Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Contextualization of the Spanish-American War

Contextualization of the Spanish-American War

Key Concept 5.2, Imperialism and Nation-State Formation
5.2.I – Industrializing powers established transoceanic empires
B. European states, as well as the Americans and the Japanese, established empires throughout Asia and the Pacific, while Spanish and Portuguese influence declined.
E. In other parts of the world, industrialized states practiced economic imperialism.
5.2.II – Imperialism influenced state formation and contraction around the world.
B. The United States and Russia emulated European transoceanic imperialism by expanding their land borders and conquering neighboring territories.

6.2.II – Emerging ideologies of anti-imperialism contributed to the dissolution of empires and the restructuring of states
D. Movements to redistribute land and resources developed within states in Africa, Asia, and
Latin America, sometimes advocating communism and socialism.

 Students will be able to analyze change and continuity over time.
 Students will be able to identify causation of change.
 Students will be able to demonstrate world historical context.
 Students will be able to make comparisons.
 Students will be able to understand multiple points of view.
 Students will be able to interpret maps, images and political cartoons.
 Students will be able to understand the broad contextualization of the Spanish-American War (leading into the impact that it had on Cuba).

Do Now: Students will be asked to brainstorm what they remember about the Spanish-American War (Students in NY learned it in 8th grade and usually remember very little more than the sinking of the Maine).

1. The teacher will distribute the handout and ask students to spend time analyzing the images and answering the questions. (A few of these images were used by David Silbey in his presentation.)
2. The teacher will then ask students to partner up to compare responses.
3. A whole class discussion will then ensue.

Closure: Students will be asked to predict what might happen next in Cuba.

Students could be asked to craft thesis statements based on the information and the historical thinking skills. Students could be charged with writing a thesis for a change and continuity over time LEQ based on the first set of images, as well a comparative LEQ thesis statement based on the second set of images.

Following this lesson, the focus will be on the impact in Cuba in the early twentieth-century leading to the rise of Fidel Castro – 6.2.II, D.

David Silbey, Associate Director, Cornell in Washington Program, Senior Lecturer, Cornell University.
Presentation on the Spanish-American War through the Foreign Policy Research Institute –
Why Does America Go To War? March 25, 2017

Spanish American Empire Maps 1790s and 1898 – courtesy of Prentice Hall

King Alfonso XIII of Spain and his mother, Queen Maria Cristina (1898)

Measuring Uncle Sam for A New Suit

And After All, the Philippines Are Only the Stepping Stone to China
MIT Visualizing Cultures

Spain, U.S., Cuba Political Cartoon

  • Christina Cone
  • Smithtown High School West
Related History Institute
Grade Level
  • High School: 10
Time Frame
  • 40 Minutes

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