█ ADRIENNE WILMOTH LERNER
In the late nineteenth century, the United States grew in industrial and economic strength. By the 1880s, the nation was one of the most robust in the Western Hemisphere, wielding increasing power in the region despite a stated policy of neutrality. In 1898, diplomatic relations between the United States and Spain began to sour over Spain's domination of Latin America and some parts of the Caribbean. Reports of the brutal rule of Spanish General Valeriano Wyler in Cuba inflamed public opinion in the United States. The convergence of anti-Spanish public opinion and the government's desire to protect American economic interests in Cuba prompted tense diplomatic meetings between Spain and the United States.
During the negotiations, two events spurred the United States to declare war. A U.S. ship, the USS Maine sank off the coast of Cuba on February 15, 1898. A Navy inquiry board incorrectly declared that a mine fatally wounded the
vessel. 266 Navy seamen and two high-ranking officers perished in the accident. The event consumed newspaper headlines for weeks. Sensationalistic reporting, dubbed "yellow journalism," helped to swell the tide of pro-war sentiment in the United States.
Within weeks of the sinking of the Maine, intelligence operatives intercepted a private letter between the Spanish Ambassador to the United States and a friend in Havana, Cuba. The letter disparaged U.S. President McKinley, and hinted at plans to commit acts of sabotage against American property in Cuba. The letter was published by several newspapers, further agitating public opinion. On April 19, 1898, Congress resolved to end Spanish rule in Cuba.
In the first military action of the war, the United States blockaded Cuban ports on April 22, 1898. The Navy transferred several vessels to neighboring Florida to consolidate the forces available to fight the Spanish in the Caribbean. Naval presence off the Florida coast also facilitated the transfer of information from the battlefront to the government in Washington, D.C.
The Office of Naval Intelligence established sophisticated communications intelligence operations in support of their efforts in Cuba. Martin Hellings, who worked for the International Ocean Telegraph Company, was sent to Key West, Florida, to intercept Spanish messages. Hellings convinced other telegraph operators to copy Spanish diplomatic messages and deliver the copies to him. Within a few days, he operated a sizable communications ring, conducting surveillance on underwater and land-based telegraph cables. Hellings also employed a courier to run special messages between his offices and United States ships in the region.
The theater of war rapidly expanded to include other Spanish strongholds, including the Philippines. Intelligence operations were not initially as well developed in the Pacific as they were in the region around Cuba. Cuba's proximity to the Florida coast aided intelligence and espionage operations. United States military commanders knew little about the Philippines and the Spanish defenses there. To obtain information, the Office of Navy Intelligence and the Army's Military Intelligence Division employed human intelligence. Agents were sent to the remote islands to obtain information about Spanish defenses, military strength, and island terrain. The operation moved swiftly, and within weeks, United States commanders learned that the Spanish were ill-prepared to fight a strong offensive in the Philippines.
On May 1, 1898, the United States Asiatic Squadron, under the command of George Dewey, sailed into Manila Bay and attacked the Spanish. The Spanish fleet was decimated, but the United States sustained no losses. Though the Spanish surrendered the Philippines, the United States fleet remained, and began a campaign to take the island as a United States territory. The ensuing conflict lasted until 1914.
Human intelligence was not limited to operations in the Philippines. The United States employed covert agents in Europe, Cuba, and Canada. These agents aided the war effort by spying on Spanish diplomats abroad and providing intelligence information to dissident groups in Cuba. German-educated Henry Ward traveled to Spain in the guise of a German physician. William Sims, an American attaché in Paris, managed a spy ring throughout the Mediterranean. In Cuba, Andrew Rowan united rebel groups and reported on the location and size of the Spanish fleet. He supervised the trafficking of arms to rebel outfits and helped plan their assaults on Spanish targets. Human intelligence also contributed to counterintelligence efforts. Based on agent reports, the United States Secret Service was able to infiltrate and destroy a Spanish spy ring working in Montreal, Canada.
