How was the Spanish-American war different from earlier U.S wars?
It was the first imperial war
The Spanish-American War is the first imperial war led by the United States. It meant that the USA would get rid of their isolationist traditions and start being an empire.
Former wars were about their independence, slavery or extension of their territory against Mexico.
It was the first effort of the United States to extent democracy beyond the borders of the United States.
The Monore Doctrine warned European powers not to try to extent their colonies or influence in the Americas, South, Central or North.
However the United States did not take an active role in the independence movements of South or Central America.
The Spanish America War was not an war of aggression or imperialism. America did not set up colonies or American governments as a result of the war.
The Cubans asked for assistance in their revolt against the Spanish Imperialists. The United States sent the warship the Maine to Havana Harbor to intimidate the Spanish into recognizing the efforts for democracy and independence of the Cuban people. This was in line with the Monore Doctrine of discouraging European influence in the Americas.
However when the Maine was mysteriously blown up in the Harbor, the United States used this as a reason to become actively engaged in helping a foreign nation achieve independence and democracy.
The United States forces defeated the Spanish both on Cuban and in the Philippines. Both Cuba and the Philippines became independent nations not colonies. The Philippines became a United States protectorate until after World War II.
The Spanish American War was the first war that the United States became involved in outside of the borders of the United States. It would set a president for the United States involvement in World War I to protect democracy in Europe.