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Outside World Perspectives

Other imperial European powers would advocate against the conflict, but ultimately choose a side. In Sylvia L. Hilton’s and Steve J. S. Ickringill’s European Perceptions of the Spanish-American War of 1898, both authors convey an understanding that intense negotiations and agreements among prominent European powers suggested a pan-European opinion in favour of a peaceful solution to the conflict in order to prevent American military intervention and any significant change to the international balance of power. Even the Vatican, led by Pope Leo XIII, attempted to appeal to President Mckinley to prevent war, yet later sympathized with Cuban independence efforts and understood the negatives of Spanish misrule. The Dutch East Indies, Great Britain, Russia, and the Netherlands began supporting U.S. war efforts as they were understood to be on the behalf of Cuban independence goals and disrupted the colonial power of one of their European adversaries. While Germany remained divided, France, Portugal, and Austria viewed the conflict as unnecessary American intervention into the internal affairs of Spain and a possible disruption of the status quo toward the dominance of European imperial powers. The United States victory against Spain would propel the country into becoming a major international player.

After the acquisition of the Philippines, American interest in the east began to expand. The U.S. would support the protection of equal opportunity for all nations to trade and invest in China. When the Russo-Japanese War broke out in 1904, officially the U.S. was neutral, but made little attempt to disguise pro Japanese feelings. Roosevelt would be asked to mediate a settlement and although he was successful at gaining a truce, even winning a noble peace prize, the Japanese would be angered that better terms such as territorial adjustments were not made. Roosevelt would also develop a new policy to never allow European intervention in North and South America after the blockade of Venezuela, by British, German, and Italian navies due to massive debts to European creditors. At the off set of hostile American public opinion, the European governments agreed to submit their grievances to arbitration. These are just a few examples of how the United States new global position after the Spanish American War allowed the nation to maintain dominance in the Western Hemisphere.

Spanish Perspectives toward the War

From the Spanish perspective, an anti-Yankee rhetoric would be adopted as Spain understood America’s intervention as a violation of international law and America’s perception of Spanish colonial rule being oppressive and brutal toward Cuban’s to be insidious lies and patent hypocrisy. Throughout the war, Spain’s monarchical regime would strive to remain fiercely nationalistic. Since the Restoration of the monarchy in 1874, Spanish political life had been dominated by the power of conservatives led by Antonio Canavas del Castillo and liverals headed by Praxedes Matco Sagasta. Spanish socialist doubted that Cuban nationalism would improve Cuban working class conditions due to the American influence. America was seen as a nation with immigrant outcasts, one without culture or honor. However, many Spanish Republicans also viewed the U.S as rich, strong, and better organized than imperial Spain. When President McKinley signed the Joint Resolution passed by Congress on April 19, 1898, demanding Spanish withdrawal from Cuba, Spain understood it as a declaration of war. In order to maintain national honor and secure colonized lands in Latin America, Spain declared war against the U.S. on April 23, 1989.

As war was declared on both sides the Spanish fleet would be caught wholly unprepared in Manila and was destroyed by Admiral Dewey’s fleet in Cavite on May 1. Admiral Pascual Cervera sailed towards the Caribbean all the while recognizing that his mission was hopeless. The Spanish government, however, felt that it had to fight a war to protect against a military revolt or a Carlist putsch that would have toppled the royal dynasty and the new constitutional system. General Blanco ordered Cervera s fleet to sail out of Santiago de Cuba, in the mistaken belief that the fleet could perhaps escape having to surrender to the United States without a fight. It was sunk in only a few hours on July 3. The land battle was not so spectacular and much more difficult. The battles of El Caney and San Juan caused great losses and wounded on both sides. Spanish troops defended Santiago mightily, but since they were cut off from supplies and reinforcements, they decided to capitulate on July 17 in the belief that further resistance would be useless. By this time, everyone in Spain had to accept defeat. The Conservatives, naturally, were only too glad to have the Liberals sign the armistice on August 12, and the Treaty of Peace in Paris, on December 10, by which Spain had to accept each and every demand of the United States. Even the Spanish request for a new and impartial investigation of the U.S.S. Maine’s destruction was denied.





Hendrickson Jr., Kenneth E. The Spanish American War. Connecticut: Greenwood Press 2003.

Ickringills, Steve J.S. and Hilton, Syliva L. European Perceptions of the Spanish-American War of 1898. Berlin: Peter Lang AG 1999.



Carlstorm, Oscar E. “The Spanish-American War,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984) 1 No. ½ 1923.

Offner, John L. “Mckinley and the Spanish-American War,” Presidential Studies Quarterly. 34 No. 1 2004.

Website Article:

Ojeda, Jaime De. “The Spanish-American War of 1898: a Spanish View.” The Spanish-American War of 1898: a Spanish View – The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War (Hispanic Division, Library of Congress). Web. Dec 14, 2016.


Primary Source Piece:

Dalrymple, Loius. “The Duty of the Hour.” Digital image. Library of Congress. Accessed November 11, 2016.

