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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

1898 1917 Sidenote Revival of economic prosperity


The war of 1898 and disappearance of Spain as a colonial power.]

It was primarily in Spain's colonial policy that the evils of the old era continued. The lesson of the Spanish American wars of independence had not taught Spain how to govern her few remaining colonies. Indeed, corrupt methods were if anything worse than before, as the opportunities for engaging in them became fewer. Spanish civilians in Cuba preyed upon the island, and political office there was reserved for those seeking reward for party service at home. A revolution broke out in 1868 which lasted ten years. The government then made promises which were not fulfilled, and a second uprising occurred, but it was severely put down. Once again there was a revolution, in 1895. This time the United States intervened, and in the brief war of 1898 Cuba became independent, and Porto Rico and the Philippines passed over to the United States. Thus was the last vestige of Spain's trans-Atlantic dominion swept away. This was the final stroke in a century of disasters. And yet the total result was one of internal progress for Spain. She had paid a heavy price in her gropings for liberty, but she had reached a stage which, while not yet satisfactory, was incomparably ahead of that with which she had begun the century.


THE DAWN OF A NEW DAY, 1898-1917

justify;"> [Sidenote: Revival of economic prosperity.]

Spaniards are in the habit of discussing their recent national development with reference to the year 1898, which is recognized as a turning-point in Spanish life, a change held by them to have been decidedly for the better. Nevertheless, the way had begun to be prepared with the accession of Alfonso XII to the throne; the splendid monument to that king in the Retiro at Madrid can be explained only on the ground that he symbolizes the re-establishment of good order in the peninsula, with a government based on what the Spanish people will stand, rather than on the full meed of an unworkable ideal. The country was tired of domestic strife, and asked only to be left in peace, with an opportunity to give attention to its material resources. This wish the government granted, and all Spain profited. Roads, railways, and irrigation ditches were built, and mining and the wine trade developed, while more recent times have witnessed a notable industrial growth in some of the northern cities. These matters were left very largely in the hands of foreigners, with Spaniards either wasting their blood and treasure in the colonies, or merely failing to participate in the economic enterprises of the peninsula. After 1898, however, Spaniards began to join with Englishmen, Germans, and Frenchmen in investing their capital in Spain. Many evils remained to be overcome, but the country recuperated to such an extent that its present wealth would compare favorably with that of the past at almost any stage of Spanish history, although the rate of economic progress has probably not equalled that of other countries.

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