The Spanish-American War Timeline
How It All Went Down
Ten Years War
The Ten Years War in Cuba begins, launching the first phase of the Cuban war for independence from Spain.
African-American abolitionist Henry H. Garnet calls for a U.S. invasion of Cuba to free slaves.
Josiah Strong writes Our Country, which calls for Anglo-Saxons to spread their superior institutions and values to "inferior races" in the American West. Civilizing "savages," he says, would be both good for the uncivilized peoples and for the American economy.
Cuba Ends Slavery
Slavery is officially abolished in Cuba.
Touch Me Not
Filipino José Rizal publishes Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not). His story of Spanish colonial injustice awakens national consciousness among Filipinos.
Cuban Revolutionary Party
Cuban José Martí forms El Partido Revolucionario Cubano (Cuban Revolutionary Party) while living in the United States.
Andrés Bonifacio forms the Katipunan, a secret brotherhood committed to winning Filipino independence through armed revolution against Spain.
The United States suffers from a severe economic depression.
Turner Announces Frontier Closed
At the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, historian Frederick Jackson Turner delivers a speech in which he announces the closing of the western frontier.
Cuban War for Independence II
The second phase of the Cuban war for independence from Spain begins with the Grito de Baire, which declares, "Independencia o muerte." (Independence or death.)
José Martí returns to Cuba to fight for independence. His Cuban Revolutionary Party founded in New York continues to work tirelessly for revolution, inspired by Martí.
José Martí is killed in a Spanish ambush at Dos Ríos, Cuba.
U.S. Neutral in Cuba
U.S. President Grover Cleveland proclaims U.S. neutrality in the Cuban war against Spain.
Cuban Generals Antonio Maceo and Máximo Gómez successfully invade Spanish holdings in the west.
Cuba Martial Law
Spanish generals place the entire island of Cuba under martial law.
U.S. Supports Cuba
The U.S. Senate recognizes the Cuban effort to gain independence and calls for support for the movement.
U.S. Recognizes Cuba
The U.S. House of Representatives calls for the recognition of the Cuban independence movement.
Filipino War for Independence
The Filipino war for independence from Spain begins.
Republican William McKinley defeats Democrat William Jennings Bryan in the presidential election.
Cleveland Declares Cuban Intent
U.S. President Grover Cleveland declares that the U.S. may take action in Cuba if Spain fails to resolve the crisis there.
The New York Journal reports on the execution of a Cuban rebel by a Spanish firing squad. Through sensational stories like these, major American newspapers help strengthen anti-Spanish sentiment in the United States.
William McKinley is inaugurated as president of the United States.
Cuba Home Rule
Spain grants limited autonomy to Cuba. Cubans establish a home-rule government.
The United States battleship Maine arrives in Havana harbor.
De Lôme Letter
The New York Journal publishes the De Lôme letter, critical of President McKinley, pushing the United States to consider war against Spain.
An explosion sinks the battleship Maine in Havana harbor. 266 U.S. crewmen are killed.
Proctor Pleads War
Republican Senator Redfield Proctor from Vermont returns from a trip in Cuba to report on his observations. He calls for Congress and the U.S. business community to declare war against Spain.
Gómez Rejects Spain
Máximo Gómez, the leader of the Cuban Liberation army, rejects an offer form Spain to ally against the United States.
Spanish Mine Blamed
U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry releases a report pronouncing that a Spanish mine caused the explosion of the Maine.
Ultimatum to Spain
The United States issues an ultimatum to the Spanish government to leave Cuba. Spain rejects it.
Press Calls for Intervention
The New York Journal prints one million copies of an issue covering the war in Cuba and calls for the United States to intervene against Spain.
McKinley Asks for War
President McKinley asks Congress for a declaration of war against Spain.
The U.S. Congress agrees to intervene in Cuba, but without recognizing the Cuban insurrection government.
The U.S. Congress votes for war with Spain. In its declaration of war, Congress issues the Teller Amendment, which disclaims any intention of the U.S. to annex Cuba and promises to leave the island as soon as the war is over.
U.S. Declares War
The Spanish-American War is formally declared.
