The Spanish–American War impacted American society in several ways. One impact was that many Americans believed that the concept of Manifest Destiny should be spread around the world. The American people wanted the United States to become a world power. Americans believed that their way of living and governing was superior to that of others. When stories appeared in the newspapers about how the Spanish were supposedly mistreating the people of Cuba, Americans felt this would give their government a chance to go to war with Spain and possibly get colonies. Once the United States went to war against Spain and won, the Americans gained control of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. The Americans were now a colonial power and could begin to spread their way of living to other places. Many Americans were pleased with results of the Spanish–American War.
Many Americans also believed it was their duty to police and to protect the other countries in the Americas. They supported President Roosevelt when he issued the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. This stated that the United States would handle any issues that the European countries had with countries in the Americas.
Consequently many people also believed it was acceptable to exert American influence around the world. When the Americans were spreading westward across North America, many people believed the country needed to move westward in order for progress and growth to occur. Thus, many people supported relocating the Native Americans, annexing Texas, and going to war with Mexico. That same belief existed as the United States looked to improve conditions in the world. For example, many people supported the American involvement in the independence movement in Panama. These people believed that Colombia was holding back progress by refusing to sell the United States land so it could build the Panama Canal. Thus, they supported President Roosevelt as he helped Panama become an independent nation.
The Spanish–American War also showed how impactful the press could be in American society. The press overexaggerated how poorly the Spanish treated the Cubans. The newspapers were able to sway public opinion to support going to war with Spain. This pressure impacted President McKinley’s decision to go to war. This type of influence by the press still remains strong today.