The Spanish-American War

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Why did President McKinley send the USS Maine to Cuba?

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The relations between the United States and Spain were strained over several events regarding Cuba in the late 1800s. The United States was concerned about how the Spanish were treating the people of Cuba. News reports of the Spanish mistreatment of the Cubans were exaggerated in a practice that was...

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The relations between the United States and Spain were strained over several events regarding Cuba in the late 1800s. The United States was concerned about how the Spanish were treating the people of Cuba. News reports of the Spanish mistreatment of the Cubans were exaggerated in a practice that was known as Yellow Journalism. Americans, not having any other major source besides newspapers to get their news, believed the newspaper stories they were reading. They were outraged by the alleged Spanish mistreatment of the Cubans.

When the Spanish ambassador to the United States wrote a letter that was very critical of President McKinley, our relations with Spain deteriorated further. This letter, which was supposed to be a private letter, was intercepted and given to one of the newspaper companies that then published the letter. This letter outraged the American people.

The USS Maine was sent to Havana harbor to protect American interests in Cuba as the relationship with Spain deteriorated. We were very concerned about what the Spanish were doing in Cuba. Sending the USS Maine to Cuba reminded the Spanish of our concern regarding the situation in Cuba. When the USS Maine exploded, Americans immediately blamed Spain. Ultimately, pressure increased on President McKinley to declare war on Spain. This declaration of war occurred in April 1898.

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