Treaty of Paris (1898)

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Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Peace between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain
December 10, 1898
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg
Flag of the United States (1896-1908).svg
TypePeace treaty
SignedDecember 10, 1898 (1898-12-10)
Location Paris, France
EffectiveApril 11, 1899
ConditionExchange of ratifications
Citations30  Stat.   1754; TS 343; 11 Bevans 615
  • Spanish
  • English
Full text
Wikisource-logo.svg Treaty of Paris (1898) at Wikisource
Article IX amended by protocol of March 29, 1900 (TS 344; 11 Bevans 622). Article III supplemented by convention of November 7, 1900 (TS 345; 11 Bevans 623).

The Treaty of Peace between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain, commonly known as the Treaty of Paris of 1898 (Filipino : Kasunduan sa Paris ng 1898; Spanish : Tratado de París de 1898), was a treaty signed by Spain and the United States on December 10, 1898, that ended the Spanish–American War. Under it, Spain relinquished all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba and also ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. The cession of the Philippines involved a compensation of $20 million from the United States to Spain. [1]


The treaty came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the documents of ratification were exchanged. [2] It was the first treaty negotiated between the two governments since the 1819 Adams–Onís Treaty.

The Treaty of Paris marked the end of the Spanish Empire, apart from some small holdings. It had a major cultural impact in Spain known as the "Generation of '98". It marked the beginning of the United States as a world power. Many supporters of the war opposed the treaty, which became one of the major issues in the election of 1900 when it was opposed by Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who opposed imperialism. [3] Republican President William McKinley supported the treaty and was easily reelected. [4]


The Spanish–American War began on April 25, 1898, due to a series of escalating disputes between the two nations, and ended on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. It resulted in Spain's loss of its control over the remains of its overseas empire. [5] After much of mainland Latin America had achieved independence, Cuba tried its hand at revolution in 1868–1878, and again in the 1890s, led by José Martí. Martí returned to Cuba and participated at first in the struggles against the Spanish government, but was killed on May 19, 1895. The Philippines at this time also became resistant to Spanish colonial rule. August 26, 1896 presented the first call to revolt, led by Andrés Bonifacio, succeeded by Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy, who had his predecessor arrested. Bonifacio was executed on May 10, 1897. Aguinaldo then negotiated the Pact of Biak-na-Bato with the Spaniards and was exiled to Hong Kong along with the other revolutionary leaders.

The Spanish–American War that followed had overwhelming U.S. public support due to the popular fervor towards supporting Cuban freedom [6] as well as furthering U.S. economic interests overseas. [7] The U.S. was particularly attracted to the developing sugar industry in Cuba. [5] The U.S. military even resorted to falsifying reports in the Philippines in order to maintain public support for U.S. involvement abroad. [8] The U.S. appealed to the principles of Manifest Destiny and expansionism to justify its participation in the war, proclaiming that it was America's fate and its duty to take charge in these overseas nations. [9]

On September 16, U.S. President William McKinley issued secret written instructions to his emissaries as the Spanish–American War drew to a close:

By a protocol signed at Washington August 12, 1898 . . . it was agreed that the United States and Spain would each appoint not more than five commissioners to treat of peace, and that the commissioners so appointed should meet at Paris not later than October 1, 1898, and proceed to the negotiation and conclusion of a treaty of peace, which treaty should be subject to ratification according to the respective constitutional forms of the two countries.

For the purpose of carrying into effect this stipulation, I have appointed you as commissioners on the part of the United States to meet and confer with commissioners on the part of Spain.

As an essential preliminary to the agreement to appoint commissioners to treat of peace, this government required of that of Spain the unqualified concession of the following precise demands:

The relinquishment of all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba. The cession to the United States of Puerto Rico and other islands under Spanish sovereignty in the West Indies. The cession of an island in the Ladrones, to be selected by the United States. The immediate evacuation by Spain of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other Spanish islands in the West Indies. The occupation by the United States of the city, bay, and harbor of Manila pending the conclusion of a treaty of peace which should determine the control, disposition, and government of the Philippines.

These demands were conceded by Spain, and their concession was, as you will perceive, solemnly recorded in the protocol of the 12th of August. . . .

