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German–Spanish Treaty (1899)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

German–Spanish Treaty
German new guinea 1888 1899.png
Borders of German New Guinea before (in blue) and after (in red) the 1899 German-Spanish treaty
TypeBilateral treaty
Signed12 February 1899 (1899-02-12)
Handover of the Western Carolines on 3 November 1899
Handover of the Western Carolines on 3 November 1899

The German–Spanish Treaty of 1899, (Spanish: Tratado germano-español de 1899; German: Deutsch-Spanischer Vertrag 1899) signed by the German Empire and the Kingdom of Spain, involved Spain selling the vast majority of its remaining Pacific Ocean islands to Germany for 25 million pesetas (equivalent to 17 million Marks).

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The history of American Imperialism dates back as far as the founding fathers do when Thomas Jefferson stated that he was waiting for the fall of the Spanish Empire “until our population can be sufficiently advanced to gain it from them piece by piece.” When Mexico successfully gained its independence, it wasn’t long before the U.S. found the American Southwest in its hands after a war with the new country. Nearly fifty years later after the U.S. successfully defeated Spain in 1898, Jefferson’s prophesy would once again come into play. One of the results of the Spanish-America war was that several Spanish colonies fell into American hands. Two of these were Cuba and the Philippines, and while the U.S. made it clear that it wouldn’t keep Cuba, the story of the Philippines was a bit different. Hi everyone, Thought Monkey here, and today I’ll talking about the Philippine-American War. The Philippines is a nation made up of many islands. During the Age of Exploration in the 16th century, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived on the islands and claimed them for Spain. Over the next four hundred years, the Filipino people were subjugated to the rule of Spain, which had some ups and a lot of downs. Even before the U.S. went to war with Spain and took possession of the Philippines, Filipino Revolutionaries had been struggling for independence from the big bad Spanish Empire. And while at first many of them believed that the Americans were coming to liberate them from Spanish rule, it was clear that when the they didn’t allow the general of the revolutionary forces, Emilio Aguinaldo, and his troops to march to Manila alongside American troops, that the U.S. had other ideas in mind. In October of 1898 a conference was held to determine the fate of the Philippines. The Americans were given three choices: to hand the islands back to Spain, to give the Philippines its independence, or to annex the territory. While many anti-imperialist Americans were against annexation, and quoted president Lincoln when he said, “no man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent,” the fact is that those in power held a different view of the Philippines. President William McKinley believed that it was God’s will for the Americans to “uplift and civilize and Christianize them,” and believed that “they were unfit for self-government,” and finally he believed that it would leave a power vacuum of which Germany or other rivals might be quick to fill. On February 6, 1899 the treaty to annex went before the U.S. and passed by one vote. The Philippines now belonged to the Americans. While the treaty was passed in the U.S., the Filipino Revolutionaries were not quite happy with the idea. Fighting quickly erupted and by June 2, 1899 the First Philippine Republic officially declared war against the United States. The war lasted three years, and the U.S. found victory. The Philippines were devastated by the war as it caused a breakdown in infrastructure, causing hunger, disease, and displacement. Ultimately an estimated 34,000-220,000 Filipinos were injured or killed. The Roman Catholic Church was disestablished as state Church and English became the primary language among the government, business, education etc. While the official war was over, fighting between different revolutionary groups in the Philippines and American forces continued for 10 more years. The issue was not necessarily that the U.S. wasn’t going to grant the Filipino’s independence, but more about when and under what conditions. In July of 1902 The Philippine Organic Act said that upon peace, a legislative government would be created containing a lower house which would be popularly elected by Filipino’s and an upper house which would be appointed by the president of the United States. At home in the U.S. the public tended to consider the annexation of the Philippines as expensive and something that brought little profit. Moreover, Teddy Roosevelt said as early as 1901 that he wanted the Philippines to be able to self-govern and by 1907 was ready to figure out a way to give the islands their independence. By 1916 the Jones Act was passed promising the eventual independence of the island and created an elected Philippine Senate. And in the 1919 presidential election Woodrow Wilson stated that his intention was to “deprive ourselves of that frontier,” the Philippines. In 1934 another act was signed promising Filipino Independence in 10 years. But because of WWII, there was a two year delay and the United States finally granted the Philippines independence in 1946. The question remains, did the U.S. do the right thing? If the Philippines hadn’t been annexed, would they have been colonized by another global player? If you enjoyed the video please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to stay updated with the latest Thought Monkey video.


During the 19th century, the Spanish Empire lost most of its colonies to independence movements. Then came the Spanish–American War in 1898, in which Spain lost most of its remaining colonies. Cuba became independent while the United States took possession of Puerto Rico along with the Philippines and Guam from the Spanish East Indies (Spain's Pacific Ocean colonies). This left Spain with only it's African possessions and with about 6,000 tiny, sparsely populated, and not very productive Pacific islands. These latter were both ungovernable, after the loss of the administrative center of Manila, and indefensible, after the destruction of two Spanish fleets in the Spanish–American War. The Spanish government, therefore, decided to sell the remaining islands. Germany lobbied the Spanish government to facilitate the sale of the islands to Germany.

The Spanish Prime Minister Francisco Silvela signed the treaty on February 12, 1899. It transferred the Caroline Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands to Germany, which then placed them under the jurisdiction of German New Guinea. Palau, at the time considered part of the Carolines, was also occupied and during the following years the Germans started up mining there.[1]

In October 1914, during World War I, Japan invaded and conquered many of these German possessions. After the war, they became in 1919 the South Pacific Mandate of the League of Nations, under the control of the Japanese Empire. During and after World War II the United States took control of the former Spanish and German archipelagos in the Pacific.


  1. ^ "Palau profile - timeline". BBC. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.

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This page was last edited on 24 March 2019, at 18:05
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