Causes of the Spanish-American War

Essay by libbsHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2004

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The Spanish-American War arose primarily because of the controversy over Cuba. The Cubans had been trying unsuccessfully since 1868 to become independent of what they felt was unfair Spanish rule. In 1895, the Cubans created another rebellion against Spain which resulted in the Cubans purposely spoiling their land so that the Spanish troops would leave, while the Spanish put many Cubans in concentration camps (where the people were left to starve and die) as a result of the Cubans' actions. Although there had been many of the Cuban revolts, this one was the most publicized by the new "juicy" newspapers with the exciting articles. Although Spain seemed to be mostly at fault because of the way the articles were written (i.e.: "yellow journalism"), both sides were practically equally guilty of wrongdoings to each other. But at the time, most Americans were in support of Cuba in these battles for independence and even made clubs and associations.

President Cleveland refused to take sides and therefore remained neutral. But when McKinley became president in 1897, he intervened and commanded Spain to modify the concentration camps, which they did.

Tension between America and Spain mounted when a Cuban agent found a letter written by Dupuy de Lome, the Spanish minister in Washington, which slandered President McKinley. Coming from a Spaniard, this greatly angered the president, and Dupuy de Lome resigned. Then, an American naval ship, the "Maine," blew up, and the U.S. automatically assumed it was Spain's fault. This prompted Congress to begin war preparations. To avoid a war, in March 1898 McKinley asked that there be a peaceful agreement that Spain no longer act in a hostile manner towards the Cubans and that they close the concentration camps, but Spain only agreed to the latter, forcing himself and Congress to declare...