The Spanish-American War of 1898



The Spanish-American battles were fought in 1898 in a short period from April to August; however, it had vast consequences on both nations. The United States became victorious in this war which leads to its position as a superpower while Cuba gained independence from the Spanish. This analysis will critique what the war represented the United States.

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The Spanish-American War of 1898

The War of 1898 between America and Spain represented several factors to the United States of America. The war was not a monumental according to the militants and was referred by John Hay who was later to be the Secretary of the State as a “splendid little war” (Miller, 2011). However, it stirred a fundamental historical impact on the United States, Cuba, and Spain. This war between these two powers is attributed to the beginning of the US as a superpower onto the stage of global relations as well as diplomacy. However, after the war, Spain withdrew its colonial rule for self-development (United States History, n.d.). Although the war of 1898 did not develop America as a superpower since it had already been as a result of the rapid economic growth and industrialization of previous centuries, it did announce it that indeed it was a superpower.

The Americans entered the war with Spain to salvage the people of Cuba whom they viewed as politically and economically weak. The US had invested in lots of dough in businesses as well as it had many residents living in Cuba.  They referred to the Cubans as their neighbors hence they felt obligated to ensure they were safe from the European colonists who had been brutal to them (Q12). To the Americans, this war was a justification of the economic and political instability the Spanish had caused in the Protectorate areas which were in such a close proximity (Q8). As a result, America entered this war to safeguard its position as a Pacific power and exert its imperialism. According to Forget the Maine! (1998), this was represented a major milestone in the establishment of America’s predominance of the Caribbean areas and this enabled the United States to develop its economic as well as strategic interests in not only the regions of Cuba but in other regions of Asia.

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America fought the Spanish on the reasons that they were using brutal tactics to exact their rule on its colonies (Q26). This created sympathy among the Americans and a major public outcry was initiated on the Spain’s tactics on the Cubans (P10). As these tensions rose further, America sent a battleship Maine to look for the Cuban waters. The rise of yellow journalism also had an influence on the war. According to the Spanish American War (1898-1901) (2017), yellow journalism was used to exaggerate the Spanish rule on the Cubans by the press. Yellow journalism came as a result of severe competition to sell newspapers and hence many journalists, reporters and artists were sent from America to Cuba to report on the Spanish atrocities (Axelrod, 2007). Additional, they had imposed a tendency of imperialism while opposing European colonialism. Before the war started, America had the Teller Amendment which revealed its desire to leave Cuba, independent. To show its economic power towards the European nations, it annexed European colonies while fighting the Spaniards to claim Cuba (The Spanish-American War, 1898, 2016). This led to the military intervention from the Americans hence the war of 1898 started. Although these war battles ware not primarily fought in Cuba, its primary reason was to guarantee Cuba its independence from Spain and avoid its annexation of the US neighboring nation (Nofi, 2001).

Since America had political and economic ties with its neighboring countries of Cuba, Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico, it was obligated as the great to maintain stability among these nations for a smooth running of its activities hence its Cuba liberation (PA, Article IV). In addition, Cuba was liberation due to its resource advantage in which the US used its coal mines and naval stations (PA, Article VII). The US invested a lot in Cuban businesses and the Spanish rule led to poor businesses, hence its need to liberate Cuba in order to gain its foothold on the business stability (P20).

The Americans saw themselves as the noble hero that was inclined to help Cuba from the Villain, the Spaniards (P22). This was necessitated the United States to assist Cuba as this was not only righteous but also manly (P23). They viewed themselves as a great power and thus needed to stake their claim as great leader of the entire international empire to the other nations such as Great Britain, Germany, and Russia (Slide 6).  Since the Americans viewed Cuba and Cubans as black children who needed to be cleansed of their savage impulse as this was their inability to govern themselves (P18). The black children, Cubans, enjoyed first years of productivity when they were governed by the United States (P20). Additionally, the Cubans were viewed as people who were weak and needed much help in terms of both food and shelter from the hands the United States (P19).

The Americans wanted to liberalize the Cubans for better self-governance, as revealed by Q3 which stated: “the Cuban people realize very fully that they are not ready for self-governance.” As mandated by the Teller Amendment, the United States wanted to free Cuba although for its benefit of imperialism and economic benefits (TA). They had sought to free Cuba neither for power nor power rather for neighborly acts as it was its responsibility to assist sufferers’ beyond their frontiers (Spanish-American War for Cuba’s Independence, 2012). The impression is that the United States did not really to free Cuba to be a self-governing nation. On the other hand, the United States influence on Cuba and on international matters, in particular, was as a result of its economic interests. The American support for the Cuban rebels to gain independence the Spanish was to safeguard the American businesses that were declining as a result of the Cuban fight for independence (United States History, n.d.). They sought to support the fight for independence to stabilize their businesses.

In conclusion, the reason for America to enter this war was not primarily to assist Cuba to gain its independence from the Spanish; rather it represented the imperialism of the Americans and the urge to protect their economic interests as a superpower. Last but not least, it was a way of revealing their anti-European colonialism.

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  1. Axelrod, A. (2007). Political history of Americas wars. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
  2. Forget the Maine! (1998, January 03).
  3. Greger, R. (2013). The Austro-Hungarian Navy and the Spanish-American War of 1898. International Naval Journal, 1(1), 4-10.
  4. Miller, B. M. (2011). The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War. Journal of American History, 98(3), 948-949.
  5. Nofi, A. A. (2001). The Spanish-American War, 1898. Place of publication not identified: De Capo Press.
  6. Spanish-American War for Cuba’s Independence. (2012).
  7. Teller Amendment
  8. The Platt Amendment
  9. P6 (Classroom image)
  10. The Spanish American War (1898-1901). (2017).
  11. The Spanish-American War, 1898. (2016).
  12. United States History. (n.d.).
  13. USII.4a The Spanish American War. (n.d.).
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