IN his message to Congress, on December 5, 1898, President McKinley declared that "the new Cuba yet to arise from the ashes of the past must needs be bound to us by ties of singular intimacy and strength if its enduring welfare is to be assured."

Probably to many of the people of the United States, the story of our relations with Cuba had its beginning with the Spanish-American war. That is quite like a notion that the history of an apple begins with its separation from the tree on which it grew. The general history of the island is reviewed in other chapters in this volume. The story of our active relations with Cuba and its affairs runs back for more than a hundred years, at least to the days of President Thomas Jefferson who, in 1808, wrote thus to Albert Gallatin: "I shall sincerely lament Cuba's falling into any other hands but those of its present owners." Several other references to the island appear at about that time. Two great movements were then going on. Europe was in the throes of the Napoleonic disturbance, and for more than twenty-five years both France and England schemed, sometimes openly and sometimes secretly, for the possession of Cuba. The other movement was the revolution in Spain's colonies in the Western Hemisphere, a movement that cost Spain all of its possessions in that area, with the exception of Cuba and Porto Rico. The influence of the revolutionary activities naturally extended to Cuba, but it was not until after 1820 that matters became dangerously critical. From that time until the present, the question of Cuba's political fate, and the question of our relations with the island, form an interesting and highly important chapter in the history of the United States as well as in the history of Cuba.

In his book on the war with Spain, Henry Cabot Lodge makes a statement that may seem curious to some and amazing to others. It is, however, the opinion of a competent and thoroughly trained student of history. He writes thus:

"The expulsion of Spain from the Antilles is merely the last and final step of the inexorable movement in which the United States has been engaged for nearly a century. By influence and by example, or more directly, by arms and by the pressure of ever-advancing settlements, the United States drove Spain from all her continental possessions in the Western Hemisphere, until nothing was left to the successors of Charles and Philip but Cuba and Porto Rico. How did it happen that this great movement stopped when it came to the ocean's edge? The movement against Spain was at once national and organic, while the pause on the sea-coast was artificial and in contravention of the laws of political evolution in the Americas. The conditions in Cuba and Porto Rico did not differ from those which had gone down in ruin wherever the flag of Spain waved on the mainland. The Cubans desired freedom, and Bolivar would fain have gone to their aid. Mexico and Colombia, in 1825, planned to invade the island, and at that time invasion was sure to be successful. What power stayed the oncoming tide which had swept over a continent? Not Cuban loyalty, for the expression 'Faithful Cuba' was a lie from the beginning. The power which prevented the liberation of Cuba was the United States, and more than seventy years later this republic has had to fight a war because at the appointed time she set herself against her own teachings, and brought to a halt the movement she had herself started to free the New World from the oppression of the Old. The United States held back Mexico and Colombia and Bolivar, used her influence at home and abroad to that end, and, in the opinion of contemporary mankind, succeeded, according to her desires, in keeping Cuba under the dominion of Spain."

For a number of years, Cuba's destiny was a subject of the gravest concern in Washington. Four solutions presented themselves; first, the acquisition of Cuba by the United States; second, its retention by Spain; third, its transfer to some power other than Spain; fourth, its political independence. That the issue was decided by the United States is shown by all the history of the time. While other factors had their influence in the determination, it is entirely clear that the issue turned on the question of slavery. In his book on Cuba and International Relations, Mr. Callahan summarizes his review of the official proceedings by saying that "the South did not want to see Cuba independent without slavery, while the North did not want to annex it with slavery." In his work on the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, Mr. Henry Wilson declares that "thus clearly and unequivocally did this Republic step forth the champion of slavery, and boldly insist that these islands should remain under the hateful despotism of Spain, rather than gain their independence by means that should inure to the detriment of its cherished system. Indeed, it (the United States) would fight to fasten more securely the double bondage on Cuba and the slave."

