The Spanish-American War of 1898 Prelude to a War
Unrest in Cuba • By the 1890’s, Spain’s once rich empire in the Western Hemisphere had been reduced to only Cuba and Puerto Rico. • Americans had invested in Cuba’s rich sugar industry ($50 M) since before the Civil War and many wanted to annex it. • In 1895, Cuban nationals, led by Jose Marti’, rebelled against Spain. This conflict became a violent guerilla war and much American property was destroyed.
Spain Responds to the Rebellion • Spain sent General ValerianoWeyler and 150,000 troops to Cuba to crush the revolt. • His policy of “reconcentration” led to numerous atrocities and 400,000 Cubans died there as he attempted to restore order. Weyler was dubbed “Butcher Weyler” by the American Press and many Americans wanted war.
Yellow Journalism • The news media published numerous accounts of Spanish brutality. • In NYC, two rival newspapers fed the growing anti-Spanish sentiment. William Randolph Hearst’sNY Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’sNY World practiced yellow journalism- “Write anything to sell a paper!”
Politicians Get War Fever • Jingoism-an intense, warlike, arrogant, national pride; resulted from trumped up news reports. • The “jingos” favored an aggressive policy to pursue national expansion, even it meant risking war with other nations. • This was fed by yellow journalism as well as by members of Congress.
Criticism of McKinley Adds Fire • Spain’s Ambassador Dupuy de Lome’s letter (Feb 1898) was published in U.S. newspapers. • He described President McKinley as “weak and a bidder for the admiration of the public.” • Made Americans very angry!Nationalism!
Remember the Maine! The sinking of the USS Maine added fuel to the fire (Feb 15, 1898). It was sent to Havana to monitor riots in Cuba and to protect U.S. property and citizens. Spain was blamed for the sinking. 266 US Sailors died. “Remember the Maine” was the battle cry. Did Spain do it?
Exit Slip – Prelude to the Spanish-American War of 1898 • Americans became interested in this island, controlled by Spain, during the Age of Imperialism? • New type of journalism that was really “anything to sell a paper?” • He was the U.S. President during this crisis? • The destruction of this ship angered Americans and led to war with Spain?