Friday, February 16, 2007

The Spanish-American War

On February 15, 1898, an explosion of unknown origin sank the battleship U.S.S. Maine in the Havana, Cuba harbor, killing 266 of the 354 crew members.

The sinking of the Maine incited United States passions against Spain, eventually leading to a naval blockade of Cuba and a declaration of war.

But was the USS Maine, or was the United States really just looking for an excuse to claim some land?

Let's take a look, shall we.

The USS Maine was sent to Cuba to protect American interests after some riots had broken out in Havana. The ship, one of America's first battleships which cost nearly $2 million dollars, was reportedly blown up by a mine. The first report from the U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry originally didn't blame any single person or country.

Public opnion however began to blame the Spanish military who was occupying Cuba at the time. Diplomatic communications between the US and Spain did not resolve the matter, and thus the United States was at war with Spain by April of 1898. The Spanish-American war had begun. It was the war that made Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders famous. Roosevelt, popular for stomping out the little guy in the interest of expanding American "interests", won one of the war's major battles at San Juan Heights eventually forcing a surrender.

First, lets take a look at the US "interests" in Cuba and determine why we were so concerned about the riots in Havannah.

Long before 1898 America had bought up large tracts of land in Cuba for sugar (azucar en espanol). By 1895 the United States had more than $50 million dollars invested in Cuba. Annual trade with Cuba, mostly in sugar, was worth twice that. Put simply, the United States had a stake $100 million dollars per year in Cuba and sugar.

The United States, wanted to ensure that they could continue to use Cuba to produce sugar and probably weren't that concerned with the well being of the country, but rather the well being of their sugar price.

Despite the fact that President Grover Cleveland signed a proclamation of Neutrality on June 12, 1895, fervor for war grew.

Cuba, still owned by Spain, was placed under martial law in February of 1896 by General Valeriano Weyler of Spain and thus heavily guarded by Spanish troops. Within a month, President Cleveland reversed his neutrality proclamation and stated that he might intervene if Spain did not end the crisis in Cuba.

By this time, March of 1897, President William McKinley had taken office, and he became even more anxious to intervene in the Cuba/Spain conflict, especially since he was criticized by the Spanish Foreign Minister in a letter published in a New York Journal on February 9, of 1898.

After the explosion of the USS Maine on February 15th, the United States moved quickly passing a law on March 9th to allocate $50 million dollars to build up the military.

March 28, it was decided that a mine had blown up the USS Maine. On April 21st, McKinley orders a blockade of Cuba, and four days later the United States Declared War.

Read McKinley's War Message to Congress.

The result of the Spanish-American War was bringing Guam, the Philipines, Cuba and Puerto Rico under US control. As part of the Treaty of Paris of 1898, which ended the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded the Phillipines, Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States

It was an age of American Imperialism.

So why did we go to war? Was it because of the USS Maine? Was it to protect our "interest" in sugar? Did McKinley declare war to disprove a foreign naysayer? .

Around the same time, Hawaii was also annexed for sugar. Guam, on the other hand served as a pit-stop or waystation for American ships going to the Phillipines. The Phillipines opened the door for the United States in the Pacific. Imperialism was upon us. And the imperialistic ideals would continue when Spanish-American War hero Theodore Roosevelt would succeed McKinley as our next president.

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1 comment:

Viagra Online said...

This is really interesting because still in this age people don''t know how an unknown explosion caused that, it's interesting because I've heard different versions about it.

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