The history of the United States is sprinkled with revolutionary people, politics, and ideas. When
studying American history, one learns of the great wars that have shaped and molded the great country we
know today. However, perhaps one of the most influential and important wars in the Nation’s history is
commonly overlooked as irrelevant to the problems the United States faces today. On August, 25
U.S President William McKinley, under public and political pressure, addressed Congress requesting the
United States declare war against Spain, Congress obliged. There were many different factors that lead
the United States to this point, identifying political and technological determining factors is key to
understanding exactly why this war changed the image of the United States on the world stage forever.
Previous to 1898, the United States was a rapidly developing country on a world scale, and the dominant
power in the western hemisphere. This was made possible by both political and technological advances in
the U.S including the growing sense of nationalism and the desire of the American people to secure the
United States as a supreme world power. Known as
the concept of survival of
the fittest took on a new meaning to the American people. If the United States wanted to be taken
seriously on an international level, she would have to show her political and military strength by joining
European powers in acquiring territories overseas. The theory of imperialism was not new by any means,
the United States itself was started as a colony of Great Britain, and now the United States was ready to
join her former ruler as an imperialistic world leader.
Simultaneously, political unrest and revolt was plaguing the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba.
In 1895 Cuba was still a colony of Spain, revolutionists, or Cuban nationalists, had been fighting for
almost ten years to overthrow Spanish colonial rule.
They began to destroy colonial plantations
and terrorize the Spanish natives living in Cuba. Their hope was to either force Spain’s
withdrawal, or court United States involvement. With the deployment of over 100,000 Spanish
troops to the island, the latter of options proved to be the revolutionaries only hope.