The Spanish American War which occurred in 1898 was a conflict between the United States and Spain that had ended Spanish colonial rule in the Americas. It also resulted in the United States acquiring territories in Latin America and in the western Pacific. The war originated in Cuba where people struggled for independence from Spain in February 1895. Spain’s cruel measures to stop the rebellion were graphically showed off for the United States public by several over dramatic newspapers and American sympathy for the rebels started to rise.
The increase in popular demand for United States intervention became an frazzling event after the unexplained sinking in Havana harbor of the battleship USS Maine on Feb. 15, 1898, which was sent to protect United States citizens and property after the anti-Spanish rioting in Havana. Spain then announced an armistice on April 9 and rapidly started up its new program to grant Cuba a limited amount of self-government.
The United States Congress soon after issued resolutions that stated Cuba’s right to independence and also demanded that Spain’s armed forces should or would leave from the island. It authorized the President’s use of force to ensure that withdrawal while renouncing any United States plans for annexing Cuba in the future. Spain then declared war on the United States on April 24, which followed by a United States declaration of war on the 25th and which was made retro active to April 21.
The continuous war was stupidly one-sided, since Spain had not prepared either its army or its navy for a far away war with the obvious power of the United States. Commo. George Dewey led a United States naval squadron into Manila Bay in the Philippines on May 1, 1898, and demolished the Spanish fleet in a morning encounter that had cost only seven American seamen in getting wounds or “battle scars”. Manila itself was occupied by United States troops by the month of August.
The elusive Spanish Caribbean fleet that was under the command of Admiral Pascual Cervera was located in the Santiago harbor in Cuba by United States exploration. An army of normal troops and volunteers that were under the command of General William Shafter, including Theodore Roosevelt and his 1st Volunteer Cavalry, the “Rough Riders”, ported on the coast east of Santiago. They slowly advanced on the city in an effort to force Cervera’s fleet out of the harbor. Cervera then led his squadron out of Santiago on July 3 and tried to escape west bound along the coast.
In the battle, all of his ships were destroyed immediately under fire from United States guns and were washed ashore in a horrible burning or sinking condition. Santiago surrendered to Shafter on July 17, which finally and effectively ended the war. By the Treaty of Paris, signed on Dec. 10, 1898, Spain gave back all claims to Cuba, left Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States, and transferred the rights over the Philippines to the United States for $20 million dollars. The Spanish American War is and was an important turning point in the history of both the United States and Spain.
Spain’s defeat turned the nation’s attention away from its overseas colonial passings and in ward upon its domestic needs. This process led to both a cultural and a literary reawakening and twenty years or two decades of much needed economic development in Spain. The United States who were victorious, on the other hand, rose up from the war a world power with far overseas possessions. This became a new turning point in international politics that would someday soon lead it to play a huge role in the affairs of Europe and all over the world.