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An Essay on the Spanish-American War

by ZeldaIsSheik

Harris Lemley

9 American History

Mrs. Hoachlander

February 9th, 2018

Effects of the Spanish-American War

There were many causes and effects of the Spanish-American War. During the 1880’s, Manifest Destiny was achieved by the United States of America when they finally filled their borders from the East to West coast with civilization. Manifest Destiny is the belief that it is the right of a nation to expand to the edges of its territory, regardless of who needs to be pushed out of the way to make room. Once this had been achieved by the United States, America began to look for other ways to expand itself. One of these methods of expansion was imperialism, a policy of expanding a country via economic or military force. This would be done by America in Hawaii, Samoa, and many more small territories before the single most impactful war in recent American history began. The Spanish-American War was one over territory and imperialism fought by- you guessed it- Spain and America. This began with the Cuban Uprising when Cuban refugees begged America to interfere with Spain’s poor treatment of their people. Yellow journalism, inspired by the quills of men like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, influenced America to take action and aid Cuba in its attempt to be rid of Spanish control. Lastly, America’s involvement in the Philippines and Puerto Rico led to the end of the Spanish-American War and Spain’s defeat. The Cuban Rebellion, yellow journalism, and America’s involvement in the Philippines and Puerto Rico shaped the modern world by shifting power from Spain to the U.S. in one of the most critical wars in recent American history.

The Cuban Rebellion was the first spark of a flame that threatened to engulf the two most eminent nations in recent history. That flame was the Spanish-American War. Control in Cuba began in 1492, when a man by the name of Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on American soil. A whole 376 years later the Cuban Uprising began and Spain was challenged for the control of Cuba. Despite their efforts to defeat Spain, the inhabitants of Cuba ultimately failed to gain independence. Seventeen years after the uprising ended, Spain lost their trust in Cuba. They began concentrating Cubans into military camps and suppressing them. The survivors of these military camps arrived at American shores, begging the American government to help them. Unfortunately for Cuba, President Grover Cleveland declined their request for assistance. However; their cries for help would not go unanswered for much longer. Less than a year later, Cleveland was beaten by President William Mckinley during the election of 1896. Cuban affairs piqued the interest of Mckinley, leading him to send a singular battleship, the Maine, to Cuban waters to protect American lives. To the shock of the American people, the U.S. Maine was destroyed by a missile on February 15th, 2 years after Mckinley’s election.

As the nation recovered from this shocking blow to their morale, the pens of two famous exaggerators were set in motion. Yellow Journalists like Pulitzer and Hearst caused the Spanish-American War by encouraging America to take action following the destruction of the Maine. This crisis occurred off the coast of Cuba when a U.S. battleship was blown apart by an unprecedented missile. News propaganda blamed its destruction on the Spanish. This enraged the American people who now demanded revenge on the Maine’s murderer. In response to this outrage, President McKinley sent battleships to Havana to protect the American people and defend Cuba from spain. In the meantime, Yellow Journalists continued writing sensory, exaggerated, and even fabricated stories to sell their newspapers. As a result of Yellow Journalism, the American people became so outraged they demanded a war. Though war seemed inevitable, there were certainly risks to consider when planning an attack on another nation. On one hand the war could bring new land and cheaper prices to America, as the Caribbean was famous for growing sugar and other popular foods. On the other hand, should they fail to defeat Spain, America could lose land, eminence and popularity as a world power, or even their individuality as a nation if Spain were to take the war to the mainland.

After Yellow Journalists inspired anger into the hearts of thousands, America was ready to go to war with Spain. In 1998, Congress declared war on Spain and began Cuban imperialization. In order to cripple the Spanish before they could fight back, American warships were sent to the Philippines to destroy the Spanish fleet that was stationed there. They succeeded, leaving Spain with no ships and no way to effectively dispel their attacks. Later that year, Theodore Roosevelt and his men led an attack on San Juan Hill. The battle resulted in an American victory and the first loss for Spain. Following this battle, the Cubans wanted independence and decided to help America fight against the Spanish. American soldiers had finally defeated the Spanish, but how would they make sure the war was over? The Spanish-American Armistice ends the Spanish-American war. The United States of America receives Puerto Rico, Guam, Wake islands, Cuba and the Philippines in exchange for twenty million dollars. The Platt Amendment set up tight U.S. control in Cuba. This control was necessary because Americans didn’t trust Cuba after they revolted against the Spanish. The Foraker Act set up a more lenient rule in Puerto Rico. They had not proven themselves a troublesome people. The Spanish-American War had ended, and America benefited greatly from it.

