Spanish American Imperialism

3525 Words15 Pages
The Spanish-American War The Spanish-American War (1898) is viewed by many to have been the first indication of America’s imperial ambitions – however, historical conflict persists when viewing the nature of this imperialism. Some view it as a state-directed form of expansion; others as adhering to a sinister ‘military-industrial complex’; some consider it an explosion of jingoism. The investigation does not focus merely on whether American intervention in Cuba, and its concurrent declaration of War on Spain, was imperialistic; I also seek to examine how different schools of thought – Revisionist, Economic, Marxist and Cultural – characterise this imperialism and explain its contribution to war’s outbreak. The question developed from contemporary…show more content…
Rather, evidence points to a hybrid of them all. The sensationalised press undoubtedly cultivated mass jingoism amongst the American public, sparking a hysteric challenge to McKinley’s political prestige. Despite early reluctance from business constituents, by 1898 Wall Street financiers were also pushing interventionist agendas, therefore providing weight to the Marxist interpretation of a more planned, economically-based US imperialism (certainly prominent in subsequent efforts to muzzle Cuban and Filipino independence). Internal Hawks continued to vehemently criticise McKinley’s hesitation. The spectacular continental expansion Westward and the advent of new technologies during the industrial revolution were rapidly allowing for new concepts and new propositions. The widespread recognition of Social Darwinism provided Americans with a sense of moral superiority – an obligation to assist backward cultures and seemingly ‘remedial’ civilisations all over the world. The Monroe Doctrine remained a bold international statement of American authority, and the new ‘Manifest Destiny’ represented action and divine guidance. America was brimming with optimism, frustration, chivalry, hope and action. Despite McKinley’s attempts at diplomacy, he was feeble opposition to the emotional magnitude of what was emerging in America. His declaration of war certainly marked subservience – not merely to the general public, the impatient Hawks or his business constituency: but to a collective American energy that would propel the country to the very forefront of global affairs (and corruption) in times to
Open Document