Create a product that describes the Spanish American War or the building of the Panama Canal to today’s population
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Imagine you are a historian reflecting on this period in history. You’ve been asked to create a product that describes the Spanish American War or the building of the Panama Canal to today’s population. For this assessment, you may write either a newspaper article or a storybook about the causes, motivations, and effects of the Spanish-American War or the building of the Panama Canal.
If you choose to create a five-page storybook, be sure to include at least three sentences of text and an illustration on each page that focus on the following:
- the reasons for the event
- the incidents leading up to the main event
- accurate details on what took place during the event
- the results of the event
Your storybook should be at least five pages with an illustration and three-sentence description on each page.
Your storybook should be written in no larger than a 12-point font. You may include clip art or images. Be sure to cite your sources.
If you choose to write a newspaper article, be sure you include the following informations:
- a headline
- the reasons for the event
- the incidents leading up to the main event
- accurate details on what took place during the event
- the results of the event
Your newspaper article should include a paragraph for each main topic in the article.
Your article should be written in no larger than a 12-point font. You may include clip art or images. Be sure to cite your sources.
How Was the World Changing at the Turn of the Century?
President Theodore Roosevelt speaks to a large crowd in 1902. The rise of the United States as a world power occurred during Roosevelt’s time in office.
Library of Congress
By the late 19th century, the United States had moved away from isolationism and had begun to get involved in foreign affairs. The need for raw materials and new markets for investment and the sale of products drove imperialism and expansionism. Competing nations also wanted bases around the globe for their large navies.
Although slow to join the European powers’ empire-building movement, Americans felt that the United States needed new territory, too. They also wanted to spread American ideas about religion and government.
In 1867, American leaders acquired Alaska and the Midway Islands. Soon, U.S. interests fell closer to home. Unrest was spreading in Cuba, a Spanish colony. Spain had once been a great world power. But it was a nation in decline in the late 1800s.
In this lesson, you will learn about how the Cuban move for independence involved the United States in war. You will also find out how the results of the war led to U.S. territorial growth, the building of the Panama Canal, and an increased U.S. presence in Latin America.
You will use what you have learned to create an illustrated storybook or a newspaper article explaining the Spanish-American War or the building of the Panama Canal.
Sneak a peek at the assignment.
Objective 03.02 U.S. Territorial Expansion
After completing this lesson, you will be able to:
- explain the causes and the effects of the Spanish-American War
- analyze the economic, military, and security motivations of the United States to complete the Panama Canal as well as major obstacles involved in its construction
03.02 U.S. Territorial Expansion: Spanish-American War
How Did the Spanish-American War Change the Balance of World Power?
By the late 1800s, Spain had lost all of its American colonies, except Cuba and Puerto Rico. In the mid-1800s, Cuban leaders demanded independence. They protested against the corruption of the Spanish colonial government. They also wanted political representation in the Spanish parliament and lower taxes.
In 1868, Cuban revolutionaries began the Ten Years’ War against Spain in an attempt to gain independence. The Spanish government put down the rebellion, and more than 200,000 lives were lost in the struggle.
The government also exiled many Spanish independence leaders. Among these exiled leaders was José Martí. Martí, a Cuban poet, worked for Cuban independence while in New York City. Although Martí and his fellow leaders were exiled, the desire for independence was not lost.
In 1894, the Spanish government canceled a trade pact between the United States and Cuba, which outraged Cubans. The following year, Spain raised taxes and passed new trade restrictions. Cuban rebels assembled an army and launched a renewed Cuban War for Independence. Martí urged invaders to launch more revolts against the government.
In 1895, Martí and a group of rebels launched a revolt. Months later, Martí died a martyr during the Cuban fight for independence. Martí’s death was not in vain. Because of his efforts and the efforts of other leaders, the revolutionary army made some early gains. It took over the eastern part of the island and named it the Republic of Cuba. By 1896, rebels controlled most of the island.
To fight the revolutionaries, the Spanish army instituted a new program, called “reconcentration.” The Spanish army forced Cubans out of their villages and into camps called “reconcentrados.” In doing so, the Spanish believed they would deny the rebels popular support, food, and supplies. Tens of thousands of Cubans died from starvation and disease in what are called concentration camps today.
By 1898, the Spanish government had offered Cuba the option of partial self-government. It had also closed the concentration camps. However, Cubans still demanded complete independence. Those demands found support in the United States.
Many Americans supported Cuban independence simply because the desire for freedom was a familiar theme in U.S. history. Adding to the support were the efforts of American newspapers. For several years, newspapers had been publishing shocking accounts of the suffering of the Cuban people.
The articles appeared mainly in two New York newspapers, the New York Journal, published by William Randolph Hearst, and the New York World, published by Joseph Pulitzer. These newspapers were well known for sensationalist, or exaggerated, stories. The two newspapers had competed with one another to increase readership. Often, their stories were accompanied by dramatic headlines and shocking illustrations. This style of journalism came to be known as the yellow press, after a popular comic strip called “The Yellow Kid,” one of the first comic strips in an American newspaper. “The Yellow Kid” originated in the Sunday World, but Hearst hired its creator away from the World. The comic was then published in the Journal, and the World developed a rival series.
