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Spanish American War In The Nineteenth Century History Essay

The anger might be that America has set its eyes for a long time since before the civil war. The South wanted Cuba to cultivate cotton, The North wanted Cuba for a Navy Base to protect Panama Canal. But since America was isolationist at that time, this was not so exposed (Nititunprakad, S., 2525, p.86). In 1864 to 1874, Cuba has revolt against Spain, causing Spain to lose a great deal of money and people, so great that it had to half-heartedly change Cuba’s administration. Cuban demanded Spain to free all the slaves and the right to govern itself. Spain stalled the slave releasing for 10 years and still did not allow Cuba to govern itself. The biggest wrong move Spain has made is setting free the revolutionist leader who instantly fled to America and planned for another revolt. After all slaves are freed, Cuba economics has become better, especially with sugar cane plantation, but unfortunately, other European countries were also planning to expand sugarcane plantation, too. Therefore, Cuba moved its main market to America and doubled its sugar production. Now America has one more point why it wants Cuba. In 1895, Cuban locals have gone for another revolt. Spain brutally suppressed the revolt, capturing innocent civilians in a detention center, letting them starved to death. There were over 200 thousand casualties resulted from the suppression. Cuban patriots have called for America’s aid to support them with the revolt against Spain’s ruling. American answered the call for the “sympathy” towards the Ten Year War incident in 1868-1878 and the failed revolt in 1895 (Causes of the War, n.d.). America’s action has made a large crack in relationship between America and Spain. American presses criticized Spain’s action towards the revolt, but President Cleveland was not sure about whether to intervene at that time. But in 1898, Maine, an American battleship, was sent to station near Havana to provide safety to American people and properties was sunk, resulted in 258 casualties. Spain got criticized for being a coward, planting a mine to the battleship and detonating it from the shore (Nititunprakad, S., 2525, p.87). It was written that President McKinley did not want war (Causes of the War, n.d.; Nashaw, D., 2000, p.132), but in fact, America was actually looking for a reason to wage war with Spain, as America has its battleship stationed near Spain with a protection mission as an excuse. But, no one would like to have a foreign battleship stationed near their territorial waters, it was an insult to Spain if a foreign battleship can remain stationed near its water. Spain had to do something and the ship was sunk. Spain even got criticized as a coward for planting a mine and detonating it from the shore (Nashaw, D., 2000, p. 131). And as 19th century readers had less concern to distinguish the fact from what was written in a bias Yellow Journalism, it was easy to furnish the picture to make Spain looked bad and furnish the war to make America a hero. Also, other members of the party Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge were promoting war that war would create an opportunity for America to build a Navy Base in the Caribbean Sea. And with America’s plan of constructing the Panama Canal, a Navy Base was a must in order to protect the route. And for that purpose, the two members also proposed to annex Spain’s Puerto Rico, which was located in the Caribbean Sea and retain a Navy Base in Cuba. As for the Pacific Ocean, annexing Hawaii and nearby islands would make a good strategic point (Nititunprakad, S., 2525, p. 87). Americans were happy with the proposal, so the war between America and Spain was officially declared in April, 1898; President McKinley launched an attack at Spain’s Cuba and Philippines. The war ended swiftly in merely 4 months with America’s victory and is named “Splendid Little war” by Secretary of State John hay. Since the winner of the war gets to write the history it sure was splendid for America. It was also splendid in the way that America losses were light compared to Spain’s and America also acquired more territory with Spain’s expense.

In the first treaty America had agreed with Spain, It stated that America wanted only Luzon, but the war really had effect of strong patriotism to Americans. Americans has already thought that their country was strong and the war amplified that feeling and even urged the people into more imperialism. With Americans citizens demanded more than just Luzon, the whole Philippines, in addition with the fear that Germany would capture Philippines as a stepping stone to the whole Pacific, President McKinley decided to take the whole Philippines and paid 20 million dollars compensation. President McKinley said that the taking over of Philippines was to educate Filipinos so they can improve their own livings, to Christianize them. Americanizing and Christianizing Filipinos will do greatly for America’s economic. With Filipinos now thinking like Americans, they are likely to consume American’s products and that would create a new market for America (Columbian Exposition, n.d.). At first, America announced that it would remain governing Philippines until Philippines can self-govern with democracy as a regime, but then it has to accept that conquering is much easier than governing. The Filipinos patriots, who once opposed Spain, also opposed America, too. In 1901, America had to send in 70,000 troops to break up the uprising, and seriously help Philippines improve its Healthcare, Education, Transportation, and also teach Filipinos what Democracy was about (Nititunprakad, S., 2525, p. 89). Actually, reasons why America decided to let Philippines go were that taking care and developing a country with different regime is tiring and difficult so they came to a conclusion that it was a waste of time and in terms of economic, it consumed too much resources to annex Philippines. Unlike Hawaii, which provided America with land for American citizens to work on and an important strategic area, Philippines was too underdeveloped and didn’t bare as much profit as America would expect.

For Cuba, America has confirmed Cuba’s liberty including Guam and Puerto Rico in the treaty which America made with Spain. Even though Cuba was given “Liberty”, it was not really there for Cubans. America still possessed power to govern Cuba. General Leonard Wood remained stationed in Cuba as a military governor until 1902 (Nititunprakad, S., 2525, p. 86). Cuba rights were also limited. Cuba was not allowed to sign any contracts that will have any effect with its liberty with other foreign countries, must carry out America’s health plan that America has started for Cuba, must rent a Navy Base to America, and most importantly, America will have its power to govern Cuba remained in order to “keep order” in Cuba, blocked Cuba from foreign relations, and the right to intervene every internal business in Cuba to “protect lives, properties, and rights” of Americans in Cuba. America also forced Cuba to certify those conditions into Cuba’s constitution. This put Cuba in a condition no different than when it was under Spain’s colonization. This made Cuban who once America secretly supported during the rebel against Spain rebel against America.

For the case of the sinking of Maine, The U.S. Navy investigation concluded that the explosion was an external explosion, but Spanish investigations resulted in an opposite one, it turned out that the explosion was an internal explosion, meaning this is the proof that America wanted to wage war with Spain from the first place. Admiral Hyman George Rickover of the U.S. Navy and his team of staffs had researched on documents and came to a conclusion that there was an internal explosion (Hyman, G., 1976, p. 94-97). But the page of history varies with different position, so there was nothing to pinpoint the culprit. However, the culprit didn’t actually matter at the time, since people from that period are likely to consume any news broadcasted to them, it was easy to make them think Spain sunk the ship. And with that, they persuaded their citizens to support war. As for the feeling of imperialism, America has had that before the Spanish-American war. Take Hawaii as an example, America was actually doing business, buying sugar from Hawaii, but ended up with a coup d’état and the annexation of Hawaii. The Spanish-American war was like a spark to a greater imperialism to Americans. The war also had a great effect to people’s mind, all around the world. Knowing that America could end a war swiftly in 4 months has made America looked intimidating to other countries and it raised American people’s morale in every aspect especially in military. With this effect, American citizens got the feeling of enjoyment when a new land was conquered by their country. So as when American citizens demanded more land from Spain after winning the war, which is more than what was agreed in the treaty.


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