The Ostend Manifesto, a.k.a. Ostend Circular, was a document written in 1854 that described the rationale for the United States to purchase Cuba from Spain while implying that the U.S. should declare war if Spain refused. Cuba’s annexation had long been a goal of U.S. slaveholding expansionists, and was supported by a faction in Cuba itself. At the national level, American leaders had been satisfied to have the island remain in weak Spanish hands so long as it did not pass to a stronger power such as Britain or France. The Ostend Manifesto proposed a shift in foreign policy, justifying the use of force to seize Cuba in the name of national security. It resulted from debates over slavery in the United States, Manifest Destiny, and the Monroe Doctrine, as slaveholders sought new territory for slavery’s expansion.
Ostend Manifesto (1854)