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The Spanish American War (1898-1901)

Important Terms, People, and Events

Context

Timeline

Terms

Anti-Imperialist League  -  A group including such luminaries as William James and Mark Twain that argued against to combat American imperialism. Disliked the American annexation of Spanish territories.
Coaling Station  -  Coaling Stations were necessary in the late 19th century so that steamships that burned coal could refuel en route. A worldwide navy (that could protect worldwide trade interests) required worldwide coaling stations. The need for coaling stations was one of the reasons the US annexed several islands during and after the Spanish American War, especially Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines.
Foraker Act  -  1900 Act providing a civil government for Puerto Rico; a main goal of the act was to prepare Puerto Rico for free trade with the US. It gave most power in Puerto Rico to US-appointed officials.
Insular Cases  -  A series of Supreme Court cases in 1901, in which the Court ruled that the Constitution and American laws did not all necessarily apply to colonies. Instead, Congress would decide which laws applied where, allowing the US to keep citizenship out of the grasp of the inhabitants of its new territories.
Insurrectos  -  Cuban Nationalists who fought against Spain's colonial regime in Cuba.
Jingoism  -  An attitude of wildly enthusiastic, often excessive nationalism. Often, jingoists or jingoes push for war with other countries.
Platt Amendment  -  1901 amendment to the Cuban constitution by which the US was allowed certain concessions, including the right to indefinitely maintain Guantanamo naval base in Cuba.
Rough Riders  -  A group of cavalry volunteers in the US Army who fought in the Spanish-American War. Although termed the Rough Riders, most of their horses did not arrive in Cuba, and the Rough Riders actually walked. The group was led by Colonel Leonard Wood, with Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Roosevelt also leading a contingent. The Rough Riders made a heroic charge up San Juan Hill that cost them heavy casualties.
Teller Amendment  -  A resolution by Congress in 1898 promising to grant Cuba independence after the war. The Teller Amendment provided the US with justification for its actions while allaying fears that the war was simply an imperialist land grab.
USS Maine  -  American warship sent to patrol Cuban waters at the beginning of 1898. When the ship mysteriously exploded on February 15, 1898, it gave the US a final reason to go to war, even though the cause of the explosion is still debated today.
Wilson-Gorman Tariff  -  This tariff passed by Congress in 1894 restricted US sugar imports. The tariff led to an economic downturn in Cuba, and in turn helped to increase the anger of Cuban natives against colonial Spain.
Yellow journalism  -  The type of sensationalist (sometimes fictitious) journalism practiced by newspapermen such as Hearst and Pulitzer in order to boost circulation.

People

Emilio Aguinaldo  -  Partially of Chinese descent, Aguinaldo was the Philippines' revolutionary leader, first against the Spanish and then, after the end of the Spanish- American War, against the Americans.
William Jennings Bryan  -  Democratic presidential candidate of 1896 and 1900, against McKinley. Bryan, a gifted orator, was famous for his "Cross of Gold" speech advocating Free Silver. Over the course of his career he ran for President, and lost, four times. He also argued the Scopes Monkey Trial against Clarence Darrow, as immortalized in the play Inherit the Wind.
George Dewey  -  Navy Commodore who commanded the US surprise attack on the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Manila.
William R. Hearst  -  Newspaper publisher and leading example of yellow journalism. His New York Journal started a public hysteria for war with Spain by publishing incendiary articles and illustrations by Remington. Hearst once said to Remington, "You provide the pictures and I'll provide the war."
Dupuy du Lome  -  Spanish minister in Washington, whose letter insulting President McKinley was intercepted and published in Hearst's papers. He resigned after the incident.
John D. Long  -  Secretary of the Navy under McKinley's administration, beginning in 1896.
Alfred T. Mahan  -  American naval officer who published The Influence of Sea Power Upon History in 1890. His views, advocating the importance of a strong Navy and a worldwide network of coaling stations to protect trading routes, held great influence on military thought in both the US and Europe around the time of the Spanish-American War (1898).
William McKinley  -  US President from 1896 to his assassination in 1901. Backed by Mark Hanna and American business interests, McKinley championed high, business-protecting tariffs and opposed Free Silver. Under McKinley, the US engaged in a period of imperialism, epitomized by the Spanish-American War.
Joseph Pulitzer  -  Competitor against Hearst in circulation war, and practitioner of yellow journalism.
Walter Reed  -  US Army bacteriologist and pathologist sent to Cuba. He was the first to link yellow fever to mosquito bites, helping to eliminate the disease.
Frederic Remington  -  Painter and illustrator working for Hearst who went to Cuba during the Spanish-American War. One of Remington's famous works is a painting of the Rough Riders charging up San Juan Hill. His paintings and illustrations are known for their immediate, reporter-like quality.
Theodore Roosevelt  -  26th President of the United States, elected in 1901 and re-elected in 1905. During the Spanish-American War, he first served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and then quit to join the Rough Riders. Born a weakling, the near- sighted Roosevelt built himself into robust shape by a lifelong program of exercise and vigorous activities. Always seeking to expand American power in international affairs, Roosevelt was a prominent hawk who gave Dewey the order to attack at the Battle of Manila.
William R. Shafter  -  General who led the US Army ground invasion of Cuba. Survivor of the Civil War, Shafter was so fat and his gout was so bad that he was carried around by his men on a door.
General "Butcher" Weyler  -  Spanish General sent to Cuba in 1896 to put down the insurrectos' rebellion. Called the "Butcher", Weyler put much of the Cuban population into unsanitary concentration camps. He was recalled to Spain in 1897.
Leonard Wood  -  Colonel, and commander of the volunteer Rough Riders. Wood remained in Cuba as the governor during the brief US occupation following the war. As governor, Wood oversaw the improvement of sanitation, the building of schools and roads, and the deepening of Havana harbor.

Events

Battle of Manila  -  On May 1, 1898, Dewey defeated the Spanish fleet at Manila in a surprise attack in which not a single American was killed. The Spanish ships were old and rotting, and were defeated easily by the newer American steel ships.
San Juan Hill  -  On July 1, 1898, the Rough Riders, supported by two black regiments, charged this hill. Although the Rough Riders took heavy casualties, the public saw the charge as a success.
Treaty of Paris  -  Signed on December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the Spanish- American War. According to the Treaty, Cuba went free, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were ceded to the US, and the US agreed to pay Spain an indemnity of $20 million.

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