Public Opinion and the Spanish-American War: A Study in War Propaganda

Public Opinion and the Spanish-American War: A Study in War Propaganda

Public Opinion and the Spanish-American War: A Study in War Propaganda

Public Opinion and the Spanish-American War: A Study in War Propaganda

Excerpt

War propaganda is perhaps as old as war itself, though in recent years means for its dissemination have been perfected with the same genius that has improved and made more deadly the implements of war. In ancient times war propaganda was spread by word of mouth; today all the resources of a highly mechanized civilization are mobilized to sway the public mind.

War propaganda is an insidious thing. Once started it gains momentum with success until truth and rational thought are left stranded upon the reefs of discord and strife. Like the sleeping sickness of the tropics, its influence steals upon us until we become enmeshed in the coils of prejudice and hatred and join in the preachment of exaggerations and half truths. Lies become a part of the munitions of war.

In this study an attempt has been made to show the influence of the American press in causing opposition to Spanish rule in Cuba and finally in bringing about the intervention of the United States in the island. The rapid succession of Cuban revolts against Spanish rule, of which there were eight in the period between 1823 and 1855, followed by a prolonged conflict known as the Ten Years' War, 1868-1878, and the Little War in 1883, led to the belief in the United States that the rapidly declining monarchy of Spain would never be able to control the island. Each outbreak was put down with severity, but with each succeeding uprising sympathy for the rebels increased. The revolutions were regarded as contests for independence, and the proximity of the island to this country accentuated the benevolent attitude of Americans. Despite this feeling, however, it is doubtful if many Americans favored the use of force to effect Cuba's freedom.

The story of how the people of the United States, embroiled with political and economic issues following the severe financial depression of 1893, were led to war with a third rate European power in behalf of a group of Cubans, many of whom were illiterate and about whom little was known except what had been published in newspaper reports of insurrections, resembles in some respects an account of the Crusades of old. The part played by the press in demanding interven-

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.