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H.J. Res. 233, Teller Amendment, April 16, 1898

In April 1898, while Congress prepared to authorize military force against Spain, some members were wary that the United States would annex Cuba rather than allow its independence. Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado proposed an amendment disclaiming any intention to control Cuba. Congress passed the amended joint resolution on April 19; President William McKinley signed it on April 20.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

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The United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said Island except for pacification thereof, and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and control of the Island to its people.

Teller Amendment, April 16, 1898

H.J. Res. 233, Teller Amendment, April 16, 1898 H.J. Res. 233, Teller Amendment, April 16, 1898 H.J. Res. 233, Teller Amendment, April 16, 1898

The Spanish-American War

The explosion of the USS Maine in February 1898 became a catalyst for war. In April Congress declared war against Spain, demanding that Spain relinquish control of Cuba. To disavow any colonial intentions, Congress first approved an amendment proposed by Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado supporting Cuba’s independence. The ensuing war extended to the Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, which Spain finally ceded to the United States in December 1898. The Spanish-American War ultimately expanded U.S.-controlled territory and enhanced America’s status as a world power