Causes of the Spanish American War

Want to know what caused the Spanish American War? Our guide gives you facts & information on the major causes that led to the Spanish American War.

As with many wars throughout history, the causes of the Spanish American War are different factors coming together at one time, to spark international conflict. During the mid-1600s Spain was the most powerful nation on earth.  It controlled vast colonies across the globe, from most of Central and South America to the Caribbean to Asia. Slowly but surely over the following three centuries, it lost most of its territory through wars and independence struggles in the colonies. Like most colonial powers such as the British, it did manage to hang on to pockets of colonial power, mainly the Philippines in Asia, and Cuba and Puerto Rico on the Caribbean islands.

By the 1890s there was a new dominant world power, the USA, and like most dominant nations it turned it’s thoughts to using this power to dominate and colonize what it deemed to be useful nearby assets. These assets were Cuba and Puerto Rico laying within easy reach of the south-eastern US shores these islands were still Spanish colonies. At this time, the media consisted of just one outlet, newspapers, and in America, newspapers were, William Randolph Hearst; he dominated newspaper ownership in the USA, controlling dozens of the most read newspapers and periodicals. Hurst was totally ruthless in his use of his papers to discredit and damage anyone that he saw as an enemy or he would simply have journalists make up stories, in order to increase newspaper sales.

 Primary Cause Spanish American War

At some point, probably prompted by interested parties, he decided that grossly exaggerated or plain fictitious stories regarding Spanish rule of Cuba, would make for good newspaper sales, so his journalists produced salacious and ridiculous copy about the Spanish oppression of the poor Cuban people.  The American public quickly demanded that President McKinley ‘do something’ about the situation, so he ordered a part of the American naval fleet to go to Havana. While there, the battleship Maine exploded, almost certainly in an accident, but of course, Hurst’s newspapers grabbed the story and turned it into a conspiracy theory involving the Spanish blowing up the vessel.

 Effects of Spanish American War

The pressure on the president instantly became unbearable, and ridiculous demands were made of the Spanish regarding Cuba. Rather than fight this powerful enemy the Spanish decided to leave Cuba altogether. But this did not suit the now boiling political climate in the US and the government, instead of accepting Spain’s withdrawal from Cuba, decided to declare war on Spain. Almost certainly the reason for this was an excuse to pursue Spain’s other territories Puerto Rico and The Philippines giving the US, a dominant foothold in southern Asia and the Caribbean.

 

 

 

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