It is my wish that throughout the negotiations entrusted to the Commission the purpose and spirit with which the United States accepted the unwelcome necessity of war should be kept constantly in view. We took up arms only in obedience to the dictates of humanity and in the fulfillment of high public and moral obligations. We had no design of aggrandizement and no ambition of conquest. Through the long course of repeated representations which preceded and aimed to avert the struggle, and in the final arbitrament of force, this country was impelled solely by the purpose of relieving grievous wrongs and removing long-existing conditions which disturbed its tranquillity, which shocked the moral sense of mankind, and which could no longer be endured.

It is my earnest wish that the United States in making peace should follow the same high rule of conduct which guided it in facing war. It should be as scrupulous and magnanimous in the concluding settlement as it was just and humane in its original action. The luster and the moral strength attaching to a cause which can be confidently rested upon the considerate judgment of the world should not under any illusion of the hour be dimmed by ulterior designs which might tempt us into excessive demands or into an adventurous departure on untried paths. It is believed that the true glory and the enduring interests of the country will most surely be served if an unselfish duty conscientiously accepted and a signal triumph honorably achieved shall be crowned by such an example of moderation, restraint, and reason in victory as best comports with the traditions and character of our enlightened republic.

Our aim in the adjustment of peace should be directed to lasting results and to the achievement of the common good under the demands of civilization, rather than to ambitious designs. The terms of the protocol were framed upon this consideration. The abandonment of the Western Hemisphere by Spain was an imperative necessity. In presenting that requirement, we only fulfilled a duty universally acknowledged. It involves no ungenerous reference to our recent foe, but simply a recognition of the plain teachings of history, to say that it was not compatible with the assurance of permanent peace on and near our own territory that the Spanish flag should remain on this side of the sea. This lesson of events and of reason left no alternative as to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the other islands belonging to Spain in this hemisphere.

The Philippines stand upon a different basis. It is nonetheless true, however, that without any original thought of complete or even partial acquisition, the presence and success of our arms at Manila imposes upon us obligations which we cannot disregard. The march of events rules and overrules human action. Avowing unreservedly the purpose which has animated all our effort, and still solicitous to adhere to it, we cannot be unmindful that, without any desire or design on our part, the war has brought us new duties and responsibilities which we must meet and discharge as becomes a great nation on whose growth and career from the beginning the ruler of nations has plainly written the high command and pledge of civilization.

Incidental to our tenure in the Philippines is the commercial opportunity to which American statesmanship cannot be indifferent. It is just to use every legitimate means for the enlargement of American trade; but we seek no advantages in the Orient which are not common to all. Asking only the open door for ourselves, we are ready to accord the open door to others. The commercial opportunity which is naturally and inevitably associated with this new opening depends less on large territorial possession than upon an adequate commercial basis and upon broad and equal privileges. . . .

In view of what has been stated, the United States cannot accept less than the cession in full right and sovereignty of the island of Luzon. It is desirable, however, that the United States shall acquire the right of entry for vessels and merchandise belonging to citizens of the United States into such ports of the Philippines as are not ceded to the United States upon terms of equal favor with Spanish ships and merchandise, both in relation to port and customs charges and rates of trade and commerce, together with other rights of protection and trade accorded to citizens of one country within the territory of another. You are therefore instructed to demand such concession, agreeing on your part that Spain shall have similar rights as to her subjects and vessels in the ports of any territory in the Philippines ceded to the United States. [10] [11]


Article V of the peace protocol between United States and Spain on August 12, 1898 [12] read as follows:

The United States and Spain will each appoint not more than five commissioners to treat of peace, and the commissioners so appointed shall meet at Paris not later than Oct. 1, 1898, and proceed to the negotiation and conclusion of a treaty of peace, which treaty shall be subject to ratification according to the respective constitutional forms of the two countries. [13]

The composition of the American commission was somewhat unusual in that three of its members were senators, which meant, as many newspapers pointed out, that they would later vote on the ratification of their own negotiations. [14] These were American delegation's members:

