In this chapter, Howard Zinn is highly critical of American imperialism before, during, and after the Spanish-American War (1898). He views American aggression as the product of several sources. First, by 1890, the frontier was closed, so an expansionist America sought new horizons. Although only 10% of American products were exported, powerful business titans sought to greatly increase this figure. Also, Zinn criticizes Theodore Roosevelt, the future president, for his racism and jingoism during this period. Roosevelt had powerful friends who were also imperialists. Finally, he notes that American imperialists feared that they might be excluded from China by other nations.
Cuba's revolt against Spanish rule was used as the pretext for the Spanish-American war. Washington supported Cuban rebels in order to replace Spain as the dominant power of that island. But the "black Cubans" could not be allowed to govern because the Western hemisphere did not need another Haiti. Avaricious American businessmen continued their unscrupulous practices during the war. For instance, they sold a huge quantity of rotten meat to the U.S. Army. After Spain was ousted from Cuba, the U.S. forced the Cubans to sign the Platt Amendment.
America also took the Philippines from Spain after the war. The brave Filipinos resisted, though. They bravely fought their American occupiers for several years. After more than a little American savagery, the Filipinos were suppressed and their nation was colonized.
This era of American history, according to Zinn, is nothing to be proud of.