The Great Republic by the Master Historians The Constitutional Status of Cuba byBancroft, Hubert H.
[Major General Brooke was appointed Governor-General of Cuba after the
withdrawal of the Spanish army. This office he held until the close of 1899,
when General Wood was appointed to succeed him. General Wood's Cabinet consisted
of the following Cubans: Secretary of State, Diego Tamayo; Secretary of Justice,
Luis Estevoz; Secretary of Education, Juan B. Hernandez; Secretary of Finance,
Enrique Varona; Secretary of Public Works, Jose R. Villalon, and Secretary of
Agriculture, etc., Ruis Rivera.]
A number of radical reforms were instituted. The prisons were overhauled and put
into a sanitary condition. Many prisoners were released or had their terms
shortened in proportion to the venial nature of their offences. A joint
commission was appointed, consisting of American and Cuban lawyers, charged with
the task of codifying the laws and insuring prompt trials. Inefficient public
officials were removed and a working scheme devised by which civil and military
authorities could live in harmony. A census was taken, showing a total poulation
The area of Cuba is approximately 44,000 square miles and the average number of
inhabitants per square mile 35.7, about the same as the State of Iowa. The areas
of the six provinces and the average density of population in each are as
Area Pop. per
Province. Sq. miles. sq. m.
Havana.. 2,772 153
Matanzas.. 3,700 55
Pinar del Rio.. 5,000 35
Puerto Principe.. 10,500 8
Santa Clara.. 9,560 37
Santiago.. 12,468 26
Havana, with the densest population is as thickly populated as the State of
Connecticut, and Puerto Principe, the most sparsely populated, is in this
respect comparable with the State of Texas.
The President of the United States, in his message to Congress, December 3,
1900, in touching upon the relations of Cuba with the United States, stated that
on July 25, 1900, he directed that a call be issued for the election in Cuba for
members of a Constitutional Convention to frame a Constitution as a basis for a
stable and independent government in the island. In pursuance thereof the
Military Governor after citing the joint resolution of Congress April 28, 1898,
"Therefore, it is ordered that a general election be held in the Island of Cuba
on the third Saturday of September, in the year 1900, to elect delegates to a
convention to meet in the City of Havana at 12 o'clock noon on the first Monday
in November, in the year 1900, to frame and adopt a Constitution for the people
of Cuba, and as a part thereof to provide for and agree with the government of
the United States upon the relations to exist between that government and the
government of Cuba, and to provide for the election by the people of officers
under such Constitution and the transfer of government to the officers so
elected. The election will be held in the several voting precincts of the island
under and pursuant to the provisions of the electoral law of April 18, 1900, and
the amendments thereof." The election was held on the 15th of September, and the
convention assembled on the 5th of November, 1900. In calling the convention to
order, the Military Governor of Cuba made the following statement: "As Military
Governor of the island, representing the President of the United States, I call
this convention to order. It will be your duty, first, to frame and adopt a
Constitution for Cuba, and when that has been done to formulate what in your
opinion ought to be the relations between Cuba and the United States. The
Constitution must be adequate to secure a stable, orderly, and free government.
When you have formulated the relations which in your opinion ought to exist
between Cuba and the United States, the government of the United States will
doubtless take such action on its part as shall lead to a final and
authoritative agreement between the people of the two countries for the
promotion of their common interests. When the convention concludes its labors I
will transmit to the Congress the Constitution as framed by the convention for
its consideration and for such action as it may deem advisable."
The voters in whose capacity for self-government we are experimenting, number
some 140,000 natives, and about 50,000 Spanish citizens. Native whites make up a
little more than half the population, the negroes and mixed races being less
A system of municipal government has been established, as the safest method of
preparing the Cubans for home rule when we hand back the island for
administration by them as an independent State. The municipal district is the
political and administrative unit in Cuba. There are six provinces, thirty-one
judicial districts and 132 municipal districts in the island. A municipal
district is the territory under the administration of a municipal council, and
may be established, increased, diminished, annexed to other municipal districts
or abolished by the Governor-General. It corresponds, in a measure, to the
American county or township, and as prerequisites to establishment must contain
not fewer than 2,000 inhabitants and be able to meet the necessary expenses of
the local government. Each district is divided into subdistricts, and the latter
into wards, or barrios. These are further divided into electoral districts, and
these again into electoral sections.
