The Spanish-American War: a Turning Point in American History

Have you ever thought of how America became one of the largest nations? America has gained rule over so many foreign countries and we don’t seem to question how. There is an unending list of events that led up to the creation of the United States Empire which include the Annexation of Hawaii and the Spanish-American War. The essay explores the main causes and consequences of American military forces with the help of which it was able to expand itself into what it is today, highlighting its impact on both the United States and the broader international community.

Foundations and Outcomes of the Spanish-American War

The Spanish-American War which was also known as the Spanish-American-Cuban-Philippine War started when an explosion went off on the USS Maine. Yellow journalism was prevalent during the time and reporters were experts at convincing the public to wage for war. The war had a controversial purpose. American leaders claimed that the war was meant to grant Philippine independence from other countries, however some such as Albert Beveridge begged to differ. Beveridge was a United States Senator from Indiana. According to the book The True Flag, he would tell soldiers that in them, he saw “manifest destiny personified and vital”. Beveridge was expressing that taking over the Philippines was justified because of manifest destiny. The war eventually ended in 1898 and this led up to the annexation of the Philippines in 1899. Filipinos started to immigrate to America in search of better paying jobs and education.

The Spanish-American War, fought in 1898, marked a significant turning point in American history. It not only propelled the United States onto the world stage as an emerging global power but also sparked debates about imperialism, national identity, and the role of the United States in international affairs. 

The roots of the Spanish-American War can be traced back to Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain. As Cuban rebels fought for their freedom, American sympathy for their cause grew, fueled by sensationalist journalism that portrayed Spanish atrocities in exaggerated terms. The destruction of the USS Maine, a U.S. battleship, in Havana harbor further intensified American public sentiment against Spain. These factors, combined with America's desire to protect its economic interests in Cuba, ultimately led to the outbreak of the war.

One of the significant consequences of the Spanish-American War was the acquisition of overseas territories by the United States. As part of the Treaty of Paris in 1898, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States, while also granting Cuba independence. This expansion of American territory marked a shift in the country's foreign policy, signaling its emergence as an imperial power with interests beyond its own borders. The debate over American imperialism, which had been simmering before the war, reached new heights as critics questioned the motivations and implications of these territorial acquisitions.

Moreover, the Spanish-American War had far-reaching consequences for Spain itself. The defeat at the hands of the United States marked the end of Spain's status as a global power. The loss of its colonies and the subsequent decline of its empire sparked internal turmoil and soul-searching in Spain, leading to political and social changes within the country.

The war also had a lasting impact on the United States' perception of itself and its role in the world. It fueled a sense of national pride and manifest destiny, as Americans saw themselves as champions of freedom and democracy. The war's outcome reinforced the idea of American exceptionalism and a belief in the nation's moral obligation to spread its values to other parts of the world. This mindset would shape American foreign policy for years to come, influencing subsequent military interventions and interventions.

Furthermore, the Spanish-American War had broader international implications. It served as a wake-up call for European powers, who recognized the emergence of the United States as a formidable player in global affairs. The war also raised questions about the balance of power and the geopolitical landscape, leading to shifts in alliances and strategies among nations.


In conclusion, the Spanish-American War represented a critical juncture in American history. It propelled the United States onto the world stage as an emerging global power, marked the beginning of American imperialism, and shaped the nation's perception of itself and its role in the world. The war's consequences were far-reaching, impacting not only the United States and Spain but also the broader international community. The Spanish-American War remains a significant event that continues to be studied and debated, offering valuable insights into the complexities of foreign relations, nationalism, and the pursuit of power in the modern era.

03 July 2023
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