Term Paper Resource Guide to Twentieth-Century United States History

By Robert Muccigrosso; Ron Blazek et al. | Go to book overview

1.

Spanish-American War (1898)
After 1895 Americans were largely unsympathetic to Spain’s attempt to subdue Cuban rebels. Relations between the two countries steadily worsened with the sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine, an insulting letter from the Spanish minister Dupuy de Lôme, and a warmongering American press. War finally broke out in April 1898. This ‘‘splendid little war,’’ as Secretary of State John Hay termed it, ended within a few months after decisive American victories in Cuba and the Philippines, with fewer than four hundred Americans killed in battle. Military and naval heroes included Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and Admiral George Dewey, with their victories at San Juan Hill and Manila Bay, respectively. By the terms of the Treaty of Paris, ratified in 1899, Cuba became independent; the United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines for $20 million. However, the treaty’s terms sparked heated debate among Americans over whether their nation should join the ranks of colonial powers.
Suggestions for Term Papers
1. Analyze the impact of the sinking of the Maine on American public opinion, or discuss modern historians’ theories about the cause of the battleship’s loss.
2. Discuss whether William Randolph Hearst’s yellow journalism contributed to the United States’s entry into the war, and why.
3. Discuss the long-range impact of the war on the American presence in the Caribbean.
4. Discuss the war’s impact on the future of Cuba or Puerto Rico, or both.
5. Argue that the war was the first modern war of the twentieth century or the last old-fashioned war of the nineteenth century.

Suggested Sources: See entry 2 for related items.


REFERENCE SOURCES

Historical Dictionary of the Spanish-American War. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996. Donald H. Dyal. A one-volume encyclopedia with

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