In “The United States May Exercise the Right to Intervene” by Elihu Root and Orville Platt, the United States asked Cuba to add several policies to the Cuban constitution. Elihu Root was the Secretary of War around the time and originally came up with these articles, whereas they were named after the senator who presented them, Orville Platt. The reason for the Secretary of War writing these articles is that Elihu Root wanted to help stabilize territories that were under U.S. control. Adding onto that fact, Orville Platt wanted to expand the territory the U.S. had, which is why he was given the articles to present. This primary source was written in 1901 and discussed the role the United States played in Cuba at the time.
The source begins with a resolution that the U.S. government is proposing to the government in Cuba. The resolution asks one big idea from Cuba, which is that they must affix eight articles to their constitution. These eight articles would allow the U.S. to not be in Cuba anymore, but still have a lot of control over the island and its government. The articles that the United States wanted Cuba to add consist of the following: Cuba’s government is not allowed to enter any other treaty that would jeopardize the independence of Cubans; the Cuban government is not allowed to assume public debt that would be paid interest upon; the United States has the right to intervene whenever; whatever the United States does is legal and ratified; follow the plans already devised by the United States in order to end epidemics and stop diseases; the Island of Pines is left out of Cuban boundaries; the United States will protect the independence of Cuba; as well as this is a permanent treaty with the United States.
These articles that the United States is making Cuba put into their constitution seem like good policies to have, as they are protecting Cuban independence. However, by doing this, the United States is impairing Cuban independence as a whole. In order to enforce the formation of the treaty, the U.S. forbade Cuba from accessing the sugar market. The United States threatened Cuba with access to the sugar market because the sugar market had doubled in the United States and was giving Cuba the money that helped develop the infrastructure needed for sugar production. The historical significance of this primary source is how the United States acted when trying to get Cuba to accept their extra policies. It was through the blocking of Cuba from getting money so needed for their infrastructure that was so vital that Cuba could not say no. Through the power that the United States had, they were able to hold the sugar market over Cuba and force them into a decision that they had already refused. This document showed how the United States used their power to help keep territory and control.
Platt, Orville & Root, Elihu. “The United States May Exercise the Right to Intervene, 1901.” In America at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: A Brief History with Documents. Kristen L. Hoganson. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.