By the time the nineteenth century drew to a close, the United States was on a final trajectory toward becoming an empire. America had begun, according to diplomatic historian Robert L. Beisner, the transition toward a “new paradigm” of foreign policy. After 1890, a series of economic shocks created havoc throughout the United States, causing civil unrest and widespread uncertainty. Many saw, in foreign markets, a chance for American exports to drive the nation's future prosperity. By 1900, the enormous gains in the productive capacity and technological sophistication of American industry made this idea a plausible objective for both entrepreneurs and policy makers. Of equal importance to this equation was the passing of the generation shaped by the Civil War, one that generally eschewed aggressive policies that might lead to open conflict with American rivals. The younger leadership that replaced them, exemplified by men such as Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Alfred Thayer Mahan, advocated a modern military and a professional diplomatic corps on par with Europe to achieve the grand designs of a global power. 1 The 1890s consequently saw both the flourishing of professional military training and deliberate efforts to bring official representatives of the United States and private citizens to the service of the United States.
The war against Spain in 1898 served as a major milestone in America's accelerated movement toward becoming a global empire. Sick and on the decline at this point in history, Spain's remaining toehold in the Western Hemisphere represented a challenge to American hegemony. Its occupation of Cuba was an obstacle to the United States that considered the Caribbean a direct sphere of influence. Millions of dollars in American sugar investments was a tangible element in the much larger drive toward cementing U.S. dominance over Latin America. 2
The conflict with Spain also revealed a new, unforeseen feature of modern diplomacy. Significant public excitement surrounded the gradual decline of