Spain had a colony only 90 miles
from Florida. This colony was Cuba. The people in Cuba were not happy with
Spanish rule. In 1895 they rebelled. The ruler of Spain sent soldiers to
stop the rebellion. Cuban fighters were not strong enough to take the
cities from the Spanish, but they burned down many towns and sugar
plantations. The Spanish took many prisoners as well.
The Americans sided with the
The two largest newspapers in the
United States were the New York World and the New York Journal.
These newspapers were rivals competing to get the most readers. The newspapers told untrue
stories about the events taking place in Cuba to make reading the
newspaper more exciting and interesting. This was called yellow journalism
or yellow press. These newspaper stories caused the Americans to side with
Cuba and greatly influenced America going to war with Spain.
Presidents Cleveland and McKinley
tried to keep America out of war, but on February 15, 1898 the American
battleship Maine which was anchored in Havana Harbor exploded.
Two hundred and sixty of the American crewmen were killed. No one knew
what caused the explosion, but many Americans blamed the Spanish.
On April 11, President McKinley
went to Congress and asked for American troops to stop the war. Congress
agreed. On April 25, 1898, the U. S. declared war on Spain. Twenty soldiers
led by Theodore Roosevelt called the Rough Riders went to Cuba. They
landed on the south coast and advanced on the city of Santiago. They
attacked San Juan Hill and captured it. Then they took the city.
Americans left Cuba to take
over another Spanish possession, Puerto Rico. Commodore Dewey sailed into
the Spanish Philippine Islands. He destroyed the Spanish fleet guarding
the islands. On April 13 the capital city of Manila fell to American
troops, and the war was over by mid-July.
The Treaty of Paris was signed in
December 1898. The U.S. gained three islands: Puerto Rico, the
Philippines, and Guam. The Spanish agreed to leave Cuba. The United States
paid $20 million to Spain for the Philippines and Guam. Now, because of
the holdings in the Pacific Ocean, the United States could make use of
The Philippines remained a U. S.
territory until 1946 although it elected its own legislature as early as
1907. American troops stayed in Cuba until 1902. Then they kept the right
to have naval bases on the islands. In 1947 Puerto Rico became a
commonwealth. They joined the U. S., but kept their own government. Hawaii became a state