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 in 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, 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.
The Spanish-American War (1898) was a conflict between the United States and Spain that ended Spanish colonial rule in the Americas and resulted in U.S. acquisition of territories in the western Pacific and Latin America.
The war originated in the Cuban struggle for independence from Spain, which began in February 1895. Spain’s brutally repressive measures to halt the rebellion were graphically portrayed for the U.S. public by several sensational newspapers, and American sympathy for the rebels rose. The growing popular demand for U.S. intervention became an insistent chorus after the unexplained sinking in Havana harbour of the battleship USS Maine (Feb. 15, 1898; see Maine, destruction of the), which had been sent to protect U.S. citizens and property after anti-Spanish rioting in Havana. Spain announced an armistice on April 9 and speeded up its new program to grant Cuba limited powers of self-government, but the U.S. Congress soon afterward issued resolutions that declared Cuba’s right to independence, demanded the withdrawal of Spain’s armed forces from the island, and authorized the President’s use of force to secure that withdrawal while renouncing any U.S. design for annexing Cuba.
Spain declared war on the United States on April 24, followed by a U.S. declaration of war on the 25th, which was made retroactive to April 21. The ensuing war was pathetically one-sided, since Spain had readied neither its army nor its navy for a distant war with the formidable power of the United States. Commo. George Dewey led a U.S. naval squadron into Manila Bay in the Philippines on May 1, 1898, and destroyed the anchored Spanish fleet in a leisurely morning engagement that cost only seven American seamen wounded. Manila itself was occupied by U.S. troops by August.
The elusive Spanish Caribbean fleet under Adm. Pascual Cervera was located in Santiago harbour in Cuba by U.S. reconnaissance. An army of regular troops and volunteers under Gen. William Shafter (and including Theodore Roosevelt and his 1st Volunteer Cavalry, the “Rough Riders”) landed on the coast east of Santiago and slowly advanced on the city in an effort to force Cervera’s fleet out of the harbour. Cervera led his squadron out of Santiago on July 3 and tried to escape westward along the coast. In the ensuing battle all of his ships came under heavy fire from U.S. guns and were beached in a burning or sinking condition. Santiago surrendered to Shafter on July 17, thus effectively ending the war.
By the Treaty of Paris (signed Dec. 10, 1898), Spain renounced all claim to Cuba, ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States, and transferred sovereignty over the Philippines to the United States for $20,000,000. The Spanish-American War was an important turning point in the history of both antagonists. Spain’s defeat decisively turned the nation’s attention away from its overseas colonial adventures and inward upon its domestic needs, a process that led to both a cultural and a literary renaissance and two decades of much-needed economic development in Spain. The victorious United States, on the other hand, emerged from the war a world power with far-flung overseas possessions and a new stake in international politics that would soon lead it to play a determining role in the affairs of Europe.