The Spanish-American War was a war between the United States and Spain in 1898. It all started with an explosion inside the USS Maine in the Havana Harbor. This would get America involved in the Cuban War of Independence, allowing Cuba to be free of Spain. There were many revolts over the years in Cuba, and the United States would eventually back them up when they entered the war with Spain.
Due to anti-Spanish propaganda created by the papers in the late 1890s, a call to war was echoed throughout the community. The business community was just recovering from a depression, and was against this as they were afraid of losing all the momentum they had gained since the depression. With the US Navy battleship Maine sinking, there were pressures from the Democratic Party, pushing Republican President William McKinley to war.
The real problem that America had with Spain was Cuban independence. Theodore Roosevelt wanted to help the Cuban people, which would in turn promote the Monroe Doctrine (U.S. policy that opposed new European colonies in North and South America). The United States would demand that Spain surrender Cuba, causing Madrid to declare war, making Washington declare war shortly after. The United States Navy's overwhelming power was the deciding factor of the Cuban war, with Spain already having to deal with both Cubans fighting against them as well as yellow fever, a sickness, plaguing them.
America's plan was to capture the city of Santiago de Cuba, to destroy Linares' army as well as Cervera's fleet. They had to pass through many defenses, and were aided by the revolutionary movement and their leader General Calixto Garcia. The Americans often felt superior to the Cuban revolutionaries, ignoring their advice such as when former Confederate General Joseph Wheeler ignored Cuban scouts and was ambushed by Spanish General Antero Rubin.
The Cuban side of the war was mostly fought with guerilla tactics. The Americans lost many people to mosquito-borne diseases as well as heat exhaustion, more than to actual Spanish fire. After the Cuban conflict, they would eventually withdraw from the area, leaving only a single black regiment, who they called 'immunes', to defend the Cuban side.
This war would also stretch into the Philippines, helping them relieve themselves from the Spanish with the Philippine Revolution. The Spanish had ruled the Philippines for 333 years, and had gathered many Spanish speakers who were educated liberals from Europe. José Rizal was a Filipino national hero who would demand changes from Spain, causing a movement that led to the Philippine Revolution.
When America got involved on May 1st 1897, it took place at Manila Bay, defeating the squadron of Spanish naval boats in a matter of hours. America suffered only 9 wounded, and after the first battle, Manila Bay became a harbor for many countries including Britain, Germany, France, and Japan.
Germany tried to position itself to take control in case of an American defeat, but the Americans called their bluff and threatened action if they continued. The Germans retreated and America would continue this battle until August 13th, when they would take the capital of Manila, unaware a cease fire had been signed the day before.
Peace was eventually declared on August 12th, 1898, with the Spanish totally defeated. Over two months of difficult negotiations led to this, and the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10th, 1898. The United States would gain all colonies outside of Africa, including the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico, except for Cuba, which would be under the protection of the United States.
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