1898: Remember The Maine

It was one of the first lessons of Cuban history that we learned in school.

The Maine blew up in Havana’s harbor on February 15, 1898.

This is from the front page of The NY Times the next day:

At 9:45 o’clock this evening a terrible explosion took place on board the United States battleship Maine in Havana Harbor.

Many persons were killed or wounded. All the boats of the Spanish cruiser Alfonso XII. are assisting.

As yet the cause of the explosion is not apparent. The wounded sailors of the Maine are unable to explain it. It is believed that the battleship is totally destroyed.

The explosion shook the whole city. The windows were broken in nearly all the houses.

The correspondent of the Associated Press says he has conversed with several of the wounded sailors and understands from them that the explosion took place while they were asleep, so that they can give no particulars as to the cause.

The Maine explosion led to the US-Spanish War and the eventual independence of Cuba in 1902.

In 1976, a US Navy investigation concluded that the Maine explosion was likely caused by a fire that ignited its ammunition stocks, not by a Spanish mine or act of sabotage.

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