Scotland, Great Britain and the United States : contrasting perceptions of the Spanish-American War and American imperialism, c. 1895-1902
British relations with the United States during the period 1895 to 1902 shifted from an attitude defined by suspicion and hostility to one of friendship. The relationship endured three main trials; the Venezuelan boundary crisis, the Spanish-American War, and simultaneous colonial struggles; the United States in the Philippines and Great Britain in South Africa. What developed was a greater mutual understanding, laying foundations for the enduring special relationship of the twentieth century. Public opinion was critical to the development of the relationship with the United States, especially in view of existing suspicions and conflicting interest groups in both countries. Great Britain, with her naval power and the vast resources of the British Empire, was undoubtedly the most powerful nation-state for much of the nineteenth century, and had stood in 'Splendid Isolation' secure in the knowledge that each threat to her supremacy could be met in turn. However, in the latter years of the century, over-stretched from her imperial possessions, Britain faced more serious threats to her security and increasing demands for a formal relationship with a power with similar interests, the United States was advanced as that partner. The Spanish-American War was a brief but successful war for the United States of America, eclipsing the bad memories of the civil war. A renewed belief in the republic was instilled, and with it an end to the isolationist characteristic of American foreign policy from the time of Washington's farewell address. The Spanish-American War was also a turning point in the relations between the United States and Great Britain. This has prompted several historians to examine why the two nations, over a relatively short period, managed to settle their differences. Most studies of Anglo-American relations at the turn of the century have centred upon the diplomatic overtures. Others examining public opinion have focused upon the reaction of the London press. While providing valuable insight into opinion prevalent in the capital of the British Empire they neglect to examine British attitudes outside of the centre, in particular in Scotland. Scottish public opinion, within the larger British context, towards the Spanish-American War and American Imperialism, provides an insight into the growth of Anglo-American relations from a new perspective.