June 26

Ep. 0007: The Spanish-American War

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • How tensions between the US and Spain over Cuba escalated in 1898, giving the Large Policy clique (covered in our last episode) the opportunity they’d been waiting for
  • Spanish abuses (real, exaggerated, and fabricated) in Cuba, including those by Spanish General Weyler (a professed admirer of the American General W. T. Sherman), culminating in a policy of reconcentracion
  • The explosion of the USS Maine in Havana, and some evidence as to what probably happened
  • How the jingoistic Large Policy clique, uninterested in evidence, immediately pinned it on the Spanish and upped their drive for war (assisted by the press)
  • How Theodore Roosevelt used his job as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to put the Philippine Islands in Uncle Sam’s crosshairs, though it was on the other side of the world from Cuba
  • Quotes from the warhawks, many of which are dripping with references to manliness and virility (see the George Carlin routine linked in last episode)
  • How many Southerners were happy to assist the US federal government (which had brutally subjugated them just 30 years previously) to conquer Spaniards, and after them, Filipinos
  • A smattering of antiwar quotes
  • How Spain bent over backwards trying to avoid war and conceded to almost every American demand, to no avail – the American war party got its war
  • The real story of the Teller Amendment
  • A brief overview of the brief war against Spain
  • The highlights & lowlights of the American war effort
  • A cynical (realistic?) look at TR’s wartime experience
  • Side effects of the war, including a major effect on the state of Florida; a new cocktail (the Cuba libre); and the North-South reconciliation brought about by the two regions teaming up against foreign enemies; and its role in Anglo-American rapprochement
  • This war led directly to a nastier, longer, and costlier war, against the Filipinos, which we’ll cover next episode

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Posted June 26, 2014 by profcj in category "American History", "Military History", "Podcasts


  1. By Rhesa Browning on

    Dan Carlin has a podcast saying many of the same things as this one. It is an interesting change of US foreign policy. He also gets into the agreement US had with Spain about Cuba before the war. I have also read articles explaining how important the control of Cuba was and is for national security and economy due to it sitting right in the middle of the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico.

    1. By profcj (Post author) on

      I’ve listened to a fair amount of Hardcore History episodes, but I’ve not listened to the one you’re talking about. I’ll have to check it out sometime.

      Yes, the geo-strategy angle was definitely on the minds of some leaders, going way back. I think both Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson during their respective presidencies seriously considered trying to get Cuba into Team America.

      Also related to that angle: For most of the mid- to late-nineteenth century, the most populous city in Florida was actually Key West, just across the FL Straits from Cuba, and the major reason was that the US Navy started having a significant presence there soon after the US took Florida from Spain. Somewhere in a book (don’t remember which book) I remember Key West being referred to as something like ‘the Gibraltar of the Western Hemisphere.’


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