The Spanish-American War of 1898

Subject: History
Pages: 4
Words: 1210
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College

Reconstruction governments

The reconstruction process in the southern states was a painstaking process that was marred in controversies and mainly driven by republican governments. After the American civil war of 1861-1865, slavery and slave institutions were abolished. As a result of the abolishment of slavery, there was the emergence of freedmen who held bitter memories of their past and were, therefore, reluctant to offer their labor. To cater for these deficits there was an emergence of opportunists who supported the Republican Party reconstruction processes and were referred to as carpetbaggers. On the other hand, Scalawags were “traitors” from the southern states who supported the Republican Party and the reconstruction processes in general (Boyer et al. 448). Although both Scalawags and carpetbaggers capitalized on the misfortunes of the south and the freedmen, they contributed positively to the reconstruction process of the south.

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In the United States of America, the Industrial Revolution in the southern states was a slow process compared to the northeast states. In 1874, Henry Grady coined the phrase “The New South” in which he was championing the reconstruction of the devastated southern economies based on industrial revolution models from the northern states. Although proponents of the new south led by Henry Hardy envisioned more industrialized south, the drive resulted in little success for the southern states in the early 1900s’. In conclusion, despite the drive to industrialize the new south, the economic successes of the textile and steel mills of the new south could not compare with the northern states. In the new south states, laborers were paid relatively low wages compared to northern state workers who earned double their new south counterparts.

In America, almost all liberties and privileges came at a cost including the right to leisure. Interestingly, during the colonial era, leisure and relaxation had been demonized by preachers and therefore people feared to sin. As a result, the American population suffered from severe fatigue as they overworked to maintain their religious purity. However, Americans slowly developed and adopted leisure cultures to relax and unwind their bodies. As a result, taking part in leisure activities resulted in the emergence of professional sports. In general, American work ethics after independence can directly be attributed to the development of leisure activities and a generally healthy population.

The period 1877-1900 is America’s most fascinating period with great contrasts. This era is commonly referred to as the gilded period. The era is ironic as it is the most scandalous era of US history but with the highest recorded political participation (Boyer et al. 467). During this period the republicans and democrats adopted sharp and contrasting policies on tariffs. While the republicans supported business tariffs the democrats were opposed to the tariffs and opted for the silver platform. Interestingly, it is during this period that the people’s party was formed in 1890. Additionally, this period experienced extensive reforms in the civil service revolutionizing the provision of services. Overall, although the era exhibited sharp contrasts and extreme positions, it heralded political tolerance and entrenched freedom.

The Spanish-American War of 1898

The Spanish-American war of 1898 is arguably America’s most controversial war overseas. The decision to go into war with the Spanish empire was largely fueled by heresies and misinformation (Boyer et al. 549). The Spanish-American war took place at a time when European powers were busy enhancing their conquests of Asia, Latin America, and Asian nations. At this time, the Spanish empire had expanded so much and was in control of several overseas territories. Some of the territories that the Spanish empire controlled included the Philippines and Cuba. Interestingly, the United States was not interested in acquiring new territories or going into war with any power. The nation was slowly progressing into a full democracy and as such colonizing other nations would be against their ideals. Nonetheless, lack of due diligence led America to go into war with the Spanish empire in the late 19th century.

Role of yellow journalism in the Spanish-American war

Cuban insurgency against their colonial masters continued for a while and in 1895 Cubans staged an uprising against the Spanish empire. Afraid of losing control over the territory, the Spanish administrators attempted to quell the uprising by detaining Cubans in concentration camps. In the camps, hundreds of Cubans died out of poor sanitation and lack of access to medication. American newspapers and media outlets capitalized on the development to sell more copies to Americans. As a result of this sensational reporting, the American government became convinced that there was a real danger posed to Americans in Cuba and American assets were at risk and America moved to secure the assets and Americans in Cuba.

Explosion of the USS Maine and the role it played in the war

The warship USS Maine successfully arrived in Cuba and docked into Havana harbor. However, the warship was short-lived as it exploded nine days later. The explosion resulted in the death of 260 United States sailors. Spanish empire correctly stated that a malfunction in the warship USS Maine resulted in the explosion. However, as a result of yellow journalism practices, the American government became convinced that the explosion aboard the USS Maine was due to sabotage. Although the United States initially was not interested in going into war with Spain, on 11th April 1898 the United States declared war against Spain. The declaration of war was inspired by the belief that the Spanish regime had a role to play in the explosion of the USS Maine, a view that the Spanish empire refuted vehemently.

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Role of Admiral Dewey in the war

Admiral George Dewey was a decorated naval officer of the United States whose success in naval wars is well documented. Admiral Dewey first gained prominence in the American civil war while working as a commander of naval forces in operating in the Mississippi River. Admiral Dewey was appointed to head the American Asiatic squadron in 1897 One year before the Spanish-American war. During the war, Admiral Dewey successfully helped the United States garner an astonishing victory in the Battle of the manila bay over the Spaniards. The victory was widely celebrated as America had only suffered one casualty in the battle of Manila Bay. Interestingly, Admiral Dewey despite recording such a small number of fatalities was able to destroy the Spanish fleet thereby recording decisive victory for the United States in the war.

Role of Colonel Roosevelt in the war

In the Spanish-American war, Colonel Teddy Roosevelt (America’s future president) played an important role in securing the United States victory against Spain. Although the United States had developed sophisticated weapons compared to the Spaniards who had outdated weapons, the Americans were ill-prepared for the war. Nonetheless, Colonel Roosevelt quickly assembled a regiment that was referred to as Rough Riders to wage war on land against the Spanish empire. As a result of the success of the war, Colonel Teddy Roosevelt gained prominence back at home and this victory set the stage for his ascension into the presidency of the United States.

In conclusion, the Spanish-American war of 1898 resulted in a massive victory for the United States and subsequent expansion of overseas territories. Additionally, the United States acquired greater control of the surrounding territories as a result of the war.

Work Cited

Boyer, Paul S., et al. The enduring vision: A history of the American people.Volume II since 1865, Ninth Edition, Boston Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2018.