The Cuban Constitution of 1901
Christopher Columbus (c. 1451–1506), María Cristina of Spain (1858–1929), William McKinley (1843–1901), Leonard Wood (1860–1927), Orville Platt (1827–1905), Domingo Méndez Capote (1863–1934)
In October 1492, on his first journey, Christopher Columbus made landfall in what is now the Bahamas before advancing to claim what would become Cuba. Until 1898, when the USS Maine mysteriously exploded and drowned in Havana Harbor, Spain governed Cuba. Almost the whole crew was killed.
The episode pulled America, under President McKinley’s leadership, and Spain, under Queen Regent Mara Cristina’s administration, into the Spanish-American War, which was itself an extension of the Cuban War for Independence, in which the US had engaged on Cuba’s behalf. After Spain surrendered, American soldiers remained on the island under the direction of Military Governor Leonard Wood, assisting in the construction of fundamental infrastructure.
The 1896 political propaganda cartoon above published in Puck magazine shows Uncle Sam nobly defending
a supplicant Cuba from the evil wiles of Spain. The truth of the matter was rather more complicated.
The Platt Amendment was signed into law by President McKinley, and the Cuban Constitutional Assembly, led by Domingo Méndez Capote, added it as an appendix to the constitution it ratified in June 1901. That constitution is very similar to the United States Constitution.
The 1901 Cuban Constitution went into force on May 20, 1902, and it governed Cuba until 1940, when it was superseded by the 1940 Cuban Constitution. It was adopted by delegates to a Constitutional Convention in February 1901, but the United States, which was then exercising military authority over Cuba following the end of Cuba’s war for independence from Spain, withheld its approval until the Convention amended the Constitution in June to include language from a US statute, the Platt Amendment, that limited Cuban sovereignty and provided a legal basis for future US military interventions in Cuba.
The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)