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| The Spanish-American War Essay

The Spanish-American War is of great importance, as it was the first imperialist war of the U.S. for the redivision of colonial possessions. Many historians believe that the Spanish-American War indicates of the beginning of the United States struggle for the world hegemony. In their view since that time the era of imperialism began. At the end of XIX century the U.S. turned to new markets and new sources of raw materials. Since the world at that time was divided, the U.S. carried out their aggressive policy through economic penetration of underdeveloped countries. The U.S. expansion was directed primarily toward Latin America and the Far East, especially China.

The goal of the U.S. was to create the colonial empire. In 1878 the United States asserted themselves in the port of Pago Pago on the islands of Samoa. In 1898, the U.S. Congress ratified the accession of the Hawaiian Islands. In the same year, the U.S. levied the war with Spain for the possession of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The Philippines were a convenient base for further expansion of the U.S. in China and other Asian countries. Spain, once a powerful colonial state in the early XIX century, lost almost all of its American colonies, which gained independence. Since 1895 in Cuba and Puerto Rico and in 1896 in the Philippines the national liberation struggle against the Spanish rule broke again. In 1898 Puerto Rico gained autonomy from Spain. Spanish troops could not suppress rebellions in Cuba and the Philippines. Under the guise of helping the rebels the U.S. began to provoke a war with Spain.

A casus belli was the explosion of the USS “Maine” in Cuba. The tragedy happened February 15, 1898, when the fore part of the cruiser sprung into the air in the port of Havana. 266 crew members were killed. Although the cause of the explosion was not established, the United States accused the Spanish side of the deliberate sabotage. The U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Spain demanded the withdrawal of the Spaniards from Cuba. April 21 they declared the war. In this case, the Americans acted as aggressors. They knew about the weakness of the Spanish fleet, and even failed to take any measures to strengthen the coastal defense of their ports on the Atlantic coast. By the beginning of the war the U.S. had the strongest fleet. However, their army was insignificant. The regular U.S. Army numbered 26.000 people. Having an advantage in the number of troops, Spain ceded the U.S. in the number and quality of ships. The artillery of American ships was much stronger than Spanish. Ships of the Spanish Navy were not fully manned. However, the main reason for Spain’s military weakness was its economic and political backwardness.

April 22, under the command of Admiral William Sampson, American squadron gave three volleys on coastal batteries of Havana, announcing thus the blockade of the island. Americans blocked the north-eastern coast of Cuba, where the Spanish troops were located. July 16 American troops took the city of Santiago da Cuba. By early August they defeated Spanish forces in Cuba. In the Philippines, the war was also in favor of the Americans. The American squadron under the command of John Dewey broke into the bay of Manila, and killed 10 Spanish ships. August 13 American troops together with the rebels took Manila. It was the end of the war. Spain was completely deprived of the fleet. Any attempts of resistance were useless. Spain surrendered August 13.

“The Spanish-American war of 1898 was brief”. The war lasted for 3.5 months. December 10, 1989 the Treaty of Paris was signed between Spain and the United States. According to it Guam and the Philippines passed to the United States. The war significantly changed the image of the U.S. foreign policy. It demonstrated the power of the new state and turned it into a key player in the political arena.

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