Conflicts Farther Afield Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

The year 1898 is known, of course, as the year in which the Spanish-American War unfolded. In this conflict, spurred largely by American territorial interests in the Caribbean and the Pacific, naval and land battles were fought briefly and successfully in Cuba, resulting in that island (together with Puerto Rico) becoming a U.S. possession. In the following year, a more drawn out yet equally one-sided combat situation took root in the Philippines, as U.S. occupiers sought to quell a Filipino insurgency there.

The year 1898 is known, of course, as the year in which the Spanish-American War unfolded. In this conflict, spurred largely by American territorial interests in the Caribbean and the Pacific, naval and land battles were fought briefly and successfully in Cuba, resulting in that island (together with Puerto Rico) becoming a U.S. possession. In the following year, a more drawn out yet equally one-sided combat situation took root in the Philippines, as U.S. occupiers sought to quell a Filipino insurgency there.

In this section we review a number of documents associated with that war. We read a report on the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, recounting U.S. naval actions. We examine a detailed summary of events in the Philippines, written by a critic of U.S. actions. And we hear the voices of two dissenting parties: the American Anti-Imperialist League, which denounced the war effort as improper and immoral; and Mark Twain, who, in response to the war, penned an imaginative piece of prose that publishers refused to print.

We begin and end the section, however, with documents from conflicts that arose before and after the Spanish-American War. The first is a diplomatic cry for help from Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii, addressing, in 1893, U.S. president Benjamin Harrison. In her plea Liliuokalani laments the fact that U.S. armed forces, in collaboration with business interests, have taken over her island and dispatched with her and her rule. The American move was the first step toward eventual annexation of Hawaii.

The last conflict reviewed here leaps ahead in time to 1916 but returns us geographically to the North American continent. In a set of three documents we find descriptions of U.S. forces under General John Pershing entering Mexico in pursuit of the famed Pancho Villa. Villa had himself crossed the border into the United States earlier, in a raid for supplies to support his antigovernment forces in northern Mexico. Coming before the United States’ entry into World War I, the skirmish tested the readiness of the American military and had implications for the larger war to come.

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