Spanish, Cuban and American strikers. Juan Rodriguez Martinez, the chief leader of the railroad construction workers, is sentenced to eight years in jail for "mutiny."
March 15. At the Cuban Constitutional Convention taking place in Havana, Salvador Cisneros Betancourt delivers his "Voto Particular Contra La Enmienda Platt." It charges that the U.S. is exercising "the power of the strong against the weak," and that the U.S. had departed from "the principles of justice in its arbitrary occupation of the Philippines and Puerto Rico," and is seeking to do the same in Cuba.
March 20. U.S. Secretary of War Elihu Root responds to Wood's letter of March 6: "The Platt Amendment is, of course, final and the members of the Convention who may be responsible for refusing to establish relations on that basis will injure only themselves and their country. If the Convention takes such a course it will have failed to perform the duty for which it was elected and the duty must be performed by others."
March 21. In the newspaper La Discusion, Manuel Sanguily clarifies his views on the Platt Amendment (earlier distorted by American Governor General Wood): "Independence with some restrictions is preferable to a continuance of military rule, which would surely follow a rejection of the Platt Amendment "
March 26. At the Cuban Constitutional Convention, Juan Gualberto Gómez presents what Historian Philip S. Foner describes as "the best expression of Cuban feeling throughout the entire period following the receipt of the American proposals and one of the finest expressions in the literature of anti-imperialism."
Juan Gualberto Gómez to the convention:
“To reserve to the United States the faculty of deciding for themselves when independence is menaced, and when, therefore, they ought to intervene to preserve it, is equivalent to delivering up the key of our house, so that they can enter it at all hours, when the desire takes them, day or night, with intentions good or ill.
If it belongs to the United States to determine what Cuban government merits the qualification ‘adequate’…only those Cuban governments will live which count on its support and benevolence.”
April 5. The Havana newspaper La Discusión runs a cartoon titled "The Cuban Cavalry." It shows a figure that represents "the Cuban people" crucified between two thieves, who look just like Leonard Wood and William McKinley, while Senator Platt stands by dressed like a Roman soldier, holding a spear that is labeled "Platt Amendment." Wood immediately closes and seals the offices of the newspaper. The editor and the cartoonist are arrested for criminal libel. (Wood is persuaded to release them the following day.)
April 6. At the Cuban Constitutional Convention in Havana, a motion to accept the Platt Amendment is defeated 24 to 2.
April 8. La Discusión resumes publication. Its new headline reads: "Suppressed by Weyler, October 23, 1896; Suspended by Wood, April 6, 1901."
April 12. At the Cuban Constitutional Convention, a vote on the non-acceptance of the Platt Amendment is carried 18 to 10.
April 25. In Washington, a commission of Cuban delegates meets with President McKinley and Secretary of War Elihu Root. In a long afternoon conference, Root claims that he U.S. has "always been a champion of Cuban independence" and has "never imposed obstacles in her path when Cuba sought to achieve liberation from Spain." [This is not true.] Root adds that the controversial Article 3 of the Platt Amendment (giving the U.S. the right to military intervention) is simply "an extension of the Monroe Doctrine."
May 28. By a vote of 15 to 14, the Cuban Constitutional Convention accepts the Platt Amendment (with the deciding vote cast by Méndez Capote). The document includes not only the exact words of the Platt Amendment, but Article I of the Treaty of Paris, as well as long extracts from Root's various explanations, including the assurance that" the Platt law has for its object the guaranteeing of the independence of Cuba, and does not mean interference with its government or the exercise of a protectorate or of sovereignty "
Root immediately rejects the actions of the Cuban Constitutional Convention, and insists that Cubans can't look forward to the withdrawal of the American army until the Platt Amendment is adopted verbatim, with no changes or additions. Foner: " the Administration's own explanations of the Amendment had been repudiated when the Cubans used it "
June 12. The Cuban Constitutional Convention accepts the Platt Amendment verbatim by a vote of 16 to 11. Voting against are: Juan Gualberto Gómez (Santiago), Salvador Cisneros Betancourt (Puerto Principe), José S. Aleman (Santa Clara), Manuel R. Silva (Puerto Principe), Rafaell Portuondo (Santiago), Eduardo Tamayo (Santiago), Rafael Manduley (Santiago), Alfredo Zayas (Havana), José Lacret Morlot (Havana), Luis Fortún (Matanzas), and José Fernández de Castro (Santiago). Nine of the eleven come from Oriente province, "seat of the most revolutionary fervor during the first and second wars of independence."
June 27. In the Independent, Orville H. Platt, one of the authors of the Platt Amendment, states that Cubans are incapable of stable self-government. "In many respects," he writes, "they are like children."
July. The North American Trust Company of New York, which acted as the occupying government's fiscal agent, begins to operate under the name of Banco Nacional de Cuba (National Bank of Cuba).
August 18. A group of prominent Cubans send Estrada Palma a letter urging him to seek the presidency. Led by José Miguel Gómez, the group includes Domingo Méndez Capote, General Ruiz Rivera, Pedro Betancourt and Diego Tamayo.
September 6. US president William McKinley Jr. is shot twice by Leon Franz Czolgosz at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. He dies eight days later (Sept. 14). Czolgosz is later found guilty of murder and electrocuted (October 29).
September 27. At the home of General Emilio Núñez, Estrada Palma accepts (by letter dated Sept. 7, 1901) the offer to run for president of the Republic of Cuba. On the issue of the Platt Amendment, he writes, "The Cuban government in making a treaty should try to interpret the Platt Amendment so as to give the meaning most favorable to the interests of Cuba and to her sovereignty and independence. She will fulfill the treaty but expects the United States to do likewise and to respect her independence which is recognized in one of the clauses of the Platt Amendment in the most solemn manner." Estrada Palma is endorsed by a vote of 23 to 2, with Juan Gualberto Gómez and Ezequel García in opposition.