John Hay, Secretary of State, signing the memorandum of ratification on behalf of the United States John Hay signs Treaty of Paris, 1899.JPG
John Hay, Secretary of State, signing the memorandum of ratification on behalf of the United States

The Spanish commission included the following Spanish diplomats:

The American delegation, headed by former Secretary of State William R. Day, who had vacated his position as US Secretary of State to head the commission, arrived in Paris on September 26, 1898. The negotiations were conducted in a suite of rooms at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the first session, on October 1, the Spanish demanded that before the talks got underway, the return of the city of Manila, which had been captured by the Americans a few hours after the signing of the peace protocol in Washington, to Spanish authority. The Americans refused to consider the idea and, for the moment, it was pursued no further. [15]

Felipe Agoncillo, a Filipino lawyer who represented the First Philippine Republic, was denied participation in the negotiation.

For almost a month, negotiations revolved around Cuba. The Teller Amendment to the US declaration of war made it impractical for the US to annex the island, unlike Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. [15] At first, Spain refused to accept the Cuban national debt of four hundred million dollars, but ultimately, it had no choice. Eventually, it was agreed that Cuba was to be granted independence and for the Cuban debt to be assumed by Spain. It was also agreed that Spain would cede Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States. [16]

The negotiators then turned to the question of the Philippines. Spanish negotiators were determined to hang onto all they could and hoped to cede only Mindanao and perhaps the Sulu Islands. [16] On the American side, Chairman Day had once recommended the acquisition of only the naval base in Manila, as a "hitching post." [17] Others had recommended retaining only the island of Luzon. However, in discussions with its advisers, the commission concluded that Spain, if it retained part of the Philippines, would be likely to sell it to another European power, which would likely be troublesome for America. [18] On November 25, the American Commission cabled McKinley for explicit instructions. Their cable crossed one from McKinley saying that duty left him no choice but to demand the entire archipelago. The next morning, another cable from McKinley arrived:

to accept merely Luzon, leaving the rest of the islands subject to Spanish rule, or to be the subject of future contention, cannot be justified on political, commercial, or humanitarian grounds. The cessation must be the whole archipelago or none. The latter is wholly inadmissible, and the former must therefore be required. [19]

On November 4, the Spanish delegation formally accepted the American demand, and Spanish Prime Minister Práxedes Mateo Sagasta backed the commission. With the growing risk of the negotiations collapsing, there were mutters about resuming the war. The US elections on November 8, however, cut McKinley's Republican majority in the US Congress less than had been anticipated. The American delegation, therefore, took heart, and Frye unveiled a plan of offering Spain ten or twenty million dollars for the islands. [20]

After some discussion, the American delegation offered twenty million dollars on November 21, one tenth of a valuation that had been estimated in internal discussions in October, and requested an answer within two days. [21] Montero Ríos said angrily that he could reply at once, but the American delegation had already departed from the conference table. When the two sides met again, Queen-Regent Maria Christina had cabled her acceptance. Montero Ríos then recited his formal reply:

The Government of Her Majesty, moved by lofty reasons of patriotism and humanity, will not assume the responsibility of again bringing upon Spain all the horrors of war. In order to avoid them, it resigns itself to the painful task of submitting to the law of the victor, however harsh it may be, and as Spain lacks the material means to defend the rights she believes hers, having recorded them, she accepts the only terms the United States offers her for the concluding of the treaty of peace. [22]

Work on the final draft of the treaty began on November 30. It was signed on December 10, 1898. The next step was ratification. In Madrid, the Cortes Generales, Spain's legislature, rejected it, but Maria Christina signed it as she was empowered to do by a clause in the Spanish constitution. [23]

US ratification

Senator George F. Hoar as a Member of the 55th US Congress.jpeg Senator Eugene Hale as a Member of the 55th US Congress.jpeg George G. Vest (10507061813) (2).jpg
George F. Hoar (MA-R) (left), Eugene Hale (ME-R) (center), and George G. Vest (MO-D) (right) led the opposition to the ratification of the Treaty of Paris within the Senate.