From this point of view, unquestionably correct, it is altogether evident that the United States assumed responsibility for Cuba's welfare, not by the intervention of 1898, but by its acts more than seventy years earlier. The diplomatic records of those years are filled with communications regarding the island, and it was again and again the subject of legislation or proposed legislation. President after President dealt with it in messages to Congress. The acquisition of the island, by purchase or otherwise, was again and again discussed. Popular interest was again and again excited; the Spanish colonial policy was denounced; and the burdens and sufferings of the Cubans were depicted in many harrowing tales. For the policy that led to the imposition of a restraining hand on proposals to free Cuba, in those early days, the people of the United States today must blush. The independence movement in the States of Spanish-America may be said to have had its definite beginning in 1806, when Francisco Miranda, a Venezuelan, sailed from New York with three ships manned by American filibusters, although the first land battle was fought in Bolivia, in 1809, and the last was fought in the same country, in 1825. But the great wave swept from the northern border of Mexico to the southernmost point of Spanish possession. When these States declared their independence, they wrote into their Constitutions that all men should be free, that human slavery should be abolished forever from their soil. The attitude of the United States in the matter of Cuba was determined by the objection to the existence of an anti-slavery State so near our border. The experience of Haiti and Santo Domingo was, of course, clearly in mind, but the objection went deeper than that. Those who are interested may read with profit the debates in the Congress of the United States, in 1826, on the subject of the despatch of delegates to the so-called Panama Congress-of that year. On the whole, it is not pleasant reading from any present point of view.

Our cherished Monroe Doctrine was one of the fruits of this period, and in the enunciation of that policy the affairs of Cuba were a prominent if not the dominant force. The language of this doctrine is said to have been written by Secretary Adams, but it is embodied in the message of President Monroe, in December, 1823, and so bears his name. In April, of that year, Secretary Adams sent a long communication to Mr. Nelson, then the American Minister to Spain. For their bearing on the Cuban question, and for the presentation of a view that runs through many years of American policy, extracts from that letter may be included here.

  WASHINGTON, April 28, 1823.

"In the war between France and Spain, now commencing, other interests, peculiarly ours, will, in all probability, be deeply involved. Whatever may be the issue of this war, as between these two European powers, it may be taken for granted that the dominion of Spain upon the American continent, north and south, is irrecoverably gone. But the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico still remain nominally, and so far really, dependent upon her, that she possesses the power of transferring her own dominion over them, together with the possession of them, to others. These islands, from their local position are natural appendages to the North American continent, and one of them, Cuba, almost in sight of our shores, from a multitude of considerations, has become an object of transcendant importance to the commercial and political interests of our Union. Its commanding position, with reference to the Gulf of Mexico and the West India seas; the character of its population; its situation midway between our southern coast and the island of St. Domingo; its safe and capacious harbor of the Havana, fronting a long line of our shores destitute of the same advantage; the nature of its productions and of its wants, furnishing the supplies and needing the returns of a commerce immensely profitable and mutually beneficial, - give it an importance in the sum of our national interests with which that of no other foreign territory can be compared, and little inferior to that which binds the different members of this Union together. Such, indeed, are the interests of that island and of this country, the geographical, commercial, moral, and political relations, that, in looking forward to the probable course of events, for the short period of half a century, it is scarcely possible to resist the conviction that the annexation of Cuba to our federal republic will be indispensable to the continuance and integrity of the Union itself."

The communication proceeds to relate the knowledge of the Department that both Great Britain and France were desirous of securing possession and control of the island, and to disclaim, on the part of the United States, all disposition to obtain possession of either Cuba or Porto Rico. The complications of the situation became increasingly serious, more particularly with regard to Cuba, and on December 2, of that year (1823), President Monroe issued his message carrying the "doctrine," which may be given thus:

"In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy to do so. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparations for our defense. With the movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected. We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers (of Europe) to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments that have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have recognized, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States."

