Ohio History Journal

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McKinley's Attempt to Avoid War 135

McKinley's Attempt to Avoid War                         135


tional sovereignty."22 In effect, Spain still clung to sovereignty over

Cuba and autonomy for the island.

At the same time that McKinley was dealing with the Spanish

minister, he made a final attempt to get the Cuban Junta to cooper-

ate. Rubens later explained that just before McKinley's message went

to Congress, the president's emissary told him that if the Cubans

agreed to the armistice, McKinley would place a reference to Cuban

independence in his message. If they refused, there would be no

mention of independence, and Rubens rejected this half measure.

McCook reported to Elkins that the Junta had decided to wait to see

what Congress would do, for it might recognize Cuban independ-

ence as well as declare war on Spain. If war came, the United States

would expel the Spanish and give Cuba its independence. If Con-

gress took no action on McKinley's message, McCook explained, the

Junta would then attempt to come to terms with Madrid and was

considering paying Spain an indemnity of up to $200 million to obtain

its independence.23 Thus, the Cubans at this time would accept

nothing less than independence, while Spain still provided only au-


The major question before McKinley's cabinet was whether to ask

Congress for an additional delay in order to determine what effect

Blanco's action would have on Cuban events, an issue highlighted

by Woodford, who cabled McKinley recommending continuation of

negotiations. Woodford believed the Spanish government had gone

as far and as fast as it could and predicted that if Spain were not

humiliated, it would provide before August 1 a settlement either

through autonomy acceptable to the insurgents, complete independ-

ence, or cession of the island to the United States.24

McKinley's cabinet labored through the afternoon and evening at-

tempting to reach consensus. First it took up the draft message to

Congress which Day and Griggs had authored and which had been

agreed upon earlier. This was reapproved without any change of text.

The cabinet divided, however, over how to treat Spain's ending of

hostilities. At one point McKinley's cabinet decided to ask Congress

to delay action. McKinley then met with a delegation of Republican

senators, among them Chairman Davis. When the senators learned

that the president planned to request a delay, they argued strenuous-




22. Polo de Bernabe to John Sherman, Washington, April 10, 1898, Foreign Rela-

tions, 1898, 747-49.

23. Rubens, Liberty, 337-38; Elkins Journal, April 11, 1898, Elkins Papers.

24. Woodford to McKinley, Madrid, April 10, 1898, Foreign Relations, 1898, 747.