Imperialism in the Spanish-American War
Since the United States has become its own country, it has gone through many changes in status. Before becoming a country, the United States was merely a series of territories belonging to multiple countries. When we began to advance in status, we learned that one key to success was a strategy called imperialism. Imperialism happens when a country uses its military and relationships with other countries to gain control of other territories. This system makes the power of the country rely on the territory that the country has obtained.
In the late nineteenth century, the ways of imperialism were very popular in America because they wanted to expand their territory in order to become more powerful. In the late nineteenth century, Spain didn’t have power over very much land. The only territories they had were Puerto Rico, Cuba, some islands in the Pacific, and a couple of small territories in Africa. They were wanting more territory, like the United States, and they were set on defending the territories they were already in rule over.
They may have been so possessive because only years before, the Spanish territory was in power of much more land than it was at the time before the Spanish-American War. The Spanish-American War was really sparked with the fight for the independence of Cuba. When they decided that they wanted independence, the Spanish decided that they needed to fight back because they did not want to lose one of the few territories that they still had ownership over.
Cuba was very important to the Spanish Empire; it was so important that Spain gave the territory of Florida to Britain in order to keep control of Havana, Cuba’s capital. From this point on, a battle of territory ensued. The practice of imperialism in these two countries, or empires, if you will, has now begun a war. Before the war, the United States did not approve of the way the Spanish Empire was governing Cuba. The rule of Cuba became more absolutist, despite its state of being a colony. Even the inhabitants of Cuba who opposed independence in the beginning now began to seek reform, whether that be through independence or through being added to the United States. Major General Máximo Gómez Baez was a leader of the Cuban revolution against Spain. The Cubans were revolting against their Spanish rule because “the people of Cuba had suffered centuries of oppression, and by the early 1800s, they were forced to pay high taxes to their Spanish rulers.” His troops had already been fighting Spain in the Ten Years’ War from October of 1868 to 1878, which was for their independence. The effort Cuba’s separation had failed, ending in a peace in which Spain promised Cuba some limited self-government. This deal was never fulfilled on Spain’s part. Máximo Gómez Baez went to the United States to meet with José Martí, a Cuban revolutionary and activist who was exiled because of his passionate activism. These two ended up having very different ideas of how to get Cuba into its own, independent state.
Connections like these are what gave Cuba American support in their fight for freedom. At this point, the United States were aware that they were not going to be able to buy Cuba from Spain and that Cuba was going to want to be a self-reliant country.