THESIS : The United States didnt want to get involved in the Spanish-American War, but was dragged into it due to yellow journalism, they wanted to control the seas, and wanted complete control over Cuba. The Spanish-American War – The Splendid Little War Pia DeAngelis Mr. Fishman Period 7 For 113 days during the summer of 1898, the United States was at war with Spain. Neither the president of the United States, nor his cabinet, nor the the queen of Spain, nor her ministers wanted the war wanted the war. It happened eventhough they made their best efforts to prevent it. It happened because of ambition, miscalculation, and stupidity; and it happened because of kindness, wit, and resourcefulness. It also happened because some were indifferent to the suffering of the worlds wretched and others were not (OToole 17). By winning the war the United States proved the the rest of the world and to itself that it could and would fight against foreign nations. For many years, world power had been concentrated in the countries in Europe. Nations such as Great Britain, France, Germany, and Spain had the most influence in global affairs. But a shift in power was gradually taking place as the United States matured. The young nation gained wealth and strength. Its population grew immensely, and many people believed it would become a major world power (Bachrach, 11) Spain was one of the many European countries that had territory in the United States. Spain controlled mostly some islands off the coast of Central America. The most important of these were Cuba and Puerto Rico. The United States was led to believe that the Spanish mosgoverned and abused the people of these islands. In fact, Spain did overtax and mistreat the Cubans, who rebelled in 1868 and again in 1895. Thus, the American people felt sympathetic toward the Cuban independence movement. In addition, Spain had frequently interfered with trade between its colonies and the United States. Even though the United States had been a trading partner with Cuba since the seventeenth century, Spain sometimes tried to completely stop their trade with Cuba. In Spain doing so, this sometimes caused damage to U.S. commercial interests. The United States highly disagreed with Spains right to interfere with this trade relationship. (Bachrach, 12) The United States was also concerned that other trading and commercial interests were threatened by the number of ships and soldiers Spain kept in the area. If the United States had to fight a war with Canada or Mexico, these Spanish forces could quickly mobilize against the United States. U.S. officials especially wanted Spanish troops out of Cuba because it lies only ninety miles of the coast of Florida. Over the years, then, the United States built up a great deal of resentment toward Spain, although it was unable to oppose such a powerful nation. At the same time, Spains power was gradually weakening. Its economy had declined, and its military ships and weaponary were antiquated and in disrepair. Rapid political change toward the end of the noneteenth century further weakening Spains power. Because political parties were attempting to overthrow its monarchy, the Spanish government was forced to devote many of its soldiers to defending the monarchy. As a result, there were fewer resources available for defending its distant colonies around the world. The stage was set for the United States to take stand against Spain. The United States didnt want to get involved in the Spanish-American War, but was dragged into it due to yellow journalism, they wanted to control the seas, and wanted complete control over Cuba (Bachrach, 13). The American press played a major role in leading the United States into a war against Spain in 1898. The press aroused a nationalist sentiment to such a fever pitch that President McKinley came to believe that if he did not fight the Spanish, he and his political party would suffer. This uproar was stimulated by two giants of the American press world. During the entire course of the Cuban rebellion, from 1895 to 1898, two rival newspapers foight their own war in the United States to gain supremacy in the American newspaper market. Both were published in New York City, and both had enormous national circulation and influence. These newspapers used the events in Cuba as a backdrop of their own journalistic rivalry. By reporting events in Cuba in a biased, inaccurate, and inflammatory way, these newspapers led the American public to demand that the quarrel with Spain be settled through war (Bachrach 30). The moment was ripe for a military spirit to seize the American people. It had been more than thirty years, a full generation since the Civil War, which ended in 1865. As historian Gregory Mason points out, people had forgotten the horrors of that bloody conflict, and many yound men were eager to fight a war against Spain. There was yet another reason why the journalists of the period were so influential. In the days before the radio and television, newspaper were the major source of news. Publishers exercises a tremendous amount of political influence. But newspapers did not attempt to adhere to a policy of objective presentation of facts. In the 1890s, it was common for a newspaper to report the editors interpretation of the news. If the information was inaccurate or even false, it was rarely challenged by the public, who had little or no means to verify it (Bachrach, 30). Before the Spanish-American War, the press