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Oakland Unified School District
History/Social Studies
314 East 10th Street, Oakland, CA 94606-2296
Phone: (510) 879-8253
Fax: (510) 879-8607
October 13, 2010
11th grade American History Teachers
Stan Pesick and Nancy Midlin
Preparing students for this fall’s district American history writing assessment
Below is information that can help you prepare students to write thoughtfully about this
spring’s American history assessment topic. On the assessment students are asked to respond
to the following prompt
In its war with Spain and expansion into the Philippines did the United States
demonstrate humanitarian goals or concern for its own economic interests and
political power?
I. Reading and Understanding the Prompt
This prompt asks students to answer a question concerning United States motivations and
actions in the context of declaring war against Spain in 1898 and its subsequent expansion into
the Philippines. To develop and support their response students are asked to consider
whether the U.S. policies at this time demonstrated a humanitarian impulse, or self-interest.
An important starting point for students as they begin to develop their responses is to have an
understanding of what is included in "humanitarian goals."
The Webster's On-line dictionary says that humanitarian pertains to the practice of saving lives
and alleviating suffering. It is usually related to emergency response (also called
humanitarian response) whether in the case of a natural disaster or a man-made disaster
such as war or other armed conflict.
As students develop their response to the question they should decide what criteria they will
use to define humanitarian, comparing and contrasting, with an eye on policies and actions,
that with economic and political interests.
II. What students need to understand about the topic’s historical context(s):
 The idea of Manifest Destiny as an historical context to expansion in this period.
 The roots of U.S. Imperialism
 ideological arguments – racial and social Darwinism; religious and cultural
conversion strategic concerns –"Mahanism" - strong navy and acquisition of naval bases in
the Caribbean and Pacific, moving way from isolationism
OUSD History-Social Studies / Preparing for the 11th Grade Spring Assessment / page #1
economic pursuits – markets and raw materials, relieve economic pressures and
depression of the 1890s
The Origins of the Spanish-American War (1898)
Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain
- impact on U.S. economic interests
- Spanish brutality – "reconcentration campe"
- American sympathy with the Cubans and "Yellow Journalism"
- the sinking of the Maine – February 15, 1898
- U.S. Declaration of War – April 25, 1898
- The Teller Amendment – non expansionist statement
III. Textbook (American Anthem) pages and sections connected to this prompt. See “Point-ofView” study guide for reading assignment to go with these pages.
 “Reconstruction Ends” (pages 133 – 138) – a brief discussion of why Reconstruction
ended and the effect on African Americans in the South.
 “Segregation and Discrimination” (p. 161-162) – a brief discussion of the rise of “Jim
Crow” and the opposition to those laws.
 “The Civil Rights Movement” (chapter 18, pages 554 – 592).
OUSD History-Social Studies / Preparing for the 11th Grade Spring Assessment / page #2