13 Aug Spanish-American War ends, Aug. 12, 1898
Spain — having suffered major military defeats in Cuba and the Philippines, and with both of its fleets destroyed — sued for peace with the United States in a war that lasted four months.
Hostilities ended on this day in 1898, with the signing in Washington of a peace protocol between the United States and Spain. After two more months of often difficult negotiations, the former belligerents signed a formal peace treaty, known as the Treaty of Paris, on Dec. 10, 1898. The Senate ratified the treaty on Feb. 6, 1899.
The protocol called for an immediate end to all fighting in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. With President William McKinley looking on, it was signed by William Day, U.S. secretary of state, and Jules Cambon, the French ambassador who represented the Spanish authorities in Madrid.
The pact was signed in a room that overlooked the South Lawn of the White House, which served as a Cabinet Room between 1867 and 1902.
The deal required Spain to “relinquish all claim of sovereignty over and title of Cuba” and to cede Puerto Rico and the Pacific island of Guam to the United States.
Furthermore, protocol declared that “the United States will occupy and hold the city, bay and harbor of Manila, pending the conclusion of a treaty of peace which shall determine the control, disposition and government of the Philippines.” (It took until July 4, 1946, and a wartime occupation by the Japanese, for Washington to relinquish sovereignty over the Philippines.)
Cubans formed a civil government and declared their independence on May 20, 1902. But with the departure of U.S. troops, Washington barred Cuba from entering into alliances with other nations and secured a perpetual lease on a naval base at Guantánamo Bay.
John Hay, the American ambassador in London and then future secretary of state, wrote his friend Theodore Roosevelt that the conflict had been “a splendid little war.” Many American newspaper accounts stressed how Northerners and Southerners, blacks and whites, had fought together against a common foe, an approach that helped heal some scars from the Civil War.
The brief struggle marked the effective end of the Spanish Empire — Spain’s overseas holdings were trimmed to a few African colonies. (Spain had been declining as an imperial power since the early 19th century in the aftermath of Napoleon’s invasion of the Iberian Peninsula.) The conflict also marked, along with the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, the full-blown entry of the United States into world affairs. Public opinion largely supported the possession of the new colonies, but there also were some outspoken critics, including Mark Twain.
To finance the war, Congress passed an excise tax on long-distance phone service. At the time, it affected only wealthy Americans, who were the only ones who could afford to own telephones. However, the lawmakers neglected to repeal the tax after the war ended; it remained in place until Aug. 1, 2006.
source: “THE WAR WITH SPAIN IN 1898,” by David Trask (1996)