began to print any story it could find about the events in Cuba. Whether or not the news was verified, it was presented as though it were completely true. Step by step, the press heightened the American sense of outrage at reputed Spanish brutality toward the Cuban rebels. The two men who were primarily involved in thepress were William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. These men, especially Hearst, Became associated with the new, colorful but irresponsible approach to journalism known as yellow journalism. Willian Randolph Hearst was born into a wealthy Californian Family. He went to New York City and bought the New York Journal in 1896. When Hearst purchased it, the Journal operated as newspapers do today. It reported stories only after their accuracy had been checked and prided itself on a fair, objective approach to news. It also was a failing financially. Hearst wanted to revive the Journals circulation and make his newspaper the most powerful in the American politics. Another man, however, stood in the way of his goal. This man was Joseph Pulitzer, the owner of the New York World. The World was easily the dominant newspaper in the United States when Hearst arrived in New York City. It had the largest circulation of any newspaper in the country. It cost two cents a copy, and more than half a million copies a day were sold. This was an enormously large readership for the 1890s. The World was so tremenously successful because of Pulitzers journalistic methoda. Pulitzer ordered his reporters to stretch and distort the news. His paper reported on the most sordid murders and elaborated upon details if they were paticularly bloody and horrible. These stories kept circulation up. By using these tactics, Pulitzer proved that the public had an incredible and continuous interest in such matters. Hearst decided to outdo Pulitzer. He was convinced he could make the Journal more popular than the World, and he used his familys fortune to do it (Bachrach, 35). All of Hearsts information in 1896 was obtained from Cuban exiles living on the Lower East side of New York City. These men had no firsthand information about Cuban events. Nevertheless, they became reporters for the Journal. Based on their accounts, the Journal told the world that the Spanish had roasted twenty-five Catholic priests alive and had resumed inhuman practice of beating Cuban prisoners to death. Hearst saw that his sensationalism attracted readership because the circulation of the Journal began to increase. So he decided to control all news relating to the events in Cuba personally. Each story written by a reporter was edited by Hearst. Since Hearst wanted the United States to go to war with Spain, he always edited the stories to place the Spanish in the worst possible light. The Spanish government soon refused all reporters permission to leave Havana to witness events firsthand. So the reporters made up stories, artists depicted them, and Hearst edited and published them in his newspaper. It was Hearst who dubbed the Spanish general in Cuba butcher Weyler for the atrocities he was reported to have committed against Cuban rebels. The Journal called Weyler a human hyena and a mad dog. Its description of the general was extreme: Weyler, the brute, the devastator of haciendas, the destroyer of families and the outrager of women….pitiless
Most may think that the Spanish-American War was a war between the Americans and the Spanish. Most are right, but only to a point, because the Spanish-American War also included wars between the Americans and the Filipinos, as well as between the Americans and Puerto-Ricans. Reasons for these wars occurring are obvious to the history connoisseur, but to the normal individual, they may not be so distinct. America has been a country of great power for years, and that power has come not only from years of hard work and fighting, but also from years of audacity. About one hundred fifty years ago, the United States began sending armed forces to foreign countries in an effort to attain each individual countrys opulent resources. This commanding attitude taken by the United States government spread into the American people as well, with corporate giants such as Rockefeller and Morgan, who controlled large parts of American business with monopolies over the railroads and oil industry. Events such as the Spanish?American War and interference in the Philippines marked the indisputable beginning of American imperialism. Invasions such as these propelled United States capitalist expansion and produced the ideas of economic expansion in government as well as in homes. The Philippines played a larger part in the Spanish-American War than most may like to believe. The Philippine-American War as it could be called is forgotten to most everyone in all of United States Military history. The events that occurred in the Philippines could be mildly compared to the events that occurred nearly seventy years later in Vietnam. The reasons for the war occurring at all are directly related to the Filipinos attempts to gain independence from Spain. Lead by Emilio Aguinaldo, the Filipino people fought for one year for independence from Spain with a shortage of weapons, ammunition and food. A treaty with the Spanish Authorities was forced in 1897, and Aguinaldo and his government were forced into exile with payment of four hundred thousand pesos. American Consuls residing in many Asian countries, as well as Hong Kong, where Aguinaldo