Why does the author of “The Needless War with Spain,” William E. Leuchtenberg, see his interpretation of the war as contrary to the assumptions of Leninist historians? Why is this view surprising or unexpected? What does the author mean when he writes: “The American people were not led into war, they got the war they wanted”? What evidence supports this?  

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In “The Needless War with Spain,” William E. Leuchtenburg discusses the popular support for the Spanish-American War as well as opposition to it. Let’s look at this in more detail to help you get started on these questions.

First, the author makes the point that, contrary to the views of...

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In “The Needless War with Spain,” William E. Leuchtenburg discusses the popular support for the Spanish-American War as well as opposition to it. Let’s look at this in more detail to help you get started on these questions.

First, the author makes the point that, contrary to the views of Leninist (or Marxist) historians, the war was not promoted by the upper-class business community. Rather, he asserts that Wall Street staunchly resisted the war. The country had already seen too many economic catastrophes, and the business community did not want one national upheaval to further damage the economy. You should also pay close attention to how the free silver controversy played into the support (or lack thereof) for war.

The author explains in detail how the American public viewed the potential for war. Think first about the portrayal of Spain and the situation in Cuba in newspapers like that of Hearst. Americans came to believe that the Cuban rebels were heroic, fighting at all costs the oppression of their people by Spain. You should also consider the situation after the mysterious sinking of the Maine. Most of the American people, by this point, wanted war, and indeed, they got it.

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