U.S. Elections | Spanish-American War
U.S. ElectionsThomas Jefferson won the Presidency in 1800 in what has been called a political revolution for the new Republic. The election was the first in which two parties faced one another in a presidential election, and demonstrated that Americans could peacefully change their government through the electoral process. Jefferson, after narrowly defeating John Adams in the electoral college, pledged in his inaugural address to unite the country, "We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists." The two-party system that was born in this election persists until the present.
The election of Thomas Jefferson brought to power a new political party, the Democratic-Republicans. Was this party a national organization, representing the U.S. as a whole, or sectional party, representing only the South? What evidence is there for each position?
Why did a two-party system arise in the election of 1800? What effect did this system have on American political history? Was this a healthy or unhealthy development for American political life?
Write a diary as an observer from France in the United States during the Election of 1800. What are your views of the election? What do you think the election reveals about American political life? Compare America's peaceful transition to Democratic-Republican rule with political life in post-revolutionary France? How do you explain the differences?
Spanish-American WarWith the closing of its western frontier and growing concern about European empire building, the United States took a particular interest in Cuba's war of independence against the Spanish. Under hazy circumstances, war was declared against Spain in April of 1898. Since the Cuban rebels had brought the Spanish to the brink of defeat, American maneuvers on the island were little more than a "mopping up" exercise. Supported by a naval blockade, American forces won three decisive battles, the last of which was the well-reported assault on Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill by Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders. In the end, many more soldiers died of disease than were killed in battle; logistical disasters and racial conflict (almost one-quarter of the soldiers were black) also caused embarrassing setbacks. Nonetheless, what some called "a splendid little war" ended in a Spanish capitulation in August and independence -- of a distinctly American brand -- for Cuba.
The Spanish-American war is considered by most historians to be a one-sided contest between the overwhelming forces of the U.S. and a small, far-off, and crumbling Spanish empire. What military events confirm this view of the war? In what way was the U.S. effort a "mopping up" of an already defeated regime?
How did the conquest of Cuba change the world and self-image of the United States? How were the new territories conquered in the war treated by America? How did America's conquest of these areas raise future problems?
Create the diary entries of a soldier involved in the 1898 war, on either side. Include reasons for enlistment, experience of moving to the theater of battle, combat, and aftermath of the war in your account.
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