America’s involvement in the Spanish-American war created the world we live in today. The Cuban Rebellion began what would become the Spanish-American war by encouraging American involvement. Yellow journalism and the pens of Pulitzer and Hearst encouraged America to go to war with Spain and help Cuba in their time of need. America’s involvement in the Philippines and Puerto Rico led to the outcome of the war, resulting in an American victory. Had the Spanish-American war never occurred, Cuba, the Philippines, Guam and Wake would still be owned by Spain, Puerto Rico would never have become a protectorate of the United States of America, and America could never be the industrial nation that it is today.

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1078 Reviews

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Sun Mar 25, 2018 12:10 am
Mea wrote a review...

Hey there! I thought I'd drop by for a quick review on this today, and I'll see if I can add anything to BlueAfrica's excellent one. xD

The first thing I noticed was your introduction, particularly your first sentence. It was just rather bland. I know blandness is the name of the game for school essays, but if you have an introduction that's more nuanced and doesn't immediately hit the reader over the head with the topic of the paper, it really makes your paper stand out and will earn you a few extra points.

As for the rest of the introduction, I feel like you were trying to set the stage and give the context for the causes of the Spanish-American by talking about things like Manifest Destiny and American expansionism, but it wound up more confusing than anything. I think what you should just wind up saying would look like this:

At this time period, America, looking for ways to expand, practiced Manifest Destiny and imperialism. ---> This continued until the Spanish-American War. (Since this essay is primarily about the causes, you're saving the reasons why the Spanish American war was so impactful until your conclusion) ----> The Spanish-American war was caused by [insert your thesis here].

It'll be a couple sentences longer than what I just wrote, but not much. This would do a good job of setting the stage for your essay without doing the work of the body paragraphs, and I think it would also just be a lot less confusing and give the reader a clear idea of what you're going to talk about in your paper. Remember in an essay, the introduction is for telling the reader what you're going to tell them, the body paragraphs are for telling them what you said you were going to, and the conclusion is for telling the reader what you told them. It sounds redundant (and obviously don't just repeat it word-for-word or else it will be, but actually it makes for a coherent and clear essay.

I think my main other critique for the essay is that, as someone who hasn't studied that era of history for a while, it moves too quickly - I had a hard time following the chain of events. I think you could take a little more time explaining what each step in the build-up to the Cuban revolution was, and more explicitly linking the chains of cause and effect. (But delete the Christopher Columbus stuff - you don't need it.) Once you got into the second and third paragraphs, however, it was a lot easier to follow.

One last thing - I thought your conclusion was really good. It was a great example of how to not just restate the same thing in your conclusion that you did for the rest of the essay. Instead, you pushed beyond and suggested something that puts the essay back into its broader context - that's key in any good essay conclusion.

Although you've probably turned this in already, I hope my comments were still helpful! Keep writing. :D

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Sat Mar 24, 2018 7:53 pm
Dreamworx95 says...

Hi ZeldaIsSheik, just wanted to drop by and say I read through this looking for something to critique, but BlueAfrica has pretty much pointed out everything I wanted to comment on. You have a solid essay here. Good job.


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Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:42 pm
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BluesClues wrote a review...

Hi there!

So before I begin my review, I just wanted to suggest removing the identifiers at the top of this essay. While we are a site for young writers and are arguably safer than a lot of other websites, it's still Internet Safety 101 not to post your name, your hometown, or other identifiers that might allow people to figure out who and where you are in real life! I'd discourage you from posting any such information, even though I realize this essay is for a class and your teacher probably requires this information.

Moving on.


Right out of the gate, I see something of a conundrum, albeit one that's easily fixed. You titled your essay (not on the site, but after your headings about American history class and all that) "Effects of the Spanish-American War," but right away you have the sentence "there were a lot of causes and effects of the Spanish-American War." Do you intend the essay to discuss both the causes and effects, or just the effects?

Further down the paragraph, you have "you guessed it" - a humorous aside, but you generally want to avoid using "you" in formal essays. You could probably word this another way, if you wanted to include it; it is a nice bit of humor that could potentially make your essay stand out from others. So for example, you could say something like

The Spanish-American War was one over territory and imperialism fought by- as one might conclude from its name- Spain and America.

That's probably the best I can come up with, since it avoids both "you" and the passive voice.

Those are nitpicks your teacher might pick up on, but overall the biggest issue with the introduction is that it's trying to do too much. It sounds more like a summary of the essay to come than an introduction. I gather that this is your thesis statement.