Navy Destroys Spanish Fleet
In a decisive battle, the U.S. navy destroys a Spanish fleet in Manila Bay in the Philippine Islands.
Emilio Aguinaldo returns to the Philippine Islands. The United States had invited him back from exile, hoping that Aguinaldo would rally the Filipinos against the Spanish colonial government.
Responding to the poor conditions he discovered in the Philippines upon his return, Emilio Aguinaldo appoints himself head of a dictatorial government.
U.S. Meets Cubans
The commanders of the U.S. Marines and leaders of the Cuban Liberation Army meet. Cuban forces provide detailed information for the U.S. campaign against Spain.
The first U.S. troops disembark from San Francisco for the Philippine Islands.
Santiago de Cuba
U.S. troops bombard Santiago de Cuba, destroying many Spanish ships and fortifications.
McKinley Wants Hawaii
Congress agrees to annex Hawaii. The McKinley administration argues, "We must have Hawaii to help us get our share of China."
Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders regiment leave Tampa, Florida, headed for Santiago de Cuba.
U.S. Keeps Philippines
The McKinley administration decides not to return the Philippine Islands to Spain.
The American Anti-Imperialist League is organized to oppose the annexation of the Philippine Islands. Members include Republican Senator George Hoar, businessman Andrew Carnegie, humorist Mark Twain, and American philosopher William James.
U.S. Troops Arrive
U.S. troops arrive in Cuba and Puerto Rico.
The Battles of El Caney and San Juan Hill rage in Cuba.
The United States annexes Hawaii.
The Spanish army in Santiago de Cuba surrenders to the United States.
U.S. Invades Puerto Rico
United States troops invade Puerto Rico.
Spanish-American War Over
A ceasefire is announced, halting the Spanish-American War.
Roosevelt is elected governor of New York.
Treaty of Paris Ends War
RANGEEND_SPANWAR The Treaty of Paris formally ends war between the United States and Spain. Spain renounces its rights to Cuba, acknowledges Cuban independence, cedes Puerto Rico and the island of Guam to the U.S., and sells the Philippines to the U.S. for $20,000,000.
Spanish forces leave Cuba. United States military occupation of Cuba begins.
Emilio Aguinaldo declares himself president of the new Philippine Republic, but United States authorities refuse to recognize this new government.
Philippine War on U.S.
Responding to the killing of three Filipino soldiers by U.S. troops in Manila, the Philippine Republic declares war on the United States.
War Officially Over
The Treaty of Paris officially ends the Spanish-American War.
Open Door Policy
Secretary of State John Hay announces the Open Door policy, which demands that European powers controlling portions of China grant equal access to the United States. The policy calls for the free movement of goods but not people.
White Man’s Burden
British writer Rudyard Kipling pens a poem that urges the United States to take up the "white man's burden" of imperialism.
William McKinley is reelected president, defeating his two-time opponent, William Jennings Bryan. Theodore Roosevelt is elected as McKinley's Vice President.
The United States Senate enacts the Platt Amendment, which amends the Cuban constitution to give the U.S. the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and access to naval bases on the island.
U.S. forces capture Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader of the Philippine Republic. Later, he declares allegiance to the United States.
Anarchist Leon Czolgosz assassinates President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt becomes president of the United States.
U.S. Exits Cuba
RANGEEND_USINCUBA United States military occupation of Cuba ends.
Philippine War Ends
RANGEEND_FILIAMERWAR President Theodore Roosevelt declares the end of the war in the Philippines. After three years of warfare, at least 4,200 U.S. soldiers, 20,000 Filipino soldiers, and 200,000 Filipino civilians are dead. Filipino nationalists will continue to fight against U.S. forces occupying the islands for the next thirteen years.
The New Empire
Brooks Adams, a grandson of John Quincy Adams, writes The New Empire, which predicts the rise of the U.S. as an economic power that would soon "outweigh any single empire, if not all empires combined."
Battle of Bud Bagsak
Several hundred Moro—or Muslim Filipino—guerilla fighters and fourteen Americans die in the Battle of Bud Bagsak, the last major battle of the Philippine-American War.
After several years of continued fighting between Filipinos and American colonial forces, the United States grants the Philippines self-government and vows to give the islands full independence.