Spanish-American War & American Imperialism Political Cartoon Analysis

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Social Studies with Ms Mc
Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Google Drive™ folder
13 cartoons; 1 page background reading; 1 page summarizing questions
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This activity includes thirteen political cartoons about the Spanish-American War and American imperialism in the late 1800s. Use political cartoons to help students understand the causes and effects of the war, as well as yellow journalism and imperialism.

Google Drive Activity includes:

  • 1 page background reading (Google Slides, PDF)
  • 13 political cartoons with corresponding questions (Google Slides, PDF)
  • Summarizing questions (Google Slides, PDF)
  • Answer key (PDF)

Check out the preview!

Each political cartoon has analysis questions on the same page--helping students deconstruct the meaning of the symbols and arguments of the cartoons.

The summary activity prompts students to make their own political cartoon about the Spanish-American War--from a perspective that wasn't included in the cartoon set.

This flexible activity can be adapted in multiple ways:

  • Students can complete this electronically or on paper. Students could work individually or in teams.
  • Students could analyze all cartoons or only a selection.
  • Students could visit stations with various cartoons, or the teacher could go through them with the whole class.
  • Lastly, this could serve as a jigsaw activity where students become "experts" on one or two cartoons.

Since the preparation is already done for you, you can easily create your own directions to best fit your students!


  • These cartoons contain racist stereotypes. Teachers should explain the concepts of racism, stereotypes, and imperialism before using these cartoons. Teachers can use this activity to discuss imperialism, racism, and colonialism throughout U.S. history and the present.
  • The text on the PDF/Google Slides are not 100% editable because of fonts & formatting. However, all stations can be deleted within the Google Slides and/or text boxes can be added into/over slides.

I use this lesson in my U.S. History courses to supplement our discussion of American imperialism and Big Stick Diplomacy.


Related Resources

U.S. Imperialism Stations: Spanish-American War, Cuba, Philippines, China

Roosevelt's Big Stick Diplomacy Stations: Philippines, Panama Canal, Rough Riders


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Total Pages
13 cartoons; 1 page background reading; 1 page summarizing questions
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.


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