The immediate origins of the 1898 Spanish-American War began with the Wilson-Gorman Tariff of 1894. The American tariff, which put restrictions on sugar imports to the United States, severely hurt the economy of Cuba, which was based on producing and selling sugar. In Cuba, then a Spanish colony, angry nationalists known as the insurrectos began a revolt against the ruling Spanish colonial regime. When Spain sent in General "Butcher" Weyler to stabilize the situation in Cuba, he put much of the population in concentration camps. The US, which had many businessmen with investment interests in Cuba, became concerned. The American public was stirred into an anti-Spain frenzy by the yellow journalism of men like Hearst and Pulitzer. Nonetheless, President Grover Cleveland promised he would not go to war.
By the time President McKinley came into office in 1897, the uproar over Cuba was continuing, even though Weyler had left. In 1898, the US dispatched the USS Maine on a "friendly" mission to Cuba. The ship was to wait, ready to rescue US citizens who might be endangered by the conflict in Cuba. On February 15, 1898 the Maine mysteriously blew up. The US blamed a Spanish mine. McKinley gave the OK for war, and by April, both the US and Spain had declared war. In order to assure the world that it was fighting only for the good of Cuba and not for colonial gain, the US passed the Teller Amendment, which promised to make Cuba independent after the war was over.
Once declared, the US fought the war on a number of fronts including Cuba itself. Upon the commencement of hostilities, on the orders of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, Commodore Dewey immediately attacked Manila harbor in the Philippines. On May 1, Dewey destroyed the old, decrepit, and rotting Spanish fleet at Manila, and the US prepared for an invasion of the Philippines. The US also invaded Guam and Puerto Rico, other Spanish island colonies, during the war.
Under the leadership...
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