From this time onward, Cuba appears as an almost continuous object of special interest to both the people and the officials of the United States. Notwithstanding this disclaimer of President Monroe's message, the idea of the acquisition of the island, by the United States, soon arose. It persisted through all the years down to the time of the Teller amendment, in 1898, and there are many who even now regard annexation as inevitable at some future time, more or less distant. The plan appears as a suggestion in a communication, under date of November 30, 1825, from Alexander H. Everett, then Minister to Madrid, to President Adams. It crops up repeatedly in various quarters in later years. It would be a difficult and tedious undertaking to chase through all the diplomatic records of seventy years the references to Cuba and its affairs.

From that period until the present time, the affairs of the island have been a matter of constant interest and frequent anxiety in Washington. Fear of British acquisition of the island appears to have subsided about 1860, but there were in the island two groups, both relatively small, one of them working for independence, and the other for annexation to the United States. The great majority, however, desired some fair measure of self-government, and relief from economic and financial burdens, under the Spanish flag. The purchase of the island by the United States was proposed by President Polk, in 1848; by President Pierce, in 1854; and by President Buchanan, in his time. Crises appeared from time to time. Among them was the incident of the Black Warrior, in 1854. Mr. Rhodes thus describes the affair, in his History of the United States:

"The Black Warrior was an American merchant steamer, plying between Mobile and New York, stopping at Havana for passengers and mail. She had made thirty-six such voyages, almost always having a cargo for the American port, and never being permitted to bring freight into Havana. The custom of her agent was to clear her 'in ballast' the day before her arrival. The practice, while contrary to the regulations of Cuban ports, had always been winked at by the authorities. It was well understood that the Black Warrior generally had a cargo aboard, but a detailed manifest of her load had never been required. She had always been permitted to sail unmolested until, when bound from Mobile to New York, she was stopped on the 28th of February, 1854, by order of the royal exchequer, for having violated the regulations of the port. The agent, finding that the cause of this proceeding was the failure to manifest the cargo 'in transit,' offered to amend the manifest, which under the rules he had a right to do; but this the collector, on a flimsy pretext, refused to permit. The agent was at the same time informed that the cargo was confiscated and the captain fined, in pursuance of the custom-house regulations. The cargo was cotton, valued at one hundred thousand dollars; and the captain was fined six thousand dollars. The United States consul applied to the captain-general for redress, but no satisfaction was obtained. A gang of men with lighters were sent to the ship under the charge of the commandante, who ordered the captain of the Black Warrior to discharge her cargo. This he refused to do. The commandante then had the hatches opened, and his men began to take out the bales of cotton. The captain hauled down his flag and abandoned the vessel to the Spanish authorities."

The news of the incident created great excitement in Washington. President Pierce sent a message to Congress, stating that demand had been made on Spain for indemnity, and suggesting provisional legislation that would enable him, if negotiations failed, "to insure the observance of our just rights, to obtain redress for injuries received, and to vindicate the honor of our flag."

Mr. Soule, then the American Minister to Madrid, was the official through whom the negotiations were conducted. He was a man of somewhat impetuous temperament, and an ardent advocate of Cuba's annexation. He quite overstepped both the bounds of propriety and of his authority in his submission, under instructions, of a demand for three hundred thousand dollars indemnity. This, and Spanish diplomatic methods, led to delay, and the excitement died out. In the meantime, Spain released the vessel and its cargo, disavowed and disapproved the conduct of the local officials, paid the indemnity claimed by the owners of the vessel, and the ship resumed its regular trips, being treated with every courtesy when visiting Havana. But the incident gave rise to active discussion, and for a time threatened serious results. It followed on the heels of another experience, the Lopez expeditions, to which reference is made in another chapter, and came at a time when Cuba and Cuban affairs were topics of a lively public interest. The subject of acquisition was under general public discussion and occupied a large share of public attention. Some wanted war with Spain, and others proposed the purchase of the island from Spain. But the immediate cause of complaint having been removed by the release of the ship, Soule was instructed to take no further steps in the matter, and the excitement gradually passed away.

