Sample Coursework Paper on the Splendid Little War

The American-Spanish war, also known as the “little splendid war” was a short-lived conflict between the US and Spain.  The war grew out of the Cuban struggle for independence and whose other causes included the sinking of the US marine and American imperialism.

The war has been known as the little splendid war because the war lasted few weeks and throughout the war many soldiers volunteered to battle than could be fed, trained and equipped. The deaths were as a result of the tropical diseases rather than the battle itself, which prompted John Hay, the then to be secretary of state to refer to the conflict as a “splendid little war”.

The war was undeniably little provided that there were negligible destructions, the small duration the war took to end, and the lack of fierce battles. The war was splendid to the Americans because victory was achieved smoothly and quickly than expected. The inhabitants of the regions that Spain was controlling started to become rebellious and the US turned out to be the ally of the defiant territories. “The war was deeply rooted in the rule of Spain in Cuba, which infringed on the interest of the US in the Cuban agriculture and goods” (Holmes, 2009).

The US offered several reasons for its engagement in the little splendid war. The explosion of the US marine where 260 people were killed was main the reason given by the US for its intervention in Cuba. After the tragedy of the marine belonging to the US, which   was bombed killing many people, the US assumed that Spain was responsible. Another reason was that the Americans supported the struggle by the nationals of Cuba against the repressive rule by the Spanish; the brutal Spanish rule in Cuba angered the US and evoked feelings of sympathy among the Americans. In the early 1890s, the US public opinion was influenced by the increasing wave of “jingoism”, which is a form of nationalism that called for a foreign course of action which was more aggressive (Mayo, 2004).

I disagree with the reasons given by the US for the involvement in the war with Spain. There was a sequence of events, which resulted to the war and the bombing of the marine was not the lone reason. The yellow press is the one that argued for military retaliation after it had exaggerated the events that led to the explosion of the US marine (Glazier, 2004). The oppressive regime of the Spanish in Cuba was interfering with the interests of the US. The US was interested in the Cuban agricultural goods and saw Spain as a competitor, which needed to be eliminated. The war was planned and started on the pretext of the bombing of the US marine and the repressive rule of the Spanish in some of its territories but actually the Americans had some other reasons. The US also wanted to establish itself as the world superpower; the Americans believed that it was their sacred obligation to spread their institutions other territories. A good number of Americans assumed that advancing the progress of the world was a God given responsibility. The Americans believed that they had a right to spread their principles, institutions and religion around the world. Instead of promoting friendship with the Cubans and the people of Philippines, the war provoked charges of American imperialism and resulted to an anti-American legacy, which has persisted up to today. The De Lome letter (1898) was another major cause of the war, it was a Spanish diplomat letter that was leaked to the press and printed on the front page of a famous newspaper, the letter criticized the US president and this made Americans to assume that it was an official abuse by Spain to the US national honor

The American-Philippine war is largely ignored for various reasons; first, the Americans looked at the conflict as an “insurrection’ rather than a war. The Americans did not acknowledge the contention of the Philippines, the Philippines wanted self rule and were fighting off a foreign invader. The Americans had a well-trained army, good weapons and control of the archipelago waterways whereas the Philippines were hampered by shortages of weapons, which made them to switch to guerrilla tactics. The war never got much consideration from the historians of America because of the inhuman acts that were committed. The Philippine war was removed from history, but the Vietnam War in 1960s aroused the rediscovery of the Philippine war with America but it faded with time. Americans felt that they did not make an informed decision in getting involved in the Philippine war.

“The splendid little” war reflected glory for the people of America and their country. The super powers of Europe were overwhelmed and took note of the US, recognizing it to the status of a world power. The splendid little war was historically significant but providing an example of a complicated clash between myth and reality in the response of America to issues of foreign policy.


Glazier, P. (2004). Yellow Journalism and the USS Maine Explosion: An Analysis of Yellow Journalism’s Dominant Coverage of the USS Maine Explosion, and How It’s Coverage Affected the Traditional Press.

Holmes, M. (2009). The United States and Cuba 1898-1959. Web. 16 Oct 2015. 

Mayo, L (2004). Historical perspectives: A reader & study guide. Princeton, N.J: Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.