Over a century ago, on the 25th of April, 1898, Spain declared war on the United States causing the beginning of the Spanish American war. The fight lasted for three months and two and a half weeks and it started when Cuba decided to fight for its independence, with the support of the Americans. Cuba was declared a Spanish colony in 1492, when it was discovered by Christopher Columbus.
Although many rebellions happened during the 19th century, the island remained under Spanish Rule until the Spanish American war ended. It took four more years for the country to be formally considered independent, in 1902.
Even though William McKinley, the president of the US at that time tried to avoid going to war, a naval incident involving the U.S. navy ship, Maine, which happened off the coast of Cuba led to an ultimatum sent by the Americans to the Spanish which obliged them to surrender their control over Cuba. The Spanish rejection of the ultimatum is also considered as one of the Spanish American war causes.
Here is a list of ten interesting Spanish American war facts.
1. Causes of the Spanish American War
After over 400 years of Spanish rule, Cubans were finally able to gain their independence. Struggles to become independent started at the beginning of the 19th century and came as a result of how the Spanish treated Cuba and Cubans and due to the mass executions of whomever tried to fight for Cuban freedom.
2. Slavery & Cruelty
Most Cubans were forced by the Spanish into rough slavery, having to work day and night on different plantations of tobacco or sugar, alongside African slaves, leading to the death of thousands of Cubans, especially through starvation and disease.
3. U.S. Support
The United States decided to support Cubans for both political and humanitarian reasons. Americans did not agree with how the Spanish were treating people of Cuba but they also saw Cuba as a rich and profitable country.
4. Remember the Maine Battleship
Maine, a U.S. battleship was sunk off the coast of Cuba, killing over 260 servicemen on board. Despite the fact that no proof was found, Americans immediately presumed it was a Spanish act which lead to the sinking. This incident happened on 15th of February, 1898 and presumably, it was caused by the explosion of a submarine mine.
5. First Battle
The primary battle fought during the Spanish American war was at Manila Bay, in the Philippines, on May 1st, 1898 and ended with the victory of the U.S.
6. The surrender of Spain
After two victories gained by the U.S. army, Spain agreed to surrender to the United States at Santiago, on the 17th of Jul, 1898. The first battle won by the Americans took place on the 1st of July, 1898, in San Juan Heights and the second one, on the 3rd of July, 1898 when the United States defeated the Spanish army off Santiago Bay. Theodore Roosevelt was the leader of the group known as the Rough Riders and he also led the right wing during the attack on San Juan Hill. After the victory he was assigned as the Governor of New York State.
7. American troops & casualties
Almost 308,000 American troops fought in the Spanish American war, over 3000 of which lost their lives. However, only 385 U.S. army men are considered battle casualties. The other ones died of disease, as outbreaks of either typhoid or yellow fever were very common.
Twenty nine battles were fought in the Spanish American war. Eleven victories were assigned to the United States and eleven victories to the Spanish. However, no one knows who actually won in the remaining seven battles.
9. The Treaty of Paris
Due to the Spanish-American war, the Treaty of Paris was signed on the 10th of December, 1898. As a result of the war, Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded by the Spanish to the Americans, Cuba became an independent state and the U.S. bought the Philippines for $20 million.
10. The significance behind media involvement
As the Spanish American war was the first conflict between nations that involved media, it is considered a turning point when it comes to the history of propaganda and the starting point of the so called yellow journalism. One of the iconic figures of war was William Randolph Hearst, who brought up the military situation of Cuba in the attention of the United States population.
When the U.S. decided necessary to help the Cubans find their freedom, the Spanish had to suffer the consequences and lose their empire. Yellow journalism Spanish American war involved using catchy headlines to attract people’s attention, even though the news was not that well researched. Several cartoons presented in newspapers sparked the public opinion in the U.S. especially because of the “war” started between Pulitzer and Hearst.
The Spanish American war timeline exceeds the date at which Spain surrender to the U.S. and goes on until 1902, when U.S. troops finally leave Cuba.
As a Spanish-American war summary, the U.S. fought against Spain, to help Cuba gain its independence. However, given the fact that Americans gained some territories at the end