Immediately following this experience, and growing out of it, came the incident of the "Ostend Manifesto." At that time, James Buchanan was Minister to England. John Y. Mason was Minister to France, and Pierre Soule was Minister to Spain. Secretary of State Marcy suggested a conference between these three officials. They met at Ostend, but afterward transferred their deliberations to Aix la Chapelle. The meeting attracted general attention in Europe. The result of what they reported as "a full and unreserved interchange of views and sentiments," was a recommendation that an earnest effort be made immediately to purchase Cuba. They were of opinion that the sum of one hundred and twenty million dollars be offered. The report proceeded thus: "After we shall have offered Spain a price for Cuba far beyond its present value, and this shall have been refused, it will then be time to consider the question, does Cuba in the possession of Spain seriously endanger our internal peace and the existence of our cherished Union? Should this question be answered in the affirmative, then, by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting it from Spain if we possess the power; and this upon the very same principle that would justify an individual in tearing down the burning house of his neighbor if there were no other means of preventing the flame from destroying his own home." It is evident that Soule dominated the meeting, and only less evident that he, in some way, cajoled his associates into signing the report. No action was taken on the matter by the Administration, and the incident has passed into history somewhat, perhaps, as one of the curiosities of diplomacy. At all events, all historians note it, and some give it considerable attention.

The next serious complication arose out of the Ten Years' War, in Cuba, in 1868, to which reference is made in a chapter on Cuba's revolutions. Spain's leaders seemed quite incapable of grasping the Cuban situation, of seeing it in its proper light. It is more than probable that, even then, the Cubans would have remained loyal if the Spanish authorities had paid attention to their just and reasonable demands. As stated by Mr. Pepper, in his Tomorrow in Cuba, "The machete and the torch then gained what peaceful agitation had not been able to achieve." The demands of the Cubans are thus stated by Senor Cabrera, in his Cuba and the Cubans: "A constitutional system in place of the autocracy of the Captain-General, freedom of the press, the right of petition, cessation of the exclusion of Cubans from public office, unrestricted industrial liberty, abolition of restrictions on the transfer of landed property, the right of assembly and of association, representation in the Cortes, and local self-government," all reasonable and just demands from every point of view of modern civilization. Spain refused all, and on October 10, 1868, an actual revolution began, the first in the history of the island to be properly classed as a revolution. The United States soon became concerned and involved. In his message to Congress on December 6, 1869, President Grant said: "For more than a year, a valuable province of Spain, and a near neighbor of ours, in whom all our people cannot but feel a deep interest, has been struggling for independence and freedom. The people and the Government of the United States entertain the same warm feelings and sympathies for the people of Cuba in their pending struggle that they have manifested throughout the previous struggles between Spain and her former colonies (Mexico, Central America and South America) in behalf of the latter. But the contest has at no time assumed the conditions which amount to a war in the sense of international law, or which would show the existence of a de facto political organization of the insurgents sufficient to justify a recognition of belligerency." On June 13, 1870, President Grant sent a special message to Congress, in which he reviewed the Cuban situation. Another reference appears in his message of December 5, 1870. In his message of December 4, 1871, he stated that "it is to be regretted that the disturbed condition of the island of Cuba continues to be a source of annoyance and anxiety. The existence of a protracted struggle in such close proximity to our own territory, without apparent prospect of an early termination, cannot be other than an object of concern to a people who, while abstaining from interference in the affairs of other powers, naturally desire to see every other country in the undisturbed enjoyment of peace, liberty, and the blessings of free institutions." In the message of December 2, 1872, he said: "It is with regret that I have again to announce a continuance of the disturbed condition in the island of Cuba. The contest has now lasted for more than four years. Were its scene at a distance from our neighborhood, we might be indifferent to its result, although humanity could not be unmoved by many of its incidents wherever they might occur. It is, however, at out door." Reference was made to it in all following annual messages, until President Hayes, in 1878, announced its termination, ten years after its beginning. The contest had become practically a deadlock, and a compromise was arranged by General Maximo Gomez, for the Cubans, and General Martinez Campos, for Spain.

