CHAPTER XXXIV. THE WAR WITH SPAIN, AND LATER EVENTS

THE CUBAN REBELLION. - In February, 1895, the Cubans, for the sixth time in fifty years, rose in rebellion against Spain, and attempted to form a republic. These proceedings concerned us for several reasons. American trade with Cuba was interrupted; American money invested in Cuban mines, railroads, and plantations might be lost; our ports were used by the Cubans in fitting out military expeditions which our government was forced to stop at great expense; the cruelty with which the war was waged aroused indignation. During the summer of 1897 the suffering of Cuban non- combatants was so great that our people began to send them food and medical aid.

DESTRUCTION OF THE MAINE. - While our people were engaged in this humane work, our battleship Maine, riding at anchor in the harbor of Havana, was blown up (February 15, 1898) and two hundred and sixty of her sailors killed. War was now inevitable, and on April 19 Congress adopted a resolution demanding that Spain should withdraw from Cuba, and authorizing the President to compel her to leave if necessary. [1] Spain at once severed diplomatic relations, and (April 21, 1898) war began.

THE BATTLE AT MANILA BAY. - A fleet which had assembled at Key West sailed at once to blockade Havana and other ports on the coast of Cuba. Another under Commodore Dewey sailed from Hongkong to attack the Spanish fleet in the Philippine Islands. Dewey found it in Manila Bay, where on the morning of May 1, 1898, he attacked and destroyed it without losing a man or a ship. The city of Manila was then blockaded, and General Merritt with twenty thousand men was sent across the Pacific to take possession of the Philippines.

BLOCKADE OF CERVERA'S FLEET. - Meantime a second Spanish fleet, under Admiral Cervera (thair-va'ra), sailed from the Cape Verde Islands. Acting Rear-Admiral Sampson, with ships which had been blockading Havana, and Commodore Schley, with a "flying squadron," went in search of Cervera, who, after a long hunt, was found in the harbor of Santiago on the south coast of Cuba, and at once blockaded. [2]

THE MERRIMAC. - The entrance to Santiago harbor is long, narrow, and defended by strong forts. In an attempt to make the blockade more certain, Lieutenant Hobson and a volunteer crew of seven men took the collier (coal ship) Merrimac well into the harbor entrance and sank her in the channel (June 3). [3] The little band were made prisoners of war and in time were exchanged.

BATTLES NEAR SANTIAGO. - As the fleet of Cervera could not be attacked by water, it was decided to capture Santiago and so force him to run out. General Shafter with an army was therefore sent to Cuba, and landed a few miles from the city (June 22, 23), and at once pushed forward. On July 1 the Spanish positions on two hills, El Caney (el ca-na') and San Juan (sahn hoo-ahn'), were carried by storm. [4]

The capture of Santiago was now so certain that, on July 3, Cervera's fleet dashed from the harbor and attempted to break through the blockading fleet. A running sea fight followed, and in a few hours all six of the Spanish vessels were shattered wrecks on the coast of Cuba. Not one of our ships was seriously damaged.

Two weeks later General Toral (to-rahl') surrendered the city of Santiago, the eastern end of Cuba, and a large army.

PORTO RICO. - General Miles now set off with an army to capture Porto Rico. He landed on the south coast (August 1) near Ponce (pon'tha), and was pushing across the island when hostilities came to an end.

PEACE. - Meanwhile, the French minister in Washington asked, on behalf of Spain, on what terms peace would be made. President McKinley stated them, and on August 12 an agreement, or protocol, was signed. This provided (1) that hostilities should cease at once, (2) that Spain should withdraw from Cuba and cede Porto Rico and an island in the Ladrones to the United States, and (3) that the city and harbor of Manila should be held by us till a treaty of peace was signed and the fate of the Philippines settled. [5]

The treaty was signed at Paris, December 10, 1898, and went into force upon its ratification four months later. Spain agreed to withdraw from Cuba, and to cede us Porto Rico, Guam (one of the Ladrone Islands), and the Philippines. Our government agreed to pay Spain $20,000,000.

HAWAII, meanwhile, had steadily been seeking annexation to the United States. Many causes prevented it; but during the war with Spain the possibility of our holding the Philippines gave importance to the Hawaiian Islands, and in July, 1898, they were annexed. In 1900 they were formed into the territory of Hawaii. About the same time several other small Pacific islands were acquired by our country. [6]

PORTO RICO AND CUBA. - For Porto Rico, Congress provided a system of civil government which went into effect May 1, 1900, and made the island a dependency, or colony - a district governed according to special laws of Congress, but not forming part of our country. [7]

When Spain withdrew from Cuba, our government took control, and after introducing many sanitary reforms, turned the cities over to the Cubans. The people then elected delegates to a convention which formed a constitution, and when this had been adopted and a president elected, our troops were withdrawn, and (May 20, 1901), the Cubans began to govern their island.