Library of Congress | Today in History | April 25
On April 25,1898, the United States formally declared war against Spain. The Monroe Doctrine, which since 1823 had viewed any European intervention in the Americas as a threat to U.S. security, coupled with the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor precipitated U.S. engagement.
Coverage by both the Hearst newspapers and the nascent film industry solidified public support for involvement in Cuba’s struggle for independence.
Battleship Maine sunk in Havana Harbor
Within months Spain’s overseas empire, which had begun with Columbus’ voyages of discovery and been long in the unraveling, finally collapsed under the U.S.‘s two-pronged war strategy. Commodore George Dewey sailed to the Pacific the day war was declared and on May 1st defeated the Spanish fleet in the Philippines. In Cuba and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Marines and other troops, including Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, helped defeat Spanish forces in the Americas.
The U.S. and Spain signed a peace treaty in December of 1898. Spain gave up its claims to Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Guam and, for 20 million dollars, transferred the Philippines to the U.S. By contrast, the U.S. emerged from the war as a more significant player on the world stage.
The Spanish-American War was the first U.S. war in which the motion picture camera played a role.