How to Identify the Steps That Led Up to the Spanish-American War

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    • 1). Look at the idea of "manifest destiny." Manifest destiny is a phrase coined in 1845 in an editorial, which argued that the United States had the right to expand and become an empire. This idea is key in the Spanish-American War because the war ended with the United States controlling both Cuba and the Philippines.

    • 2). Study 19th-century U.S. foreign policy, especially in relation to manifest destiny and the United States' role as an expansionary power at the time.

    • 3). Examine the role of journalism in the years before the war. A major factor that swayed U.S. public opinion in favor of entering the Spanish-American War was the alleged brutality of the Spanish as they quelled an uprising in Cuba. These allegations were made by journalists who reported from their Havana hotels or even from southern Florida.

    • 4). Investigate the prewar tension between the United States and Spain. One example is President Cleveland's 1895 announcement that the United States might take action if the Cuban uprising didn't get under control.

    • 5). Analyze the U.S. political reaction to the 1898 explosion of the U.S.S. Maine, which was determined (incorrectly) to be caused by a mine. This was the alleged cause of the war, but examine this in terms of the other factors in order to show that it was more of a scapegoat than an actual cause.

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