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The U.S.'s first large-scale overseas war?

Thank-you for the show, but a quibble: Mr Steves referred to the U.S. rôle in the Great War as our first large overseas war. I don't think the scale, expence, impact, and casualties of the war that won the U.S. Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Phillipines, and made of it an imperial power, can be called minor.

Posted by
7698 posts

Depends what you call "large scale".

The first overseas action of the US armed forces (if you take overseas to mean outside the North American continent) was the raid on Whitehaven in the US war of independence (1778): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Paul_Jones#Ranger_attacks_the_British
Having visited Whitehaven, this is not forgotten.

The first war the US engaged in after independence was also "overseas", against the "Barbary Pirates" of what is now Libya (18'1-1805): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War
Ships from the North American colonies in the Mediterranean had been protected by the Royal Navy prior to independence. This was no longer the case, and resulted in war. Hence the line "Shores of Tripoli" in the US Navy hymn.

Posted by
4067 posts

The war with Spain in 1898 was relatively minor compared to US involvement in Europe in World War I. It did have significant impact, sure - but in terms of man and material, it was peanuts compared to World War I. We didn't even have a draft for the Spanish-American War, just a volunteer military.

Posted by
4723 posts

The Spanish American war may have been minor in comparison to the "Great War" in Europe. However, it was America's early taste at global expansion with the taking of the Philippines and the even Guam in the Pacific in addition to Caribbean (Puerto Rico) conquests. While the Filipinos achieved independence following the second Great War, the US still has Puerto Rico and Guam. Some Americans don't understand that Puerto Rico and Guam folks are American citizens.

Posted by
1156 posts

Did you spend more than one day on the Spanish-American War in your high school history class?

Posted by
583 posts

Some Americans don't understand that Puerto Rico and Guam folks are
American citizens.

... whose head of state is the U.S. president, in whose elections they are not entitled to vote.