Each municipal district has a municipal council and a municipal board. The
council governs the district, subject to the supervision of the Governor of the
province and Military Governor of the island, and is composed of a mayor, a
certain number of deputy mayors, and aldermen taken from the members of the
The census of the population determines the number of councillors to which each
municipal district is entitled, as follows: Up to 500 inhabitants, five; 500 to
800, six; 800 to 1,000, seven; between 1,000 and 10,0000, one additional
councillor for every additional 1,000 people; and between 10,000 and 20,000, one
for every additional 2,000 people. For more than 20,000, one for every
additional 2,000 inhabitants until the municipal council has the maximum number
of thirty councillors.
The number of deputy mayors is determined on the same principle. Municipal
districts of less than 800 inhabitants have no deputy mayors; between 800 to
1,000, one; 1,000 to 6,000, two; 6,000 to 10,000, three; 10,000 to 18,000, four;
18,000 or more, five. Up to 800 inhabitants there is but thereafter the number
of subdistricts corresponds to the number of deputy mayors. Each deputy mayor is
in charge of a subdistrict as the representative of the mayor, discharging such
administrative duties as he may direct, but having no independent functions.
Up to 3,000 inhabitants there is but one electoral district; between 3,000 and
6,000, three; 6,000 to 10,000, four; 10,000 to 18,000, five; 18,000 or more,
The councillors are elected from the municipality at large by the qualified
voters of the district, one-half being renewed every two years, the councillors
longest in service going out at each renewal. They are eligible for re-election.
The regular elections are held in the first two weeks in May, but partial
elections are held when, at least six months before the regular election,
vacancies occur which amount to a third of the total number of councillors. If
they occur after this period they are filled by the Governor of the province
from among former members of the council.
All male citizens over 25 years of age who enjoy their full civil rights and
have lived at least two years in the municipality are entitled to vote, provided
they are not disqualified by sentence for certain criminal offences, bankruptcy
or insolvency, or are not delinquent taxpayers or paupers.
The mayors and deputy mayors are appointed by the Military Governor from among
the councillors on the recommendation of the council. But while under the law
the deputy mayors must be selected from the council, the Military Governor may
appoint any person as mayor whether he belongs to the municipality or not.
Each ward has a mayor, who is appointed by the municipal mayor and discharges
various minor duties. Each council has a secretary, appointed by the Governor of
the island, and one or more fiscal attorneys, but the municipal mayor and the
secretary are the only salaried officials, the offices of deputy members of the
municipal board and mayor of a ward being described in the law as "gratuitous,
obligatory and honorary." The duties of the municipal council do not differ
materially from those that devolve upon similar bodies in European countries.
The sessions of the municipal board are determined by the body itself, but they
cannot be fewer than one in each week, at which every member is required to
attend punctually or pay a fine. Neither the mayor, the deputies, aldermen nor
ward mayor are permitted to absent themselves without permission, each from the
next highest official above him.
A strong party in Cuba, headed by General Gomez, has been hostile to the
military force accompanying the Governor-General, and much discontent existed
throughout the island, but the fitness of the legislative assembly and of the
voters could only be tested by time. There were 6,000 troops stationed in Cuba
for an indefinite term.
The almost unanimous decision of the Cuban constitutional convention, as
expressed in secret session in Havana to insert in the Constitution a clause
providing for universal suffrage, brought the question of Cuba's future
government into prominence again. It is believed that this particular provision
was incorporated owing largely to the efforts of General Maximo Gomez's
adherents, and that the proposed clause in the Constitution making eligible to
the Presidency of the new republic not only native-born Cubans, but also any
citizen who took part for ten years in the revolutionary war against Spain, was
formulated for Gomez's special benefit. Some American sympathizers applauded
this selection, on the ground that no less commanding and resourceful chieftain
than he could have held the revolutionary forces together for half so long a
time, and inspired them with courage and with hope. A very different view of
Gomez was taken by others, who regarded him as the least fitted to hold the
office to which he notoriously aspires.
