Cuba, acquisition, Senators, self-government, prejudice.


Which factors do U.S. statesmen consider when incorporating new U.S. territories? Which populations and territories are deemed compatible with the project of the American nation, and which aren’t? At the U.S. Congress in 1859, upon the presentation of Senate Bill 497, U.S. Senators were debating whether to allocate a millionaire sum of money to President James Buchanan in order to acquire Cuba. The Congress debates were divided between Northern Republican and Southern Democrat Senators, of whom the former consistently opposed the annexation of Cuba. The reasons for opposition were various, but this study focuses on the senator’s suggestion that the Cuban population was unfit for self-government. By analyzing the speeches of several Northern Republican Senators, this study analyses how religious, cultural, and racial prejudices against Cubans deterred Americans from annexation. This analysis ultimately reveals that the anti-slavery convictions of Northern Republican Senators extended only to territories where the white American population could predominate, which they deemed impossible in Cuba.

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