Spanish American War

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Many people may know some details about this war, and when asked, they may have their opinions about what caused the fight. However, if you asked a number of people about the causes, you would most likely get more than one answer. This is largely due to the fact that there are a number of issues that led to America getting involved in the battle with Spain. However, the causes could be broken down into two main categories: the indirect or general causes as well as the direct or specific ones.

In order to truly understand the events leading to the war, one must understand both types of causes. The American Spanish war had a
lasting impact that would affect the United States, Spain, and the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Causes of Spanish American War

There were several events that would eventually lead to the build up in American resentment toward Spain. Before the Spanish American War, the natives of the island of Cuba had been fighting for their independence for many years. In fact, Cuban revolutionists fought against Spanish rule in three separate battles, including the Ten Years’ War, the Little War, and the War of ’95. During these battles, tens of thousands Cubans died to no avail. Because the island was already poverty stricken, the revolutionists had very little of the provisions needed to continue the fight. Over time, more and more local citizens traveled to the United States.

The revolutionists who remained to fight on the island often were put into Spanish War prisons, where they were treated inhumanely. This imprisonment, along with the number of revolutionists who had already died in the battle, would have an impact on the events that would lead to the war.

During all of these events, three things had a great effect on the United States people. The first had to do with the aforementioned revolutionists. As more and more of the fighters moved to the United States, they began a public outcry, asking for help from the United States. The second thing had to do with the American free press. Because of the large number of newspaper publications in the United States, more and more people became aware of the plight of Cubans. It was during this time that the term yellow journalism became known because many of the largest journalistic entities used their publications to sway the public through skewed or bias writing.

Additionally, the support of Cuban independence came from a number of religious groups, which only furthered American awareness of the struggles.

A final, generalized cause of the Spanish American War had to do with a number of established businesses that held interests on the island of Cuba. These businesses were of course opposed to the Spanish rule, which limited their affairs.

The Specific Causes of the War

More specifically, a certain series of events led to the Spanish American War. Many people would argue that these were the true causes of the war, but without the general causes mentioned above, there would have been no culmination of these direct events.

The most well known event of this time surrounded what is actually still a mystery. The USS Maine, a United States battleship, was located in the Havana Harbor when it exploded and was sunk. While there is no conclusive evidence, it was assumed that the ship was sunk by the Spanish.

The second direct event came in the form of a letter from the home country of Spain to the Spanish Cuban government. This letter, called the DeLome Letter, was intercepted by Cuban Revolutionaries. Because the letter included largely negative statements about the American President McKinley, it is no surprise that it only served to drum up even more anger toward the Spanish government.

These two events specifically led to the Spanish American War in that they were direct causes. While it was a combination of the direct and general causes that actually laid the groundwork for the war, it was these two events that were the steps for the United States to enter the battle.

Key Battles of the War

There were two fronts of the war, centering on the Pacific, at the Philippines, and the island of Cuba. Many of the key Spanish American War battles happened in Cuba itself however.

Perhaps two of the most well known skirmishes of the war include the Battle of Manila Bay and the Battle of San Juan Hill. At Manila Bay, the United States was able to completely annihilate the Spanish Fleet. This event happened early in the war, but it would lay the groundwork for a Spanish defeat. While the Battle of San Juan Hill led to the most casualties of the war, it also led to the future president, Theodore Roosevelt, to be honored and publicized in the American press.

Because of the Spanish American War, Cuba gained its independence, even if that freedom was only temporary. While there were other factors, the main cause of the United States entering into war with Spain surrounded the plight of the Cuban people.

Cuban Independence Day

The end of Spanish control of Cuba happened on May 20, 1902, making this day a national holiday for the residents of the island. This day was largely set aside as a day of celebration, recognized in Cuba and in the United States as a Cuban holiday. Cuban Independence Day was celebrated for many years; however, it is no longer part of the island’s world.

When the communist ruler ship under the dictator, Fidel Castro, took over Cuba, it was ordered that Independence Day could no longer be celebrated. In fact, under Castro’s total rule, it is not even allowed to be mentioned in Cuba’s school history books. Because the island is no longer independent and falls under the rule of a different regime, its independence celebration is no more.

The day is no longer accepted as a national holiday in Cuba. In fact, the only Cubans who can celebrate on May 20 are those who reside in the United States, most of which escaped the island in the attempt to regain their freedom.

Although the island of Cuba once gained its independence as a direct impact of the United States winning the Spanish American War, the story of the independence is bittersweet in modern times. The island is only independent in name, subjected to the total control of a communist government. Because of this government, the society of Cuba has continued to spiral downward into poverty. This has lead to more and more Cubans seeking ways to escape to the United States, via Florida, which ironically, is the only place where these people can celebrate the Cuban day of Independence.

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