Today marks the anniversary of the explosion of the American battleship the USS Maine. The Maine sat in Havana harbor, Cuba when it exploded, killing 260 of the 400 American crewmen onboard.
The Maine was in Cuba as a show of American force after a rebellion against Spanish control of the island erupted in Havana the month before. It was a huge ship, and one of the first American battleships ever constructed.
The U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry concluded that the Maine was destroyed by a mine. Public opinion was that Spain was behind the attack. Many Americans rattled their sabers for full-scale war against the Spanish.
Naval History and Heritage Command
The Maine explosion was one of the major precipitating factors behind the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, which broke out in April of 1898. The War lasted for three months, with a conclusive victory for the Americans. The Treaty of Paris was signed on December 12, 1898, signaling both an end of the war and the beginning of America's global sphere of influence. Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines were all ceded to the United States in the Treaty.
History has exonerated the Spanish for the Maine explosion. A team of American naval investigators declared in 1976 that the Maine explosion was most likely the result of an onboard fire that reached the ammunition stocks.