In June 1898 United States intelligence learned, via telegraph intercepts, that the Spanish fleet planned to attack the U.S. blockade in Cuba and draw ships into a naval battle in the Caribbean. When the Spanish fleet arrived in the region, United States Naval Intelligence tracked them and gave chase. United States commanders hoped to deplete Spanish fuel reserves before engaging them in battle. The United States backed off, and redeployed to aid blockade ships stationed around Havana. The Spanish ships proceeded undetected to the narrow harbor of Santiago, Cuba. When the Spanish commander telegraphed his government to declare his position, U.S. agents working in Florida intercepted the cable. The United States fleet moved to intercept the Spanish at Santiago. The U.S. Navy blockaded the port and immobilized the Spanish fleet. The Spanish attempted to run the blockade on July 3, but the entire fleet of six ships was destroyed.
In the final phase of the war, the United States deployed ground forces to sweep Spanish forces out of Havana and Santiago. The "Rough Riders," the most famous of which was Theodore Roosevelt, worked with rebel groups to take control of the nation's capitol and ferret out remaining Spanish forces in the countryside. The U.S. troops then departed Cuba for Puerto Rico, driving the Spanish from the island.
The war ended with the Spanish surrender on July 17, 1898. The event signaled a new international stance for the United States, as the nation began to acquire territories and dominate the politics of the Western Hemisphere. As a result of the Spanish-American War, or in its immediate wake, the United States gained Guantanamo Bay, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Hawaii.
The Spanish-American War, though a brief conflict, helped to revolutionize United States intelligence organizations and their operations. Before the war, agencies like the Office of Naval Intelligence relied on openly available sources for their information. After the war, personnel were trained in espionage tradecraft, and covert operations became standard intelligence community practice. Congress briefly entertained the idea of establishing a permanent, civilian intelligence corps, but the agency never materialized. Despite the progress made with technological surveillance, espionage tradecraft, and inter-agency cooperation made during the war, the intelligence community was once again allowed to slip into disarray until the eve of World War I.
█ FURTHER READING:
Musicant, Ivan. Empire by Default: The Spanish-American War and the Dawn of the American Century. Henry Holt, 1998.
O'Toole, G. J. A. The Spanish-American War: An American Epic, 1898. New York: W.W. Norton, 1986.
"Spanish-American War." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spanish-american-war
"Spanish-American War." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Retrieved February 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spanish-american-war
SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR. The sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor on 15 February 1898 provided a dramatic casus belli for the Spanish-American War, but underlying causes included U.S. economic interests ($50 million invested in Cuba; $100 million in annual trade, mostly sugar) as well as genuine humanitarian concern over long-continued Spanish misrule. Rebellion in Cuba had erupted violently in 1895, and although by 1897 a more liberal Spanish government had adopted a conciliatory attitude, U.S. public opinion, inflamed by strident "yellow journalism," would not be placated by anything short of full independence for Cuba.
The Maine had been sent to Havana ostensibly on a courtesy visit but actually as protection for American citizens. A U.S. Navy court of inquiry concluded on 21 March that the ship had been sunk by an external explosion. Madrid agreed to arbitrate the matter but would not promise independence for Cuba. On 11 April, President William McKinley asked Congress for authority to intervene,
and, on 25 April, Congress declared that a state of war existed between Spain and the United States.
The North Atlantic Squadron, concentrated at Key West, Florida, was ordered on 22 April to blockade Cuba. The Spanish home fleet under Adm. Pascual Cervera had sortied from Cadiz on 8 April, and although he had only four cruisers and two destroyers, the approach of this "armada" provoked near panic along the U.S. East Coast.
Spanish troop strength in Cuba totaled 150,000 regulars and forty thousand irregulars and volunteers. The Cuban insurgents numbered perhaps fifty thousand. At the war's beginning, the strength of the U.S. Regular Army under Maj. Gen. Nelson A. Miles was only twenty-six thousand. The legality of using the National Guard, numbering something more than 100,000, for expeditionary service was questionable. Therefore, authorities resorted to the volunteer system used in the Mexican-American War and Civil War. The mobilization act of 22 April provided for a wartime army of 125,000 volunteers (later raised to 200,000) and an increase in the regular army to sixty-five thousand. Thousands of volunteers and recruits converged on ill-prepared southern camps where they found a shortage of weapons, equipment, and supplies, and scandalous sanitary conditions and food.
