Columbia Reaches Out
Looking at the collection of political cartoons that I have collected regarding the Spanish-American War, and the resultant acquisition of the Philippine Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and Cuba as well as Hawai'i (in a separate action), there are two different conclusions that can be drawn from them as a whole. One is that the people of the United States expressed some sympathy to the subjugated peoples of Spain, which included Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Guamanians and Philippinos. In "Columbia Reaches Out to Oppressed Cuba", we can see that the American people wanted to extend the same liberties and freedoms to Cuba that they enjoyed at home in the United States.
In the same piece, the second theme becomes apparent as a blinded Uncle Sam shows us how the United States government was not in accordance with the will of the People. The government had of course financial concerns, logistics and the possibility of war with Spain to consider. Even though the American people may have been expressing a desire to liberate these peoples, the practical matters to be addressed in such an effort would include the lives of soldiers, the cost of war materials and political consequences which could result if the United States took aggressive actions which might be viewed as illegitimate by the other European powers.
The United States had never been a colonial power prior to the Spanish-American War. By defeating Spain and liberating Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Phillipines and Guam from Spanish rule, what would become of the United States? How could "the land of the free" justify colonizing others?
On the one hand, Liberty and Independence for the former Spanish colonies. On the other hand, a change in foreign rulers from Spanish to American exploitationists. These cartoons collected here provide an interesting perspective on the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States as the Spanish-American War brought significant changes to the political landscape entering the 20th century.