Spanish American War: American Patriotic Wave

Figure 1.--This family portrait is undated, but the new style mount suggests it was taken around theurn-of-the 20th century, about the time of the Spanish-American War. The martial spirit they are demonstrating is rt of the patriotic wave that American experienced. Thy are nrandishing ceremonial rifle. The boys wear uniform and the little girl has twin six shooter. The dealer says that the father belongs to the Order of United American Mechanics (OUAM), we think because of the shield on the balistrade segment. The OUAM was an anti-Catholic nativist group which tends to be hyper-patriotic. The photo measures 6.25 x 8.25 on a 10 x 12 size mount. The studio was Bowman in Jeannette, Pnnsylvania.

What had began a yellow journalism campaign led by William Randolph Hearst soon begame a patriotic wave which swept the country. Hearst pursued a lurid press campaign graphically describing Spain's brutal measures to defeat the rebellion in Cuba. The dynamics of public thought changed when the battleship USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor. Suddenly what had been a moral issue turned into a patriotic erruption. Spain was widely seen to have been responsible. Many Americans saw it as an affront to the nation. Others saw it as as a sneak attack, rather like Pearl Harbor. (The national battle cry was even the same--"Remember the Maine". There was a national outcry for retribution. That can be seen on the previos page with the little boy and his raised fist reflectng the national attitude. The United States was at the time the envy of the world. Millions had left their own countries where their ancestors had lived for centuries seeking and finding opportunity in America. The United States had emergedas the world's leading industrial power. Unlike Europe there was no tradition of martial spirit. The Civil War had rather innoculted America from that. But as war came there was an exlosion of popular support and patriotic feeling which overwealmed anti-war sentiment. And this continued in the aftermath of the War. Many saw that victory as confirmation that America had emerged as a world power. Ironically, America which had for a century criticied the Europen powers for imperialism and issued the Monroe Doctrine, now had colonies of it own. Not a very large colonial empire to be sure, bit an empire just the same. And t was largely thought at the time tht no country ws a great nation without at least a few colonies.


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Created: 9:06 AM 3/31/2018
Last updated: 9:06 AM 3/31/2018