As the conflict in Cuba continued, the Journal and the World printed increasingly dramatic stories about events there. The more shocking the story, the more newspapers were sold. Both papers printed interviews with Cubans fighting for freedom and tried to whip the nation into a frenzy to support Cuban independence. Then Hearst published a letter purchased from a Cuban spy that caused embarrassment for President William McKinley’s administration. The letter, written by Spain’s foreign minister to the United States, Enrique Dupuy de Lôme, called President McKinley “weak.” Americans were outraged and demanded a response. The political cartoon shows the two publishers trying to push the United States into war.
The USS Maine
End of War
03.02 U.S. Territorial Expansion: The Philippines
Why Did the United States Annex the Philippines?
With the Treaty of Paris signed, the United States moved toward making the Philippines a U.S. territory. Supporters saw the Philippines as an important U.S. possession for economic and strategic reasons.
Look at the map of the U.S. War with Spain. The small map in the bottom right-hand corner shows the location of the Philippine Islands. Note how the island chain is bordered by the China Sea and Pacific Ocean. Its location greatly improved access to Asian markets. Cargo ships could stop in the now U.S.-held Guam to refuel before heading on to the Philippines.
Many supporters of the annexation of the Philippines also believed in the importance of bringing American values there. However, there were Americans, including senators, who believed that taking control of the Philippines was imperialism at its worst. Some of those opposed formed the Anti-Imperialist League.
Several African American leaders opposed annexation of the Philippines for a different reason. They did not want the United States to impose segregation on other nations the way it had on the South. Some Americans also feared that taking over the Philippines would increase immigration and threaten the jobs of American workers.
As expected, the people of the Philippines were outraged that the United States was attempting to make their country a U.S. possession. Emilio Aguinaldo, who had helped the U.S. army defeat Spain, led rebels in a bloody war against U.S. troops for three years. More than 4,000 Americans and some 220,000 Filipinos died, mostly from disease. Aguinaldo was finally captured, and the rebels were defeated.
The United States controlled the Philippines until 1946, when it gave the island nation full independence. Control of the nation by the United States did lead a number of Filipinos to immigrate to the U.S. for employment and education.
03.02 U.S. Territorial Expansion: Cuba and Puerto Rico
What Happened in Cuba and Puerto Rico?
After the war, President William McKinley wanted to restore order in Cuba and Puerto Rico. The Teller Amendment had declared that the United States would not annex Cuba. However, McKinley set up a military government there and in Puerto Rico. He hoped to create a stable government and protect American investments.
One major problem in Cuba was a yellow fever epidemic that devastated both the local population and U.S. troops stationed there. The United States sent two Army doctors, Walter Reed and William C. Gorgas, to Cuba to study the disease. The two doctors proved that mosquitoes, which breed in standing water, transmitted the virus. The army put in place a program to drain the standing water found around Havana. The disease was almost completely eliminated from the city.
In 1901 the U.S. Congress passed the Platt Amendment. The Platt Amendment made Cuba a protectorate—a country under the control of another country. The amendment declared that Cuba could not give any of its land to a foreign government other than the United States. It also limited Cuba’s right to negotiate treaties. It gave the United States a permanent lease for a naval base at Guantánamo Bay and stated that the United States had the right to intervene in Cuban affairs. In return, the United States guaranteed that U.S. troops would be removed from Cuba.
Did You Know?
In 1917, Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens and were given the right to elect all members of the legislature. Puerto Rico was made a commonwealth of the United States in 1952.
Today, Puerto Rico controls its domestic affairs but still falls under U.S. federal law as if it were a U.S. state. In fact, statehood for Puerto Rico has been a subject of debate for many years.
However, the Cuban government had to incorporate the terms of the amendment into the Cuban constitution. These terms stayed in place until 1934, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt put an end to all but the maintenance of the naval base at Guantánamo.
Puerto Rico was established as a territory of the United States. In 1900, the U.S. Congress passed an act declaring that the United States would choose Puerto Rico’s governor, as well as part of its legislature.
As the United States expanded into Latin America and Asia in the early 1900s, some Americans supported expansionism while others continued to be highly opposed to imperialism.
Look at the slideshow of political cartoons of the period. Pay attention to the ways that cartoonists used different symbols to represent the various points in the arguments.
03.02 U.S. Territorial Expansion: Building the Canal
Why Did the United States Build the Panama Canal?
Construction work on the Gaillard Cut in 1907
Library of Congress LC-D4-73157
Before the start of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. government anticipated trouble with Spain. For that reason, on March 12, 1898, the battleship USS Oregon was ordered to leave California and head toward Cuba.
The journey was a long one. The crew of the Oregon had to travel around Cape Horn at the tip of South America, stopping for coal along the way. The trip was more than 14,000 miles and took more than 60 days. By the time the Oregon arrived in Cuba, war with Spain had already been declared.
