Ostend Manifesto

By: Syed Zubyr Hussain and Amy Reed


The Ostend Manifesto was a document that was drafted by the Pierce administration in 1854. It outlined "national security" and other reasons why the United States had intentions on Cuba, and which tacitly implied a need for war if Spain refused to sell the island.

Pro slavery owners had a special interest in Cuba which was under Spanish rule. Slavery existed on the island. However, a rebellion previously occurred in Haiti that spurred some of the Spanish officials to consider emancipation which was the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions . The Southern peoples did not want freed slaves so close to their shores and others thought that through the belief of Manifest Destiny, should be extended to Cuba. In 1854 three diplomats, Pierre Soulé (minister of Spain), James Buchanan (minister of Britain), and John Y. Mason (minister of France) met in Ostend, Belgium. These three were to investigate the possibility and rationale of acquiring Cuba from Spain. They went went forth with their proposition by representing the views of many Southern Democrats and the diplomats issued a warning to Spain that it must sell Cuba to the United States or that it will be taken by force.


The Ostend Manifesto was yet another issue that helped separate the north from the south in the duration before the Civil War. It made the North more suspicious of the South's desire to expand slavery.

The Ostend Manifesto stated that the US should take Cuba away from Spain. This was controversial in the US at the time of 1854 because it was clear that if Cuba was to be taken by the US, would become a slave territory. This made the North feel as if the South was going to try to push the US into war for the purpose of expanding slave territory.

This perception made the North more angry at the South and the North's reaction annoyed the South. This pushed the two sections farther apart.


Boundless. “The Ostend Manifesto and Cuba.” Boundless U.S. History. Boundless, 14 Nov. 2014. Retrieved 18 Dec. 2014