In the Western Pacific, Commo. George Dewey had been alerted by Acting Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt to prepare his Asiatic Squadron for operations in the Philippines. On 27 April, Dewey sailed from Hong Kong with four light cruisers, two gunboats, and a revenue cutter—and, as a passenger, Emilio Aguinaldo, an exiled Filipino insurrectionist. Dewey entered Manila Bay in the early morning hours on 1 May and destroyed the Spanish squadron, but he had insufficient strength to land and capture Manila itself. Until U.S. Army forces could arrive, the Spanish garrison had to be kept occupied by Aguinaldo's guerrilla operations.
In the Atlantic, Cervera slipped into Santiago on Cuba's southeast coast. Commo. Winfield Schley took station off Santiago on 28 May and was joined four days later by Rear Adm. William T. Sampson. To support these operations, a marine battalion on 10 June seized nearby Guantánamo to serve as an advance base. Sampson, reluctant to enter the harbor because of mines and land batteries, asked for U.S. Army help. Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter, at Tampa, Florida, received orders on 31 May to embark his V Corps. Despite poor facilities, he had seventeen thousand men, mostly regulars, ready to sail by 14 June and by 20 June was standing outside Santiago. On 22 June, after a heavy shelling of the beach area, the V Corps began going ashore. It was a confused and vulnerable landing, but the Spanish did nothing to interfere.
Between Daiquiri and Santiago were the San Juan heights. Shafter's plan was to send Brig. Gen. Henry W. Lawton's division north to seize the village of El Caney and then to attack frontally with Brig. Gen. Jacob F. Kent's division on the left and Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler's dismounted cavalry on the right. The attack began at dawn on 1 July. Wheeler, one-time Confederate cavalryman, sent his dismounted troopers, including the black Ninth and Tenth cavalries and the volunteer Rough Riders, under command of Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, against Kettle Hill. The Spanish withdrew to an inner defense line, and, as the day ended, the Americans had their ridge line but at a cost of seventeen hundred casualties.
Shafter, not anxious to go against the Spanish second line, asked Sampson to come into Santiago Bay and attack the city, but for Sampson there was still the matter of the harbor defenses. He took his flagship eastward on 3 July to meet with Shafter, and while they argued, Cervera inadvertently resolved the impasse by coming out of the port on orders of the Spanish captain general. His greatly inferior squadron was annihilated by Schley, and on 16 July the Spaniards signed terms of unconditional surrender for the 23,500 troops in and around the city.
At the end of July the VIII Corps, some fifteen thousand men (mostly volunteers) under Maj. Gen. Wesley Merritt, had reached the Philippines. En route, the escort cruiser Charleston had stopped at Guamand accepted the surrender of the island from the Spanish governor, who had not heard of the war. Because of an unrepaired cable, Dewey and Merritt themselves did not hear immediately of the peace protocol, and on 13 August an assault against Manila was made. The Spanish surrendered after token resistance.
The peace treaty, signed in Paris on 10 December 1898, established Cuba as an independent state, ceded
Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States, and provided for the payment of $20 million to Spain for the Philippines. Almost overnight the United States had acquired an overseas empire and, in the eyes of Europe, had become a world power. The immediate cost of the war was $250 million and about three thousand American lives, of which only about three hundred were battle deaths. A disgruntled Aguinaldo, expecting independence for the Philippines, declared a provisional republic, which led to the Philippine Insurrection that lasted until 1902.
Cosmas, Graham A. An Army for Empire: The United States Army in the Spanish-American War. Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane Publishing, 1994.
Hoganson, Kristin L. Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998.
Linderman, Gerald F. The Mirror of War: American Society and the Spanish-American War. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1974.
Musicant, Ivan. Empire by Default: The Spanish-American War and the Dawn of the American Century. New York: Holt, 1998.
Traxel, David. 1898: The Birth of the American Century. New York: Knopf, 1998.
Edwin H.Simmons/a. g.
See alsoJingoism ; Maine, Sinking of the ; Paris, Treaty of (1898) ; Teller Amendment ; Territories of the United States ; Yellow Journalism ; andvol. 9:Anti-Imperialist League Platform ; A Soldier's Account of the Spanish-American War .