The constitutional convention passed the universal suffrage measure on January
30, 1901. The clause in the Constitution providing for universal suffrage was
finally adopted by the convention, after a keen debate. Senor Aleman said that
suffrage was a constitutional question, and the undisputed right of all Cubans.
Senor Berriel said if universal suffrage were granted an enormous number of
naturalized foreigners would be given a right which would be a serious menace to
Senor Sanguilly said without universal suffrage Cuba would be exposed to the
domination of alien votes. There were 96,083 Spaniards and 6,894 other
foreigners in the island, all of whom might have the right to vote against
112,000 Cubans who could read and write.
The third section of the constitutional project, dealing with the rights
guaranteed by the Constitution, was considered, and two additions were made
providing that the laws dealing with these rights shall be null when they tend
to restrict or diminish them. This was inserted to guard against a selfish and
unscrupulous legislature or executive.
It was peculiarly unfortunate, considering our position as instructors of the
Cubans in the art of good government, that a series of frauds was discovered in
the post-office department at Havana, early in 1900. The postmaster, the chief
financial agent, named C. W. Neely, and four other officials, were arrested for
systematic thefts of stamps to the value of about $500,000. Neely managed to
place himself in what he hoped would be the safe shelter of the State of New
York. He was there charged before a court with the larceny and his extradition
was demanded, that he might be tried where the offence was committed. Through
his attorneys Neely set up a plea in opposition to this demand for extradition,
which occupied the lower court for some time, and on its being decided against
him, he took an appeal to the Supreme Court. The moral importance of the case
was equalled by its legal and constitutional importance. The chief point at
issue was, whether the special act of June 6, 1900, passed by Congress to cover
this instance and extending the extradition law of this country to a foreign
country, "occupied or under the control of the United States," was
constitutional, and whether Cuba is a "foreign country."
THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION.
[The decision of the Supreme Court was rendered on Jan. 14, 1901. Justice Harlan
read the finding of the court, substantially as follows:]
The court said that the first duty of the United States under its pledge to
secure for the Cubans the freedom to which they are entitled is to protect them
by every just and legal method. When the United States postal code superseded
that of Cuba and Neely became an officer under that code it was the duty of the
United States to protect the citizens of Cuba against the citizens of its own
government. It was further asserted that Neely cannot object to submitting to
the same modes of trial as would apply if he were under similar charges in the
The court in the course of its decision made clear the point that Cuba is a
foreign country now occupied by and under control of the United States, but is
in no way a part of it.
After the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York, to which an
application for a writ of habeas corpus had been made, had rendered a decision
adverse to Neely's claims, Justice Harlan said he had then appealed to this
court on the ground that the act of June 6, 1900, was unconstitutional. Entering
then upon his reasoning on the case, Justice Harlan said that there was no
dispute that on the 6th of June, 1900, when the act under which this proceeding
is brought became a law, Cuba was "under the control of the United States" and
"occupied by this government." "This court," he said, "will take judicial notice
that such were at the date named and are now the relations between this country
and Cuba. So that the applicability of the above act to the present case--and
this is the first question to be examined--depends upon the inquiry whether,
within its meaning, Cuba is to be deemed a foreign country or territory."
Justice Harlan then reviewed the legislation preceding the war with Spain,
quoting the joint resolution of April 20, 1898, and the declaration of war which
followed on the 25th of the same month. The protocol between the United States
and Spain and the Paris treaty were reviewed for the purpose of showing not only
the relation of the United States to Cuba but Spain's relinquishment of
sovereignty over the island. Notice was taken of the establishment of a military
government over Cuba and Governor Brooke's proclamation of January 1, 1899, was
The Justice then referred to the Governor's establishment of various departments
in order to promote the civil government of the island. He also called attention
to the promulgation of the postal code, superseding all other Cuban laws
relating to postal affairs, and related that on the 13th of June, 1900, Governor
Wood had made his requisition upon the President for Neely.
