Juan Manuel Sánchez y Gutiérrez de Castro, the Duque de Almodóvar del Río, served as Foreign Minister for the liberal Spanish government of Práxedes Mateo Sagasta beginning in May 1898. It was Almodóvar's task to cushion the blows inflicted on Spain's pride and prestige by the loss of the war to the United States.
As a Spanish representative to the peace negotiations in Paris, Almodóvar did his best to improve Spain's diplomatic position, but the military situation gave him little room to maneuver. On November 21, 1898 the U.S. negotiators presented an ultimatum demanding that Spain accept $20 million for the Philippines, the relinquishment of all claims by both sides, agreement reached on Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guam, and, in particular, the annexation of the island of Kusaie in the Carolines together with the establishment of cable landing rights in other places. The Spaniards had one week to accept the terms or face a reopening of hostilities. The ultimatum was designed to short-circuit any private diplomatic maneuvering by the Germans for the purchase of islands in the Pacific. Ultimately, Almodóvar ordered Spain's representatives to sign the treaty.