"Spanish-American War." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spanish-american-war
"Spanish-American War." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved February 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spanish-american-war
Spanish-American War, 1898, brief conflict between Spain and the United States arising out of Spanish policies in Cuba. It was, to a large degree, brought about by the efforts of U.S. expansionists.
Causes of the War
Demands by Cuban patriots for independence from Spanish rule made U.S. intervention in Cuba a paramount issue in the relations between the United States and Spain from the 1870s to 1898. Sympathy for the Cuban insurgents ran high in America, especially after the savage Ten Years War (1868–78) and the unsuccessful revolt of 1895. After efforts to quell guerrilla activity had failed, the Spanish military commander, Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau, instituted the reconcentrado, or concentration camp, system in 1896; Cuba's rural population was forcibly confined to centrally located garrison towns, where thousands died from disease, starvation, and exposure.
Weyler's actions brought the rebels many new American sympathizers. These prorebel feelings were inflamed by the U.S. "yellow press," especially W. R. Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, which distorted and slanted the news from Cuba. The U.S. government was also moved by the heavy losses of American investment in Cuba caused by the guerrilla warfare, an appreciation of the strategic importance of the island to Central America and a projected isthmian canal there, and a growing sense of U.S. power in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere. There was an unspoken threat of intervention. This grew sharper after the insurgents, refusing a Spanish offer of partial autonomy, determined to fight for full freedom.
Although the majority of Americans, including President McKinley, wished to avert war and hoped to settle the Cuban question by peaceful means, a series of incidents early in 1898 intensified U.S. feelings against Spain. The first of these was the publication by Hearst of a stolen letter (the de Lôme letter) that had been written by the Spanish minister at Washington, in which that incautious diplomat expressed contempt for McKinley. This was followed by the sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana harbor on Feb. 15, 1898, with a loss of 260 men. Although Spanish complicity was not proved, U.S. public opinion was aroused and war sentiment rose. The cause of the advocates of war was given further impetus as a result of eyewitness reports by members of the U.S. Congress on the effect of the reconcentrado policy in Cuba.
A Short and One-sided War
In late March, McKinley proposed to Spain an armistice in Cuba, but under pressure from expansionists both in and out of Congress, he was won to the war cause. Although on Apr. 10, 1898, McKinley was informed that the queen of Spain had ordered hostilities suspended, he barely referred to that fact when he addressed Congress on Apr. 11. He asked for authority to intervene in Cuba. Congress responded by passing resolutions to demand Spanish withdrawal from Cuba and set terms for U.S. intervention; these included the Teller Amendment, which pledged that the United States would withdraw from the island when independence was assured. On Apr. 22, Congress authorized the enlistment of volunteer troops, and a U.S. blockade of Spanish ports was instituted. On Apr. 24, Spain declared war on the United States. The next day Congress retorted by declaring war on Spain, retroactive to Apr. 21.
The warfare that commenced was short and very one-sided. The first dramatic incident occurred on the other side of the world from Cuba. On May 1 a U.S. squadron under George Dewey sailed into the harbor of Manila, Philippine Islands, and in a few hours thoroughly defeated the Spanish fleet there. Dewey's name was greeted across the United States with almost hysterical praise. On May 19, Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete took the Spanish fleet into the harbor of Santiago de Cuba. Commodore W. S. Schley established (May 28) a blockade of the harbor, in which Rear Admiral W. I. Sampson joined, taking command of the blockading fleet on June 1. When the Spanish fleet attempted to escape on July 3, it was destroyed.
Meanwhile 17,000 more or less trained, poorly equipped but enthusiastic U.S. troops under W. R. Shafter landed and undertook a campaign to capture Santiago. The Spanish forces were weak, but there was some heavy fighting (July 1) at El Caney and San Juan Hill, where the Rough Riders, under Leonard Wood and Theodore Roosevelt, won their popular reputation. On July 17, Santiago surrendered. The war was, in effect, over. Troops sent under Nelson A. Miles to Puerto Rico were occupying that island when they received word that an armistice had been signed on Aug. 12. Dewey and Wesley Merritt led a successful land and sea assault and occupation of Manila on Aug. 13, after the armistice had been signed.
