Study Guide

Leonard Wood in Platt Amendment

By U.S. Congress

Leonard Wood

Renaissance Wood

General Wood was a pretty remarkable guy: he blended being an army doctor and an army general (usually you're one or the other, not both), and he was the personal physician for two presidents. His background was in medicine, yet he rose up in the ranks of the U.S. Army, eventually becoming a General.

Knowing this kind of overachiever, he was probably also a clarinet virtuoso on the side, or something like that.

Wood was the key military guy involved in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. He was with the famous Rough Riders and he won a bunch of battles on the island. And at the end of it all, he was the man who presented the Platt Amendment's rules to the Cubans who were setting up their new, independent country.

Yeah, you can imagine how well that went over: "Yes, yes, you Cubans are free now, but I'm a military general and I'm here to stay, oh and here are some pretty restrictive rules for you to follow. Thanks bye!"

Would you have said yes to a bunch of rules that massively limited your power to do as you please? Well the Cuban government officials refused General Wood too and said they wouldn't include the Platt Amendment in their constitution. Which is exactly what the U.S. government was requiring them to do.

There was a bit of back and forth, with General Wood as the middleman, and eventually Cuba accepted the terms (it was kinda bound to happen; the U.S. was super strong and Cuba was super weak). Wood remained in Cuba as the U.S. military overseer, but he actually ended up doing some very helpful things for the island.

For one, he put his medical experience to excellent use and worked on the sanitation systems in Cuba. Savvy Shmoopers will remember that Rule #5 of the Platt Amendment required Cuba to keep cities and ports as sanitary as possible because of the constant trade and business between the island and the U.S. Wood also improved the medical facilities in Cuba, so it's safe to say he put his skills to good use.

Wood was moved to the Philippines after Cuba, and that didn't go so well (the Filipinos kinda hated him), so we bet he kept a soft spot in his heart for the little island of Cuba.