TravelTill

History of Cuba



leship Maine arrived in Havana on 25 January 1898 to offer protection to the 8,000 American residents on the island, but the Spanish saw this as intimidation. On the evening of 15 February 1898, the Maine blew up in the harbor, killing 252 crew. Another eight crew members died of their wounds in hospital over the next few days. A Naval Board of Inquiry headed by Captain William T. Sampson was appointed to investigate the cause of the explosion on the Maine. Having examined the wreck and taken testimony from eyewitnesses and experts, the board reported on 21 March 1898 that the Maine had been destroyed by "a double magazine set off from the exterior of the ship, which could only have been produced by a mine."

The facts remain disputed today, although an investigation by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover published in 1976 established that the blast was most likely a large internal explosion. Rickover believes the explosion was caused by a spontaneous combustion in inadequately ventilated bituminous coal which ignited gunpowder in an adjacent magazine. The original 1898 board was unable to fix the responsibility for the disaster, but a furious American populace, fueled by an active press— notably the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst— concluded that the Spanish were to blame and demanded action. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution calling for intervention, and President William McKinley complied. Spain and the United States declared war on each other in late April.

Early 20th century

After the Spanish-American War, Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris (1898), by which Spain ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the United States for the sum of $20 million. Under the same treaty, Spain relinquished all claim of sovereignty over Cuba. Theodore Roosevelt, who had fought in the Spanish-American War and had some sympathies with the independence movement, succeeded McKinley as U.S. President in 1901 and abandoned the