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Becoming a World Power. Part 2 The Spanish-American War. Decline of the Spanish Empire. By the late 1800s, Spain’s empire in the America’s and in the Pacific, was falling apart. They still controlled the Philippines, and some islands in the Caribbean such as Cuba and Puerto Rico.

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becoming a world power

Becoming aWorld Power

Part 2

The Spanish-American War

decline of the spanish empire
Decline of the Spanish Empire
  • By the late 1800s, Spain’s empire in the America’s and in the Pacific, was falling apart.
  • They still controlled the Philippines, and some islands in the Caribbean such as Cuba and Puerto Rico.
  • Many of these people wanted their independence.
  • Cuba was the site of much violence.

Throughout the second half of the 1800s, Cubans had revolted, but the Spanish had been able to suppress them. In the 1890s, Spain sent a man named General Valeriano Weyler to crush rebel fighters.


Weyler was nicknamed “the Butcher”, because his means of control were so harsh. Many Cubans were taken from their homes and placed in prison camps where thousands died from starvation and disease.

American business leaders were worried that fighting would disrupt our trade with Cuba.

Other Americans were angry when they heard of the Spanish brutality.

Newspapers played a role in stirring up emotions.

New York papers, the World, owned by Joseph Pulitzer and the Journal, owned by William Randolph Hearst battled for readers.

Sometimes their papers would exaggerate details. This was called YELLOW JOURNALISM.

the u s goes to war
The U. S. Goes to War
  • In 1898, the American President, William McKinley, did not want war.
  • However, public opinion, stirred up by some of the sensational news stories, forced him to take action.
  • In January 1898, McKinley sent the U.S.S. Maine to Havana, Cuba’s capital, in order to protect American citizens living there.

One night in February of 1898, an explosion ripped apart the Battleship Maine, sinking in Havana’s harbor, killing 260 sailors.

The explosion was likely an accident, but to this day we are still not sure. Many Americans blamed Spain, and the phrase “Remember the Maine!” became a call to arms. In April, Congress called on Spain to give Cuba its independence and withdraw its troops. Spain refused, and the Spanish-American War began.

the war in the philippines
Before the war began, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Teddy Roosevelt, had American ships under Commodore George Dewey put on alert in Hong Kong.

Rebels in the Philippines, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, were also contacted.

The War in the Philippines
Fighting began early on the morning of May 1, 1898. By a little past noon, Dewey’s forces had destroyed the Spanish fleet.

About 380 Spanish sailors were dead or wounded, while no Americans were killed.

Filipino rebels took control of Manila in August.

Dewey became an instant hero in the U. S.

Thousands of babies born at the time were named for him, and a chewing gum called “Dewey’s Chewies” became popular.

the war in the caribbean
The War in the Caribbean
  • When the war began, there were only 28,000 men in the army.
  • The war caused thousands of men to join the military, including Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt who resigned from his job in the Navy Department to volunteer.
Roosevelt organized the First United States Volunteer Cavalry nicknamed the Rough Riders. Its recruits included cowboys, miners, college students, New York policemen, athletes, and Native Americans.

In June, the Rough Riders, and about 16,000 other soldiers left Tampa and set out for Santiago, a port and Spanish stronghold.


When the Americans arrived in Cuba, their dark-blue uniforms were too hot for the Cuban climate. Also, many of them came down with tropical diseases. Despite these problems, they fought their way toward Santiago.

In order to control Santiago, American troops had to capture San Juan Hill. The Rough Riders, along with black soldiers from the 10th Cavalry, helped push the Spanish back, and captured San Juan Hill.

Two days after taking the hill, American ships destroyed Spain’s ships as they tried to escape the harbor.

On July 17th, the city surrendered.

A week later, U. S. forces took Puerto Rico.

Finally, on August 12th, Spain signed a truce ending the fighting.

U. S. Secretary of State John Hay, called it a “splendid little war”.

For Spain, four centuries of glory came to an end.

results of the war
Results of the War
  • Spain had to give up its colonies, which included Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
Filipinos, who had fought alongside the Americans, were bitterly disappointed that they did not gain their independence. Order there was not restored until 1902.
  • The Japanese took the Philippines from the U. S., but we recaptured it. We gave them independence in 1946.
  • Cuba became independent, but the U. S. reserved the right to become involved in Cuban affairs, to protect their interests.
the anti imperialist league
The Anti-Imperialist League

U. S. treatment of Spain’s former colonies upset some people in the U. S. They formed the Anti-Imperialist League, because they felt the U. S. should not deny other people the right to govern themselves.

However, the voice of the league was lost in the roar of approval of America’s victories in the Spanish-American War.