The Spanish-American War was fought between April 21 and August 13, 1898. The U.S. victory against the Spanish resulted in the collapse of what remained of Spain’s colonial empire and heralded America’s entrance as a major player on the world stage.
The catalyst for America’s declaration of war was the sinking of the USS Maine on February 15, 1898, in Havana Harbor (which at the time was blamed on Spain). However, American public opinion had been turning against Spain for some time, due to atrocities committed against Cubans in their fight for independence from Spain.
Cuba would prove to be the main stage for the war, though American troops were also sent to the Spanish possessions of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. The main actions in Cuba were the Battle of San Juan Hill (with Theodore Roosevelt’s famed Rough Riders) and the sea battle and subsequent land siege at Santiago de Cuba.
The Spanish surrender at Santiago in July essentially signaled the end of the war, though token fighting would occur in Puerto Rico and the Philippines after that date. Representatives for the United States and Spain signed a peace protocol in Washington DC on August 12, 1898, with the actual peace treaty not being signed until that December.
After the cessation of hostilities with Spain, the U.S. army occupied Cuba until 1902, when the island obtained independence (though it would remain under U.S. supervision until 1934). Puerto Rico and Guam became U.S. territories, and the Philippines soon began a long fight for independence from the U.S. that would last until 1946.
Learn more about the Spanish-American War through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.