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History's Happenings for April 24

Spain Declares War on U.S.
1898

Roosevelt leads his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill

The American public had long been subjected to a media barrage of vituperation against the treatment of Cuban nationals by their Spanish colonial masters, and recently reports of Americans being harassed had surfaced as well. Lurid newspaper graphics depicting American women being strip-searched by Spanish authorities served the purpose of rallying the American public for war against Spain.

Behind the rhetoric lay a natural American desire to see Cuba gain her freedom, as well some old fashioned commercial greed cloaked in Manifest Destiny.

When the battleship U.S.S. Maine, sent to protect American citizens and interests from the public unrest in Cuba, suddenly exploded in Havana harbor taking with it 266 officers and men, the media screamed for war.

Reacting to public pressure, a hestitant President McKinley ordered a blockade of Cuba in early April, and the Spanish declared war on April 24. The U.S. followed suit the next day.

After a considerable effort in assembling and trans-shipping a military force from Florida, by the end of summer it was all over. Victories by the Fifth Army Corps, culminating in the charge up San Juan Hill by future president Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, tamed Cuba and Puerto Rico by the end of July. In the Pacific, Commodore Dewey's fleet, which had already been posted to Hong Kong with war warning orders prior to the outbreak, attacked and subdued Manila in the Philippines, raising the U.S. flag over that capital in August.

(Contrary to our graphic, Roosevelt led a dismounted cavalry charge up two hills collectively known as the San Juan Heights. One of the things that the U.S. Army most remembers this heroic event for is the early use of machine guns in attack.)

The Spanish, never anxious for this war with the United States, sued for peace and cosigned a treaty with U.S. representatives in Paris, France, on December 12, 1898. The result was Cuba's freedom, under temporary U.S. occupation, and the cession to the U.S. of the Philippine Islands and Guam in the Pacific, and Puerto Rico and a variety of smaller Spanish possessions in the Caribbean.

The U.S held the Philippines, despite various nationalist revolutions over the years, until after World War II, when it was granted independence in return for its efforts against the Japanese. Guam and Puerto Rico remain U.S. dependencies.

First American Newspaper
1704

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Library of Congress Authorized
1800

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Federals End Occupation of South
1877

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Iran Hostage Rescue Attempt Flops
1980

President Jimmy Carter -- ill-advised or poor planning?

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