Spanish-American War & American Imperialism Political Cartoon Analysis

Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • Zip
  • Activity
13 cartoons; 1 page background reading; 1 page summarizing questions
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Easel Activity Included
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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.

Activity includes:

  • 1 page background reading
  • 13 political cartoons with corresponding questions
  • Summarizing questions
  • Answer key

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!

Teacher note: 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.

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


Related Resources

Analyzing Imperialism: Carousel or Stations Activity

Big Stick Diplomacy Performances: Roosevelt and Cuba, Panama, & Philippines


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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 information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among 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.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.


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