Chapter 12 Sec. 2The Spanish American War 1898 Why did the US go to war against Spain in 1898, and why was the outcome significant?
By the late 1800’s, Spain was no longer a world power. Its empire only now consisted of the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
In Cuba its sugarcane plantations generated lots of money for Spain and produced almost 1/3 of the entire world’s sugar.
In 1868, Cuban declared its independence from Spain and launched a guerrilla war against her. The US business leaders were interested in what was happening in Cuba because American businesses had invested money in the Cuban economy.
Most Americans were supportive of the Cuban rebels—they compared their struggle with the American patriots during the Revolutionary war. Some even smuggled guns into Cuba.
Yellow Journalism But it was the newspaper reports that led most Americans to support the rebels. William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer owned big newspapers in the US. They competed against each other to sell papers. Each created outrageous stories of the Spanish misrule. This kind of sensational reporting, in which writers’ exaggerated or even made up stories toattract readers became know as yellow journalism.
There is no doubt that the Cuban people indeed suffered horribly. General ValerianoWeyler’s harsh policies quickly earned him the nickname El Carricero (the butcher). To prevent the rebels from engaging in guerrilla warfare, he herded hundreds of thousands of rural men, women, and children into re-concentration camps, where ten of thousands died of starvation and disease.
President Mckinley wanted to remain neutral. But 2 incidents increased tensions between the US and Spain,
1.The De Lome Letter A letter written by Enrique De Lome, the Spanish ambassador to Washington, To a friend in Cuba. In it he criticized President McKinley calling him “weak and catering to the rabble and besides, a low politician”. This intensified anti –Spanish feelings in the US.
2. The Maine Incident After a major riot had broken out in the streets of Havana, President McKinley sent the battleship Maine to Cuba in case Americans had to be evacuated. For two weeks the Maine sat in Havana harbor. Then after a tremendous explosion rocked the battleship, the ship sank, killing more than 260 sailors.
Under great public pressure McKinley asked Congress to declare war on Spain.
A Splendid Little War The war lasted only 4 months. It began in the Philippines and ended in Cuba and Puerto Rico.
In the Philippines Emilio Aguinaldo led the rebel forces to fight the Spanish on his own. At first, Aguinaldo believed the Americans were his allies, but when American troops arrived in the islands he became suspicious. The Americans quickly seized the Philippine capital of Manila from the Spanish but refused to allow Aguinaldo’s forces into the city. Soon hostilities between the Filipinos and the Americans began to grow.
Meanwhile fighting had begun in Cuba. Theodore Roosevelt quit his assistant secretary of the navy job so that he could join the fighting. He helped form the Rough Riders—a mixture of cowboys, monier, college athletes and law officers. Their most famous battle was the battle of San Juan Hill
The Spanish surrender soon after a few major defeats. Leaders met to discuss the terms of a peace treaty.
Treaty of Paris 1. Cuba would become a “free nation”—under the Platt amendment the US would have assess to naval and military bases in Cuba and the right to intervene to protect Cuban independence and keep order—a protectorate