Spanish-American War of 1898

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Spanish-American War of 1898


the first imperialist war for the division among the imperialists of colonial possessions. In setting up as its objective the capture of Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, which were under Spanish colonial rule, the US government considered these possessions not only as valuable sources of raw materials and commodity markets but also as an important springboard for expanding US capital into the countries of Asia and Latin America.

The war began during powerful revolts against Spanish colonial oppression that had developed in Cuba (from 1895) and the Philippines (from 1896), and as a result of these revolts the Spanish colonial regimes in these countries were undermined. In order to recruit the Cuban and Filipino rebels as their allies in the struggle against Spain, the US government hypocritically promised to support their struggle for independence. After launching a campaign against “Spanish brutalities” in Cuba, a campaign that intensified after the sinking of the American battleship Maine in Havana harbor on Feb. 15,1898 (under unexplained circumstances), the US government issued an ultimatum to the Spanish government that in effect demanded that Spain give up Cuba. On April 21 the USA began military operations against Spain without a declaration of war.

Military operations were waged in the West Indies (the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico) and in the Philippines. An American squadron under Rear Admiral W. Sampson (two battleships, one armored cruiser, nine cruisers, and five monitors) in April blockaded the northeastern coast of Cuba, where about 200,000 Spanish troops were located.The western part of Cuba was occupied by detachments of the Cuban liberation army. In mid-May the blockading forces were joined by a squadron under Commodore W. Schley (two battleships, one armored cruiser, and three cruisers). A Spanish squadron under Admiral P. Cervera (four battleships and three destroyers), after crossing the Atlantic Ocean, entered the port of Santiago de Cuba on May 19. In trying to leave the port on July 3, the Spanish ships were destroyed by the American squadron. An American landing party together with the rebels took Santiago de Cuba on July 16 and in early August totally routed the Spanish troops in Cuba. In July and August American troops occupied the western part of Puerto Rico.

In April an American squadron under Commodore G. Dewey (four cruisers and two gunboats) left Hong Kong and on the night of April 30 broke through into Manila Bay; the next morning it destroyed ten obsolete Spanish ships near the shore with artillery fire. An American landing party together with rebels laid siege to Manila, which was taken on August 13. Already in June, Spanish resistance on the Philippines was broken and the islands were occupied by American troops.

Stripped of its navy and of the possibility of supporting its troops in Cuba and the Philippines, Spain surrendered (August 13). The Spanish-American War lasted only 3½ months. The brunt of the war on land was borne by the peoples of Cuba and the Philippines. However, the US ruling circles perfidiously betrayed their allies, securing from Spain under the Treaty of Paris (Dec. 10,1898) the cession to the United States of Puerto Rico, the island of Guam, and (for $20 million) the Philippines. The Spanish colonial yoke in these territories was supplanted by an American one. Cuba, which nominally was declared independent, was occupied by US troops. The Spanish-American War, which revealed the corruption of the Spanish monarchy and attested to the entry of the USA into the struggle for world hegemony, was, as defined by V. I. Lenin, one of the chief historical landmarks beginning the age of imperialism (see Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 30, p. 164).


Slezkin, L. Iu. Ispano-amerikanskaia voina 1898. Moscow, 1956.
Vladimirov, L. S. Diplomatiia SShA v period amerikano-ispanskoi voiny 1898. Moscow, 1957.
Nitoburg, E. L. Pokhishchenie zhemchuzhiny. Poltora veka ekspansionistskoi politiki SShA na Kube. Moscow, 1968.
Megen, A. Strategicheskii razbor deistvii na more vo vremia ispanoamerikanskoi voiny. St. Petersburg, 1899. (Translated from English.)
Guber, A. A. Filippinskaia respublika 1898 goda i amerikanskii imperializm. Moscow, 1961.
Roig de Leuchsenring, E. Cuba no debe su independencia a los Estados Unidos. 4th ed. Havana, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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