An Spanish American War History Essay Example
Tensions between the United States (U.S.) and Spain over the acquisition of Cuban territory was a defining factor that contributed to the U.S. as an emerging world power. The long-prevailing Cuban struggle for independence led to growing support to aid these Cuban patriots against Spain’s tyranny. However, the American people and government had varying interests in “liberating” Cuba from this tyrannical government. Among these interests sparked three main arguments that Americans had in perceiving the safeguard of Cuba: the concept of Manifest Destiny, the impulse to promote human welfare, and the embedded notion of racism.
The concept of Manifest Destiny urged Americans to extend their powers to Cuba in order to solidify their strongholds outside of the country. The close position of Cuba in relation to the U.S. just off the coast of Florida sparked arguments on the destiny of Cuban territory. For example, an Indian Senator, Albert Beveridge, claimed that “Geography makes her American”, indicating that casting a blind eye to the injustices displayed in Cuba meant turning away from the territory that is rightfully a part of America (Q3). The American government would not allow Spain to rule over supposed American territory and, in conjunction with Manifest Destiny, sparked a war that was “in obedience to the laws of nature", signifying the need to acquire new territories (Q4). Therefore, it was America’s “God-given” duty to force Spain out, in order to gain more power and control over this neighboring country. Former U.S. Secretary of State, Richard Olney, even insisted that “the pear was ripe and ready to fall into our laps”, suggesting that the warfare occurring in Cuba was a symbol to expand America’s territorial gains beyond the nation (Q2). However, not only did America want to acquire the territory of Spain, but the U.S. government also sought to assimilate Cubans into American culture. In an image titled “School Begins”, dark-skinned children representing Cuba, along with Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Philippines, are at the front of a classroom learning about the “good” children, such as Texas, Arizona, California, and other states in America (I4). This image portrays the concept of Manifest Destiny through the actions of teaching these people the “Samaritan” way of living as opposed to their “barbaric” way of life. Therefore, the expansion of American control through the assimilation of American culture in Cuba further solidifies the stronghold in territories outside of the nation.
America was also compelled to “liberate” Cuba for the promotion of human welfare. One of the ways in which the situation in Cuba was brought into the public eye was by a Vermont senator, Redfield Proctor, who reported in America after a trip to Cuba and is exemplified by an image titled “Justification Enough!” (I5). He proclaimed that the situation in Cuba was severe, which sparked sympathy among Americans who had learned of this bleak situation. A poem titled “We Are Coming with Old Glory” states “We have heard you, Cuba, heard you, /And your cry is not in vain”, with the repeated verse of “We are coming!” (Q16). Old Glory symbolizes the American flag and all that it stands for, such as justice, freedom, and democracy among many other American values. Even though Cuba was reluctant to accept America’s help and support, the American people still felt compelled to free Cuba from the restraints of a country stripped of total democracy. Due to these widespread values, America enacted the Teller Amendment, which was a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress stating that “the people of the Island of Cuba are, of right ought to be, free and independent” (Teller). This amendment proclaimed that the U.S. would help Cuba gain independence through the support of the military and then withdraw all its troops from the country once independence is obtained. Therefore, this resolution allowed Cuba the sovereignty to be governed by its people without intervention from the American government. As can be seen by the views of the American people along with the passage of the Teller Amendment, the interest to promote human welfare allowed foreign citizens the right of self-government and independence.
Lastly, the notion of racism became a driving force among Americans to push their prejudiced ideologies into Cuba. The underlying views implicated by “white saviorism” impacted many decisions on the fate of Cuba and its people, such as the passage of the Platt Amendment. The Platt Amendment was a subsequent resolution that stipulated seven conditions for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, with one of the resolutions stating that Cuba “may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence...” in Article III (Platt). Therefore, this amendment declared that Cuba is incapable of practicing self-government, a stark contrast from the passage of the Teller Amendment. Walter Baker, a U.S. Captain, even stated that Cuban citizens are “improvident and wholly lacking in executive ability”, supporting the premise of U.S. intervention (Q24). However, many Cuban citizens disagreed with the Platt Amendment and, in an image titled “You Can’t Play in My BackYard”, Cuban opposition was portrayed as that of a black child or savage, represented by stereotypical black features, and incapable of self-government (I13). That prejudiced image, along with the Platt Amendment and statements declared by politicians, further succeeded in depicting Cuba as a “childlike” country that exhibited “barbaric” ways of governing in contrast to the views in America.
Furthermore, America had varying interests on the approach of “liberating” Cuba from the constraints of Spain’s tyranny. Among these interests include the concept of Manifest Destiny and the desire to expand control outside of the nation, the preservation of human welfare among Cuban citizens, and the underlying racist tendencies to practice governance over Cuba. Regardless of the interests, the War of 1898 was a turning point for America as an emerging world power, which led to overseas possessions of Cuba and of other islands and a new stake in international politics that transpired after the war.