The present revolution is but the successor of other similar insurrections extending over a period of nearly half a century, each of which has subjected the United States to great effort and expense in enforcing its neutrality laws; caused enormous losses to U.S. trade and commerce; caused irritation, annoyance, and disturbance among our citizens; and -- by the exercise of cruel, barbarous, and uncivilized practices of warfare -- shocked the sensibilities and offended the humane sympathies of our people.
In my annual message of December last I said:
Of the untried measures there remained only: recognition of the insurgents as belligerents; recognition of the independence of Cuba; neutral intervention to end the war by imposing a rational compromise between the contestants; and intervention in favor of one or the other party. I speak not of forcible annexation for that, by our code of morality, would be criminal aggression.
First, in the cause of humanity and to put an end to the barbarities, bloodshed, starvation, and horrible miseries now existing there. It is no answer to say this is all in another country. It is specially our duty, for it is right at our door.
Second, we owe it to our citizens in Cuba to afford them that protection and indemnity for life and property which no government there can or will afford.
Third, the right to intervene may be justified by the very serious injury to the commerce, trade, and business of our people, and by the wanton destruction of property and devastation of the island.
Fourth, and of the utmost importance, the present condition of affairs in Cuba is a constant menace to our peace, and entails upon this government an enormous expense. With such a conflict waged for years in an island so near us and with which our people have such trade and business relations; when the lives and liberty of our citizens are in constant danger and their property destroyed and themselves ruined; where our trading vessels are seized at our very door by warships of a foreign nation, and the irritating questions and entanglements thus arising -- all these and others compel us to keep on a semiwar footing with a nation with which we are at peace.
In any event, the destruction of the Maine, by whatever exterior cause, is a patent and impressive proof of a state of things in Cuba that is intolerable.
In view of these facts, I ask the Congress to authorize and empower the President to take measures to secure a full and final termination of hostilities between the government of Spain and the people of Cuba, and to secure in the island the establishment of a stable government.
Herald researcher Liz Donovan found the text of McKinley's message, and Renato Perez edited it.
Copyright © 1998 The Miami Herald