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The Spanish American War and Its Impact

The Spanish American War

The Spanish American War was an armed conflict between the United States and Spain and was caused by several factors. According to Patel (2021), the war broke out after the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor. Spain was believed to have caused the explosion which sank the US ship (Patel, 2021). The occurrence worsened the already shaky relationship between the two nations. America was already an enemy of Spain for supporting Cuba against Spanish rule. The United States was supporting the Cuban and Philippines independence, which meant Spain would lose its power over the two countries. Yellow Journalism also contributed to the eruption of war because it reported exaggerated facts about the Spain-America relationship (Patel, 2021). After the explosion of the USS Maine, yellow journalism over-emphasized the conflict between America and Spain, hence, the war broke out.

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America’s Role in the War

The US’s role in the war was to liberate Cuba and the Philippines from Spain’s colonial rule. America declared war against Spain and sent its troops to Manila, Philippines, where the battle was centered. Under the leadership of George Dewey, the US troop destroyed the Spanish Pacific fleet used in the Manila battle on May 1, 1898 (Patel, 2021). After a tough fight between the two nations, American forces also damaged the Spanish fleet in Santiago, Cuba. American participation in the war was important for the independence of Cuba and the Philippines. Indeed, the powerful victory by the US caused a peace treaty that forced Spain to give up its claims on Cuba, power over Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico to the US (Patel, 2021). America also claimed the free state of Hawaii during this war. Furthermore, the US protected its citizens and business interests in Cuba against the Spanish America War destruction.

Factors for American Involvement in the War

Two factors were considered the most important: the explosion of USS Maine and US support for Cuba and the Philippines’ struggles against Spanish rule. These factors led to the Spanish-American War. Spain ruled the Philippines for at least 333 years and more than five decades over Cuba (Patel, 2021). In the two countries, Spain imposed tough rules, which originated from Spain ignoring local citizens’ needs. In the Philippines, Filipinos who held minor offices were denied public education, their wishes, and rights. America started to support Cuba and the Philippines to seek independence against this Spanish rule. While the US supported the nations, Spain allegedly attacked America by sinking its ship. USS Maine’s battleship was hit by an explosion from a submerged mine in the Harbor of Havana (Patel, 2021). The yellow journalism news exaggerated the investigation facts by blaming Spain for the explosion. Consequently, America was forced to declare war against Spain in support of Cuba and the Philippines.

The Outcome and Significance of the Peace Treaty

The peace treaty resulted in the independence of Cuba, Guam, and Puerto Rico from Spain. The battle by the US forces against Spain forced the two nations to form a peace treaty. The representatives of the U.S and Spain established the treaty in 1898 in Paris (Patel, 2021). In the treaty, Spain agreed to relinquish its claim of power over Cuba, the Philippines and ceded Puerto Rico to America. Thus, as Cuba gained its independence, the US gained power over Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Spain also allowed the US to purchase the Philippines Islands for $20 million (Patel, 2021). Consequently, the rescued nations started running under the power or rule of the United States.

A long-term effect of the peace treaty was the end of Spanish imperialism and America becoming a powerful country. The US’s ability to overthrow Spain during this war gave it a title of a world power nation. From this victory, the US has had a significant opinion about various conflicting nations (Patel, 2021). Having helped Cuba become liberated, the United States delved into Cuban affairs and became a major decision-maker in its political opinions. America continued and expanded its business in Cuba following a peaceful state of nation acquired after the departure of Spaniards. Another effect of the peace agreement is that the US took over the independent Hawaii state to be part of America.

Late 19th and 20th Centuries Relationship Between US and Cuba and Puerto Rico

Decades after Spanish American War, Cuba had a straining relationship with America. When the US helped Cuba gain independence, it also remained entangled in most of the political and economic Cuban affairs. All went well until in the late 19th century when Cuba began its revolution, growing further from the US and leaning closer to the Soviet Union (Martinez et al., 2019). Trade difficulties began between the two nations in the 1960s, and later a full embargo was announced to prevent them from trading (Martinez et al., 2019). The conflict between Cuba and US started when Job Kennedy demanded that the Soviet Union end their nuclear missile operations in Cuba. Later, the US government accused Cuba of sponsoring terrorism that led to arresting of the Cuban Five (Martinez et al., 2019). The relationship between the two countries started to recover in the early 20th century after Barrack Obama became the American president.

During this period, Puerto Rico-American relationship was more positive than that of Cuban-American. Puerto Rico had its government and constitution but ran under American law as an American territory. Operation Bootstrap enticed America to invest in the industrial sector, which attracted many Puerto Ricans and highly boosted the regional economy in the late 19th century. The territory’s economy was doing well until the early 20th century, when the bombing practice protests resulted in the closure of businesses and the loss of approximately $300 million annual income (Griffith, 2020). Politically, Puerto Rico operated under the US constitution, but the citizens of the land could not vote.

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Impact of the Relationship to the Migration

During the Cuban missile crisis, America opened an asylum for Cubans where many Cubans fled to the US mainland. This was a renewed relationship between the two countries after the trade embargo, which saw no migration taking place to the mainland. However, after the arrest of the Cuban Five, US restricted Cuban immigrants from entering the mainland (Martinez et al., 2019). The Obama presidency softened the strained relationship when many immigrants were allowed in the US.

The Bootstrap operation in the mainland enticed many Puerto Ricans to move to the US in search of jobs. The immigrants moved to the mainland in large numbers as they offered cheaper labor services in the industrial sector. Puerto Rico underwent an economic transformation from a monoculture plantation to export-production firms in this period (Griffith, 2020). The transformation pushed the territory to higher debts, leading many local people to move to the mainland. In refuge to an economic crisis, the US continued to host many Puerto Ricans until the region started recovering.


Griffith, D. (2020). Environmental change and human migration: Stylized facts from Puerto Rico and Honduras. Coastal Management, 48(5), 398-417. Web.

Martinez, J. L., Chami, G., Montoute, A., & Mohammed, D. A. (2019). Changing Cuba-US relations: Implications for CARICOM states. Springer.

Patel, D. (2021). Spanish-American war: 21 Apr 1898 – 10 Dec 1898. Independently Published.

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