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The Spanish-American War: The United States Becomes Imperial Power

Misbah has always wanted to pursue writing as a career. She loves to write on different topics, and she loves to read about history as well.

Why and how did the Spanish-American War of 1898 take place and what were its results? The Spanish American War was started in 1898 between the US and Spain. The loss of Spain's colonies in the American continent resulted in the USA gaining new regions in the west of the Pacific Ocean and in Latin America.

Causes of the Spanish-American War

Cuba's struggle for independence, which began in February 1895, played an important role in the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. The detailed coverage of the US public through the press of Spain's ruthless methods to suppress the uprising ensured the sympathy of the American people to the rebels. The warship USS Maine, which was sent to Havana to protect US citizens and property in Spain, sank for an unspecified cause in Havana port on February 15, 1895.

The brutal, repressive measures that Spain followed to stop the rebellion were portrayed as extremely bloody for the US public by several sensational newspapers dealing with yellow journalism, which increased sympathy for the Cuban insurgents.

Do you know?

Yellow journalism is fake reporting. This term was coined in the early 18th century and refers to journalism that relies on glamorous headlines, exaggeration, and sensationalism to drive sales.

Following the still unexplained sinking of the American warship USS Maine in Havana port, demand for US intervention increased. The ship was sent to protect US citizens and property after the anti-Spanish uprising in Havana.

Road to war

From 1868, the Cuban people started the Decade War to end the Spanish occupation. When the first war failed, they launched a second revolt, known as the Little War, in 1879. Again, small concessions were made to the defeated Cubans, this time by the Spanish government. Fifteen years later, with the encouragement and support of leaders like José, another rebellion effort was begun. The Spaniards, who had defeated the previous two uprisings, took a heavy hand while trying to suppress the third.

Using harsh policies such as concentration camps, Spanish General Valeriano Weyler crushed the rebels who wanted independence. All this horrified the United States, which has deep business interests in Cuba. Newspapers drew the awareness of the American nation to the events with interesting titles. Following reports that the situation on the island was deteriorating, President William McKinley sent the cruiser USS Maine to Havana to protect America's interests. On February 15, 1898, the ship exploded on the port and sank. The first report alleged that this was caused by a Spanish mine. Although the truth is never known, the people enraged by the incident and encouraged by the press demanded war on 25 April

Parties declare war

Spain stated an armistice on April 9 and drafted a new program to give Cuba limited self-administration power. Even so, the USA was determined to intervene and Cuba's right to independence was declared by the decision of Congress. Spain's armed forces were also asked to withdraw from the island and US President William McKinley was allowed to use force to secure the Spanish withdrawal from Cuba. Though the plan to annex Cuba would be abandoned.

The announcement of the war was announced by Spain on April 24. Then, on April 25, the USA announced that it had declared war and announced the date as April 21 retrospectively

Spain didn't have an army nor a navy that could help with the terrible power of the United States. That is why the war was pitifully one-sided.

The Spanish-American War begins

On May 1, 1898, early in the morning, Commodore George Dewey led a US naval fleet in Manila Bay in the Philippines. He launched the Battle of Manila Bay by attacking the Spanish fleet anchored in Manila Bay. The Spanish fleet was destroyed within two hours, and the war ended when Dewey ordered a second breakfast for his crew. Spanish losses were estimated to be over 370, while less than 10 American sailors were lost in total.

A Spanish Caribbean fleet under Admiral Pascual Cervera was located in the port of Santiago in Cuba. An army of regular troops and volunteers under the command of General William Shafter (including the Navy secretary, Theodore Roosevelt, and his volunteer cavalry unit, "Rough Riders") landed on the east coast of Santiago and slowly advanced into the city, with the goal of removing Cervera's fleet from the port.

Cervera withdrew its fleet from Santiago on 3 July and began to flee west along the coast. In the ensuing war, all Spanish ships were under heavy fire from US artillery and ran aground, burning or sinking. Santiago surrendered to Shafter on 17 July, effectively ending a short but crucial battle.

