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Spanish-American War: Reflective Historical Essay

The purpose of this assignment is three-fold:

1. Summative – how much did the students learn and can apply from a major section of the unit?

2. Introduction to the style of historical writing of the kind that will be required in high school under the Common Core Standards and college.

3.  Reinforce writing skills learned in Language arts and Reading.

The assignment:


OBJECTIVE: To write a concise essay, supported by textual evidence from a variety of sources.

OBJECTIVE: To write from the perspective of a historical character’s worldview and experiences

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate, decide and explain if the Spanish-American War was justified to be fought and/or worth the expense.



Title Page

Proper Heading

Essay Title

2-3 pages, single spaced typed (title page does not count)

Topic sentence/thesis statement ( your position, what you will prove)

Answers question: “Was the Spanish-American War justified (“Right thing to do”) and worth the expense?”

Is written as if the author was one of the historical characters listed below

Position argued fits the character selected (ex. – Senator Henry Cabot Lodge supports imperialism)

Argument is supported by numerous textual examples (“numerous” = “many”)

Concluding sentence (in historical writing, summarizes major evidence why you are right)

Accurate information ( ex -the Rough Riders did not have droids or mutant wizards)

Free of spelling/punctuation/basic grammatical errors


SOURCES: Lecture notes, Movie notes, Handouts, Primary sources, textbook, internet



DUE DATE: Monday March 12



Select one of the following characters, read their biographies below and write from their perspective.

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924)

Lodge was a US Senator, lawyer and historian from Boston, Massachusetts. A close friend and mentor of Theodore Roosevelt, Lodge was a member of one of the wealthier and most socially prominent families in America . Lodge grew up in Boston’s exclusive Beacon Hill neighborhood, attended Harvard university, where he received a law degree and PhD before entering politics. A powerful senator and forceful personality, Lodge was a strong nationalist, a fervent imperialist and a believer in the superiority of the “Anglo-Saxon race” over other peoples.


Colonel Charles Young (1864-1922)

The son of former Slaves, Charles Young was one of the first African-Americans to overcome severe discrimination and graduate from West Point US. Military Academy, to receive a commission in the US Army and the first to reach the high rank of Colonel. Young fought with and commanded units of Buffalo Soldiers in the Indian Wars as a Lieutenant and as a Major in the Spanish-American War, where Young personally led a squadron of 10th Cavalry Buffalo soldiers at San Juan Hill, fighting alongside Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. After the war, Young went on to work as an intelligence officer, military attache as a professor of military studies before fighting in the Mexican Expedition of 1916 . When WWI began, Young was considered for a major command in France when racist elements in the US Army forced Young to retire under protest for “medical reasons”, though Young was later reinstated by the Secretary of War and promoted to Colonel.


One of Young’s proteges, Sgt. Maj. Ben Davis, later became the first African-American General in US History, Gen. Benjamin O. Davis)

Clara Barton (1821-1912)

A former school teacher from Massachusetts, Clara Barton was the founder of the American branch of The Red Cross. Famous for her humanitarian work nursing soldiers injured during the Civil War, Barton lectured, worked for civil rights, women’s suffrage and social reform before organizing the American Red Cross. As the President of the Red Cross, Barton provided assistance to people suffering the ravages of war, natural disaster and disease across the world. In her seventies, during the Spanish-American War, Barton provided medical help to anyone in Cuba – insurgent, Spaniard or American soldier or Cuban civilian – who was injured or sick.

.Emiliano Aginaldo (1869-1964)

A Filipino general, politician, independence leader, guerrilla commander and President of the Philippines, Emiliano Aguinaldo was at different times a friend, enemy, subject and ally of the United States. And not in that order. 

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