Spanish-American War Essay

Submitted By HollyKier1
Words: 1040
Pages: 5

The Spanish-American War (April 25, 1898-September 12, 1898) began as a result of American efforts to intervene in Cuba’s attempt at gaining independence from Spain. It ultimately marked the rise of the United States as a global military power. Cubans had been seeking independence from Spain for many years, but were unsuccessful while Spain increased tariffs on American products sold in Cuba. This dramatically increased Cuban cost of living and kept the Cubans suppressed. Jose Marti, leader of a rebel alliance, established the Cuban Revolutionary Party in 1892. Marti sought funds for weapons from Cuban-Americans and gained allies in labor organizations and the press. Sugar was considered Cuba’s chief product. It accounted for 75 percent of Cuba’s wealth and was a main source of Spanish revenue. Maximo Gomez, a senior rebel commander, ordered the burning of cane fields and sugar mills in an attempt to deem the island useless to Spain. As a result, the value decreased to $13 million from $60 million. A new policy, reconcentracion, was issued in an attempt to control and defeat Cuban rebels. The new policy was carried out by General Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau. Country people were to be relocated within Spanish lines and denied food, shelter, and other aid. Approximately 500,000 Cubans were placed in concentration camps with no shelter and little food. Hundreds of thousands died as a result of the reconcentracion policy. Despite these drastic measures, Weyler was unsuccessful in overcoming the rebellion. By this time, the cost of fighting the rebellion had nearly bankrupted Spain’s treasury. In retrospect, America’s newspapers were possibly Cuba’s greatest ally. “Appropriately, their tendency toward exaggeration and even outright invention, the yellow newspapers had taken their nickname from a comic strip, ‘The Yellow Kid,’ the first comic to be printed in color.” By 1895 William Randolph Hearst (New York Journal) and Joseph Pulitzer (The World) were engaged in a rivalry war. Often they used stories (sometimes true, sometimes fabricated) of Cuban rebels and Spanish cruelty to boost sales. Meanwhile, President Grover Cleveland followed a policy of rigorous impartiality. In 1897, upon President William McKinley entering office, McKinley told Cleveland he hoped to preserve neutrality as effectively as he. In August of 1897, Spain offered Cuba complete autonomy but still under the Spanish flag. Cubans rejected this offer unwilling to agree to peace without complete independence. On January 12, 1898, a small riot broke out in the streets of Havana in protest of Spain’s offer of autonomy. On February 15, 1898, Maine, an American battleship, sank in Havana Harbor after suffering a massive explosion. There is a vast difference in opinion on whether the explosion was indeed an accident. American investigators ultimately attributed the incident as an external explosion that had been set off under the ship’s hull. Spain’s investigation came to the opposite conclusion: the explosion originated within the ship. (Other investigations in later years came to various contradictory conclusions.) Theodore Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary to the Navy, made his outspoken opinion an aggressive campaign for war, “The Maine was sunk by an act of dirty treachery on the part of the Spaniards.” The sinking of the Maine came at a tense time, thus sparking the Spanish-American War. McKinley wanted to avoid war and demanded Spain to declare a cease-fire in Cuba. Spain involuntarily agreed to allow Cuba an autonomous government, but this message came too late. McKinley asked Congress for authority to send American troops to Cuba. The Teller Amendment was proposed to ensure the U.S. would not attempt to gain control of Cuba. The U.S. formally declared war on April 25, 1898. The first major battle was The Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898 led by Commodore George Dewey. The U.S. defeated Spain in a matter of…