On June 10, 1898, U.S. Marines landed at Guantánamo Bay. For the next month, American troops fought a land war in Cuba that resulted in the end of Spanish colonial rule in the Western Hemisphere. Cuban rebels had gained the sympathy of the American public while the explosion and sinking of the U.S.S. Maine, widely blamed on the Spanish despite the absence of conclusive evidence, further boosted American nationalistic fervor.
Popular demand for intervention in the Cuban-Spanish conflict led Congress to pass resolutions demanding the withdrawal of Spanish armed forces from Cuba, authorizing U.S. aid to effect this, and promising American support for Cuban self-rule. Spain declared war against the United States on April 24, 1898, and the United States promptly replied with a counter-declaration.
While Spain was unprepared to sustain a war in its distant territories, America was ready and eager to show off its military strength. The navy, under Admiral George Dewey’s command, easily broke Spanish control of the Philippine Islands in an engagement at Manila Bay on May 1. American attention then turned to the liberation of Cuba.
On July 17, just five weeks after the landing at Guantánamo Bay, the Spanish forces under Admiral Pascual Cervera surrendered at Santiago. In the Treaty of Paris of 1898, the United States gained sovereignty of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Spain lost its colonial empire, and the United States emerged with greater influence in international affairs and an increased sense of national pride.
- Search Today in History on the term Spanish American War to find other important dates in the chronology of the war including February 15, April 25, July 1, and October 18.
- The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures includes sixty-eight films of the first war in which the motion picture played a role. The films, which consist of actualities and reenactments, may be viewed chronologically in The Motion Picture Camera Goes to War. This special presentation features brief essays that provide an historical context for the making of the films.
- The Spanish-American War was extensively documented in newspapers as well. Search the Library’s database of historic newspapers, Chronicling America to follow the action. Use the specially created Topics in Chronicling America features to focus on the important dates and events of this conflict:
- The World of 1898, presented by the Library’s Hispanic Division, provides resources and documents about the Spanish-American War, including an overview essay and a chronology of the war.
- Search on Guantanamo in Detroit Publishing Company for more photographs of the 1898 conflict. Aboard the U.S.S. Texas, for example, see a Spanish mine taken up in Guantanamo Bay.
- Search on Guantanamo in Panoramic Photographs to view pictures of the U.S. Marines, still encamped at Guantánamo Bay in 1911.
- Explore A Guide to the Spanish-American War to identify resources from across the Library and selected external web sites related to this topic.