Announcing the court's conclusions on the status of Cuba, Justice Harlan said:
The facts above detailed make it clear that Cuba is foreign territory within the
meaning of the act of June 6, 1900. It cannot be regarded in any constitutional,
legal, or international sense a part of the territory of the United States.
While by the act of April 25, 1898, declaring war between this country and
Spain, the President was directed and empowered to use our entire land and naval
forces as well as the militia of the several States to such extent as was
necessary to carry the act into effect, that authorization was not for the
purpose of making Cuba an integral part of the United States, but for the
purpose only of compelling the relinquishment by Spain of its authority and
government in that island and the withdrawal of its forces from Cuba and Cuban
The legislative and executive branches of the government, by the joint
resolution of April 20, 1898, expressly disclaimed any purpose to exercise
sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over Cuba, "except for the pacification
thereof," and asserted the determination of the United States, that object being
accomplished, to leave the government and control of Cuba to its own people. All
that has been done in relation to Cuba has had that end in view, and, so far as
the court is informed by the public history of the relations of this country
with that island, nothing has been done inconsistent with the declared object of
the war with Spain.
Cuba is none the less foreign territory within the meaning of the act of
Congress because it is under a Military Governor appointed by and representing
the President in the work of assisting the inhabitants of that island to
establish a government of their own, under which, as a free and independent
people, they may control their own affairs without interference by other
But, as between the United States and Cuba, that island is territory held in
trust for the inhabitants of Cuba, to whom it rightfully belongs, and to whose
exclusive control it will be surrendered when a stable government shall have
been established by their voluntary action.
The court also outlined the power of Congress to legislate in the premises,
It cannot be doubted that when the United States required and enforced the
relinquishment by Spain of her sovereignty in Cuba it succeeded to the authority
of the displaced government so far at least that it became its duty under
international law and pending the pacification of the island, to protect in all
appropriate legal modes the lives, the liberty, and the property of all those
who submitted to the authority of the representatives of this country.
What legislation by Congress could be more appropriate for the protection of
life and property in Cuba, while occupied and controlled by the United States,
than legislation securing the return to that island, to be tried by its
constituted authorities, of those who, having committed crimes there, flee to
this country to escape arrest, trial, and punishment?
No crime is mentioned in the extradition act of June 6, 1900, that does not have
some relation to the safety of life and property. And the provisions of that act
requiring the surrender of any public officer, employe, or depositary fleeing to
the United States, after having committed, in a foreign country or territory
occupied by or under the control of the United States, the crime of embezzlement
or criminal malversation of the public funds have special application to Cuba in
its present relation to this country.
The court declined to enter upon the question as to what the obligations of the
United States would have been in the matter of protecting life and property in
Cuba if not required to do so by the obligations of the treaty of Paris. "That
question," he said, "is not open on this record for examination and upon it we
express no opinion. It is quite sufficient in this case to adjudge, as we now
do, that it was competent for Congress, by legislation, to enforce or give
efficacy to the provisions of the treaty made by the United States and Spain
with respect to Cuba and its people."
It was also argued on behalf of Neely that as peace now exists in Cuba, and has
existed there since the Spanish forces evacuated the island, the occupancy and
control of that island under the military authority of the United States is
without warrant in the Constitution and is an unauthorized interference with the
internal affairs of a friendly power.
"Apart from the view that it is not competent for the judiciary to make any
declaration upon the question of the length of time during which Cuba may be
rightfully occupied and controlled by the United States in order to effect its
pacification--it being the function of the political branch of the government to
determine when such occupation and control shall cease, and therefore when the
troops of the United States shall be withdrawn from Cuba--the contention that
the United States recognized the existence of an established government known as
the Republic of Cuba, but is now using its military or executive power to
displace or overthrow it, is without merit. The declaration by Congress that the
people of Cuba were and of right ought to be free and independent was not
intended as a recognition of the existence of an organized government instituted
by the people of that island in hostility to the government maintained by Spain.