Peace was arranged by the Treaty of Paris signed Dec. 10, 1898 (ratified by the U.S. Senate, Feb. 6, 1899). The Spanish Empire was practically dissolved. Cuba was freed, but under U.S. tutelage by terms of the Platt Amendment (see under Platt, Orville), with Spain assuming the Cuban debt. Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded to the United States as indemnity, and the Philippines were surrendered to the United States for a payment of $20 million. The United States emerged from the war with new international power. In both Latin America and East Asia it had established an imperial foothold. The war tied the United States more closely to the course of events in those areas.
See A. T. Mahan, Lessons of the War with Spain (1900, repr. 1970); F. E. Chadwick, Relations of the United States and Spain: Diplomacy (1909, repr. 1968) and Relations of the United States and Spain: The Spanish-American War (1911, repr. 1968); W. Millis, The Martial Spirit (1931); J. W. Pratt, Expansionists of 1898 (1936, repr. 1959); F. B. Freidel, The Splendid Little War (1958); H. W. Morgan, America's Road to Empire (1965); I. Musicant, Empire by Default (1998); W. Zimmermann, First Great Triumph (2002).
"Spanish-American War." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spanish-american-war
"Spanish-American War." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved February 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spanish-american-war
The Spanish-American War of 1898 lasted only a few months. It resulted in a U.S. victory that not only ended Spain's colonial rule in the Western Hemisphere but also marked the emergence of the United States as a world power, as it acquired Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. theodore roosevelt's military exploits in Cuba catapulted him onto the national stage and led to the vice presidency and, ultimately, the presidency.
The conflict had its origins in Spain's determined effort in the 1890s to destroy the Cuban independence movement. As the brutality of the Spanish authorities was graphically reported in U.S. newspapers, especially Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal, the U.S. public began to support an independent Cuba.
In 1897 Spain proposed to resolve the conflict by granting partial autonomy to the Cubans, but the Cuban leaders continued to call for complete independence. In December 1897, the U.S. battleship Maine was sent to Havana to protect U.S. citizens and property. On the evening of February 15, 1898, the ship was sunk by a tremendous explosion, the cause of which was never determined. U.S. outrage at the loss of 266 sailors and the sensationalism of the New York press led to cries of "Remember the Maine" and demands that the United States intervene militarily in Cuba.
President william mckinley, who had originally opposed intervention, approved an
April 20 congressional resolution calling for immediate Spanish withdrawal from Cuba. This resolution precipitated a Spanish declaration of war against the United States on April 24. Congress immediately reciprocated and declared war on Spain on April 25, stating that the United States sought Cuban independence but not a foreign empire.
The war itself was brief due to the inferiority of the Spanish forces. On May 1, 1898, the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay in the Philippines was destroyed by the U.S. Navy under the command of Commodore George Dewey. On July 3, U.S. troops began a battle for the city of Santiago, Cuba. Roosevelt and his First Volunteer Cavalry, the "Rough Riders," led the charge up San Juan Hill; he emerged as one of the war's great heroes. With the sinking of the Spanish fleet off the coast of Cuba on July 3 and the capture of Santiago on July 17, the war was effectively over.
An armistice was signed on August 12, ending hostilities and directing that a peace conference be held in Paris by October. The parties signed the treaty of paris on December 12, 1898. Cuba was granted independence, and Spain agreed to pay the Cuban debt, which was estimated at $400 million. Spain gave the United States possession of the Philippines and also ceded Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States. Many members of the U.S. Senate opposed the treaty, however. They were concerned that the possession of the Philippines had made the United States an imperial power, claiming colonies just like European nations. This status as an imperial power, they argued, was contrary to traditional U.S. foreign policy, which was to refrain from external entanglements. The Treaty of Paris was ratified by only one vote on February 6, 1899.
Crawford, Michael J., Mark L. Hayes, and Michael D. Sessions. 1998. The Spanish-American War: Historical Overview and Select Bibliography. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, Dept. of the Navy.
Hendrickson, Kenneth E. 2003. The Spanish-American War. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Rosenfeld, Harvey. 2000. Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish-American War of 1898. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.
