Was the Spanish-American War Justified? a Reflection on the Gilded Age

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The Violation of the Fifteenth Amendment

Great wealth rose in the United States during the Gilded Age, but it came with a sacrifice. So much was gained during an era that was very promising, but at the same time, African Americans were restricted from such rights even after amendments were passed. For example, the 15th Amendment should have allowed people of color to vote. However, that was not the case for many years, and their rights were violated. While others capitalized from gains, federal laws were set in place to dominate the profit.

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Like in the Fourth Coinage Act of 1873, which caused havoc by decreasing the value of silver, it affected the working class and those that depended on credit, such as farmers. Lives were altered due to the drastic changes to the extent that the government created the Sherman Act to help prevent the big businesses from monopolizing but affected the small businesses instead. Many endured pain and hardships during the era when the Fifteenth Amendment was violated, yellow journalism didn’t help the situation, and a large number were affected by the monetary policies and tariff legislation that were set in place.

Impact of Yellow Journalism

For, the suffering the African Americans endured was unfair because their rights with the Fifteenth Amendment were violated. In a time when the country was striving to move forward and progress, it took a few steps back when the military in the South decided not to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment. For example, in the article “Reconstruction Amendments,” Ryan Mitchell and Vinay Harpalani state, “The amendment prohibits states from denying citizens voting rights because of their color, race, or other condition of servitude.” The author’s point is that the Fifteenth Amendment was set to provide voting rights free of discrimination and suffrage that should not have been denied. This change needed to apply to everyone equally, but the government failed to enforce it. The founding fathers of America initiated the Bill of Rights and enforced it, followed by all, but something changed during the Gilded Age. In another example, from the same article, “Reconstruction Amendments,” the author states, “With these amendments, the US Congress ushered in a new era of liberty by laying the groundwork for rebuilding the nation and transforming Americans’ perception of equality.”

The author emphasizes the path that has led many to success. It was an era that should have shifted in a positive way, though it was deceiving because it appeared to be set in stone. It really wasn’t, and the reality was that African Americans were scrutinized and forced to pass unachievable expectations when it was not called for. According to the article “Encyclopedia of World Biography,” Abigail Kelley Foster states, “Her family maintained their war against social discriminations, and they refused to pay taxes to a state which deprived them of their right to vote.” As a result of evading to pay taxes and such encumbrances because they rebelled, they suffered beatings, and some lost their homes due to hardships. Foster and many others had been discriminated against and forced to take action in ways that affected them economically. They felt robbed and betrayed because they had no rights but expected to pay like every other citizen who did. The African Americans had financial burdens and had no one to advocate for them when the Fifteenth Amendment was not enforced nationwide.

Media’s Role in Shaping Public Opinion

Subsequently, it was impossible to avoid the inevitable as the tabloids exaggerated the truth and expanded the news just like the era it was in. Yellow journalism affected many and enticed citizens to act upon inexact information. The sole purpose of the tabloids was to hook the readers and increase sales. Notably, in the article “News Media, Police in,” the author Vanessa Garcia states, “Social perceptions changed from viewing crime as a sin or the result of structural corruption to viewing crime as an individual deficiency.” By this, the author is pointing out that people conceived altered ideas from the media, and what they saw as unlawful acts were seen as immoral acts. Meaning the truth was exaggerated, yet they fed off it. At the time, the press was the only way to print and share informational news. In the same article, “News Media, Police in,” the author points out that “yellow journalism of the later 19th century was developed by William R. Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, and they both carried tabloids that heightened sensation and were criticized for inaccurate and negative reporting.” The author is sharing that both are notorious for having a newspaper that shared misleading information. Both competed with each other, not caring what happened to society as long as their sales were up.

Consequences of the Spanish-American War

For example, the article “The Spanish-American War” by Global Events: Milestones Events Throughout History states, “Hearst and Pulitzer were both leading newspapermen who were known for using dramatic, sensationalist stories to sell millions of newspapers and their reported harsh conditions caused America to grow with outrage.” The information about both newspapermen was well-known during the era. It shaped Americans in a negative way and enraged readers. The tabloids were viewed nationwide, and the news spread inaccurate messages. In the same article, “The Spanish-American War,” Global Events states, “American newspapers were quick to accuse Spain and published tabloids reading Remember the Maine!” Dramatic, partially accurate information about the Maine ship exploding was the leading cause that initiated the Spanish-American War.

The war derived from the media, and the US was quick to act and found a way to capitalize on the issues happening in Cuba by publishing poisonous information that kept readers hooked. The news came at a great time for both of them, but all those who suffered because the media-induced a quick war that hurt Cubans immensely. The United States gained a few territories that were never part of actual states. According to the article “A Splendid Little War in Cuba,” multiple authors from the book Out of Many stated, “Civilians from Cuba were forced into concentration camps to avoid aiding rebels and thousands starved or died from the diseases that swept the crowded and dirty camps.” What the civilians endured was harsh and wrong. Also, being that it all started from yellow journalism by instigating an unnecessary war. The final outcome favored the United States, but it came with a heavy price.   


  1. Mitchell, Ryan, and Vinay Harpalani. “Reconstruction Amendments.”

  2. “Encyclopedia of World Biography.”

  3. Garcia, Vanessa. “News Media, Police in.”

  4. “Global Events: Milestones Events Throughout History” – “The Spanish-American War.”

  5. “Out of Many” – “A Splendid Little War in Cuba.” 

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Was the Spanish-American War Justified? A Reflection on the Gilded Age. (2023, Sep 02). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/was-the-spanish-american-war-justified-a-reflection-on-the-gilded-age/