September 28. A manifesto, written by Domingo Méndez Capote and Alfredo Zayas is widely distributed throughout the island urging the election of Estrada Palma as the first President of the Republic. The document is signed by 32 distinguished Cubans, including General Máximo Gómez, Manuel Sanguily and Gonzalo de Quesada.
October 28. General Wood writes to U.S. President Roosevelt, telling him that Bartolomé Masó (who opposes the Platt Amendment) has gained the support of "the radical and discontented element," especially Negroes, which creates "a highly dangerous situation." In appointing members of the Electoral Commission (Junta Central) to supervise the election, watch the voting and count the ballots, Wood picks men that support Estrada Palma. (This technique was used in the U.S. by political machines to steal elections.) When Masó writes to Washington demanding justice, he is told that Wood has complete authority to administer the presidential election as he sees fit. Charging that the election is rigged, Masó formally withdraws.
December 3. From President Roosevelt’s first annual message: “Elsewhere I have discussed the question of reciprocity. In of Cuba, however, there are weighty reasons of morality and national interest why the policy should be held to have a peculiar application, and I most earnestly ask your attention to the wisdom, indeed to the vital need, of providing for a substantial reduction in the tariff duties on Cuban imports into the United States. Cuba has in her constitution affirmed what we desired, that she should stand, in international matters, in closer and more friendly relations with us that with any other power; and we are bound by every consideration of honor and expediency to pass commercial measures in the interest of her material well-being.” (Wright)
December 31. An uncontested election is held, and Estrada Palma, joint candidate of the National and Republican Parties (and an American citizen), is elected the first president of the Republic of Cuba.
February 24. On the seventh anniversary of Cuba's final revolt against Spain, the electoral college meets and elects Estrada Palma
March. The Insular Department of the U.S. War Department reports the discovery that yellow fever is transmitted by a certain species of mosquito. The report fails to mention Dr. Carlos Finlay, the Cuban who came up with the theory.
March 19. In Washington, a bill granting reciprocity with Cuba is introduced and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. The House passes the bill on April 18, but the bill dies in the Senate when it adjourns on July 1. (Wright)
May 20. Tomás Estrada Palma is sworn in as president, and the Cuban flag is finally allowed to fly over Havana.
May 26. President Estrada Palma delivers his first message to Congress. He emphasizes the need for economy, not extravagance. "Public tranquility and security rest on the discipline of the country itself," he says.
July 4. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt formally ends the war against the Filipinos. The war lasted three years, and required the services of 126,468 American soldiers; 4,234 were killed and 2,818 wounded. In loosing their independence, 16,000 Filipino soldiers are killed. Guerrilla resistance, however, continues for many years. [The last Filipino guerilla leader on the island of Luzon is captured and executed in October 1911.]
July 10. Literary figure Nicolás Guillén is born in Camagüey.
November 3. The second session of Congress opens with an address by President Estrada Palma. The president submits his first budget, at "a little less than $15 million.
November 24. A general strike is declared. The government calls on the rural guards to assist police to maintain order. There are various encounters between laborers and the police in which some men are killed and others wounded.
July 16. The U.S. and Cuba sign the Treaty of 1903, in which the U.S. relinquishes all claims to Isle of Pines (Isla de Pinos-now the Island of Youth.) The treaty is not ratified and expires, so a new treaty is signed on March 2 1904.
July 26. Four armed men try to start a revolt calling for "immediate pay for the army." One of the man is captured. The other 3 are killed on the next day.
September 13. A group of 60 to 70 men attempt to hold up the President during a visit to Santiago.
December 12. U.S. Senator Chauncey Depew:
“With the opportunities which Cuba offers I look for such an immigration from the United States… that within five years from now there will be from two to three million Americans in that island… The day is not far distant when Cuba, resembling the United States in its constitution, laws, and liberties—and in all which makes a country desirable to live in for the people brought up and educated as are Americans—will have from five to six million people who are educated upon American lines and worthy of all the rights of American citizenship. Then, with the initiative from Cuba, we can welcome another star to our flag.” (Jenks)
December 16. The U.S. signs a treaty with the Cuban government leasing Bahía Honda and Guantánamo Bay. There is no 99-year clause, and the treaty can only be terminated when both governments agree to the termination.
From Cuba: A Short History, edited by Leslie Bethell:
"Lacking any tradition of self-government or political discipline, with a low level of public education, and impoverished by the war, the Cubans found themselves trapped between growing American control of land and sugar, and Spanish domination of commerce, virtually guaranteed by the peace treaty between the USA and Spain. Politics thus became the principal avenue to economic improvement and access to national resources."
December 25. A new law calls for two upcoming elections: electoral boards will be elected first, and the main election will follow.
January 6. President Estrada Palma vetoes a bill (introduced by Senator Morúa Delgado) that would reestablish the lottery.
February. The first elections under the republic take place. According to Secretary of Agriculture Emilio Terry, the elections are "a farce represented with less shame than in the times of the colony." In Oriente, Senator Juan Gualberto Gómez (of the National Liberal Party) receives many more votes than were actually cast. The Conservative Republican Party claims victory throughout the island.
April. When the new Congress opens, House members of the National Liberal Party do not show up (in protest over the elections) and there's no quorum.
October 31. By this date, according to A History of the Cuban Republic, by Chapman, there's nearly $10 million in the Cuban treasury.
December 26. Alejo Carpentier is born in Havana.