The Spanish American War was an armed conflict between Spain and America that started on April 21, 1898 and ended with Spain being expelled from the Americas, and the United States taking over the territories that previously belonged to the Spanish, in Latin America and the western Pacific.
The day marks an important day in U.S. history, and therefore it is not a public holiday.
In 1895 Cuba was fighting for its independence from a repressive Spanish rule, and there had been violent demonstrations against the Spanish for a while. By this time, the Americans' sympathy for the Cubans grew, as newspapers would report on terrible atrocities performed by the Spanish in Cuba.
It was when the USS Maine, an American cruiser that was harbored in Havana, mysteriously exploded and sank that the United States were pushed into a war they did not want to get into.
The war was fought between Spain, aided by its colonial territories of the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the United States who fought with the help of Cuban and Philippine dissidents.
To appease things, Spain attempted to give Cuba limited self-government, however, the United States believed that Cuba deserved its independence and Congress allowed for military force to be used to back Cuban revolutionaries and demanded that Spain withdrew from Cuba. As a result, Spain declared war on the United States, who declared war back to Spain.
The war only lasted for ten-weeks, as Spain was not militarily prepared to fight the United States, who had a powerful army and navy, in a long-distance conflict.
An American attack on Manila Bay only lasted two hours, and resulted in the death of 10 American soldiers, while the Spanish lost over 370 men. As a result, the United States took over Manila. On July 3, the Spanish fleet was located by American forces and rapidly burned down or sunk while the Spanish forces tried to escape. In Cuba, the Americans came face to face with a Spanish army that was weakened by months of attacks due to the Cuban revolution, as well as suffering from yellow fever.
After the surrender of the attacked fleets, Spanish officials in Madrid began asking for a peace process, and thus the war was ended by July 17, 1898.
The Treaty of Paris
Peace came with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, where Spain renounced its claims to Cuba and gave sovereignty over Guam and Puerto Rico over to the United States. The United States also paid Spain 20 million dollars for ownership of the Philippines.
After its embarrassing defeat, Spain ended its overseas colonial efforts for good and focused on its national and economic development. At the same time, the country saw its arts and culture flourish.
The United States’ victory firmly positioned them as a strong world power, who now had control over international territories.