Essay: The Spanish American War

The beginning of the Spanish American War started with the Monroe Doctrine enunciated by James Monroe. A brief description of it stated, the United Stated would not tolerate further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with the states in the Americas. However Spain’s colony┬áin Cuba was exempted. U.S. business men started monopolizing the sugar market in Cuba. By 1984 most
if not all of Cuba’s exports went to the U.S., which were about twelve times more than the exports towards the mother country, Spain. Even though Spain still held political authority over Cuba, economic authority was shifting to the U.S. Subsequently the U.S. became interested in a canal in Nicaragua or in Panama. This interest came from “The Influence of Sea Power upon History”, this book published by Alfred Thayer Mahan intrigued the nation. Beforehand Cuba’s first bid for independence was the “Ten Years War”. The Spanish Government regarded Cuba as a province of Spain rather than a colony, and depended on it for prestige and trade, and as a training ground for the army. Prime minister Antonio Canovas del Castillo announced that “the Spanish nation is disposed to sacrifice to the last peseta of its treasure and to the last drop of blood of the last Spaniard before consenting that anyone snatch from it even one piece of its territory.” He had dominated and stabilized Spanish politics, thus after his assassination Cuba was left unstable. With Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst taking advantage of the potentially great headlines and stories that would sell. These papers covered Spain’s action included with yellow journalism confirmed the popular disparaging attitude toward Spain in America. The U.S. had important economic interests that were being harmed by the prolonged conflict and deepening uncertainty about the future of Cuba. Shipping firms that relied heavily on trade with Cuba suffered huge losses as the conflict continued unresolved. These firms pressed Congress and McKinley to seek an end to the revolt. Other U.S. business concerns, specifically those who had invested in Cuban sugar, looked to the Spanish to restore order. As tension increased between the Cuban’s and Spanish government, popular support of intervention began to spring up in the United States. This was due to the emerge of “Cuba Libre” movement, this was envision by the Americans as the Cuban peoples own “American Revolution”. At the time many poems and songs were written in the United States to express support of the “Cuba Libre” movement. Eleven days after the Cuban autonomous government took power, a small riot erupted in Havana. The riot was thought to be ignited by Spanish officers who were offended by the persistent newspaper criticism of General Valeriano Weyler’s policies. After the Maine was destroyed,[40] newspaper publishers Hearst and Pulitzer decided that the Spanish were to blame, and they publicized this theory as fact in their New York City papers using sensationalistic and astonishing accounts of “atrocities” committed by the Spanish in Cuba by using headlines in their newspapers, such as “Spanish Murderers” and “Remember The Maine”. Their press exaggerated what was happening and how the Spanish were treating the Cuban prisoners. A speech delivered by Republican Senator Redfield Proctor of Vermont on March 17, 1898 thoroughly analyzed the situation, concluding that war was the only answer. With defeats in Cuba and the Philippines, and both of its fleets incapacitated, Spain sued for peace and negotiations were opened between the two parties. The United States gained all of Spain’s colonies outside of Africa in the treaty, including the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. Attaining these islands led to the political drawing of the giant eagle, which symbolized America’s attempt at manifest destiny and newly gained empire.

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