The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, the result of U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. U.S. attacks on Spain's Pacific possessions led to involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately to the Philippine–American War.
Revolts against Spanish rule had been occurring for some years in Cuba. There had been war scares before, as in the Virginius Affair in 1873. In the late 1890s, US public opinion was agitated by anti-Spanish propaganda led by journalists such as Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst which used yellow journalism to criticize Spanish administration of Cuba. After the mysterious sinking of the US Navy battleship Maine in Havana harbor, political pressures from the Democratic Party and certain industrialists pushed the administration of Republican President William McKinley into a war he had wished to avoid. Compromise was sought by Spain, but rejected by the United States which sent an ultimatum to Spain demanding it surrender control of Cuba. First Madrid, then Washington, formally declared war.
Although the main issue was Cuban independence, the ten-week war was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific. US naval power proved decisive, allowing expeditionary forces to disembark in Cuba against a Spanish garrison already brought to its knees by nationwide Cuban insurgent attacks and further wasted by yellow fever. Numerically superior Cuban, Philippine, and US forces obtained the surrender of Santiago de Cuba and Manila despite the good performance of some Spanish infantry units and fierce fighting for positions such as San Juan Hill. With two obsolete Spanish squadrons sunk in Santiago de Cuba and Manila Bay and a third, more modern fleet recalled home to protect the Spanish coasts, Madrid sued for peace.
The result was the 1898 Treaty of Paris, negotiated on terms favorable to the US, which allowed it temporary control of Cuba, and ceded ownership of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine islands. The cession of the Philippines involved payment of $20 million ($568,880,000 today) to Spain by the US to cover infrastructure owned by Spain.
The defeat and collapse of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain's national psyche, and provoked a thorough philosophical and artistic revaluation of Spanish society known as the Generation of '98. The United States gained several island possessions spanning the globe and a rancorous new debate over the wisdom of expansionism.
The war began exactly fifty-two years after the beginning of the Mexican–American War. It was one of only eleven US wars to have been formally declared by Congress.