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Spanish–American War

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**Causes and Path to the Spanish-American War:**
– Decline of the Spanish Empire and U.S. expansion in the 19th century.
– Main issue of Cuban independence leading to the war.
– Influence of yellow journalism and the USS Maine incident on public opinion.
– Ten Years War, José Martí’s efforts, and General Weyler’s strategy in Cuba.
– Spanish attitude towards its colonies and the negotiation attempts between Spain and the U.S.

**American Interests and Response:**
– Monroe Doctrine and U.S. interests in the Caribbean.
– Economic dominance in Cuban trade and rejection of the Ostend Manifesto.
– Factors influencing the decision for war, including economic concerns and public opinion.
– Role of the USS Maine incident and propaganda in pushing the U.S. towards war.
– Volunteer recruitment, military preparedness, and economic concerns in the South.

**Outcomes and International Influence:**
– Acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines by the U.S.
– Treaty of Paris favoring the United States and Spain’s defeat.
– U.S. emerging as a major global power with possessions.
– Influence of major European powers and lack of diplomatic solutions.
– Historical perspectives and the sinking of the USS Maine in historiography.

**Military Operations and Theaters of War:**
– Actions in the Pacific Theater, including the Philippines and Guam.
– Events in the Caribbean Theater, focusing on Cuba and American military strategies.
– Capture of Guam by the USS Charleston and the Battle of Manila Bay.
– Theodore Roosevelt’s advocacy for intervention and American forces aiding Cuban rebels.
– Efforts for Philippine independence led by Emilio Aguinaldo.

**Spanish Attitude and Cuban Sentiment:**
– Spain’s dependence on Cuba, political instability, and negotiation attempts.
– Spanish Prime Minister’s vow to protect Cuba’s territory and the impact of Cánovas del Castillo’s assassination.
– Cuban sentiment towards U.S. intervention and American forces’ actions in Cuba.
– Cuban public belief in U.S. support for independence and the destruction of Spanish forces.
– Transition in the Philippines from Spanish rule to modern elements under Filipino leaders.

Spanish–American War
Part of the Philippine Revolution,
the decolonization of the Americas,
and the Cuban War of Independence

(clockwise from top left)
DateApril 21 – December 10, 1898
(7 months, 2 weeks and 5 days)

American victory

Spain relinquishes sovereignty over Cuba; cedes Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the United States. $20 million paid to Spain by the United States for infrastructure owned by Spain.

Spanish Empire

Commanders and leaders
Total: 300,000

Total: 339,783 (only 20–25 percent of the army capable of field operations)
288,452 (Caribbean)

  • 278,447 in Cuba (only 2,820 engaged in major land battles)
  • 10,005 in Puerto Rico
51,331 (Philippines)
Casualties and losses

Total: 4,119

  • 2,446 dead
    • 369 soldiers killed
    • 10 sailors killed
    • 6 Marines killed
    • 2,061 dead from disease
  • 1,662 wounded
  • 11 captured
  • 1 cargo ship sunk
  • 1 cruiser damaged
  • 1 battleship damaged[citation needed]

Total: 56,400–56,600

  • 15,700–15,800 dead
    • 200 soldiers killed
    • 500–600 sailors killed
    • 15,000 dead from disease
  • 700–800 wounded
  • 40,000+ captured
  • 6 small ships sunk
  • 11 cruisers sunk
  • 2 destroyers sunk

The Spanish–American War (April 21 – December 10, 1898) began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to United States intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. The war led to the United States emerging predominant in the Caribbean region, and resulted in U.S. acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. It also led to United States involvement in the Philippine Revolution and later to the Philippine–American War.

The 19th century represented a clear decline for the Spanish Empire, while the United States went from becoming a newly founded country to becoming a rising power. Spain's descent had begun in previous centuries, and accelerated during the Napoleonic invasion, which in turn triggered the independence of a large part of the American colonies. Later political instability, including declarations of independence, revolutions, and civil wars, cost the country socially and economically. The U.S., on the other hand, expanded economically throughout that century by purchasing territories such as Louisiana and Alaska, militarily by actions such as the Mexican–American War, and by receiving large numbers of European immigrants. That process was interrupted only for a few years by the American Civil War and Reconstruction era.

The main issue was Cuban independence. Revolts had been occurring for some years in Cuba against Spanish colonial rule. The United States backed these revolts upon entering the Spanish–American War. There had been war scares before, as in the Virginius Affair in 1873. But in the late 1890s, American public opinion swayed in support of the rebellion because of reports of concentration camps set up to control the populace. Yellow journalism exaggerated the atrocities to further increase public fervor and to sell more newspapers and magazines.

The business community had just recovered from a deep depression and feared that a war would reverse the gains. Accordingly, most business interests lobbied vigorously against going to war. President William McKinley ignored the exaggerated news reporting and sought a peaceful settlement. Though not seeking a war, McKinley made preparations in readiness for one. He unsuccessfully sought accommodation with Spain on the issue of independence for Cuba. However, after the U.S. Navy armored cruiser Maine mysteriously exploded and sank in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898, political pressures pushed McKinley into a war that he had wished to avoid.

As far as Spain was concerned, there was a nationalist agitation, in which the written press had a key influence, causing the Spanish government to not give in and abandon Cuba as it had abandoned Spanish Florida when faced with a troublesome colonial situation there, transferring it to the U.S. in 1821 in exchange for payment of Spanish debts. If the Spanish government had transferred Cuba it would have been seen as a betrayal by a part of Spanish society and there would probably have been a new revolution. So, the government preferred to wage a war lost beforehand in order to preserve the Restoration regime, thereby opting for a "controlled demolition" rather than risking a revolution.

On April 20, 1898, McKinley signed a joint Congressional resolution demanding Spanish withdrawal and authorizing the President to use military force to help Cuba gain independence. In response, Spain severed diplomatic relations with the United States on April 21. On the same day, the United States Navy began a blockade of Cuba. Both sides declared war; neither had allies.

The war was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific. American war advocates correctly anticipated that the United States' naval power would prove decisive, allowing expeditionary forces to disembark in Cuba against a Spanish garrison already facing nationwide Cuban insurgent attacks and further devastated by yellow fever. The invaders obtained the surrender of Santiago de Cuba and Manila despite the good performance of some Spanish infantry units, and fierce fighting for positions such as El Caney and San Juan Hill. Madrid sued for peace after two Spanish squadrons were sunk in the battles of Santiago de Cuba and Manila Bay, and a third, more modern fleet was recalled home to protect the Spanish coasts.

The war ended with the 1898 Treaty of Paris, negotiated on terms favorable to the United States. The treaty ceded ownership of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines from Spain to the United States and granted the United States temporary control of Cuba. The cession of the Philippines involved payment of $20 million ($730 million today) to Spain by the U.S. to cover infrastructure owned by Spain.

The Spanish–American War brought an end to almost four centuries of Spanish presence in the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific. The defeat and loss of the Spanish Empire's last remnants was a profound shock to Spain's national psyche and provoked a thorough philosophical and artistic reevaluation of Spanish society known as the Generation of '98. The United States meanwhile not only became a major power, but also gained several island possessions spanning the globe, which provoked rancorous debate over the wisdom of expansionism.

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