The entanglements that grew out of the experiences of this period are too long and too complicated for detailed review here. This country had no desire for war with Spain, but approval of the Spanish policy in Cuba was impossible. The sympathies of the American people were with the Cubans, as they had been for fifty years, and as they continued to be until the end of Spanish occupation in the West Indies. Rumors of all kinds were afloat, and again and again the situation seemed to have reached a crisis that could be ended only by war. A particularly aggravating incident appeared in what is known as theVirginius case. This was described as follows, in President Grant's message to Congress on December 1, 1873.

"The steamer Virginius was on the 26th day of September, 1870, duly registered at the port of New York as a part of the commercial marine of the United States. On the 4th of October, 1870, having received the certificate of her register in the usual legal form, she sailed from the port of New York, and has not since been within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. On the 31st day of October last (1873), while sailing under the flag of the United States on the high seas, she was forcibly seized by the Spanish gunboat Tornado, and was carried into the port of Santiago de Cuba, where fifty-three of her passengers and crew were inhumanly, and, so far at least as related to those who were citizens of the United States, without due process of law, put to death."

Only for the timely arrival of the British man-of-war Niobe, and the prompt and decisive action of her commander, there is no doubt that ninety-three others would have shared the fate of their companions. Some were Americans and some were British. The excitement in this country was intense, and war with Spain was widely demanded. Further investigation revealed the fact that the American registry was dishonest, that the ship really belonged to or was chartered by Cubans, that it was engaged in carrying supplies and munitions of war to the insurgents, and that its right to fly the American flag was more than doubtful. The ship was seized by the American authorities under a charge of violation of the maritime laws of the United States, and was ordered to New York, for a trial of the case. American naval officers were placed in command, but she was in bad condition, and foundered in a gale near Cape Fear. As far as the vessel was concerned, the incident was closed. There remained the question of indemnity for what Caleb Cushing, then the American Minister to Spain, in his communication to the Spanish authorities, denounced as "a dreadful, a savage act, the inhuman slaughter in cold blood, of fifty-three human beings, a large number of them citizens of the United States, shot without lawful trial, without any valid pretension of authority, and to the horror of the whole civilized world." England also filed its claim for the loss of British subjects, and payment was soon after made "for the purpose of relief of the families or persons of the ship's company and passengers." In his Cuba and International Relations, Mr. Callahan says: "The catalogue of irritating affairs in relation to Cuba, of which the Virginius was only the culmination, might have been urged as sufficient to justify a policy of intervention to stop the stubborn war of extermination which had been tolerated by peaceful neighbors for five years. Some would have been ready to advocate intervention as a duty. The relations of Cuba to the United States, the Spanish commercial restrictions which placed Cuba at the mercy of Spanish monopolists, and the character of the Spanish rule, pointed to the conclusion that if Spain should not voluntarily grant reforms and guarantee pacification of the island, the United States might be compelled, especially for future security, temporarily to occupy it and assist in the organization of a liberal government based upon modern views. Such action might have led to annexation, but not necessarily; it might have led to a restoration of Spanish possession under restrictions as to the character of Spanish rule, and as to the size of the Spanish army and naval force in the vicinity; more likely it would have resulted in the independence of Cuba under American protection."

These are only some of the more prominent features in fifty years of American interest in Cuba. Throughout the entire period, the sympathies of the American people were strongly pro-Cuban. Money and supplies were contributed from time to time to assist the Cubans in their efforts to effect a change in their conditions, either through modification of Spanish laws, or by the road of independence. Only a minority of the Cubans sought to follow that road at that time. The movement for independence was not national until it was made so in 1895. What would have happened had we, at the time of the Ten Years' War, granted to the Cubans the rights of belligerents, is altogether a matter of speculation. Such a course was then deemed politically inexpedient.