Spanish-American War Causes and Effects Worksheet | Student Handouts
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Spanish-American War Causes and Effects Worksheet - Free to print (PDF file) for high school United States History students.
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Click here to print. Students list and describe the leading short- and long-term causes and effects of the Spanish-American War (1898). Answers will vary.
The Spanish-American War was a conflict that took place in 1898 between the United States and Spain. It had several short-term and long-term causes, as well as significant effects.

Short-Term Causes:
  • Cuban Rebellion: A short-term trigger for the war was the Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898). Cuban rebels sought to gain independence from Spanish colonial rule. The U.S. press widely covered the conflict, and there was a great deal of sympathy for the Cuban cause in the United States.
  • USS Maine Explosion: The sinking of the USS Maine, an American battleship, in Havana Harbor in February 1898 played a crucial role in escalating tensions. While the cause of the explosion was unclear, the American press and public blamed Spain. This incident heightened anti-Spanish sentiment in the United States.
  • Yellow Journalism: Sensationalist reporting in newspapers, known as yellow journalism, exaggerated Spanish atrocities in Cuba and further fueled public support for intervention.
Long-Term Causes:
  • Imperial Competition: The United States had been expanding its imperial influence in the late 19th century, including the acquisition of territories like Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines. The desire for overseas markets and resources was a long-term factor.
  • Humanitarian Concerns: Many Americans were sympathetic to the suffering of the Cuban population under Spanish rule and viewed intervention as a way to help the Cuban cause and promote democracy.
  • Economic Interests: The United States had economic interests in Cuba, including substantial investments in sugar and tobacco production. Protecting these interests was a long-term concern.
  • Treaty of Paris: The war ended with the Treaty of Paris in December 1898. Spain ceded several territories to the United States, including Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. Cuba gained independence.
  • Emergence as a World Power: The war marked the United States' emergence as a global power, with overseas colonies and interests in the Pacific and Caribbean.
  • Anti-Imperialist Debate: The acquisition of the Philippines, in particular, led to an anti-imperialist debate in the United States. Some opposed American colonialism, citing concerns about subjugating other nations.
  • Cuba's Independence: Cuba gained independence from Spain but had to contend with significant American influence and intervention in its affairs.
  • End of Spanish Empire: The war effectively marked the end of the Spanish Empire's influence in the Americas.
  • Military Impact: The war was relatively short and had relatively low casualties for the United States, but it showcased the country's military capabilities.
The Spanish-American War had a profound impact on both the United States and the countries involved, leading to significant territorial changes and shifts in global power dynamics.
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