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What Was the Result of the Spanish-American War?

By David Bishop
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Spanish-American War was a major conflict between the United States and the Spanish Empire. The war took place in 1898 and was fought in various Spanish colonial holdings in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The important results of the Spanish-American War were the emancipation of Cuba, the U.S.'s expansion into former Spanish colonies and the effective end of Spanish imperial power. The war is considered to be a major victory for the United States and allowed for the expansion of a U.S. empire beyond its own borders.

Before the war, Spain had been a declining imperial power but still maintained valuable colonial possessions in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. Many of Spain’s holdings in the New World had already achieved independence, and the inhabitants of these island colonies also were seeking freedom from Spanish rule. During this time, some U.S. interests were seeking to expand their influence in these areas and had previously hoped to buy Cuba from Spain. War was declared after the sinking of a U.S. warship in Cuban waters. The war ended after decisive American victories in Cuba and at the Battle of Manila Bay.

One result of the Spanish-American War was the final end of a Spanish Empire dating back to the voyage of Columbus to the New World in 1492. While many of these nations retain Spanish language and customs in the 21st century, Spain’s political influence was limited to its own borders. The country would remain largely absent from the global conflicts that marked the first half of the 20th century.

Of the former Spanish colonies, only Cuba gained complete independence after the war, but the island remains in an uneasy relationship with the United States in 2011. Another result of the Spanish-American war is that the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico became U.S. holdings, a condition that immediately sparked the Philippine-American conflict. U.S. territories in the Pacific eventually produced tensions with Japan in the 1930s and contributed to U.S. involvement in World War II. The Philippines would not gain total independence until after that war. Puerto Rico and Guam remain U.S. territories in 2011 and provide important bases for American military forces.

Another result of the Spanish-American War in the United States was the growing popularity of the idea of Manifest Destiny, which held that the U.S. had the right and the obligation to control the continent of North America and surrounding regions. The war's results were seen as a great victory for this notion. Theodore Roosevelt was hailed as a great hero during the liberation of Cuba, leading to his eventual presidency. The Spanish-American War also resulted in more power for newspaper publishers of the day, who used the conflict to stir up the population and sell more papers.

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Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Jan 30, 2014

Very glad Teddy Roosevelt was mentioned. He was one of the greatest presidents this country has had and his participation in the Spanish-American war made him so popular that a bid for the presidency became a real possibility.

We've had plenty of war heroes wind up as president (George Washington, U.S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower to name but three), and Roosevelt was one of the best.

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