“The End of a Dream”: Harvard, Imperialism, and the Spanish American War (Fall 2018)

The Spanish American War, Harvard, & the Rise of American Empire

The Spanish American War of 1898 lasted barely ten weeks and is largely forgotten today, but the conflict was one of those rare nexus points in history that shaped the destiny of four continents. In Spain, the sudden loss of almost all colonial territories generated a national crisis of confidence that set the stage for the Spanish Civil War. In the Caribbean, Cuba began the long journey to Castro and beyond. Puerto Rico half-lurched into the American confederacy — its future still not resolved today — while the US became an uncomfortable colonial power under the guise of high altruism but in reality motivated by poorly disguised commercial and strategic interests. Relations between the US and these islands, and just as much with the Philippines, continue to be impacted by the war’s legacy. TR and his Great White Fleet, the naval race between Great Britain and Germany, the Panama Canal, FDR’s views on naval power and US involvement in WWI and WII, the rise of modern journalism, even the role of Harvard as a center of global policy — all these and many other seemingly unrelated events can trace their origins directly back to a fateful day in April of 1898.

Join us in 2018 on the 120th anniversary of the Spanish American War as the Foundation takes a multi-disciplinary look back at ten weeks that forever changed the modern world.