The documentary Crucible of Empire: The Spanish-American Wartakes a look into motivations, causes and effects of the Spanish-AmericanWar. The documentary starts by letting us know that Assistant security of thenavy Roosevelt thought that a war with Spain over Cuba would make us a worldpower (1:30). The Americans always felt that the Cubans wanted to be a part ofthe United States. The Filipinos were led to believe they were liberating them,but when the soldiers came, they began to get suspicious of the Americansmotives (1:53). Around May 4th, 1893, the country was hit by theworst recession in history. Millions of Americans lost their jobs (4:10).Frederick Jackson Turner, a historian, thought the solution for the UnitedStates could be found somewhere beyond it’s borders.
The frontier was gone, andthere were no more gifts of free land to be found within the borders. Americanspanicked, they needed to expand their institutions before they shrank. Theyrationalized this by taking their power overseas. Spain once ruled ahuge empire encompassing most of central and south America and a large portionof North American, but after several civil wars destroyed Spain’s authority, andby the 1890’s, all they owned was Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, anda few other scattered tiny islands (6:00).
The Ten Years War was Cuba’s firstattempt at independence from Spain. Cuba failed, but it resulted in the destructionof almost the entire island and more than half of their money was gone. Thiscaused Cuba to become more reliant on America. The Spanish-American war reachedthe Philippines when Commodore George Dewey defeated the Spanish squadron atManila Bay.
Emilio Aguinaldo was the leader of the Filipino independence movementand declared independence of the Philippines on June 12, 1898, but was laterdestroyed by the United States Army and he was captured in 1901.Earlier, on February15th, 1898, the U.S.S.
Maine was anchored in Havana, Cuba for weekswithout incident. The ship mysteriously exploded. Even though an investigationwas taking place to find the cause, many Americans already had their minds madeup. There were several newspapers blamed the Spanish for this explosion. Thenewspaper articles the following days had articles stating the Americans had nochoice now but to go to war not only to avenge the U.S.S. Maine, but to savethe Cubans from the treachery of Spanish colonization (37:05).
U.S. troopsarrived in Cuba a few months later on June 22nd, 1898 and a victoryin San Juan Heights came within days on July 1st. The war was over ina matter of weeks and the United States were easily victorious. Span gave upits power of Cuba and gave Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the UnitedStates as a result of the Treaty of Paris. People in the Philippines and Cubahad thought the Americans were saviors, but they soon realized all America didwas replace one imperial power with their own. When the conflict was settled bythe Treaty of Paris, Spain relinquished its sovereignty over Cuba, and cededPuerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the United States.
America wasfighting another small colonial war against Filipino Rebels Months after theSpanish surrender, America was fighting its own colonial war against Filipinorebels. This new territory acquired by America had new military bases installedon them and pushed America into the world power that it still is today.