Neither War nor Quite Peace

A Providence editor, writing at the time of Roosevelt's fight over simplified spelling, commented, "PresidentRoosevelt is a lucky man; this Cuban business gives him a fine opportunity to let go the tail of the simplified spelling bear."

The Cuban business at issue was a continuation of the fight Roosevelt had been waging for reciprocal tariff reduction; this fight in turn was an outgrowth of the political settlement that had concluded the Spanish war. The American victory in the war against Spain delivered control of Cuba to the United States, although the self-denying Teller amendment prevented outright American annexation. From 1898 until 1902, American troops occupied the island; during most of that period they were commanded by Roosevelt's fighting and hiking friend Leonard Wood. Negotiations for an American withdrawal commenced before Roosevelt assumed the presidency; another Roosevelt intimate, Elihu Root, handled the bargaining on the American side. Fearing that internal disorder would both endanger American property in Cuba and invite intervention by foreign powers, Root arranged for a right of American intervention to be written into American law, into a U.S.-Cuban treaty, and into the Cuban constitution. The Platt amendment, as this provision was known in the United States (after the Connecticut Platt, not the New York one) took effect during the summer of 1901.

Most Cubans were less than enthusiastic about the Platt provision, which seriously compromised the independence Cuba was about to gain. Yet with German ships cruising the Caribbean and with the


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T.R.: The Last Romantic
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