Spanish-American War John Feichtel

The New Imperialism and American Expansion
  • The New Imperialism began late in the 19th century, when European empires took control over large parts of the world in Asia, Africa the Middle East and the Pacific. Countries involved in this expansion were European powers along with Japan, Belgium, Britain and France.
  • During this time America also became increasingly seen as a an emerging world power.
America Expands into Alaska

Lead Up to the War

  • During the 1890's US expansion in the North American continent now included Alaska, after the purchase from Russia by William Seward in 1867. American expansion into agriculture and industrial production increased to the point where goods and services exceeded the demand in the home country and marketing abroad for these resources became very aggressive. Demand for Oil, manufacturing goods and food production spurned growth overseas.
  • The need for Far East spices and fashion demanded American penetration in those regions also.
  • Growth in Naval Sea Power urged bases to be setup prompting influence in Hawaii, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
  • Hawaii already had ties to America with a naval base in Pearl Harbor. American Planters had began rebelling and overtook the Hawaiian government.

The Battleship Maine Disaster

The majority of Spanish-American War soldiers were volunteers who originated from all over the United States for their part in, as Secretary of State John Hay called it, a "splendid little war."

  • America now has emerged as World Power during the Spanish-American War of 1898.
  • Cuba struggled with Independence from Spanish policy and won American support. President McKinley ordered the Battleship Maine to show American force in Havana Harbor. After an explosion destroyed the battleship Maine, this started a declaration of war with Spain. The Teller Amendment was created stating no intention to dominate the Cuban island. Another battle in the Philippine Islands ensued and Admiral Dewey defeated the Spanish fleet outside of the Western hemisphere. American armies also engaged in naval conflicts in Santiago Cuba and landed American troops on Puerto Rican and Cuban lands.

Yellow Journalism

An overwhelming majority of the news reported during the War were obtained through third hand information often relayed by Cuban interpreters and informants sympathetic to the revolution and would distort the facts to shed a positive light on the revolution.

Yellow Journalism

Cuban oppression was depicted through inhumane treatment, torture, rape, and mass pillaging by the Spanish forces.

Yellow Journalism

These highly exaggerated stories depicted heaps of dead men, women, and children left on the side of the road. Facts were rarely confirmed, they simply passed stories on to editors in the states and placed into publication after further editing and misrepresentation.


Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders

In 1898, The Rough Riders commanded by Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt went up against Kettle Hill while the forces led by Brigadier General Kent charged San Juan Hill outside of Santiago and pushed Spanish troops further inland inflicting 1,700 casualties.

The war had now escalated from merely aiding the Cubans to now the United States taking possession of a small overseas empire. Roosevelt thought this motion would invigorate the nation's unity which suffered during the previous years.

Commodore Dewey defeats the Spanish in the Manila Bay on May 1, 1898.

Philippine Islands

  • The Philippines also was beginning to grow impatient with Spanish rule. Wealthy families resented that his upper mobility was limited by Spanish insistence on promoting only "pure-blooded" Spaniards.
  • Emilio Alguinaldo was a Filipino general from the Philippines worked with the United States to gain it's independence and granted the US bases in the area. He also negotiated a deal with the Spaniards who exiled him to Hong Kong with 400,000 pesos that he subsequently used to buy weapons to resume the fight. However, Alguinaldo felt slighted since the US had declared the Philippines a colony. A resistance and guerilla war was formed but quickly was put down by American forces. The Philippines would be granted independence after World War II.
  • The Spanish fleet guarding the Philippine Island were defeated by the US Navy under Commodore George Dewey on May 1, 1898. In addition, President McKinley authorized the assembling of troops in order to mount a campaign against the capital of Manila.
  • Soon after President McKinley annexed Hawaii, Wake Island and Samoa. This provided US naval forces to be present throughout the Pacific as Alfred Thayer Mayhan, the naval strategist was able to gain an empire.

Cuba and Puerto Rico

Following the liberation from Spain of mainland Latin America, Cuba was the first to initiate its own struggle for independence. During the years from 1868-1878, Cuban guerrilla fighters fought for autonomy from Spain. That war concluded with a treaty that was never enforced. In the 1890's Cubans began to agitate once again for their freedom from Spain.

American sugar interests bought up large tracts of land in Cuba. The U.S. sugar tariff kicked off a revolutionary fervor in 1895. By that time the U.S. had a large investment in Cuba and annual trade, mostly in sugar. A growing fever for war had been growing in the United States, despite President Cleveland's proclamation of neutrality on June 12, 1895. But more discontent and conflict grew in the United States when the Spanishbegan moving the population into central locations guarded by Spanish troops and placing the country under martial law in February 1896. Events moved swiftly after the explosion aboard the USS Maine on February 15. On March 28, the US Naval Court of Inquiry finds that a mine blew up the Maine. On April 21 President McKinley orders a blockade of Cuba and four days later the US declares war.

War began in Cuba in June when the Marines captured Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. U.S. troops attacked the San Juan heights on July 1, 1898.During the Battle of Santiago the Spanish forces surrendered.

End of the War:


  • The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. After the Treaty of Paris was signed the United States was given the Philippine Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam for $20,000,000. As a result Spain lost its control over the remains of its overseas empire -- Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines Islands, Guam, and other islands.
  • The war cost the United States $250 million and 3,000 lives, 90% of whom perished from yellow fever, typhoid fever and other infectious diseases.
  • It is interesting to note that Pennsylvania was one of the largest contributors of men during the War with almost 17,000 serving as Volunteers in the Federal Army and Navy.


Created with images by thy - "Cuban Cloud" • Brett Jordan - "World Map" • Boston Public Library - "Greetings from a great country" • hannibal1107 - "Wreck of the Battleship maine, Havana Harbor" • Boston Public Library - "San Juan Hill, where Col. Roosevelt's 'Rough Riders' led the charge. -The victorious army in camp, Cuba" • Boston Public Library - "The Yucatan carrying the Famous Roosevelt's 'Rough Riders' to Cuba"

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