In the US Senate, there were four main schools of thought on US imperialism that influenced the debate on the treaty's ratification. [24] Republicans generally supported the treaty, but those opposed either aimed to defeat the treaty or exclude the provision that stipulated the acquisition of the Philippines. Most Democrats favored expansion as well, particularly in the South. A minority of Democrats also favored the treaty on the basis of ending the war and granting independence to Cuba and the Philippines. During the Senate debate on ratification, Senators George Frisbie Hoar and George Graham Vest were outspoken opponents. Hoar stated:

This Treaty will make us a vulgar, commonplace empire, controlling subject races and vassal states, in which one class must forever rule and other classes must forever obey. [25]

Some anti-expansionists stated that the treaty committed the US to a course of empire and violated the most basic tenets of the US Constitution. They argued that neither the Congress nor the President had the right to pass laws that governed colonial peoples who were not represented by lawmakers.

Some Senate expansionists supported the treaty and reinforced such views by arguing:

Suppose we reject the Treaty. We continue the state of war. We repudiate the President. We are branded as a people incapable of taking rank as one of the greatest of world powers!

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge [25]

Providence has given the United States the duty of extending Christian civilization. We come as ministering angels, not despots.

Senator Knute Nelson [25]

Expansionists said that the Constitution applied only to US citizens, an idea that was later supported by the US Supreme Court in the Insular Cases. [26]

As the Senate debate continued, Andrew Carnegie and former President Grover Cleveland petitioned the Senate to reject the treaty. Both men adamantly opposed such imperialist policies and participated in the American Anti-Imperialist League, along with other such prominent members as Mark Twain and Samuel Gompers. [9]

The treaty was eventually approved on February 6, 1899, by a vote of 57 to 27, just over the two-thirds majority required. [27] Only two Republicans voted against ratification: George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts and Eugene Pryor Hale of Maine. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich had opposed entry into the Spanish–American War but supported McKinley after it began. He played a central role in winning the treaty's two-thirds majority ratification. [28]


The Treaty of Paris provided for the independence of Cuba from Spain, but the US Congress ensured indirect US control by the Platt Amendment and the Teller Amendment. Spain relinquished all claims of sovereignty over and title to Cuba. Upon Spain's departure, Cuba was to be occupied by the US, which would assume and discharge any obligations of international law by its occupation.

The treaty also specified that Spain would cede Puerto Rico and the other islands under Spanish sovereignty in the West Indies as well as the island of Guam in the Mariana Islands to the US.

The treaty also specified that Spain would cede the Philippine Islands, including the islands within a specified line, to the US, and that the United States would pay to Spain the sum of twenty million dollars. Specifics of the cession of the Philippines were later clarified on November 7, 1900, when Spain and the U.S. signed the Treaty of Washington. This clarified that the territories relinquished by Spain to the United States included any and all islands belonging to the Philippine Archipelago, but lying outside the lines described in the Treaty of Paris. That treaty explicitly named the islands of Cagayan Sulu and Sibutu and their dependencies as among the relinquished territories. [29] The boundary between the Philippines and North Borneo was further clarified by the Convention Between the United States and Great Britain (1930). [30]

More specifically, the Treaty address had seventeen articles addressing the following issues: [31]

Article 1 – Spanish relinquishment of sovereignty claim to Cuba and occupation of Cuba by the U.S.

Article 2 – Spanish cession of Puerto Rico and Guam to the U.S.

Article 3 – Spanish cession of the Philippines to the U.S. payment by the U.S. of $20,000,000

Article 4 – Spanish shipping in the Philippines

Article 5 – Repatriation of Spanish soldiers and sailors captured at Manila; removal of Spanish forces from the Philippines and Guam; future of Spanish arms, equipment and supplies

Article 6 – Release of all prisoners, including those involved in the insurrections in Cuba and the Philippines, held by Spain; the U.S. to do the same and also to encourage insurrectionist forces to do likewise.