Zimmermann, Warren. 2002. First Great Triumph: How Five Americans Made Their Country a World Power. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
"Spanish-American War." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spanish-american-war
"Spanish-American War." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved February 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spanish-american-war
"Spanish-American War." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spanish-american-war
"Spanish-American War." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spanish-american-war
The 1898 war between the United States and Spain lasted only four months, yet its effects are still felt today. It ended in a relatively easy victory for the United States, which, just over a century after its birth as an independent nation, seemed eager to claim its place as a world power. In what Secretary of State John Hay (1898–1905) called "a splendid little war," the country demonstrated an intent to protect its economic interests abroad and to promote its own expansion. The brief conflict also marked an increased U.S. involvement in global affairs and a step away from the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, which suggested that the country would assert its power only within its own hemisphere. Significantly more far-reaching were the war's effects on Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, whose destinies remained unalterably changed by the events that occurred between April and August of 1898.
The United States' initial impetus for going to war was its interest in Cuba—an interest that was primarily economic in nature. One of the last and largest remaining colonies of Spain, Cuba had been gearing up for a revolution throughout the nineteenth century. Its politically active population craved independence, and the United States sympathized with that plight. Already engaged in a guerrilla war with Spain, Cuban rebels looked to their country's larger neighbor for support. The United States supplied that support for reasons that were clearly apparent: It had $50 million invested in Cuba, and its annual trade with the sugar-producing island amounted to $100 million. Moreover, the United States had long opposed Spanish rule in Cuba for humanitarian reasons. The American press printed passionate coverage of Cuba's troubled relations with Spain: William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer's national newspapers—the so-called yellow press— declared the situation "intolerable." And the American public apparently agreed.
A tragic event ultimately motivated the country to take action: On February 15, 1898, the U.S. battleship Maine mysteriously exploded and sank in the Havana Harbor, where it apparently had been making a courtesy visit. Although the cause of the sinking, which claimed 266 lives, remains unexplained to this day, a naval investigation at the time surmised that the explosion was external in origin. The Spanish government approached the issue in a conciliatory manner, wishing to avoid conflict with the United States. But Madrid would not negotiate on the one issue that would have prevented war: the granting of independence to Cuba. Responding to an angered public, President William McKinley (1897–1901) and Congress took action, ordering the withdrawal of Spanish forces from Cuba on April 19 and officially declared war on April 25.
The war strategy of the United States included a blockade of Cuba; a naval campaign in the Philippines; an attack with ground forces in Santiago, Cuba; and a dispatch of troops to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The media reported that the blockade of Cuba, which involved the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of volunteer and army troops, was poorly organized. Soldiers lacked supplies; sanitary conditions were poor; and the food was unacceptable. Although by the war's end only 379 American men died in combat, thousands perished of disease. The Spanish military suffered from its own insufficiencies, particularly the decrepitude of its fleets, which remained vulnerable to U.S. naval power.
It did not take long for the United States to claim victory in the war, which ended on August 12 with the signing of a peace protocol. The final terms were set on December 10 with the negotiation and signing of the Treaty of Paris. Cuba was to gain its independence, while Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines were to belong to the United States. The U.S. paid nothing for Puerto Rico and Guam, but it gave Spain $20 million for the Philippines. The Filipinos, however, continued to revolt and finally achieved independence in 1946. Eager for global expansion, President McKinley had already annexed Hawaii in July. Thus, the nation made the transition from hemispheric power to world power in one fell swoop.
The outcome of the war was an economic boon to the United States. The country was able to protect its interests in Cuba, and it even managed to gain potentially lucrative territory overseas. With the Hawaiian Islands the United States gained fruitful sugar plantations and a promising fishing industry. Of course, the United States paid dearly for its conquests: The war cost the country $250 million. Political unrest in the Philippines, which struggled for its own independence, was to be a source of grief for many years. But for the most part the American public wholeheartedly approved of the terms of its victory. Advocates of U.S. expansion and global prowess particularly exulted in their triumph, which secured the nation's place as a world power.
See also: Imperialism, Philippines
Gordon, John Steele. "The Meaning of '98." American Heritage, May-June 1998.
Karp, Walter. The Politics of War. New York: Harper, 1980.
Millis, Walter. The Martial Spirit. Cambridge, MA: The Literary Guild of America, 1931.
Zimmerman, Warren. "Jingoes, Goo-Goos, and the Rise of America's Empire." Wilson Quarterly, Spring 1998.
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