In 1895 Spanish colonial authorities suppressed an invasion by Cuban liberationists, but a guerrilla insurgency continued, threatening US business interests in Cuban tobacco and sugar. The USS Maine was sent to Havana Harbour to safeguard American citizens on the island. In February 1898, it sank after a massive explosion. The cause has never been determined, but jingoistic journalism blamed the Spanish, provoking public outrage, and President McKinley issued an ultimatum to Spain demanding their withdrawal from Cuba, leading to war. Hostilities also occurred in the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. In Cuba, action centred on the port of Santiago; an American-Cuban force besieged the city, while the Spanish fleet was largely destroyed trying to escape its harbour. With Spain’s Philippines fleet also destroyed, and American forces wracked by yellow fever, both sides were ready for peace. The Treaty of Paris handed the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam to the US, while Cuba became a US protectorate.
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