Although the sinking of the Maine provided an immediate trigger for the Spanish-American War, long-term US military and economic interests provide a more nuanced context for the US invasion of Cuba. In this lesson, students watch a documentary video, read a telegram describing Spanish treatment of Cubans, and examine an American campaign speech to explore the long-term reasons for why the US invaded Cuba in 1898.
[Lesson Plan updated 1/16/15.]

Image: Photo of Cuban insurgents taken by Strohmeyer & Wyman in 1899. From the Library of Congress.


I switched it up a bit. I found a documentary on the History Channel about the Spanish American war. I used the first 24 minutes of the documentary at the beginning of the first lesson. The video provided an excellent foundation of the events leading up to the explosion.
Doing this lesson with the USS Maine lesson really helped the students understand the ideas of yellow journalism. It helped them to understand that things aren't always black and white and to not trust one source of information. Had some great discussions after the Spanish American War lesson. Some students brought up how people believe whatever they read on Facebook and this helped them to see that you can't always trust one source.
This is a great lesson.
Video did not work for me, but it was okay just to list some of the main hypotheses on the board. Great lesson and the students were going back to the hypotheses every time a new fact was introduced from the documents.
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