7.8 The Spanish - American War (1898)
Towards the end of the 19th Century, America got involved in a war with Spain. The war was fought over the question of Cuban independence. Cuba had risen against the Spanish regime. The atrocities committed by the Spanish authorities aroused sympathy in the Americans for the Cuban fight for freedom.
Theodore Roosevelt and his small band of supporters
in the Congress wanted to intervene and liberate the Cubans. The
U.S declared war on Spain, when a U.S battleship íMaineí was blown
up in the Havana Harbor, Cuba. The public was furious. And the Slogan:
Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain became the watch word
America emerged victorious in the short but decisive
war. A peace treaty was signed at Paris in December 1898. The Treaty
recognized the freedom of Cuba. Also, it gave the U.S the control
of Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam. The conflict made the world
realize that the young nation U.S had come of age.
The Open Door Policy
The American acquisition of the Philippines, pushed America to play a major role in the Far East. After the crushing defeat of China in the Sino-Japanese war of 1895, the European powers began to divide China into sphere of influence. Fearing that China would now be closed to American trade, the U.S President Mc Kinely sent Secretary Hay with the First Open Door notes to Great Britain, Russia and Germany.
Finally, the Open Door Policy was agreed up by the European powers. It was based on 3 principles:
a) Each nation with a sphere of influence must respect the rights and privileges of other
nations in the sphere.
b) Each nation with a sphere should not discriminate against other nations in levying
port dues and rail road rates.
c) And Chinese officials can continue to collect tariff duties in all spheres.
The Japanese immigration to the West Coast
The Russo-Japanese War (1905) led to a rise in Japanese immigration
to the Pacific coast of the U.S. The large scale immigration caused
deep resentment among the Californians. So much so that a Japanese
Korean Exclusion League was formed in California. Moreover the
legislature in California seriously debated an all-inclusive Oriental
In October 1906, the San Francisco School Board hit the newspapers, when it passed an order making it imperative for all Oriental pupils to attend a public school set aside exclusively for them. The Japanese sentiments were hurt by the order. The situation in San Francisco was rather critical. The situation required President Theodore Rooseveltís intervention. His Secretary of State, Root came to a gentlemanís agreement with the Japanese. After the Spanish-American war, the U.S launched an aggressive foreign policy. She gradually got involved in Latin American, Asian and European matters. The spoils of the war with Spain gave the U.S the Spanish Colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
In 1898, the Congress passed the íTeller Amendment.í According to this amendment Cuba would be made a self governing colony after its internal conflicts were settled. But after the war, America controlled the islandís financial administration. By the Platt Amendment, America had the right to police or send her troops in case of any problems.