was exiled to, agreed with Aguinaldo to give the Philippines independence, as long as they helped the United States defeat the Spanish. Commodore George Dewey of the United States Navy was to lead Aguinaldo back to the Philippines. He only brought Aguinaldo back to Luzon, the northern-most island of the Philippines. Dewey continued to refuse to support Aguinaldo now though, and Aguinaldo once again controlled the Philippines, which was still under attack by Spanish forces. Dewey blockaded Manila, a completely different island from the Philippines, from seaside, but land was blockaded by Spanish troops. Though Dewey had the Bay of Manila in his hands, no other Filipino land was in the hands of Americans. Finally American volunteer soldiers arrived, and a mock battle was fought to preserve Spanish honor, and it was ended in the surrender of Manila by the governor of Manila. Note that the governor of Manila, not the Spanish governor of the Philippines, sanctioned the surrender. The Americans attempted to keep this fact from the Filipino governor, who did not want Manila out of his control, even though Manila was not part of the Philippines. Aguinaldos men were furious that the United States had occupied Manila, but Aguinaldo implored his men to be patient. Now the United States administration would not have any communications with Aguinaldo and worried the Filipinos because the United States administration would not mention independence. Two days before a peace treaty was to be voted on, an American Priovate killed a Filipino soldier who was evidently ridiculing him. Not even a day passed and fighting broke out along the demarcation line between United States and Filipino forces. Over the next couple years of fighting, the number of Americans dead equaled fifteen for every dead man in Cuba. It cost the American government six hundred million dollars to fight Filipino forces, and two hundred thousand Filipinos died, but only twenty thousand were in the Filipino Army. The Philippine?American War lasted until mid-1901, and the United States won it at the cost of its own innocence. Another part of the Spanish-American War was fought in Puerto Rico. Due to the Cuban crisis with the Americans at the time, where American forces lost many men, the invasion on Puerto Rico was withheld. General Miles lead the invasion on Puerto Rico once President McKinley released the ships on July 21, 1898 to land in Santiago de Cuba. Miles did not yet have satisfactory armed force support to lead an attack, but he was directed to go anyway. He had only thirty-five hundred troops with him, but he did have more than sufficient naval backup to invade. Over twenty-five thousand troops were to invade San Juan, along with the assistance of the United States Navy. Overall command of the United States naval force was under Captain Francis J. Higginson. All twenty-five thousand plus troops were now supposed to land at Fajardo, Puerto Rico. General Miles did something he was well known for, and that was he changed his mind about the drop point. Without informing President McKinley or the Secretary of War, he ordered Captain Higginson to sail for Gunica on the southwest side of the island. Captain Higginson did not like the idea of going into Gunica harbor because the water was not deep enough, and the course was changed to take the fleet through the Mona Channel. Higginson decided that two other battleships, the Dixie and the New Orleans were to block off San Juan (Fajardo) on the night of July 24th. Everything went as planned, and the Secretary of War and the President found out about the change of landing on the 26th of July. On August 3rd, Spanish authorities found out that the Americans had claimed the Fajardo Lighthouse, and the Spanish Military Headquarters had the Spanish forces evacuated from Fajardo. The Americans quickly conquered Fajardo and the Spanish forces were both evacuated and some were killed. Spanish forces were able to take two American flags with them to San Juan before they evacuated though. Spanish forces were now spread over an area of thirty-seven hundred square miles, and the Americans had to find and get rid of them all. In its first invasion outside of Fajardo, American forces occupied the town of Gunica within six hours. Another famous battle was fought at Yauco, which was north of Gunica. Initially, other soldiers were sent into Yauco to battle Spanish forces. Colonel Puig was directed to join in on the attack. He called for reserves when his 6th Massachusetts infantry suffered four wounded soldiers, but no one came because they had all retreated. The battle ended when the Spanish had retreated, leaving two Spanish officers and three Spanish soldiers wounded, and two soldiers dead within a matter of nine hours. On December 10, 1898 the treaty to end the war was signed in Versailles, France. Casualties for Spanish forces totaled between fifty-five and sixty thousand men. Ninety percent of these casualties resulted from disease, while the remaining ten percent resulted from battle. The United States suffered very few losses for any war, and the total casualties for the American forces was 3,289, very small comparatively speaking. The Spanish-American War is considered one of the largest disasters for the Spanish military. Casualties and other problems ended up in no victory whatsoever for Spaniards, and America once again conquered a world force and acquired its land.
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