The Cuban Rebellion, yellow journalism, and America’s involvement in the Philippines and Puerto Rico shaped the modern world by shifting power from Spain to the U.S. in one of the most critical wars in recent American history.

If this is what the essay is going to be about (I haven't read past the introduction yet), then you can hold off explaining what the Cuban Rebellion, yellow journalism, and America's involvement in the Philippines and PR are until the body of the essay. Once you've explained Manifest Destiny and America's desire to continue expanding, you can delete the middle bits of the introduction and link your thesis statement more directly to the idea of American expansion.


The first paragraph, on the Cuban Rebellion, also feels somewhat scattered. You can probably skip past Christopher Columbus and dive right into "after 376 years of control by Spain, Cuba was ready for independence." I think a large part of the issue here is that you don't actually expand on the Cuban Rebellion at all; you just mention that it happened but was unsuccessful, and because of the seventeen-year gap between the end of the rebellion and Spain's mistreatment of Cuban people (though I suspect the mistreatment had actually be ongoing for quite some time), you fail to clearly link the rebellion with the mistreatment that ultimately led Cubans to cry out for help from the United States.

Consider also the fact that the Cuban Rebellion is one of the events that, in your thesis statement, you claim shaped the modern world by shifting power from Spain to the U.S. In the first body paragraph, I don't see that tie-in.

Of course I haven't read the next paragraph yet and assume this will all come together at the end, but each paragraph should have a clear focus that links it to your thesis statement.

The second body paragraph is generally stronger. I can clearly see a link between yellow journalism and the onset of the Spanish-American War, as well as what America stood to gain if they won or lose if they lost the war. I like the phrase "famous exaggerators" to describe Hearst and Pulitzer - another bit of humor, but also completely true. Your voice comes through in the essay, which is often difficult for people when writing formal essays.

I'm also starting to see that your intention with this essay is to describe the events that led to the Spanish-American War to then show how the war ultimately shaped the future of America as a world leader and superpower. If this is indeed your intention, then the essay needs a) a new title (since so far we're getting far more causes than effects of the war) and b) possibly a new thesis statement, or at least one that shows that the Cuban Rebellion, yellow journalism, and (?) I'm guessing American involvement in the Philippines and PR led to the war, ultimately shaping America's role as a world leader.

In 1998, Congress declared war on Spain

This is defo the wrong year, friend.

The Spanish-American Armistice ends the Spanish-American war. The United States of America receives Puerto Rico, Guam, Wake islands, Cuba and the Philippines in exchange for twenty million dollars.

Watch out for changing tenses!

Ugh, I just love seeing how typically American it is that America came to Cuba's aid after Cuba rebelled against Spain but then took Cuba as a territory rather than granting it independence because we didn't trust Cuba because it had rebelled.

Even though we are only a country because we rebelled against Britain.

omg America why do you do this

This third body paragraph goes back to feeling less focused and more like it jumps around. Additionally, while I can see that America gained new territories from the conclusion of the Spanish-American War, you may want to more clearly tie that in to the desire for expansion that you set up back in the intro.


Like the introduction, this is more a summary of the whole essay than a conclusion to it. You've already explained the steps that led to the war and how America benefited from it by gaining new territories. Considering that your thesis posits that this war "shifted power from Spain to the U.S." it would be better to wrap up by explaining what power we won from the war. What do these new territories mean to the U.S., economically and as a source of power? Are we now the main exporter of sugar? Can we command our price on goods made in the islands? Do we control some of the shipping lanes through the Caribbean? If this war was the most important in recent history in terms of what it did for globalization of the U.S., it needs to be clearer as to how it made the U.S. more powerful. At the very least, it would be a good idea to wrap up by mentioning that not only did we expand physically - with new territories and more land - but that our new territories also allowed us to expand financially or what have you.

ZeldaIsSheik says...

Thank you for your review! I didn't notice all of those errors. I didn't mean to use my name! XD At least it is only a nickname!

BluesClues says...

Glad I could help! And it's always easy to edit things out if you ever forget and include a name or other identifying information :)

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364 Reviews

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Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:44 am
zaminami says...

you can't put your real name on here but I will review this when I can

Lumi says...

While it's never advised, it depends on age as to whether the awesomesauce moddos need to pester folks about it. But internet safety is good, yes! Plus, we don't know that the name he wrote is a pen name or not--and we don't need to know if it's his real name. Just always assume it's fake. :)

zaminami says...

I do know that Harris is his real name... he's told me... so yeah, I just wanted to warn him.

ZeldaIsSheik says...

Thank you. I forgot about that when I copied it.

It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language
— Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey