After the Spanish American War

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 4, 2012

The Philippines

After the defeat of the Spanish fleet, Filipino patriot Emiliano Aguinaldo had taken the lead in setting up a provisional government. Aguinaldo became the island nation’s first president. The Filipinos had been given no say in the matter of their annexation by the United States, and they were furious that the United States expected to control the islands in return for having driven the Spanish out. The United States had plans for the Philippines. It would serve as a naval base. It would be a handy central location for trade in Asian and U.S. goods, saving thousands of miles of transport. It would provide a new market for American goods. It would be a cheap source of raw materials that the United States needed.

From the Filipino point of view, U.S. annexation amounted to a betrayal. Armed conflict between a U.S. army of occupation and Filipino patriots raged for three years. In 1902, the United States finally put down the rebellion. The U.S. Congress then passed the Philippine Government Act, which established a bicameral legislature and a governor. Filipinos would elect their own representatives to the lower house; the United States would appoint the governor and the members of the upper house. In 1916, the United States passed the Jones Act of 1916, giving Filipinos the right to elect members of the upper house.

Cuba and Puerto Rico

Although he had allowed Hearst’s tactics to push him into a war he did not support, President McKinley acted decisively once the war was over. He installed temporary governments in Cuba and Puerto Rico, claiming that Americans must be in charge until order was restored. McKinley appointed Leonard Wood governor of Cuba. Wood immediately took two practical steps to improve everyday life in Cuba. First, he provided money for the construction of schools. Second, he funded a sanitation system that drained pools of standing water throughout the island, thus removing the mosquitoes’ breeding ground and the constant threat of deadly yellow fever and malaria.

Despite these points in his favor, Wood was an autocrat. He supported a constitutional amendment making Cuba a U.S. protectorate and requiring it to provide an American naval base. If Cuba accepted the Platt Amendment, U.S. troops would cease to occupy the island. The Cuban legislature reluctantly voted for the amendment in 1902. The following year, Cuba and the United States signed a trade agreement that profited both countries.

At first, Puerto Rico was ruled just as the Philippines had been, with a U. S.-appointed governor and Senate and a Puerto Rican-elected House of Representatives. The Jones Act of 1917 restored to Puerto Ricans the right to elect their own Senate.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at: The US Becomes a World Power Practice Test

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