Article 7 – Both sides to relinquish all claims of loss

Article 8 – Forts and other permanent installations, archives, and personal property

Article 9 – Rights of Spanish citizens and native peoples in ceded lands

Article 10 – Freedom of religion

Article 11 – Courts

Article 12 – Judicial proceedings

Article 13 – Copyrights, patents, and artistic works

Article 14 - Spanish ability to appoint consular offices

Article 15 – Rights of merchant vessels

Article 16 – Cuba after U.S. occupation

Article 17 – Treaty ratification

Muslim sultanates issue

A major problem that ultimately led to the Moro Rebellion and the prolonging of the Philippine–American War long past 1902 (when the war was declared over by the United States against the Catholic Filipinos in northern Philippines) was that three sovereign, independent states known as sultanates in present-day southern Philippines were also given to the United States even though Spain had no sovereignty over them. They were the Sultanate of Maguindanao, the Sultanate of Sulu, and the Confederation of sultanates in Lanao. The texts of the Spanish and English copies of the treaties and agreements with these Moro sultanates all claimed that sovereignty was handed over to the Spanish Empire and the United States, but the local language's copy of the texts always emphasized the sovereignty and independence of the sultanates and actually included provisions of tribute (similar deal to the British leasing Hong Kong from the Qing Dynasty) to be paid to the rulers by the Spanish and the Americans for a handful of lightly garrisoned coastal outposts in the sultanates. Suzerainty, not sovereignty, was the relationship between Spain and these three sultanates and it could be argued that the Spanish Empire had no right to include Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago in the Treaty of Paris. The United States even confirmed during the Kiram-Bates Treaty negotiations that Spain never had sovereignty. The United States fought long, brutal wars against the Moros in the sultanates from 1899–1913. They annexed the Sultanate of Maguindanao and the Confederation of sultanates in Lanao in 1905 after the Battle of the Malalag River and then annexed the Sultanate of Sulu in 1913 after the Battle of Bud Bagsak [32]


Aftermath in the United States

Victory in the Spanish–American War turned the US into a world power because the attainment of the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines expanded its economic dominance in the Pacific. Its growth continued to have effects on US foreign and economic policy well into the next century. [33] Furthermore, McKinley's significant role in advancing the ratification of the treaty transformed the presidential office from a weaker position to a prototype of the stronger presidency that is more seen today. [34]

Aftermath in the new territories

The US military occupation also continued to have further impacts abroad. In the Philippines, revolts against US involvement, initiated on February 4, 1899, quickly surpassed the fighting that had just ended against the Spanish. As one Filipino writer noted in 1899:

Now here is a unique spectacle – the Filipinos fighting for liberty, the American people fighting to give them liberty. [35]

According to the US National Park Service, "The Spanish–American War and its aftermath delayed Philippine independence until after World War II, but established a relationship that fostered a substantial Filipino population within U.S. borders." [36]

In Cuba, the Platt Amendment allowed the US to continue its occupation without annexing it despite promises that had been made during the war and negotiations over Cuban freedom. [37] To maintain control, the US government espoused the idea that the Cuban people were unprepared for self-governance. As US Senator Stephen Elkins noted:

When Cuba shall become a part of the American Union and the isthmian canal shall be completed, which is now assured, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Hawaii and the Philippines will be outposts of the great Republic, standing guard over American interests in the track of the world's commerce in its triumphant march around the globe. Our people will soon see and feel that these island possessions belonging to the United States are natural and logical, and in the great part we are to play in the affairs of the world we would not only give them up but wonder how the working of our natural destiny we could get on without them. The splendid chain of island possessions, reaching half-way around the world, would not be complete without Cuba, the gem of the Antilles. [38]

Aftermath in Spain: Generation of '98

The Generation of '98 comprised those Spanish writers deeply impacted by the events and committed to cultural and aesthetic renewal. They were associated with modernism. The term refers to the moral, political and social crisis in Spain produced by the humiliating loss of the worldwide empire. The intellectuals are known for their criticism of the Spanish literary and educational establishments, which they saw as steeped in conformism, ignorance, and a lack of any true spirit. Their criticism was coupled with and heavily connected to the group's dislike for the Restoration Movement that was occurring in Spanish government. [39] [40]

See also

\* Treaty of Washington (1900) to remove any ground of misunderstanding growing out of the interpretation of Article III of the 1898 Treaty of Paris by clarifying specifics of territories relinquished to the United States by Spain.

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Further reading