Nothing more was intended than to express the thought that the Cubans were
entitled to enjoy--to use the language of the President in his message of
December 5, 1897--that measure of self-control which is the inalienable right of
man, protected in their right to reap the benefit of the exhaustless treasure of
"Both the legislative and executive branches of the government concurred in not
recognizing the existence of any such government as the Republic of Cuba. It is
true that the co-operation of troops commanded by Cuban officers was accepted by
the military authorities of the United States in its efforts to overthrow
Spanish authority in Cuba. Yet from the beginning to the end of the war the
supreme authority in all military operations in Cuba and in Cuban waters against
Spain was with the United States, and those operations were not in any sense
under the control or direction of the troops commanded by Cuban officers."
The final conclusion of the court was announced as follows:
"We are of the opinion, for the reasons stated, that the act of June 6, 1900, is
not in violation of the constitution of the United States, and that this case
comes within the provisions of that act. The court below having found that there
was probable cause to believe the appellant guilty of the offence charged, the
order for his extradition was proper, and no ground existed for his discharge on
habeas corpus. The judgment of the Circuit Court is therefore affirmed."
Discussing the advisability of the United States at some future time annexing
Cuba, a prominent writer in the North American Review said: "It is impossible
not to look back without regret on our wasted opportunities. In view of our
pledge, it was as certain on January 1 as it is to-day that we could gain
annexation only through the will of the Cuban people. What have we done to gain
it? What should have been our policy?
"The most logical course would seem to have been to give Cuba, as far as
commerce is concerned, the rights and privileges of an American State; that is
to say, to form with Cuba a customs union; our tariff being applied in Cuba, but
with free trade between Cuba and the United States. In a word, we should have
appealed to them through their own pockets.
"The immediate result of such a policy would have been to increase largely the
profits to be derived from Cuban sugar and tobacco. As was the case in Hawaii,
large amounts of American capital would have been brought in for investment.
Deserted plantations and mills would have been again in operation, and money and
"Nothing of this kind was done. The opposition of a few of our tobacco and sugar
men seems to have prevented reciprocity. Cuba's tariff and other laws are still
Spainsh. She still levies a tax on our products, and pays to us taxes on her
"In addition, as a result of our military occupation, capital finds the island
in a state of transition; the laws in a state of uncertainty. The ordinary
opportunities for investment are absent. And so the plantations remain grass-
grown, the sugar-mills silent, the wharves rotting and deserted, and the people,
poor creatures, with haggard faces, still starving, still asking, `How long, O
Lord, how long?' And, worst of all, we who control the destinies of the unhappy
island cannot answer them. The administration waits for the action of Congress.
But it is doubtful if Congress will be more merciful than the administration.
"What was our pledge?
"The United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise
sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said island, except for the
pacification thereof, and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished,
to leave the government and the control of the island to its people.
"This is our solemn pledge. It matters not that it may have been unwise to make
it. It matters not if all the nations of the earth should urge us to break it.
We must keep it. We have, what few nations have, a national conscience. We must
keep our pledges or else our word will be forever valueless, our professions of
right doing forever disqualified, our pride in our integrity forever wounded.
Cuba is not worth such a price.
"There can be no doubt that the `pacification' of the island is now
accomplished. City for city, the towns of Cuba are more peaceful and orderly
than those of the United States. There never was a more docile, quiet people."
There are observers, familiar with the island and its people, who are hopeful of
the development of the self-governing spirit and methods. One writes:
"That the Cubans will form an ideal government I do not say; but that the island
will be better governed than other Spanish-American republics is a foregone
conclusion. The negro problem is not a difficult one. The proportion of the
colored element is much less than in the Southern States, and the Cuban negroes,
for the most part, are an ignorant, indolent, happy-go-lucky race, not eleven
years freed from slavery and still greatly influenced by their former owners.