The long journey convinced many Americans of the strategic importance of building a canal across Central America to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This would help militarily, and it would speed cargo shipping and increase global trade.
Two routes had been considered during the mid-1800s—one across Nicaragua and one across Panama, which at the time was part of Colombia. After the United States built the Panama Railway, Panama became the route of choice.
The first attempt to build a canal was by a French company. In 1881, the Colombian government offered the right to build a canal in Panama to a company led by Ferdinand de Lesseps. De Lesseps had successfully built the Suez Canal in Egypt. Construction began on the canal but met failure after failure. De Lesseps was not prepared for the rugged terrain or the tropical climate. Foreign workers also demanded more money than the company was prepared to offer. The project ultimately went bankrupt.
Many Americans, including Theodore Roosevelt. strongly supported the building of a canal. Roosevelt had strong public support. In 1900, he had been elected as vice president for McKinley’s second term. In September 1901, McKinley was assassinated, thrusting 43-year-old Roosevelt into the presidency. Roosevelt believed that the United States needed a strong presence in Latin America. In 1902, the U.S. Congress passed the Spooner Act, which approved the purchase of the French company’s assets and the building of the canal.
The Colombian government refused the terms of the agreement with the United States, however. Upon hearing that rebels in Panama wished to rebel against the Colombian government and establish a separate country, the United States offered its support.
Panama became an independent country and signed the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty with the United States. The treaty gave the United States a permanent lease on the land in Panama and the right to construct the canal. In return, the United States promised to pay for canal usage and to protect the new nation. The political cartoon in the slideshow below shows an American point of view on the conflict between Colombia and the United States.
03.02 U.S. Territorial Expansion: The Panama Canal
What Obstacles Did the Builders of the Panama Canal Face?
Construction on the new canal began in 1904 and was not finished until 1914. As many as 40,000 people worked on the canal at once.
Engineers and laborers, many of whom were from the West Indies, had to cope with a jungle-filled mountainous region with high temperatures, unstable soil and rock, and frequent tropical rainfall. When heavy rains fell, the Chagres River in the area rose and flooded. The building of a dam to control the river helped the construction process a great deal. The dam created what was at the time the largest human-made lake in the world, Gatún Lake, which makes up 20 miles of the canal.
Canal builders also had to face the tropical diseases yellow fever and malaria. William C. Gorgas and other doctors worked swiftly to ensure that the workers employed by the United States did not suffer the same fate as the French workers. They eliminated the mosquitoes that carried the diseases from the canal zone and made it a much safer place to work.
Did You Know?
The construction of the Panama Canal continues to have an impact on the environment today. The unstable soil and constant rain cause landslides into the canal. Maintenance to keep the soil stable and remove slides is ongoing.
In addition, local farmers engage in agricultural practices, including deforestation, that cause the land to erode. Silt and sediment from erosion build up in the rivers, which then empty into the canal. Both the U.S. and Panamanian governments have worked to remove the silt and sediment from the canal to keep it operational.
In spite of their efforts, during the canal’s construction more than 5,000 workers died both from both diseases and accidents. The French project had lost 20,000. Together, the workers dug out some 260 million tons of earth.
The project cost the United States more than $375 million. Once the construction was finished, however, the United States had a 40-mile passageway that cut out 8,000 nautical miles of travel between the west and east coasts of the United States. The United States also increased an already strong presence in Latin America. It now completely controlled the Panama Canal Zone and had military troops stationed there to guard it.
The Panama Canal officially opened to shipping in August 1914. Today, after renegotiations between the U.S. and Panama, complete control and governance of the canal belongs to Panama. The canal is one of the most important human-made waterways in the world and serves as the main artery for trade between the eastern United States and Asia.
03.02 U.S. Territorial Expansion: The U.S. and Latin America
What Was U.S. Policy Toward Latin America?
In this political cartoon, President Theodore Roosevelt walks through the Caribbean Sea with his ‘Big Stick.’ Panama, Mexico, and other Latin American nations are shown on the sides. One of the U.S. battleships is labeled ‘Debt Collection’ because many Latin American countries were heavily in debt to other nations.
© 2012 The Associated Press
The Panama Canal enhanced an already strong U.S. presence in Latin America. The United States had long considered Latin America to be within its sphere of influence. This means that American leaders believed they had a right to shape events in the countries to the south through political, economic, or military pressure. This attitude toward Latin American had been in place since the Monroe Doctrine.
In 1904, Roosevelt added the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. Its goal was to protect American interests and prevent European nations from intervening. Roosevelt believed that the United States had a right to this “police power” in the Western Hemisphere.
Soon after establishing its role as a power in Latin America, the United States played the role of peacemaker. A war between two other world powers—Japan and Russia—had ended with Japan victorious. In 1905, the United States hosted the peace negotiations near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Treaty of Portsmouth that ended the Russo-Japanese War made Japan a more powerful nation. For his efforts to end the war, President Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906
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Topic: 03.02 U.S. Territorial Expansion
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