The Battleship Maine and The Spanish American War?what were the causes of The Battleship Maine and The Spanish American War? What were some other important history of The BattleShip Maine and The...

The Battleship Maine and The Spanish American War?

what were the causes of The Battleship Maine and The Spanish American War? What were some other important history of The BattleShip Maine and The Spanish American War?

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Stephen Holliday | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Just before the Spanish-American War was declared, the US was concerned about the ongoing civil wars of Cuban nationalists against Spain and, particularly, about news of Spanish atrocities in Cuba.  The US sent one of its most powerful battleships (actually, a heavy cruiser), the USS Maine, to "show the flag" (our concern) to Cuba, and it stationed itself in Havana Harbor.

On February 15, 1898, the Maine suffered a horrific explosion that essentially sank the ship, killing about 250 sailors.  Because of the tensions that existed between Spain and the United States, and the fact that a heavy cruiser is not supposed to explode on its own, the US government assumed this was the result of sabotage.  Popular sentiment, egged on by sensationalist and anti-Spanish news stories, chiefly in the Hearst newspapers, called for war, and the US government obliged.  The clarion call for war became "Remember the Maine," and if one goes to Columbus Square in New York City, one can see the monument dedicated to the Maine's loss.

After the war, in which Spain as defeated, the US Navy surveyed the wrecked Maine and concluded that it indeed sank as a result of a powerful mine placed against its hull by the Spanish--there were also theories at the time that Cuban nationalists caused the explosion to bring the US into the war.  The most convenient explanation, however, was that the Spanish were responsible.

In the last few years, after an exhaustive analysis by the US Navy and civilian structural engineers, it was determined that the explosion was actually caused by a coal fire separated by a wall from a main ammunition magazine.  The fire finally melted through the wall, ignited some ammunition, and the ship exploded.

 

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