The white Cuban of the small farming class is entirely uneducated, but
hospitable, honest, and frugal. In the scattered districts of the interior
education has been beyond his reach. But it is in the planter class, the once
wealthy sugar and tobacco growers, that the hope of Cuba lies. Lacking
educational facilities in the island for many years past, all who could afford
it sent their children to the United States schools and colleges. Here they have
drunk in Anglo-Saxon ideas, and though bred at home in luxury and indolence, the
war has taught them lessons that will be invaluable in the future. The Cuban is
no longer a Spaniard. Reared under entirely different conditions and its blood
recruited by refugees from the French Revolution, by Americans, and by sons of
Jamaica planters, chiefly of Scotch descent, who have settled and intermarried
with the colonials, a new race has arisen, more refined and cultured, and
perhaps more effeminate, than the swarthy bull-fighting sons of Spain, who swarm
to Cuba for a season and retire to the peninsula after a few years' toil."
GOMEZ AND THE FUTURE OF CUBA.
The Cuban Constitutional Convention opened its session with signs of a
determination to test the declaration of Congress, in its resolutions of April,
1898, that the people of Cuba, "are, and of right ought to be, free and
independent." After pronouncing for universal suffrage the members discussed the
proposition to make any foreigner who served on the Cuban side in the ten years'
war eligible to the presidency. This proposal was made by the friends of General
Gomez, who is not a Cuban, but whose sword has always been out of its sheath
whenever the Cubans were fighting for their independence.
A large and influential body of Cubans unquestionably desire to honor Gomez with
an election to the presidency. He was the most prominent man in the Island, and
it was feared in many quarters the most dangerous. His patriotism and his love
for the Cubans have never been called in question, but many have doubted his
ability to assume control of the new republic.
Maximo Gomez y Baez was born in San Domingo in 1826. He was a soldier of Spain
until he became commander of the insurgents in the ten years' war, 1868 to 1878.
His name has been bracketed with that of Weyler for severity in fight and rule
of terror. He showed no enthusiasm over America's intervention. He is popularly
regarded as the man who showed the greatest military capacity on the Cuban side
in the war, and that will give him a permanent place among the great captains.
He is, of course, charged by the Spaniards with selling out to them when Campos
played pacificator at Zanjon, but his little farm in San Domingo and his wife
and children earning their living as music-teachers and seamstresses, while his
son, at the command of the father, protects mother and sisters, and holds a
clerkship, does not look like enrichment by bribery -- to say nothing of
returning to plunge again into war in Cuba against, as he well knew, tremendous
The constitutional convention practically completed its work by February 11,
1901. As the charter then stood, Maximo Gomez was made eligible to the
presidency, although not a native of the Island.
The various committees were instructed to appoint one member of a central
committee, to draw up a plan of the relations which should exist between Cuba
and the United States. This plan, if satisfactory to the delegate body, was to
be incorporated in the Constitution.
The clause in the Constitution regarding the qualifications of candidates for
the presidency was accepted as presented in the project, which allows foreigners
who fought for Cuba ten years to become candidates for the office. This clause
was adopted by a vote of 15 to 14.
Upon the Cubans, through their representatives, being prepared to demand the
withdrawal of the United States government, the general question of policy came
before Congress for settlement. Washington correspondence reflected the
sentiments of legislators, as follows:
"The President, according to prominent Senators, is absolutely unwilling to take
the responsibility of hauling down the flag and of withdrawing the troops from
Cuba without specific instructions from Congress. He does not care to have
Congress lay down certain general principles and then expect him to become the
judge as to whether the necessary conditions have been complied with by the
"Most of the Senators take the ground that the President is wise in assuming
this position. They say that if he should take the entire responsibility and the
Cubans later on should get into some difficulty he would be blamed for
intrusting them with self-government without the proper safeguards.
"It is recognized that inasmuch as Congress made the pledge that Cuba should be
free and independent, it becomes the manifest duty of the legislative body to
determine exactly where, when, and how the Cuban republic should be recognized
"Several Senators have endeavored to formulate certain conditions on which the
President is authorized to recognize Cuban sovereignty, but it is invariably
found that this leaves far too much responsibility upon one man, and his friends
in the Senate as well as in the Cabinet feel that Congress itself must by
positive enactment approve or disapprove of the Cuban Constitution."
