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“A Plea for Cuba,” color lithograph by Victor F. Gillam, Judge, October 19, 1895

A cartoon published in the period leading up to the Spanish-American War urged the United States to rescue Cuba from Spanish oppression. It pointed out that European allies—represented by ghosts of two heroes of the American Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette of France and Baron von Steuben of Prussia––helped liberate the United States from England’s tyranny.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

“A Plea for Cuba,” color lithograph by Victor F. Gillam, Judge, October 19, 1895

Cuba and the Platt Amendment

Congress declared war against Spain in 1898 to support Cuba’s independence, vowing to respect Cuban sovereignty. After the war, however, the United States maintained military control of Cuba. Secretary of War Elihu Root set conditions for ending the occupation, and Senator Orville Platt of Connecticut introduced them in Congress as a legislative amendment. Among other stipulations, the Platt Amendment permitted U.S. intervention in Cuban affairs. Under pressure from the United States, Cuba incorporated the Platt Amendment into its new constitution until the terms were repealed in 1934.