American Perspective toward the War

Washington would sympathize with Cuban revolt leaders including Jose Marti, Maximo Gomez, and Antonio Maceo as they devoted their lives to the cause of independence, similar to struggles during the American Revolution. President Mckinley, hoped to expand U.S. territory and viewed the Cuban struggle as a result of Spanish oppression/misrule. Unfortunately, the US War Department had to deal with major issues to adequately prepare the army for war. In April 1898, the US army numbered only 28,000 officers and men scattered in small contingents all over the country. In addition, approximately, 114,000 officers and men were in the various state militias. These forces were poorly trained and badly equipped. On April 11th, 1898 President Mckinley asked Congress for war, eight days later Congress declared Cuba independent and on April 25th, the U.S. would officially declare war against Spain. Two events propelled this decision including the desire to annex new lands. These events were the public discovery of the de Lome Letter and the sinking of the USS Maine. The lesser known of the two, the de Lome Letter, was a document sent by Dupuy de Lome, the Spanish minister in the United States. In his letter De Lome did not trust President Mckinley and feared that he would give in to the pressures of more aggressive tactics in Cuba and Puerto Rico. The letter was intercepted and made its way to journalist, William R. Hearst, who utilized yellow journalism to entice an outraged American public into accepting a war with Spain.

The U.S. War Department had no strategic plan at first for, but soon developed  one. General William R. Shafter, was told to prepare for a brief expedition to Cuba with the main purpose being to resupply General Maximo Gomez, leader of the Cuban rebels. This plan was dropped immediately once it became clear that Admiral Pascual Cervera was on his way to the West Indies in command of a Spanish naval squadron. The War Department would continue to change plans until one became applicable. President McKinley wanted to inflict heavy losses on the Spanish forces that their government would sue for peace. Finally Mckinley and his military advisors agreed to attack Santiago. The army would embark from Tampa with General William R. Shafter commanding. Unfortunately, Admiral Cervera’s squadron had arrived in Santiago. Because the U.S. had no troopships when the war began, the vessels used were leased from private owners, most being cramped and run-down. After much confusion and incompetence, the U.S. would gain the upper hand over Cervera’s squadron with the help of Admiral William T. Sampson’s American naval squadron. Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders would showoff American determination as they would dismount from their horses to charge up enemy strong holds up on hills, such was the case for San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill. Roosevelt forces would experience heavy casualties, but eventually forced the Spanish forces to withdraw to a deeper defensive position. This would result in a standoff that would last for weeks resulting in a Spanish surrender. Though the war turned out to be an American victory, it would the valor of the men who fought combined with sheer luck, not leadership, that produced results. The U.S. would continue its war efforts with campaigns in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. The U.S. would achieve victory on August 1898 with the a signed peace protocol (truce) with Spain. An official end would come in December with the Treaty of Paris.


Introduction into the History of the Spanish American War

Welcome to the Spanish American War Impact website, here we will be analyzing one of the shortest wars of the late 19th century and uncover the monumental impacts that came out of the conflict. Here is a brief introduction of the war and its meaning to outside nations not directly involved. On April 1898, the United States declared war against Spain, what would come later would be a war that would change the global identities of both the United States and Spain. Although the war was short, its impacts on the Atlantic world would empower a victorious U.S. nation and reveal a clear defeat for the once mighty Spanish empire. It was a strange war, having its beginnings with the public discovery of the de Lome Letter and more famously, the sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine. It was believed that on February 1898, Spanish saboteurs at a port in Havana blew up the battleship’s engine killing 250 enlisted men.  This tragedy and the ongoing Cuban revolt against the Spanish gave the U.S. a viable excuse for involvement. For the Spanish Empire, the Cuban Revolution was seen as an internal colonial affair. Outrage over U.S. accusations of Cuban abuses at the hands of Spanish rule and U.S. intervention into Spanish affairs would lead Maria Christina of Austria, acting as regent for her son Alfonso XIII, to declare war against America. The war would last a mere seven months, American casualties would amount to around 3,000. Spain’s casualty amount is debated though it is estimated that around 50,000 Spanish soldiers died, mostly of diseases such as malaria. The wars’ outcome would solidify U.S. dominance in the western hemisphere and express the end of Spanish colonial rule in Latin America. The war would also erupt out of the Cuban Revolution of 1895 and America’s Manifest Destiny desires to expand its territories. Heightened U.S. interest in acquiring Cuba made it necessary to lend aid to Cuban rebels revolting against Spanish rule.

Future 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, and his Rough Riders would symbolize American character against Spanish colonial power. Ironically, after the war the U.S. embarked on its own expansionist ventures in the Pacific and the Atlantic due in part to the acquisition of Spanish territories. Spain would renounce all claim to Cuba, cede Guam and Puerto Ric to the U.S., and transfer sovereignty over the Philippines to the U.S. for 20 million dollars. However, the U.S. would fight another more brutal war to gain true sovereignty in Philippines, this conflict was known as the Philippine Insurrection. The Spanish-American War ultimately showcased an important turning point in European colonial affairs in Latin America. Spain’s defeat turned the Latin nation’s attention away from overseas colonial ventures to instead focus on domestic issues. The United States would emerge a world power with oversea possessions and a new stake in international politics.

To help further understand what the war meant to American policymakers and what they wanted the American public to believe, we can examine Louis Dalrymple’s, “The Duty of the Hour” political cartoon. Utilizing his cartoon, Dalrymple tried to gain support for US involvement in Cuba. The name of the picture is “The Duty of the Hour” (1890) and it paints Spain as the antagonist harming Cuba, represented by the woman held over the fire of anarchy.  The caption reads “The duty of the hour, to save her not only from Spain, but from a worse fate,” suggesting that if Americans did not act then Cuba would face devastating fate at the hands of the Spanish. The main argument of the cartoon is that the US should get involved as it is its “duty” to help those who are in desperate need.