Tiny but Mighty
The Spanish-American War was fought in Cuba between America and Spain to gain Cuba’s independence from Spanish control. The was lasted less than three months and resulted in America gaining control over Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; as well as the obvious, Cuba’s sovereignty from Spain. Several factors that led to the Spanish-American War, resulting in Cuban sovereignty include: the yellow press, the De Lôme Letter, and the explosion of the USS Maine; each factor had a unique way of inspiring the war. In July 1898, John Hay, an American diplomat declared the Spanish-American War of 1898, “a splendid little war.” This war was truly splendid and little for the Americans because it was an ephemeral war that lasted less than three months, and America achieved all the goals they were aiming for.
The Spanish-American War of 1898 had several causes that led up to it, some of which are: yellow press, the De Lôme Letter, the explosion of USS Maine, and gaining Cuban independence from Spain. The yellow press was part of a mass circulation of newspapers that advocated nationalistic attitudes; these comic strips mixed staggering accounts of crime and political corruption with aggressive appeals to patriotic sentiments. The yellow press is a style of comics in newspapers that overemphasize, misuse, or alter news; all the false and inaccurate news altered the way Americans retaliated to the events that led up to the war. In addition to the yellow press, the De Lôme Letter is another event that influenced the war. The De Lôme Letter (1898) was “written by the Spanish Ambassador to the United States, Enrique Dupuy de Lôme, criticized American President William McKinley by calling him weak, and was only concerned with gaining the favor of the crowd. Publication of this letter helped generate public support for a war with Spain over the issue of Independence for the Spanish colony of Cuba.” Spanish Ambassador, Enrique Dupuy de Lôme embarrassed the President of the United Stated of America, and made President McKinley seem like a dolt, and a weak president who only acted based on what Americans thought of him; the letter was translated from Spanish to English, and printed on the front page of a well-known newspaper, which abashed the President of the United States of America. Lastly, the explosion of the USS Maine was a horrific event that took the lives of over 200 American citizens. The USS Maine was a ship that was sent to Havana Harbor, Cuba; this ship was sent to protect the American citizens living in Cuba, as well as their businesses. Later, the USS Maine exploded, and without knowing who was officially responsible, the Americans automatically accused Spain, and due to that, the United States declared war on Spain as a result of the explosion.
Throughout this “splendid little war”, several battles occurred, some of which include: George Dewey sinking the Spanish fleet, Roosevelt’s Rough Riders at San Juan Hill, and the destruction of Spanish Caribbean fleet off of the southern Cuban coast. Commander, George Dewey led a U.S. naval fleet into Manila Bay (Philippines) on May 1, 1898, and within a few hours, all Spanish fleets that were moored in the Bay were destroyed; by August, Manila itself was occupied by U.S. troops. Later, in June 1898, under General William Shafter, an army of regular troops and volunteers- including Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders- landed on the coast of east Santiago (Cuba) and went into the city (San Juan Hill), at an attempt to force Admiral Pascual Cervera’s fleets out of Cuba’s harbor. Cervera led his fleet out of Santiago, Cuba on July 3 and tried to escape westward; this resulted in all his ships being put under attack by U.S. guns and all Spanish ships either burned or sunk. On July 17, the war effectively ended after Santiago surrendered to Shafter. The Spanish-American War was declared on April 25, 1898, and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.
Overall, the Spanish-American War of 1898 ended the Spanish Colonial rule in the Americas, and resulted in the U.S. possession of territories in the western Pacific and Latin America. Moreover, the Treaty of Paris- signed December 10, 1898- led to Spain renouncing all claim to Cuba, ceding Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States, and transferring sovereignty over the Philippines to the United States for $20,000,000. After the war, the US had advanced politically, they emerged as a world power, gained possession of territories overseas, and became a new stake in international politics that would soon lead it to play a determining role in European affairs. Even though the Spanish-American War was very brief, it led to major changes in both Spain’s and America’s political power. As for the Spanish, their defeat led to them withdrawing from oversea expansion/ colonial rule, and initiating its domesticated needs; a process that led to a renaissance in both culture and literary, and two decades of much-needed economic development in Spain. After America’s victory in Manila Bay with Commander, George Dewey, their leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, established a government with a constitution similar to that of the United States. However, once McKinley decided to preserve possession of the islands, the United States was turned against by the Filipino movement whom sought independence rather than a change in colonial rulers; thus leading into a second war. This second war lasted longer (from 1899 to 1903) and bloodier (took the lives of more than 100,000 Filipinos and 4,200 Americans) than the conflict that was in Spanish-American War.
To conclude, the Spanish-American War of 1898 was all motivated to gain Cuba’s independence from Spanish rule. The results of the war that lasted three months, Spain pulled out of oversea expansion and gave in to improving its country domestically, and America gained control over Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, gained Cuba’s independence from Spain, and America fought a second war against the Philippines in the American-Filipino War due to the Philippines desiring independence from any colonial rulers. The Secretary of State John Hay called the Spanish-American War conflict a “splendid little war” but for Americans because it was forlorn since Spain had not readied their troops for war, and the war lasted a very short period of time.
Exploring Florid. “Spanish-American War for Cuba’s Independence.” Accessed February 7, 2017. https://fcit.usf.edu/florida/lessons/s-a_war/s-a_war1.htm
Foner, Eric. “Give Me Liberty: Freedom’s Boundaries, At Home and Abroad.” New York: W. W. Norton & Company (2014), 531-535.
History.com. “Spanish American War.” Accessed February 7, 2017. http://www.history.com/topics/spanish-america
Kapur, Nick. “William McKinley’s Values and the Origins of the Spanish-American War: A Reinterpretation” Presidential Studies Quarterly (2011), 19-20.