Learn American History through 50 pop songs

The Spanish American War


The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States which ended Spanish colonial rule in the Americas and resulted in US acquisition of territories in the western Pacific and Latin America.


© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

Turn of the century
America’s foreign diplomacy
Turned its gaze south
Where they saw opportunities abound

Spain ruled Cuba
One of our closest of neighbors
For hundreds of years
But a Cuban rebellion Spain feared

This unrest concerned us
We had Cuban investments which earned us
Many millions of dollars
So for war some Americans hollered

Channeling war fever
Were many American newspapers
With biased sensationalism
And the untruths of yellow journalism

South of our borders – possibilities for us
Cuba, Puerto Rico in the Caribbean
And in the Pacific the Philippines and Guam

In 1898
The United States sent the battleship Maine
To the shores of Havana
To protect all interests American

It sunk in an explosion
That was most likely an accident
But the papers claimed the Maine
Was done in by an enemy called Spain

South of our borders – possibilities for us
Cuba, Puerto Rico in the Caribbean
And in the Pacific the Philippines and Guam

“Remember the Maine!”
Newspapers vehemently exclaimed
And Americans demanded blood
So the Spanish American War was begun

South of our borders – possibilities for us
Cuba, Puerto Rico in the Caribbean
And in the Pacific the Philippines and Guam…Remember the Maine!


Spanish-American War— A war between Spain and the US in 1898.

“many American newspapers”— This line refers to American newspapers such as the New York Journal run by William Randolph Hearst and the New York World run by Joseph Pulitzer who saw the Spanish American War as a way to sell papers. Many newspapers such as these ran articles based on sensationalism.

Sensationalism— Sensationalism is a manner of over-hyping events, being deliberately controversial, loud, or acting to obtain attention.

Yellow journalism— Yellow journalism is a type of journalism that downplays legitimate news in favor of eye-catching headlines that sell more newspapers.

Battleship Maine— The USS Maine was a battleship that was dispatched to Havana harbor in January 1898. On February 15, the Maine exploded, killing 260 men aboard.

Havana— Havana is the capital of Cuba.

“Remember the Maine!”— This was a cry, fueled by yellow journalism, from the American people after the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana, Cuba.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

What was the USS Maine?

Explain yellow journalism.

Tier 2 Questions

Explain the cause and effect relationship between the actions of the yellow journalistic papers and the declaration of war against Spain.

Tier 3 Questions

Do you think there are any newspapers in your community that practice yellow journalism today?

Are there any television shows that practice yellow journalism?

Can you think of any events in the past 20 years that have incited papers to practice yellow journalism?

Test Prep Questions

1) Which factor is most closely associated with the decision of the United States to declare war on Spain in 1898?

  • (1) isolationist policy
  • (2) labor union pressure
  • (3) yellow journalism
  • (4) unrestricted submarine warfare

2) Yellow journalists created support for the Spanish-American War by writing articles about the

  • (1) political popularity of William Jennings Bryan
  • (2) efforts of the United States to control Mexico
  • (3) destruction of United States sugar plantations by Hawaiians
  • (4) sinking of the United States battleship Maine in Havana Harbor

3) The headlines in this newspaper are an example of

  • (1) yellow journalism
  • (2) investigative reporting
  • (3) muckraking literature
  • (4) government censorship

4) Publication of this and similar news stories encouraged Congress to

  • (1) declare war on Spain
  • (2) improve naval safety
  • (3) pass antiterrorist legislation
  • (4) conduct a criminal investigation

5) As a result of the Spanish-American War, the United States saw the need to build the Panama Canal because

  • (1) new colonies had been acquired in Africa
  • (2) Spanish opposition to the canal had ended
  • (3) the United States navy could then move more quickly between oceans
  • (4) United States railroads could not transport enough manufactured goods

6) The Spanish-American War (1898) marked a turning point in United States foreign policy because the United States

  • (1) developed a plan for peaceful coexistence
  • (2) emerged as a major world power
  • (3) pledged neutrality in future European conflicts
  • (4) refused to become a colonial power

7) One result of the Spanish-American War of 1898 was that the United States was

  • (1) recognized as a world power
  • (2) committed to isolationism
  • (3) drawn into World War II
  • (4) forced into an economic depressio