The 19th century witnessed several conflicts among European powers. A lot of territorial expansion programs were conducted during this period by various European powers.
One of the conflicts that U.S engaged in was called the Spanish-American war. “The Spanish-American war was a conflict between the kingdom of Spain and the United States of America that took place from April to August 1898” (Nofi 23). America emerged the winner of this war and it marked the end of Spanish rule in the Pacific and Caribbean territories.
The Paris Treaty was used to ratify the conflict and after that, the Spanish colonies were taken over by the government of U.S.A. “These territories included Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and the Guam, and it also controlled the process of independence of Cuba, which was completed in 1902” (Nofi 67). The Spanish-American War has been debated about in various political and academic circles and many people have tried to come up with a comprehensive conclusion on what really caused it.
The western hemisphere was under colonial rule for a period of four decades. In the last quarter of the century, most colonies of Spain had been emancipated and it now had very few territories. The Spanish occupation of Cuba and Philippines had been highly resented. Therefore, the people of Cuba resisted through military attacks.
Dealing with rebels was a challenging task for the Spanish. They tried to separate the rebels by establishing concentration camps. This caused a lot of suffering among the people of Cuba. “Hence, the U.S.A government found it necessary to avert the crisis by intervening through military attacks” (Nofi 98).
In 1898 during the month of February an American battle ship capsized due to an explosion, whose cause could not be established. It could probably have happened accidently. Back in U.S the media reports about the issue was not good and it led to tensions.
The issue of humanitarian crisis in Cuba dominated political debates in many parts of U.S. In Cuba the general opinion was in favor of war. Spain also felt that going to war was the only viable way out of the crisis, but they new that they could succeed in the war.
Both America and Spain were keen to test the naval capacity of each other. Spain had much experience in naval wars, but U.S had newly built its navy and it was therefore ready to face Spain in war. The issue of going to war was not welcomed by investors in U.S who felt that they could lose business opportunities.
The Spanish-American war was not directly linked to the explosion of the Maine as some people would think was the case, but there were other serious underlying issues that spiraled out of control. America found it necessary to attack Spain mainly because it had refused to restore stability in Cuba.
Before the war, the situation in Cuba was seriously in a bad shape and many people found it difficult to cope with the situation. “The explosion of the Maine did not therefore cause the war, but it focused American attention on Cuba; the call was for an immediate resolution to the Cuban situation” (Nofi 89).
Having examined the situation keenly in March, Senator Redfield Proctor felt that the only way out of this situation was through fighting. After his comments, the people who earlier criticized the war now supported the move.
Cuba was declared free from colonialism by U.S congress in April, and they ordered Spain out of Cuba. They even advised the people of Cuba to rebel strongly against Spain. This move led to the end of the diplomatic ties between them.
The war was fought in different parts of Cuba and Philippines. The war had far reaching outcomes and many people lost their lives and a lot of property and infrastructure was damaged. The war was a turning point for U.S which now emerged as a world power.
After the war, America became more active in international politics. U.S also advanced economically, and it had a tremendous growth in population and infrastructure. The aftermath of this war also saw the collapse of the Spanish empire. “The defeat paradoxically postponed the civil war that had seemed imminent in 1898 and created a renaissance known as the generation of 1898” (Nofi 102).
The colonies that had formerly been owned by Spain were brought under the control of America. Last but more importantly, the war brought together both the Northern and Southern States. It was for the first time since the civil war in America that they came together to fight against their enemies.
We can therefore conclude that the Spanish-American war generally had positive effects on the American side, but for Spain it was a great challenge that led to its decline. From the above discussion we cannot therefore simply attribute the cause of the war to the explosion of the Maine. I therefore conclude that the explosion of the Maine simply triggered the war but it was not the main cause of the war.
Nofi, Albert. Spanish American war, 1898 (great campaigns). New York: Wiley, 1997.