Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 12, 1898 - Spain and the United States sign an armistice, the "Protocol of Peace", ending the Spanish-American War.

The same day, the U.S. Army routs Spanish Army resistance in the Asomante Hills near Aibonito, Cuba. That night, and during August 13, the U.S. Navy fights the "Fourth Battle of Manzanillo", in which the protected cruiser USS Newark, the auxiliary cruisers USS Hist and USS Suwanee, the gunboat USS Alvarado, and the armed tugboat USS Osceola bombard the Cuban port of Manzanillo and capture it. On August 13, the "Battle of Manila" in the Philippines occurs, and Manila surrenders. Governor General Jáudenes, fearing Spanish troops will be massacred by the Filipinos, agreed to surrender the city after token resistance if U.S. General Wesley Merritt excludes Filipino troops from the battle. Merritt agrees. After a brief naval bombardment, the 1st Brigade attacked from the south while the 2d Brigade attacked from the north. There is brief Spanish resistance to MacArthur's advance after large groups of Filipinos ignore American orders to stay behind and rush the Spanish lines. Governor General Jáudenes surrenders at 11:20 A.M. after a battle lasting two hours. In Puerto Rico, the U.S. Army encounters Spanish Army resistance near the town of Las Marías. Word of the armistice has not yet reached Puerto Rico, and a brief skirmish ensues. It is the last battle of the war in Puerto Rico.

The Paris Peace Conference began in Paris, France, on October 1. Originally, President William McKinley only sought U.S. possession of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the island of Luzon (not the entire Philippines). But on October 24, McKinley has a dream in which he claims God told him that the United States should seize the entire Philippines.

The Treaty of Paris was signed in Paris on December 10. Spain ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States, while the U.S. paid Spain $20 million for the Philippines. American law barred the U.S. from annexing Cuba, but Spain turned administration of the island over to the United States until such time as Cuba could establish its own independent government (that happened in 1902).

The United States Senate ratified the Treaty of Paris on February 6, 1899, by a close vote of 57 to 27. (A two-thirds majority, or 56 votes, was needed to ratify.) An amendment requiring the United States to give the Philippines its independence fails after Vice President Garret Hobart cast the deciding vote against it. The Senate might have declined to ratify the treaty, but the outbreak of hostilities in Manila turns the tide of feeling in the treaty's favor. The U.S. would fight a bitter guerrilla war in the Philippines for the next 20 years, during which time more than 250,000 Filipinos would die (most fo them civilians).

On March 19, exercising her right to "fulfil the crown's constitutional obligations and serve the national interest" by peacefully resolving political tension, Maria Cristina, Queen Regent of Spain, signed the Treaty of Paris personally. The Cortes (the Spanish national legislature) was deeply divided over the terms of the treaty, and deadlocked over its ratification. With ratification in jeopardy and some beginning to say that Spain should continue to fight, the deeply alarmed Queen Regent dissolved the Cortes and exercised her imperial privilege — ratifying the treaty herself.

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