The New York World, published by Joseph Pulitzer, covered the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine with rabid intensity. Although his newspapers openly suspected Spain in the catastrophe, Pulitzer himself said that "no one outside a lunatic asylum" believed that Spain caused the explosion.

Image by New York World, courtesy Wikimedia.

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  • On February 15, 1898, the U.S.S. Maine blew up in Havana Harbor, Cuba. The Maine was in Havana to protect U.S. interests in Cuba, which included control of massive sugar plantations. Cuba was struggling for independence from Spain, and the Maine also showed U.S. support for the Cuban rebels. 
     
    “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!” was the rallying cry of war “hawks”—those who supported armed conflict with Spain. They got their wish. The Spanish American War broke out months later, and resulted in a near-total U.S. victory. The U.S. expanded its influence to the former Spanish colonies of the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. (Although Cuba was nominally granted independence, the U.S. maintained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs.)
     
    About 260 military personnel lost their lives as a result of the Maine explosion. Historians do not agree why the ship blew up. Some think it tripped a naval mine in Havana Harbor, while others think the Maine exploded as a result of an internal fire.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    conflict Noun

    a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

    harbor Noun

    part of a body of water deep enough for ships to dock.

    Encyclopedic Entry: harbor
    hawk Noun

    person who advocates war or other armed confict.

    independence Noun

    state or situation of being free.

    intervene Verb

    to mediate or modify the outcome of an event.

    massive Adjective

    very large or heavy.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    naval mine Noun

    explosive device placed in water, to destroy ships or submarines.

    nominally Adverb

    theoretical or true in name only (not in practice).

    plantation Noun

    large estate or farm involving large landholdings and many workers.

    rebel noun, adjective

    person who resists the authority of government.

    U.S.S. Maine Noun

    American battleship that exploded and sunk in Havana, Cuba (1898).