In the years leading up to the Spanish American War, Americans discussed and debated issues related to expansion. It began with the Louisianna Purchase and continued through the mid-century period with land gained through the war with Mexico. The American economy grew rapidly.
The U.S.S. Maine, a second-class battleship, was sent to Havana to protect American interests. Cubans were revolting against the Spanish government. On February 15, 1898 the U.S.S. Maine sank. Nearly, three quarters of the crew died as a result of the explosion. Although the cause of the sinking has not been discovered, the US blamed the Spanish. The war was soon to come.
In the eighteenth century Cuba became important. By the first decade of the nineteenth century, Cuba was economically self-sufficient and no longer depended on cash subsidies from Spain.
The United States became interested in Cuba's economy and politics. It offered to buy Cuba from Spain, but the United States were continuously rejected. Although Spain rejected their offers, the United States was gaining support from the business community in Cuba. America's business companies thought it was necessary to protect Cuba's interests. In 1898, the United States entered the war.
American journalists whipped up public sympathy for the Cuban cause. The battleship U.S.S Maine went to Havana to help evacuate American citizens endangered by the fighting between Cuban revolutionaries and loyalist forces. When the ship exploded in the harbor, the United States blamed Spain. Even though reasons for the U.S.S maine's explosion were never discovered, the United States declared war on Spain in April 1898. The war took place in Cuba. This was the start of the Spanish-American War.
One American target in the war was a Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, the chief harbor in the Philippines. An American fleet, commanded by Commodore George destroyed the Spanish ships and paved the way for American victories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. In December, Spain agreed to a peace treaty giving the United States control of Puerto Rico as well as the Philippines and Guam in the Pacific.
On July 3, 1898 the Battle of Santiago took place. The American navy's defeat of the Spanish battle fleet determined the end of century-long Spanish rule in the western hemisphere.
Within months the war was over. With the end of the war, came the end of Spain's 400 year rule over the island of Cuba. Cuba became an independent nation, but many more problems still faced this little island.