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The Cuban Perspective of the Spanish-American War

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Introduction

In the final years of the nineteenth century, the United States engaged in a war that the American secretary of state, John Hay called a “Splendid Little War”. I must admit that he was right since it commenced with high motives, continued with magnificent intelligence and was favored by numerous factors. From the perspective of American, since the war had few negative results, and numerous positive consequences, John Hay was right to refer to it as a “Splendid Little War” (Encyclopedia Britannica 2012).” The defeat of the Spanish forces marked the end of the Spanish-American War, which also ended the Spanish rule in the United States and the world at large. Nevertheless, the war affected the U.S. in various ways. It assisted in speeding the construction of the Panama Canal and contributed to the acquisition of foreign territories. This paper focuses on Spain as an empire at fall, then the United States, an aggressive empire at the rise, and the Cuban perspective of all of this.

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Spain as an Empire at fall

According to Encyclopedia Britannica (2012), John Hay’s “Splendid Little War” marked the end of the Spain’s colonial empire and the end of Spanish rule in the Americas. Historically, Americans witnessed series of revolutions that contributed to the end of Spanish rule throughout the Mexico, Central America and South America. American people became irritated because of the war and the fact that Spanish flag continued to fly high in Puerto Rico and Cuba.          Additionally, Spain used brutal methods to put down Cuban demands for some form of individual liberty and through such acts; many Americans became sympathetic and hungry. The efforts for Cuban independence were greatly influenced by historic roots in the United States (Graves 13). This cause was the major objective of the Spanish-American war. At some point, the U.S. navy spearheaded the destruction of the escaping Spanish ships, and the war was unofficially over. The Spanish later surrendered, and this marke the end of hostilities in the Caribbean. The signing of Treaty of Paris signaled the end of the war. In addition, there were numerous changes and the Spanish withdrew from Cuba. It is noteworthy that the Spanish-American war was an instrumental turning point in the American history. To the Spanish, the war was equally significant since it contributed to Spain’s decision to turn the attention of the nation away from its overseas colonial adventures. The Spain decided to focus on the development of their nation domestically (Graves 19). The Spanish-American war was significant since it contributed to culturally and literary renaissance. It also marked the beginning of the much-needed economic development in Spain. It is evident that Spanish-American war was instrumental since it marked the end of the Spanish Empire in Americas.

The United States’ Perspective

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Graves (33) asserts that the US fought the war on several fronts including Cuba itself once war declared. Manila harbor was in the Philippines was attacked by Commodore Dewey immediately upon the beginning of hostilities, on the orders of Theodore Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Dewey destroyed the old, decrepit, and rotting Spanish fleet at Manila on 1 May, and the US prepared for an invasion of the Philippine. Puerto Rico and Guam, other Spanish island colonies were invaded by the US during the war (Graves 36).

The US ground effort in Cuba was far from organized under the leadership of General William Shafter. However, the war was never in many doubt with heroics from the popular Rough Riders and other units, and the Spanish were defeated by the US with relatively little difficulty. The Treaty of Paris was signed on 10 December 1898 hence, ending the war. US got Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines as colonies for herself and liberated Cuba (Graves 40).

According to Pérez (34), the US made advancements in Cuban infrastructure and educational systems after the war and prepared to leave. However, the US forced the Cubans to incorporate the Platt Amendment into their constitution in 1901 before leaving; this gave USS a military base on the island. The Spanish-American War (1898) was not a colossal war militarily. The war was short, included few fights, and the US generally had an easy time of it, with the result of the war never much in doubt.

Pérez (67) states that the Spanish-American War indicated the emergency of the US as a great power onto the world stage of global relations and diplomacy. However, the war did not make the US a great power because the faster industrialization and economic growth of the past decades had done that. Nevertheless, the rest of the world got a message from the war that the US was now a main player. The US now changed to a vigorous role in global affairs lifting its head from a century of isolationism and flexing its muscles against the Spanish. The war illustrated a US shift towards imperialism. Generally, this move in policy was very astonishing because the US, once a colony itself, was against the European colonial habit in general (Pérez 88). Congress even past the Teller Amendment before the Spanish-American War assuring that the US would leave Cuba independent. The war also disclosed the developing power of the media to control public opinion in the US.

Conclusion

In general, the Spanish-American War disclosed that industrialization that took place in the late 19thC had led the US to be a great power. Now, the US sought new room to develop global markets, safeguarded by international Navy based on island territories globally as the frontier in the American West disappeared. In addition, new concepts of Social Darwinism in this era suggested to many Americans that global relations were a spiteful competition through which the fittest country would do what they had to in order to continue to exist (Pérez 121). The Spanish-American War and the colonies brought to the US market the start of the current era of US intervention in global affairs for good and for ill regardless of the reasons behind seizure. The emergence of the US onto the global stage as a great power also symbolized to many people that the US had emerged at last, whole and healthy, from the Civil War era. 

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