“At the time of the Spanish-American war the United States wentfrom relative isolation to increased global involvement because ofthe desire to free Cubans, protect its civilians and economicexpansion. The consequences on American society of that greaterinvolvement were emergence of America as a super power and increasedinternational trade”

America’s decision to become globally involved derives from thedesire to free Cubans. In 1898, America joined Cubans in the fightagainst Spain to free Cubans from oppression. It was clear that theSpanish colonial administration was oppressing Cubans. As was writtenin the newspapers “The Spanish had confined many Cubans toconcentration camps. The press called them death camps”.1In addition, Cubans could not trade freely because duringlong-established Spanish rule they could only sell their goods toSpain, which would then trade with other countries and retain all theprofit. According to Roosevelt, “The steady aim of this nation, asof all enlightened nations, should be to strive to bring the daythere shall prevail throughout the world the peace of justice”.2With such a stance, it was crucial that the US would become involvedin freeing Cubans. As the 1800s ended, Spain lost majority of its NewWorld colonies with the exception of Puerto Rico and Cuba. However,most Cubans resented Spanish rule causing them to flee to Florida anddifferent parts of America. Nevertheless, Cubans progressed todemonstrate loyalty to Cuba’s Jose Marti. Marti sought support fromCubans to push for Cuba’s sovereignty from Spain. He was murderedupon his return to Cuba, which aggravated Cubans’ fight for theirindependence. America watched Cuba’s struggle to fight Spain withinterest. US had invested in enterprises in Cuba worth millions andwere actively trading with Cuba. Following the explosion and sinkingof the Maine, America’s warship on a visit to Cuba, the countryconfirmed warfare on Spain. America’s troops fought Spain inthousands. The main battle was at Manila, where the American navyoverpowered Spain, in turn freeing the Cubans.

It was central for America to change its stand on relative isolationin order to protect its citizens. America became involved in theSpanish-American war because it had to protect Cubans that had becomeAmerican citizens through naturalization. During Spain’s oppressiverule in Cuba, most Cubans had resorted to flee to other countries.America was among the countries that experienced an influx of Cubansbecause the United States law justified their protection. This isillustrated by Cleveland’s writing that

“Many Cubans reside in this country and indirectly promote theinsurrection through the press, by public meetings, by the purchaseand shipment of arms, by the raising of funds, and by other means,which the spirit of our institutions and the tenor of our laws do notpermit to be made the subject of criminal prosecutions”.3

Interestingly, most of the Cubans that moved to America hadnaturalized their citizenship. By becoming American citizens, theyhad a right to protection by the US administration. Such protectionwas achieved through claiming damages to individuals and property andseeking apologies from Spanish officials for their acts. As such, theUnited States found itself greatly entangled in the conflict betweenSpain and Cuba, making it impossible to uphold their policy ofrelative isolation. The only way that America could ensure effectiveprotection of its civilians from oppressive Spanish rule was throughfighting for Cuba’s independence.

United States policy makers resorted to participate globally in theevent of the Spanish-American war owing to the need for economicexpansion. Towards the end of the nineteenth era, America’spopulation was increasing drastically, and at the same time, theeconomy began to thrive. Economic expansion became unavoidable. Thecountry’s domestic economy resulted in an exportable excess ofcapital all through the nineteenth century. The surplus was becauseof an effective transportation system, technological developments andimproved marketing strategies. The development of the economy createda need for overseas nations where American companies would sell theirproducts. The need for economic expansion was driven by massiveproduction, resulting in surplus goods, because the Americanpopulation could not consume all the products. Of specific interestin America’s economic expansion was the island, Cuba. America wasactively involved in trade with Cuba, and as a result, it had“millions of American capital invested in plantations, railroad,mining and other business enterprises on the island”.4Any continued oppression in Cuba by Spain meant that the industrialsignificance of the island was hastily declining. America saw Cuba asa fertile ground to expand their economy. America had interest in thedevelopment of markets in China, in addition to plans for building acanal via Central America, which resulted in the need to strategizeon how to expand. The islands were important bases for protectingAmerican commerce. The Caribbean acted as an area with great economicconnection to America, long referred as the republic’s naturalconservatory.5This made the island a strategic starting point in America’sexpansion in trade and opening overseas of companies thus resortingto engage in the war to protect Cuba.

The consequence of America’s international participation waslargely evident in increased international trade. Prior to the war,advances in industrialization in America had resulted in theproliferation of companies. These companies produced goods in masses,resulting in surplus. The US population, on its own was incapable ofconsuming all the products. In order to deal with the surplus,companies would have to reduce their output. However, businessleaders were reluctant to minimize output. They suggested that inorder to strengthen America’s industry, the country would have toseek for more customers to purchase the surplus goods. This createdthe need to search for overseas markets. Among the overseas markets,many Americans invested in Cuba. The US joined the war with the mainobjective of protecting its commerce. Owing to the competition fortrade, it was no longer possible for the US to advance its relativeisolation policy. The country had to be actively involved in seekingnew markets. Participation and triumph in the Spanish-American warmade it possible for America to continue trading freely in Cuba.Additionally, the country was able to use Cuba in its expansion toother countries. Securing the Caribbean made it possible to constructthe Panama Canal, establish shipping routes in addition to militarycenters in Asia.6As at 1900, the worth of exports from America has increased, while atthe same time investment also improved. Following theSpanish-American war, investors from America spend billions inseveral projects in Asia, Philippines as well as Latin America. Theprojects included the construction of railroads, mines and coffee,sugar and banana plantations. International organizations developedin America, which backed federal expansionist commonly regarded asoverseas imperialist policy. In the end, America was in a position totrade freely on an international level.

Another consequence is that America became a super power. Followinginvolvement in the Spanish-American war, it was no longer possiblefor America to avoid participation in global issues. Before the war,the country had passed the “Teller Amendment” that was anindication of America’s purpose to make Cuba independent. However,there was a turn of events when America proceeded to capture Guam,Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the Philippines. This resulted in a movewhere big countries like America captured less powerful countries.The captives, determined to fight for freedom resented US rule.Nevertheless, due to their inferiority they could not defeat America,as it had become a super power. The Spanish-American battle alsoacted as a perfect opportunity for US to demonstrate its powers,through its naval authority. An illustration is during the triumphover Spain’s navy in Cuba and Philippines. Bearing in mind thatAmerica was ill prepared for the war in Cuba, yet was able tooverthrow Spain, it only demonstrates that the country was a superpower. After the war, the country gained international recognitionowing to its prowess in strategically defeating Spain and freeingCuba. The country advanced towards imperialism. Taking part ininternational politics contributed to the creation of the UnitedNations years later. The UN has been an important body is ensuringthe maintenance of peace on a global scale. In addition, the UN isactively involved in assisting nations deal with political turmoil,and other challenges.


Cleveland, Grover. “American Interests in the Cuban Revolution.”U.S., Department of State, Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs,1896.

Cushing, Lincoln. Centennial of the Spanish American War, 1997.

“The Age of Imperialism.” Small Planet Communications Inc.Last modified, 2013.

“Transcript of Theodore Roosevelt’s Corollary to the MonroeDoctrine.”, December 6, 1904.

1 “The Age of Imperialism,” Small Planet Communications Inc, 2013.

2 “Transcript of Theodore Roosevelt’s Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine,”, December 6, 1904.

3 Grover Cleveland, “American Interests in the Cuban Revolution.” U.S., Department of State, Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, 1896.

4 Grover, 1.

5 Lincoln Cushing, Centennial of the Spanish American War 1898-1998,, 1997.

6 Lincoln, 1.