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Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado, photograph, ca. 1902

Senator Henry M. Teller represented Colorado in Congress for more than 25 years, serving on numerous committees. He was also secretary of the interior under President Chester A. Arthur. One of Teller’s most notable achievements in Congress was his amendment to a joint resolution promising to respect Cuba’s sovereignty at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The American flag is the best flag in the world for Americans. It is not the best flag for men who do not want it. It is not the best flag for Cuba. . . . Liberty-loving men will never have any love for a flag that they do not create and that they do not defend.

Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado, Speech to the U.S. Senate, May 22, 1902

Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado, photograph, ca. 1902

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