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Historical Highlights

The House Recognition of Cuban Independence from Spain

April 18, 1898–April 19, 1898
The House Recognition of Cuban Independence from Spain Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
As a Member of the House of Representatives, William McKinley of Ohio served as chairman of two committees—the Ways and Means Committee and the Committee on Revision of the Laws.
On the legislative day spanning these dates, the conference report for House Resolution 233, recognizing Cuban independence from Spain, passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 311 to 6. It set in motion a series of actions that swiftly brought the U.S. into conflict with the European colonial power. The resolution proclaimed "that the people of the Island of Cuba are, and of right ought to be, free and independent," and it demanded that Spain withdraw immediately from Cuba while authorizing President William McKinley to employ U.S. military forces to achieve that end. For a week, the House and Senate had conferred over the final wording before the measure was finally sent to President McKinley later in the afternoon on April 19. When McKinley signed it the following day, Spain broke off diplomatic relations with Washington and, on April 24, declared war on the United States. The following day, the House responded by declaring that a state of war had existed between the U.S. and Spain since April 21. It marked just the third time in which the House issued a formal declaration of war—the prior occasions having been the War of 1812, and the War with Mexico in 1846.

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