Study Guide

The Spanish-American War People

  • Josiah Strong

    Josiah Strong (1847–1916) was a clergyman and writer who preached of the saving power of Protestant religious values. He's best known for his book, Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis, in which he urged Anglo-Saxons to "civilize and Christianize" the American West.

    More specifically, Strong called for Anglo-Saxons to spread their superior institutions and values to "inferior races." Civilizing "savages," he said, would be both good for the uncivilized peoples and for the American economy. 

    Many of those in favor of global expansion in the late-19th century found inspiration in this work.

  • José Rizal

    José Rizal (1861–1896) was a Filipino intellectual who fought to reform, and ultimately to oust, the Spanish colonial government. 

    He's best known for his controversial novel, Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), which, though fictional, alluded to the corruption of the Spanish colonial government and the Catholic Church. He was eventually executed by a firing squad for the part he played in the Philippine Revolution. 

    His gripping and controversial tale of Spanish colonial injustice awakened national consciousness among Filipinos and contributed to the rise of the Filipino independence movement. Rizal is still considered a revolutionary martyr in the Philippines.

  • Andrés Bonifacio

    Andrés Bonifacio (1863–1897) was a key leader in the Filipino revolutionary struggle against Spanish colonial rule.

    In July 1892, Andrés Bonifacio, a follower of Filipino nationalist José Rizal, formed the Katipunan, a secret brotherhood committed to winning Filipino independence through armed revolution against Spain. His organization helped spark the Philippine Revolution in 1896.

  • Frederick Jackson Turner

    Frederick Jackson Turner (1861–1932) was an American historian best known for his book, The Significance of the Frontier in American History, in which he presented his "Frontier Thesis." This central thesis was that the vitality of the American spirit rested on westward expansion.

    Turner, who was chosen to speak in Chicago during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, told his audience that all the land in the American western frontier had been explored and settled, and the great era of expansion appeared to be over. 

    He assured his audience, however, that expansion could continue as long as the U.S. broadened its notion of "manifest destiny" and looked beyond its continental borders toward the rest of the world. This message was of great importance to a nation that was increasingly coming to value imperial expansion.

  • Enrique Dupuy de Lôme

    Enrique Dupuy de Lôme (1816–1885) was a Spanish diplomat who's best known for a letter he penned to a Spanish official in Cuba in 1898. 

    On February 9th, 1898, the New York Journal published this private letter written by De Lôme. In it, De Lôme attacked President McKinley, calling him "weak," and "a low politician," and forewarned of American intervention in support of Cuban insurgents.

    The American public fumed over the De Lôme letter, and called for war against Spain, so the private correspondence ultimately fueled popular cries for intervention in Cuba against Spain. 

  • Máximo Gómez

    Máximo Gómez (1836–1905) was general who led Cuban insurgents against the Spanish colonial government in the Ten Years' War (1868–1878).

    He later served as a key leader of the Cuban Liberation Army, which fought a difficult three-year war against Spanish forces before the United States intervened in 1898.

  • William McKinley

    William McKinley (1843–1901) was the 25th President of the United States. 

    The Republican candidate for president in 1896, he defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan. He was reelected in 1900, but during the first year of his second term, anarchist assassin Leon Czolgosz took McKinley's life.

    In April 1898, President William McKinley asked the U.S. Congress for a declaration of war against Spain amidst great public and political pressure. To this day, historians debate whether President McKinley had global expansion in mind when he chose to intervene in the Cuban Revolution.

  • Emilio Aguinaldo

    Emilio Aguinaldo (1869–1964) was a Filipino general who played an important role in the Philippine Revolution against Spain, and later led Filipino insurgent soldiers against American forces.

    In 1898, the United States supported Filipino general Emilio Aguinaldo in his efforts against the Spanish colonial government. Once Filipino forces expelled the Spanish colonial government, Aguinaldo appointed himself the new leader of the Philippines. 

    When the United States refused to recognize his authority and instead sent troops to occupy the islands, the Philippine Republic under Aguinaldo's leadership declared war on the United States.

