For the Love of Foreign Affairs

In the mid-Eighteen Hundreds, American citizens loved the idea of isolationism. Isolationism means a desire to stay out of the affairs of a foreign country. No one wanted to see their country involved in another’s business. People even urged to completely eradicate the Foreign Service because they believed it was a pointless expense for tax payers to pay. However, as Nineteen-Hundred approached, American citizens changed their opinions. They wanted to see their country become a global power, expand its boundaries, and become involved with other countries. The factors that led to this change were the war with Spain in 1898 and the spread of Yellow Journalism.

The Spanish-American War helped to solidify America’s opinion. This war was also important in making the United States a controlling authority in the world, which was something the American people were pushing for at the time. As the war approached its beginning, the United States was unprepared for a full scale attack. President Mckinley called on the people of America for their help. Although he asked for somewhere around one-hundred and twenty-five thousand volunteers, almost one million responded. This shows the high attention and curiosity to what is happening in the world by the many people around America. People began to feel patriotic and interested in what their country was doing. The interest inspired many Americans to help push new laws and acts through the government on behalf of the people. With a million troops leaving for war, this meant close to a million families had a tie to the war. Many people listened with intent to the radio to hear what was happening in the war where their loved ones were stationed. The newspaper was also an important source of information containing the happenings of the war. It also helped to sway public opinions to support the war and end its idea of isolationism.

Yellow journalism was a key factor leading the citizens of America to obtain an interest in foreign issues. There was a flourish of compassion for the Cuban people motivated by the use of yellow journalism in many of New York City’s biggest newspapers. It was one of the sole reasons that brought attention and interest to the war and other overseas relationships. Yellow journalism usually consisted of exaggerated stories and overstated headlines. Those stories and headlines could be about anything from utter destruction and devastation of the Cubans to a gruesome fatality rate which might have been exaggerated too. This truly inspired a “How dare they!” attitude towards the Spanish forces and many Americans gained a truthful sense of patriotism. It also inspired many people to take up arms against the Spanish and join the Army to fight. Yellow journalism also was a factor in making the Spanish-American War the first ever press-driven war. This meant that America started to care about the war because of what they read or heard over the airwaves.

After the Civil War, America wanted to have isolationism as George Washington had advised many years before. They believed that staying out of foreign politics was the right way. The government listened to its people and held on to isolationism. By the start of the Spanish-American War, this idea was still intact. America’s opinion changed during the war when they heard the over-blown stories in the newspapers. This shift in opinion led to the establishment of America as a world power. People cared about what their country was doing for them in other countries and embraced imperialism. The sudden urge to help Cuba because of yellow journalism and ties to the military helped to solidify America as one of the world’s largest and greatest countries.