How long did the Spanish-American war last
The Spanish-American War: How the US Became a Great Power and Its Spread Eagleism Became an Ideology
Over the past few weeks I've been talking about some examples of hurray patriotism here. From the beginnings of the Greek War of Independence to the rather recent upsurge of old euphoria in the British Falklands War, it happened again and again. Time and again people found their (or in the case of the Greeks, sometimes another) nation really cool and just had to show it to the rest of the world. A few basics of the modern idea of nationalism can be found here.
But of course no treatise on patriotism is complete without naming the United States! I mean, how many times have you seen American tourist troops roaring loudly through the streets of Europe? "USA, USA, USA!" Like making friends with it ... But it has to come from somewhere. And from where? Well, in large part from the Spanish-American War of 1898!
From American Exceptionalism to Spread Eagleism
The USA has always been something special. So at least that is what many believe there and this belief was widespread in the USA as early as the 19th century. You saw yourself as something different from all of these European states that were romping around in the world. After all, it was the first real democratic republic! And then a few things belonged naturally to such a self-image. Since the 1820s, the USA began to stay out of world events outside of its own continent. The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 stated that the United States would not operate outside of its "sphere of influence" on the American continent. At the same time, however, any European influence on the events in America was forbidden. While the existing European colonies were recognized there, the USA was also a power against colonialism at the time. Logical, actually, with your own story.
But if you look at the United States today, we seem worlds away from the Monroe Doctrine and old isolationism. The USA has its military bases all over the world and until recently it saw itself as the sheriff of the world at all. So how did we get to where we are today? How did we get from the idea of American peculiarity, “exceptionalism”, to today's US superpower? Well, that has a lot to do with a small war: the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century. And with cheap patriotism, spurred on by a self-confident tabloid press and the later American fortunes of war. Yes, and along the way, the US even found a taste for colonialism itself! How times don't change ...
The Spanish-American War
Even before the Spanish-American war, the problem with the Spanish colonial empire was of course not unknown to the USA. Even when the Monroe Doctrine was promulgated in the 1820s, it suffered from a serious built-in problem. Recognizing the European colonies in America on the one hand, but otherwise prohibiting European activity on the continent ... that cannot go well for long. At some point you had to come into conflict with it. And that's how it was, with Spain. That was still extremely active in the US neighborhood in the 19th century. Well, in 1810 Mexico went flute. And yes, shortly afterwards the rest of Central and South America too. But all the gems of the Spanish Empire were still there! Guam for example! Or Cuba! Yes Cuba, the crown of the empire! As long as we still have that, everything is fine. Said the Spaniards. Hold my drinksaid the Americans.
With Cuba, the problem really started for Spain in the New World towards the end of the 19th century. They weren't that happy with the motherland. Decades before the Spanish-American War, there were repeated independence movements against Spain in Cuba. There was already a 10-year war from 1868 (in contrast to many other wars, the historians even counted correctly here and it actually lasted ten years). Shortly thereafter, there was a smaller war called “Little War” (yes .. I know) and repeated smaller skirmishes until Cuba was finally in open revolt against Spanish colonial rule in 1895.
What does all this have to do with the USA, you ask now? After all, it's not called the Spanish-Cuban war, but the Spanish-American war! Actually, the US didn't have that much to do with it, but there were some stupid coincidences. Large parts of the US population found the uprising in Cuba really good! Well, who's also surprised? At the time, Americans had been telling each other glorious stories of their own struggle against evil colonialism for a century. Of course, an anti-Spanish rebellion in Cuba found its supporters in the country! In 1898, US President McKinley could no longer defend himself against this opinion and sent the American battleship USS Maine to Havana. Not necessarily to attack the Spaniards, of course. You just wanted ... to show that you were still there.
The situation in Cuba is escalating, the patriots think it's cool
The thing with the USS-Maine then unfortunately didn't go as optimally as possible. After a few weeks, the ship exploded in Havana harbor. It is still not clear what caused this explosion. The opinion in the USA was quickly clear: it was of course the damned Spaniards! At least that's what the emerging tabloids from New York shouted out loud and at the same time invented a few more stories about Spanish attacks against the Cuban civilian population. A particularly imaginative headline of the time was "Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain ". Well as long as you have an argument ...
But of course the newspapers weren't the only reason the US started the Spanish-American War. The country also had solid interests in Cuba! That hasn't changed much to this day. The United States had long been Cuba's largest trading partner for a long time in 1898. On top of that, the island was simply convenient, close to US territory and on the way to Central America, where dreams of building a canal, the later Panama Canal, had been buzzing around in the USA for a long time. Controlling Cuba would at least not hurt.
And so the US gave up its isolation in 1898 and declared war on Spain. And that didn't know what happened to him. In just a few months, American troops defeated the Spaniards on all fronts. In Cuba itself, the Americans and the insurgents were victorious in a very short time. But because they were at it, the US troops attacked nearby Puerto Rico. And then the not-so-nearby Spanish Philippines. But well, they were also very practical. Aja, and because they were just on the way there, they quickly grabbed Guam on the way. If it works, it works.
And so the Spanish empire ended and everyone was free and happy
After Spain and the USA made peace in Paris at the end of 1898, the Spanish colonial empire was finally devastated. Cuba was given independence by Madrid. Although we have already heard who was in charge there economically. You can already imagine how it went in the future and how it still works today. A little tip: At that time, the USA secured a particularly attractive little bay in Cuba, which is called Guantanamo Bay. The other countries occupied by the United States in the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, would certainly also like to become independent. Instead, people soon watched as American soldiers entered the Spanish garrisons. That was probably not how they had imagined it.
The USA had finally risen to become a great power and the people in the country were enthusiastic. From Puerto Rico to the Philippines, American influence now spanned half the world. Who needs the Monroe Doctrine and stupid isolation when you can have so much power ?! If that means rethinking your own anti-colonial history a bit, then that's the way it should be. A term that prevailed at the time for the new foreign policy of the USA was the so-called “spread eagleism”. Why? This picture could explain it. In any case, it no longer has so much to do with isolation and noble restraint. How we know and love our USA.
What we should learn from history now can still be read here. By the way, last week - in case you didn't notice - the first déjà-vu story podcast came out! It's about women heroes in history. I can listen to it. We'll hear each other again next week in the second podcast and then read each other in two weeks. Man, it's going around here, I'll tell you ...
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