The Treaty of Paris

The Spanish-American War was ended with the treaty of Paris, which was signed on December 10, 1898. With the treaty, Spain gave up all of its claims on Cuba, ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the USA, and transferred its sovereignty over the Philippines to the USA for $20 million.

Filipino rebels who were fighting against Spanish rule turned their weapons to the new raiders. The Philippine-American War, which started in February 1899 and ended in 1902. The US lost ten times more soldiers than it gave to fighting Spain while trying to suppress the riots in the Philippines.

Charge of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill

Charge of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill

The result of the Spanish-American war

The Spanish-American War marked a significant turning point in the history of both opponents. Spain's defeat diverted the country's attention from its overseas colonial adventure, and the cultural and literary Renaissance that broke out in Spain paved the way for much-needed economic development for 20 years.


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  • Independence of Cuba, in whose Constitution the Platt Amendment was approved, guaranteeing dependence on the United States.
  • The United States becomes a power to control the Caribbean and parts of Asia, which made possible the construction of the Panama Canal and the construction of trade routes to Asia.
  • The annexation of Hawaii.
  • Theodore Roosevelt gained great popularity, which propelled him to the presidency.


The victor of the war, the United States, would henceforth hold overseas properties far from its own land, and, becoming a world power, would begin to play a decisive role both in international politics and in the affairs of Europe and the rest of the world.

Web and Bibliographic References,power%20of%20the%20United%20States.

The Spanish War: An American Epic, 1898 By G.J.A. O'Toole

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Misbah Sheikh


Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 18, 2021:

@Pamela: so kind of you, Pamela

I am glad to know you enjoyed

Thanks a lot for the appreciation

Sending Blessings :)

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 18, 2021:

@Mubarak: Thanks a lot, Mubarak

I am glad to know you liked it

Blessings Always

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 18, 2021:

This is a very well-written, informative article that I found very interesting, Misbah. I always enjoy historical articles, and this is a good one..

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 18, 2021:

Thanks, MG Singh


Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 18, 2021:

Thanks a lot, Mr. Bill, for reading it and sharing your opinions with us

You are very right

This war has had very long-lasting effects on world politics, No doubts

Blessings Always

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 18, 2021:

Thanks Rosina

I am glad you enjoyed


Mubarak from INDIA on March 18, 2021:

Great information about the history. We all should know about history which can be done in this article. Great job.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2021:

A good read, an interesting summary, well done! Thank you for turning your attention to the U.S. imperialism. This particular war has had very long-lasting effects on world politics, has it not? Oddly, it is a war that is rarely mentioned in U.S. history, and yet it has affected this country greatly.

Rosina S Khan on March 18, 2021:

An interesting account of Spanish-American and how America became world power consequently. I enjoyed reading it, extracting knowledge. Thank you for sharing, Misbah.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 18, 2021:

Salam Manatita, Thanks a lot for the appreciation,I am glad you liked it.

Yes, Mr.Bill said, he was expecting something about America on my last article regarding empires.

I hope he will like it.

Blessings always

MG Singh from UAE on March 18, 2021:

Very interesting article. The war is important as it marked the ascent of the USA to the rank of world power.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 18, 2021:

@ Liz: Yes,

It’s always good to study history to get know about the revolution and evolutions we see in our daily world today

I am glad you liked it


Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 18, 2021:

Thanks, Ek

I am glad you liked it

Blessings Always

manatita44 from london on March 18, 2021:

Wars and their effects. A sad fact or element of human history. You've done a good job here. So much more to cover, but filled with blood and bad stuff. I generally don't read them anymore. Noble effort and you took up Bill's challenge fairly well. There's a lot to cover. Salaam!

Liz Westwood from UK on March 18, 2021:

You have highlighted a period of history that I knew little about. It's interesting to find out how Spain's power in this area came to an end.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 18, 2021:

Great lesson of History, Misbah. I have studied History of U.S.A, but couldn't grab time for in depth study. Thanks for adding to my knowledge.

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