  • Theodore Roosevelt

    Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) was the 26th President of the United States and a proponent of the "New Nationalist" variety of Progressivism. 

    A master of populist rhetoric and public charm, Roosevelt quickly tapped into the widespread fervor for reform. His administration pursued some widely publicized antitrust cases against large companies like Northern Securities and the Swift Beef Trust, but for all his aggressive rhetoric, Roosevelt actually went after fewer monopolies than his successor, William Howard Taft.

    In 1898, Roosevelt formed a military regiment—the Rough Riders—to fight against Spain in Cuba. He fashioned himself a "natural leader" of the regiment, a group that included Ivy Leaguers, miners, cowboys, Native Americans, sons of Confederate veterans, and African Americans. 

    Fighting in Cuba for only a few months before Spain surrendered to the U.S., Roosevelt and his Rough Riders returned, revered as heroes. Roosevelt channeled his new military fame into a successful political career.

  • Mark Twain

    Mark Twain (1835–1910) was the pen name for Samuel Langhorne Clemens, an American writer, humorist, and political critic who's best known today for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Many consider him to be the greatest writer in American history.

    In 1898, several political figures, scholars, and businessmen formed the American Anti-Imperialist League in order to oppose the annexation of the Philippine Islands. Mark Twain was one of its most vocal members.

  • John Hay

    John Hay (1938–1905) was an American political figure who served as an assistant to President Abraham Lincoln, and later as Secretary of State under President William McKinley. After McKinley's assassination, Hay continued to serve as Secretary of State under Theodore Roosevelt.

    In 1898, Secretary of State John Hay helped prepare the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War. In the following year, he announced the Open Door policy, which demanded that European powers controlling portions of China grant equal access to the United States.

  • José Martí

    José Martí (1853–1895) was a Cuban intellectual, poet, and revolutionary leader who founded El Partido Revolucionario Cubano (Cuban Revolutionary Party) in 1882. He's still revered as a great revolutionary martyr in Cuba.

    José Martí formed the Cuban Revolutionary Party while living in New York, in exile from his native Cuba. In the years leading up to the Cuban Revolution, he studied American political, economic, and popular culture, and concluded that the future of Cuba would be compromised by American aid. 

    "Once the United States is in Cuba," he remarked, "who will drive it out?" 

    In 1895, he returned to Cuba from exile in New York in order to assist in the armed struggle against Spanish forces. Just one month after arrival, Martí lost his life, killed in a Spanish ambush at Dos Ríos, Cuba.

  • Rudyard Kipling

    Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) was a British author and poet best known for his short stories, children's books, and a number of poems and essays that reflected the values of empire. 

    Kipling won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1906; among his most famous works are The Jungle Book, Kim, and Just-So Stories.

    In 1899, Rudyard Kipling penned a poem that urged the United States to join Great Britain in its imperial pursuits, and to take up the "white man's burden" by helping to civilize supposedly primitive societies through imperial conquest.

  • Orville H. Platt

    Orville H. Platt (1827–1905) was a Republican senator from Connecticut who's best known for authoring the 1901 amendment that established the conditions for American withdrawal from Cuba.

    Under Senator Platt, Congress approved an amendment—commonly referred to as the Platt Amendment—which stipulated the conditions for U.S. troop removal from Cuba. It stated that the U.S. government would hold the right to intervene in Cuban affairs to maintain peace. It also required the Cuban government to lease military bases to the United States and limited Cuban authority in negotiating treaties with other nations. 

    The policy would ultimately instill in Cuba a crippling dependency on the U.S.

  • Brooks Adams

    Brooks Adams (1848–1927) was the grandson of President John Quincy Adams. As a historian, he's best known for his study of the American economy and his warnings concerning the rapid growth of cities.

    In 1902, Brooks Adams wrote The New Empire, which predicted the rise of the U.S. as an economic power that would soon "outweigh any single empire, if not all empires combined.