“history’s best” system cue presenting history’s best on pbs. Underwriting credits

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Our Billy! He’ll boss the job alright!

He’ll stop the free-trade holes up, and make the fences tight!


In June 1900, the Republicans gathered in Philadelphia for their national convention. President McKinley was easily re-nominated, largely because the nation prospered. Teddy Roosevelt was selected as his running mate.

Roosevelt was nominated not because he was Governor of New York State, but because he was a war hero and, therefore, could add a lot of pizzazz to the Republican ticket.


The election of 1900 was a rematch between McKinley and William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate in 1896. Bryan hoped to win this election by making the Philippines a central issue. On November 6th, Bryan carried only four states, and not even his native Nebraska. McKinley won by a landslide, and became the first president of the twentieth century.

Almost never do foreign policy questions decide American elections. McKinley was re-elected on the prosperity that his administration had brought to the country after the horrible depression of the 1890s. The fact that Bryan had raised the imperial question allowed the Republicans to claim their victory as a victory for imperialism.


One of the first acts of McKinley’s new administration was to offer Cuba limited self-government. The Platt Amendment, introduced by Connecticut Senator Orville Platt, made Cuba a U.S. protectorate. The United States could intervene in Cuba’s affairs and establish a naval base at Guantánamo Bay.

The Platt Amendment was the American guarantee that Cuba would remain American. It undermined any attempt on the Cubans to be autonomous.


The Cubans were told in explicit terms, “Your choice is a republic with the Platt Amendment or continued military occupation.” It was a terrible dilemma: to accommodate or to resist. And at this point it was not clear what to do. So much had changed. The army had been demobilized. Ah, they had scattered to all ends of the island. And people like General Máximo Gómez were left with this very, very bitter denouement.


This is not the Republic we fought for; it is not the independence we dreamed about, but there is no gain in discussing that now. We must save what remains of the redemptive revolution. General Máximo Gómez.

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