The Spanish America War: How American Interventionism and Sensationalism is still prevalent today

By Leonardo Reyes

The Spanish-American War that occurred in 1898 led to the end of Spanish colonization and rule in the west, which then led to America’s development into one of the most powerful countries at that time.  As a result of the war, America gained the control of territories in Latin America and in the West, which significantly made America more formidable to other world powers.

This war essentially revolved around Cuba and their struggle for independence from Spain.  When Spain brutally repressed the Cuban insurrection, U.S newspapers took notice of this and introduced sensationalized depictions and descriptions of the Spanish oppression overseas.  This form of journalism became popularized and named “yellow journalism”, and it brought popular demand for U.S intervention after the sinking of the USS Maine.  Afterwards, America and Spain officially declared war, leading to a Spanish defeat and America eventually gaining control of Spain’s territories in both the East and West.  

Although America was not as oppressive and tyrannical as Spain, it definitely established its dominance over the territories it gained control of.  This led to many Americans to support American interventionism and calling the war a “splendid little war”.  This support for war and foreign intervention led to the America that we see today.  An America that feels the need to step in between every foreign conflict, sending troops to fight other nations battles, a nation that puts most of its money into the military-industrial complex.


Recently, America’s current president, Donald Trump, has decided to indulge in tax cuts, but instead of putting the money to more beneficial uses, he chooses to further fund the military.  The Nation addressed this situation in recent article saying,

“Donald Trump used his first Joint Address to the Congress of the United States to engage in an unprecedented flight of fiscal fantasy. Specifically, the president imagined that the United States could cut taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations, rip tens of billions of dollars out of domestic programs (and diplomacy), hand that money over to the military-industrial complex, and somehow remain a functional and genuinely strong nation”

The Spanish American War established the America’s desire to constantly intervene in foreign affairs, however it also established sensationalist writing that is seen in newspapers or articles today.  Pulitzer and Hearst are often adduced as the cause of the United States’ entry into the Spanish–American War due to sensationalist stories or exaggerations of the terrible conditions in Cuba.  Just as those two who sensationalized writing got on the front pages of newspapers, today we see the internet used to spread false stories or misleading material that is without reliable research or data.  

All in all, the Spanish American both introduced Sensationalist writing and American interventionism, and although this was in the late nineteenth century, there is without a doubt that the effects of the Spanish American can still be seen to this day.


Works cited

“Educational Travel Lesson Plans.” Spanish American War of 1898: Puerto Rico – Educational Travel Lesson Plan,

Nichols, John. “Donald Trump Goes All In for the Military-Industrial Complex.” The Nation, 1 Mar. 2017,


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