The Spanish-American War


U.S. History Rise of a World Power The Spanish-American War
Students learn why the Spanish-American War is considered a turning point in U.S. history. First they engage with the topic by learning the source of “yellow journalism,” a term that originated in relation to the Spanish-American War. Then they examine the Cuban and Philippine campaigns of the war. Next they explain the U.S. interests in annexing Hawaii. Finally, they analyze the causes and outcomes of the Spanish-American War.

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Overview

In this experience, students learn why the Spanish-American War is considered a turning point in U.S. history. First they engage with the topic by learning the source of “yellow journalism,” a term that originated in relation to the Spanish-American War. Then they examine the Cuban and Philippine campaigns. Next they explain the U.S. interests in annexing Hawaii. Finally, they analyze the causes and outcomes of the Spanish-American War.

Objectives

  • Explain the significance of the Spanish-American War in moving the United States into the position of a world power.
  • Describe the economic effects of the Spanish-American War on the United States.


In 1898 the United States entered what is known as the Spanish-American War, which is considered a turning point in American history. In this experience, you will learn why.

Objectives

  • Explain the significance of the Spanish American War in moving the United States into the position of a world power.
  • Describe the economic effects of the Spanish-American War on the United States.
There are many phrases that use color to indicate a quality, for example, true blue means completely faithful to an idea or person.


List one or more phrases that include a color to indicate a quality or describe a person.

Post your answer

Sample answers: green thumb (gifted with plants), yellow-bellied (cowardly), blue collar (manual laborer), black sheep (troublemaker), blue blood (aristocrat), green with envy (jealous), tickled pink (thrilled).

You may want to mention one phrase connected to politics: yellow dog Democrat. This political term arose in the early twentieth century to describe Southern voters who would only vote for candidates from the Democratic Party, so they would “vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for any Republican.”


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The term yellow journalism is actually connected to the start of the Spanish-American War.


Do you know what yellow journalism means?

A) Journalism that is cowardly and only presents a single, biased viewpoint, usually of the media owner or an associated political party
B) Journalism that presents exaggerated headlines and sensationalism over well-researched stories with factual depth 
C) Journalism that uses literary techniques, such as a subjective perspective, and tries to present “truth” over “facts” 
D) Journalism that uses brief excerpts from a speech or interview edited into short news stories



The Yellow Kid and a political cartoon showing “yellow journalists” advocating for entering the war


The Yellow Kid was a popular American comic strip character. The comic strip was one of the first Sunday supplement comic strips in an American newspaper.

The two newspapers that ran the Yellow Kid, Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal, quickly became known as the “yellow kid papers,” which evolved to “yellow journalism.” The phrase describes the two newspapers’ editorial practices of using sensationalism—and sometimes fictionalized headlines and stories—in order to gain readers and sell newspapers. Profit was more important to them than responsible journalism.

In the late nineteenth century, newspapers were the main source of news, and war stories boosted newspaper sales. Cuba had been a Spanish colony from its founding in 1492 through 1898. When Cuba revolutionaries began to rebel against Spanish rule, the resulting headlines made exciting newspaper headlines. Both Pulitzer and Hearst denounced Spain and blamed it for the sinking of the battleship U.S.S. Maine. They ran editorials and stories that encouraged the United States to support Cuba in its war for independence.

The political cartoon shown on the right depicts Pulitzer and Hearst dressed as The Yellow Kid and advocating for U.S. intervention in the war.


Ask students: How does the media affect popular opinion about wars?


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