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Spanish American War: Causes and Consequences Research Paper

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Updated: Jan 31st, 2022

On the 25th of April, 1898, the American president McKinley declared war on Spain after congress had anonymously approved its funding (Norton, Sheriff & Katzman 611). The American Spanish war is believed to have been triggered by economic and political factors (Stromberg n. p.).

In 1823, US President Monroe spearheaded the Monroe Doctrine which stated that America would not tolerate plans and efforts by the European nations to colonize and interfere with the sovereignty of American states and islands (Norton, Sheriff & Katzman 610).

However, Cuba was exempted and remained Spain’s protectorate, but Americans were not happy (Norton, Sheriff & Katzman 610). In 1897, America provoked Spain when Theodore Roosevelt, an assistant secretary of the navy, raised tension when he proposed war with Spain over Cuba; the US went on further to mock Spain by further giving rebel Jose Marti a refuge in New York (Stromberg n.p.). Historians have identified US provocative politics as agenesis of the American Spanish war.

Another political factor that could have caused the Spanish-American war was the attack of the US Maine that had been sent to ensure the safety of American citizens in Havana (Norton, Sheriff & Katzman 610). Back in America newspapers continued criticizing the Spanish government for attacking the American Maine (Stromberg n.p.). On April 20th, 1898, Spain accused America of meddling with its protectorates and declared war. Three days later, the US congress also declared war on Spain (Norton, Sheriff & Katzman 610). These are two political causes that led to the Spanish-American war.

Since the signing of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the US had an economic interest in Cuba but Spain fully controlled these territories. (Norton, Sheriff & Katzman 610). In the middle of the year 1823, America wanted to purchase Cuba because of its strategic location, but Spain turned down their proposal (Stromberg n.p.). The Spanish industries heavily benefited from the raw materials that were accessed from Cuba and strengthened the Spanish economy and military superiority which made America more envious (Stromberg n.p.). When the US Maine was attacked in Havana, the Americans had the chance to wage war against Spain (Norton, Sheriff & Katzman 610). Historians have acknowledged that economic interest had a role to play in the American Spanish war.

Finally, in June 1898, the American Spanish war ended and negotiations of peace protocol between the two nations began. After two years of difficult negotiations, the treaty of Paris arrived on the 10th of December 1898. It was later ratified by the US Senate in early 1899 (Norton, Sheriff & Katzman 613). Historians have acknowledged that the American Spanish war propelled the US to the international arena economically and politically.

Economically, the US trade base expanded as there was an increase in industrial raw materials since the Paris treaty gave it control over all Spanish colonies like the Philippines, Guam, Cuba, and Puerto Rico (Stromberg n.p.). After the war, America was capable of penetrating into the foreign markets and signing trade treaties especially with the Asian countries (Norton, Sheriff & Katzman 613-614). This helped the US to strengthen its economy by finding new markets for its products in different parts of the world (Stromberg n.p.).

Politically, the US naval became stronger after having gained control over Nicaragua and Panama and a permanent American naval base in Guantanamo Bay (Norton, Sheriff & Katzman 614). This helped the Americans to be strategically positioned militarily and take full control of the Pacific coast; no European nation could dispose of them (Stromberg n.p.).

In conclusion, there are many factors that historians and scholars identify as having caused the American Spanish war but the ones identified in the text are seen as the main causes. In the post war, historians noted that America had changed its status to a stronger nation that had immense influence internationally, both politically and economically.

Works Cited

Norton, Sheriff, and Katzman. A People and a Nation: A History of the United States. Wad Worth: Blight & Chudacoff, 2008. Web.

Stromberg J. Re: The Spanish –American War: The leap into Overseas Empire. 1999. Web.

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