The Spanish-American War

Spanish_American_War_transport_SenecaThe Spanish-American War (1898) was a war between the United States and Spain that began with U.S. intervention in Cuba during the Cuban struggle for independence from Spain. After the mysterious sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana harbor, pro-war feeling was heightened in the United States. The war spread to other parts of the Spanish Empire. The Spanish fleet was destroyed in Manila Bay, Philippines, by Admiral Dewey. The Spanish surrendered after their forces were defeated at Santiago de Cuba. Under the Treaty of Paris, Cuba gained independence under U.S. protection and Spain ceded its colonies (Guam, Puerto Rico, Philippines) to the United States.

The Spanish-American War:

The Spanish-American War was a military conflict between Spain and the United States that began in April 1898. Hostilities halted in August of that year, and the Treaty of Paris was signed in December. The war began after the American demand for Spain’s peacefully resolving the Cuban fight for independence was rejected, though strong expansionist sentiment in the United States motivated the government to target Spain’s remaining overseas territories: Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam and the Caroline Islands.

Riots in Havana by pro-Spanish “Voluntarios” gave the United States a reason to send in the warship USS Maine to indicate high national interest. Tension among the American people was raised because of the explosion of the USS Maine, and “yellow journalism” that accused Spain of extensive atrocities, agitating American public opinion. The war ended after decisive naval victories for the United States in the Philippines and Cuba.

Only 109 days after the outbreak of war, the Treaty of Paris, which ended the conflict, gave the United States ownership of the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam.

Opinions on the Spanish-American War:

A Trumped-Up War:

History_TR_Fights_in_Spanish_American_War_HD_still_624x352“The Spanish-American War was likely another instance of trumped up war. After multiple investigations over the last century, it is still unclear whether the USS Maine sunk as a result of a mine or an accidental internal explosion, and that lack of clarity alone should have been enough to prevent the war. What is completely clear, however, is that appetite imperialists and yellow journalists were hungry for the war, so much so that they succeeded in bringing it about, including ugly extended fighting in the Philippines against the anti-colonialist guerrillas whom the Americans were supposed to be there liberating. Indeed, so great was the manufactured pressure for war that President McKinley, who didn’t want to fight it, was ultimately forced to do so.”
Mark Twain on Spanish-American War

“And by and by comes America, and our Master of the Game plays it badly–plays it as Mr. Chamberlain was playing it in South Africa. It was a mistake to do that; also, it was one which was quite unlooked for in a Master who was playing it so well in Cuba. In Cuba, he was playing the usual and regular American game, and it was winning, for there is no way to beat it. The Master, contemplating Cuba, said: “Here is an oppressed and friendless little nation which is willing to fight to be free; we go partners, and put up the strength of seventy million sympathizers and the resources of the United States: play!” Nothing but Europe combined could call that hand: and Europe cannot combine on anything. There, in Cuba, he was following our great traditions in a way which made us very proud of him, and proud of the deep dissatisfaction which his play was provoking in Continental Europe. Moved by a high inspiration, he threw out those stirring words which proclaimed that forcible annexation would be “criminal aggression;” and in that utterance fired another “shot heard round the world.” The memory of that fine saying will be outlived by the remembrance of no act of his but one–that he forgot it within the twelvemonth, and its honorable gospel along with it.”

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Margaret Mcgee

Margaret Mcgee is a publisher of the weekly blog Bells And Whistles. This year, she earned a degree in Comparative Literature.