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Teaching Guide: Exploring the Spanish-American War

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, American Imperialism: The Spanish-American War, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion questions

  1. Using the introduction from A Complete History of the Spanish-American War, explain how historians of the time viewed this conflict in contrast with how historians today view this conflict.

  2. Use the sources in this set to explain the key motivations for the US involvement in this war.

  3. What role did propaganda play in the development of this war? Cite evidence from the two songs and other sources in this set.

  4. Using items in this set, explain how the US used comparisons to its own Revolution during the Spanish-American War.

  5. Looking specifically at the peace treaty between the United States and Spain, describe how the United States benefitted economically and politically from this war. Did the outcomes of the war match the original intentions of the US for going to war?

Classroom activities

The destruction of the warship Maine was a central event that propelled America into war with Spain. This event has baffled historians for over a century because there is no clear explanation for what happened. Research the theories that historians and engineers have come up with over the years. Write an essay explaining the different theories and describing which one is most commonly accepted and why.

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