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The Americans soon came to Cuba, in an attempt to assist the Cubans in their fight for freedom. The Spanish intervention with Cuba threatened the trade routes that America had near, and with Cuba. By helping Cuba, America would be vastly saving itself economically because these routes were highly valuable. During this time you must remember that the United States had a new, powerful Navy, and they were anxious to show their power off to the rest of the world. Cuba served as the perfect stage to put on a show.
When Spanish General Weyler arrived, he controlled the rebellion in Cuba by herding the Cuban citizens into enclosed concentration camps. They were detained under very unsanitary and inhumane conditions. Many of them died. This treatment of the Cuban people by the Spanish angered the American public, and they demanded that war be declared against Spain. The American people were clearly disgusted by the way the Spaniards treated the Cubans. Why wouldn’t they be? The Spaniards treated them like scum. They were livid; the Americans wanted the government to take action against the Spaniards for the actions they took against the Cubans.
Both Presidents Cleveland and McKinley tried to keep America out of war. In 1896, Congress overwhelmingly passed a resolution that called for President Cleveland to review the impending situation in Cuba. The anti-imperialist Cleveland refused to do anything. But, on February 15, 1898, the American battleship U.S.S. Maine anchored in Havana Harbor exploded. Two hundred and sixty of the American crewmen were killed. On April 11, 1898 President McKinley went to Congress and asked for American troops to stop the war. Congress agreed and on April 25 the U. S. declared war on Spain.
In McKinley’s declaration of war against Spain, he stated "For the recognition of the independence of the people of Cuba, demanding that the Government of Spain relinquish its authority and Government in the island of Cuba, and to withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters, and directing the President of the United States to use the land and naval forces of the United States to carry these resolutions into effect.
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