For nearly four months in the year 1898 Spain and America were at war, this war became known as the Spanish-American War.
It surprises many that a little over one hundred years ago America and Spain were actually at war, but it is true. The Spanish-American War was actually more to do with Cuba than anything else, something that does put more perspective on the war because of America’s fascination with Cuba even in more recent times.
Today you are going to find out about the causes of the Spanish-American War, along with information on the war itself and who was victorious.
Causes of the Spanish-American War
The Spanish Empire was waning in strength in the Americas because of the Spanish American wars of independence where numerous colonies in the Americas fought Spain for independence. This meant that over time Spain looked to redefine its Empire and part of this saw Cuba as one of its most important overseas territories. In fact Spain saw Cuba as part of Spain rather than a colony.
From the 1820’s America had started looking at expansion, this was most notably seen through the annexation of Texas and California from Mexico. Part of this expansion conquest also included the United States wishing to gain more interests in the Caribbean.
The reasons for this were that the Americans understood that having power of the seas gained more power on land. This was very much noticeable when looking at the biggest Empire ever built, the British Empire which was forged through commanding the seas of the world through the Navy.
The United States had decided that Cuba looked a good place to start its conquest into the Caribbean so through three Presidential terms they tried to buy Cuba from Spain. Spain would not sell and Spain too saw Cuba as important.
The people of Cuba however had a different view to both Spain and the U.S. as they decided they wished to gain independence for themselves. In the late 1860’s the Ten Years War started in Cuba with the Cuban people fighting for their independence, the Spanish colonial authorities however managed to brutally put down the rising after ten years in 1878.
Some of the main Cuban revolutionaries involved in the uprising went into exile. One of the exiles however used the time in exile to plan a massive revolutionary uprising by arriving back in Cuba with a group of revolutionaries at three areas and start massive uprisings. The Spanish government quickly sent out their military commanders to put down the revolt.
After the fighting raged until the end of 1897 the Cubans managed to win autonomy from Spain in January 1898. 11 Days after this victory a U.S. Navy ship called USS Maine was sitting in the harbour at Havana to give safety to American citizens in Cuba when it exploded and sank killing 266 sailors. The U.S. investigation that ensued said that the ammunition stores exploded when an explosion hit the ship externally.
The sinking of USS Maine gave America the ammunition they needed to wage war with Spain in support of Cuba.