StudyBoss » Native Americans in the United States » 18th Century American Imperialism Essay

18th Century American Imperialism Essay

Towards the end of the 18th Century American foreign policy underwent major change. Fueled by the Progressive movement and new interpretations of Manifest destiny, Americans sought to expand the United States’s influence around the world. During the 1890s the United States mainly used military and economic prowess to accomplish their international desires. Progressives used this new foreign policy to expand their domestic agenda onto to an international level. These advancements were widely supported due to many Americans new found understanding of Manifest destiny.

Many intellectuals of the 18th Century including Frederick Jackson Turner and Alfred Thayer Mahan promoted United States expansion. These sentiments caused views towards manifest destiny to change from domestic ambitions to international ambitions. The United States’s new initiative as an international power caused them to clash with Spain over their colonies; Puerto Rico, the Phillipines, and Cuba. As the 1890s progressed Cuba’s relevance grew due to the United States’s desire to tap into the economy of the country.

While the United States fought with the Spanish for Cuba the media’s portrayal of the ordeal greatly influenced the American population’s views towards Cuba. Americans’ pre-war ideas about Cuban independence differed from their post-war views. This changed in ideology was strongly influenced by the media’s portrayal of the events in Cuba. At first the media printed many sentiments denouncing Spanish Colonialism and this caused Americans to support the idea of a “Cuba Libre”. Then after war Americans believed that the United States needed to manage Cuba because Cubans were not ready for complete autonomy.

During this time the media shifted their view to suggest that Cuba was not ready for self-governance. Before the American intervention in Cuba, ome United States media outlets advocated for the U. S. intervention because of the prospect of good headlines. In the 1890’s a dawn of new era of journalism was upon the world. This new era of attention-grabbing headlines and dramatic, sometimes fictional, stories were to become known as “yellow journalism”. Sensational headlines were what sold papers (PBS).

Every frontpage of the New York Times featured some sort of murder or atrocity. Dramatic representations of Cuban news would help fuel the American public’s passion for Cuban independence. The widely supported sentiments of Cuban independence would ultimately le American Intervention. American businesses and politicians thought that the expansion of the United States’s economy to an international level was necessary to increasing the U. S’s global influence. Driven by the new interpretations of Manifest Destiny it was essential for the future of America to become a world power.

Politicians recognized that there was significant economic opportunity in Cuba and these views were echoed by the media during this time. With the influence of other politicians and capitalists, President McKinley offered $300 million to the Spanish in exchange for control of Cuba. Despite these attempts to acquire Cube national sentiments for Cuban intervention were not significant enough at this time. Therefore no other significant attempts were made to get Cuba. However, the national mood would take a drastic change in the weeks following the explosion of the USS Maine.

On, February 15th, 1989, the USS Maine mysteriously exploded in the Havana Harbor. The sinking of the USS Maine caused the media explode. The story carried the headlines of every major newspaper in the weeks that followed. The Naval disaster, and the subsequent investigation as to what caused it were the centerpoint of the American focus. In the days that followed the New York Times headlines read, “The Maine Blown Up”, “The Maine Disaster” and “Maine’s Hull will decide”. Two days after the catastrophe the New York Times reports that 253 had died and there were only 96 survivors.

These headlines and reportings helped fuel America’s passion for involvement in Cuba. However, there was still a problem, the cause of the explosion leading to the sinking of the USS Maine was still unknown. For the first few days following the disaster, much of the media attributed the event as just an accident. Not too long after the media begins to play the blame game. On April 20th, just five days after the disaster, the New York Times leads with, “Spain and the Maine”. Also, newspaper publishers, Hearst and Pulitzer, write about the Spanish involvement in the disaster.

These accusations fueled American’s views that Cuba should be free because, “Many Americans already felt a passionate hatred for Spanish colonialism and a romantic attachment to the idea of ‘Cuba Libre” (Kinzer 36). Even though the investigation of the sinking of the USS Maine was not over people already adopted the view that the Spanish sunk the ship. Americans took this chance to denounce Spanish colonialism oo, which would play an instrumental role in McKinley’s decision to intervene in Cuba.

At the end of March a court ruled that it was believed the ship was sunk by a mine causing some munition on the ship to explode as well, but other then that the cause was still a large mystery. In an article in the New York Times called “Maine Court Finding” it states, “The court declares that is can not find evidence to fix the responsibility” (New York Times). Even though the court ruled that they could not determine who caused the explosion the media had already created a strongly held view that the Spanish sunk the USS Maine. Over the course of this investigation many writers had great impacts on the public’s opinion.

One of these writers was William Randolph Hearst, who used yellow journalism to portray his views of the Spanish. Over the course of the investigation Hearst, “had been attracting readers for months with vivid denunciations of Spanish colonialists. Like countless others who have sought to set the United States on the path to war, he knew that he needed a villain, an individual on whom he could focus the public’s outrage” (Kinzer 36). Through villainizing the Spanish and writing about Spanish brutality towards the Cubans Hearst was able to influence the public’s opinion towards intervention in Cuba.

As the public’s opinion changed so did the national mood, and this changed brought the prospect of a Spanish-American war for Cuba closer. Many of the groups opposed to the war, were now switching their views and a declaration of war was imminent. On April 19th, senator Henry Teller proposed the Teller amendment. Teller spoke, “The people of the island of Cuba are, and of right ought to be, free and independent.

The United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or ontrol over said island .. and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and control of the island to its people” (Kinzer 38). The Teller amendment was passed unanimously by the senate unanimously and paralleled the American mood liberate Cuba and then leave Cubans to govern themselves. As the support for Cuban independence grew, it became hard for the government to ignore these widespread sentiments. Finally on April 25th, influenced by the media, and the public, Congress declared war on Spain and the fight for Cuban independence had begun.

Just two short months ater on August 12th Spain and the United States signed a “protocol of peace”, which ended the war. The United States easily took Cuba from Spain and, “The time had come for the United States to begin its withdrawal and, in the words of the Teller Amendment, “leave the government and control of the island to its people”. Instead it did the opposite” (39). After the war had ended, the U. S. still maintained military presence on the island. The Media’s coverage began to portray the U. S. as a necessity for the Cubans. Cuba was seen as unfit to be completely autonomous. The American sentiment was shifting.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.