It was felt that a special session would be necessary, as the Cuban Constitution
had not been received by Congress, and in three weeks the inauguration would
take place. Time was imperatively necessary to deliberate upon the serious
question as to whether the United States, under its obligations to the whole
world, could properly recognize the Cuban republic as an independent power, or
whether it should insist on further guarantees.
It was stated that repeated hints had been conveyed semi-officially to the
Cubans regarding the points which probably would have to be covered in the
Constitution to make it acceptable to the United States. Several of the Havana
papers published an outline of these hints, but the convention had ignored them.
Finally Secretary Root wrote to Governor-General Wood and it was decided to make
this public, both here and in Havana, so as to give the Cubans some idea of the
President's views on the relations between the two countries.
"What is desired is a permanent independence for Cuba, and not the recognition
of a mushroom government which would live for a day and then degenerate into
anarchy or be swallowed by some greedy European nation. The United States
desires to protect Cuba if possible from the mistakes of Mexico and the other
Spanish-American republics. Besides that, the United States, having taken the
trouble to go to war to free Cuba, has assumed responsibility for the good
conduct of that country.
"The United States is prepared to guarantee independence in every direction
which does not infringe upon the moral obligations owed to the rest of the
world. Hence it is deemed indispensable that the organic act of Cuba should
contain certain pledges acceptable to Congress, which made the original pledge
February 21 the Cuban Constitution was signed in duplicate by the delegates in
the convention. On the 27th it adopted a declaration of relations between Cuba
and the United States, and March 28, by a vote of 15 to 14 the convention
accepted the majority report of its committee on relations, putting "the Platt
amendment" and Secretary Root's explanations in the form of an appendix to the
Cuban Constitution. April 25 the Cuban commissioners appointed by the
constitutional convention met President McKinley and Secretary Root in
Washington for conference on matters not yet fully settled; and June 12 the
adoption of the Platt amendment was voted by the convention. This amendment,
adopted February 27 by the United States Senate, and by the House March 1, set
forth in eight articles the suggestions and wishes of President McKinley's
Cabinet, and of a majority of Congress, as to the conditions, to be clearly
understood and definitely agreed upon, for the launching of Cuba as a free and
independent Republic. Secretary Root wrote in further explanation of the Platt
amendment recital of conditions, and acceptance following by the Cuban
convention cleared the way for final Cuban action in setting up the Republic,
and the withdrawal thereupon of the provisional rule of the United States, the
wisdom, justice, and success of which had been so conspicuous and complete.
It had been provided in the 25th section of the Cuban Constitution that ninety
days after the promulgation of the electoral law that might be prepared and
adopted by the convention, the election of the functionaries provided for in the
Constitution should be proceeded with. October 3 General Wood dissolved the
convention, upon the final completion of its preparation of a Constitution for
Cuba, and December 31 the election of Presidential electors took place, with the
success of a ticket bearing the name, as candidate for President, of Tomas
Estrada Palma. The electors met February 24, 1902, and formally elected Palma as
First President of the Cuban republic and Senor Estevez, Vice-President. At the
same time Senators were elected. March 4 orders were issued to United States
naval and marine officers in Cuba to transfer all shore property to Governor-
General Wood, to be by him transferred to the incoming Cuban administration.
April 17, President-elect Palma sailed from the United States to Cuba. Born in
Bayamo, Cuba, Palma studied at the university of Seville, in Spain. He was
active as a leader in the insurrection of 1867-78, and during the latter part of
the period served as President of the patriots, organized as the Republic of
Cuba. He had resided at Central Valley in the State of New York since 1878, in
charge of a school, and greatly esteemed for his accomplishments and character.
During the last revolution he represented the Cuban cause in the United States.
At Havana, on the morning of May 5, 1902, two large Cuban flags, floating over
two government buildings, were the first official recognition of the flag as the
emblem of the new republic. Both were raised by order of General Wood as United
States military governor. They marked the opening of the Cuban Congress, met
upon General Wood's call, to verify the election of the Cuban president and
vice-president, preparatory to their inauguration May 20th, the day fixed for
the surrender of the government to the Cuban administration.