The Spanish-American War Timeline
How It All Went Down
Oct 10, 1868
Ten Years War
The Ten Years War in Cuba begins, launching the first phase of the Cuban war for independence from Spain.
Henry H. Garnet Speaks Out
African-American abolitionist Henry H. Garnet calls for a U.S. invasion of Cuba to free slaves.
Our Country Published
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.
Oct 7, 1886
Cuba Ends Slavery
Slavery is officially abolished in Cuba.
Touch Me Not Published
Filipino José Rizal publishes Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not). His story of Spanish colonial injustice awakens national consciousness among Filipinos.
Jan 5, 1892
Cuban Revolutionary Party Formed
Cuban José Martí forms El Partido Revolucionario Cubano (Cuban Revolutionary Party) while living in the United States.
Jul 7, 1892
The Katipunan Formed
Andrés Bonifacio forms the Katipunan, a secret brotherhood committed to winning Filipino independence through armed revolution against Spain.
1893 - 1897
The Great Depression
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.
Feb 24, 1895
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.)
Apr 10, 1895
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.
May 19, 1895
José Martí is killed in a Spanish ambush at Dos Ríos, Cuba.
Jun 12, 1895
U.S. Neutral in Cuba
U.S. President Grover Cleveland proclaims U.S. neutrality in the Cuban war against Spain.
Jan 1, 1896
Cuban Generals Antonio Maceo and Máximo Gómez successfully invade Spanish holdings in the West.
Feb 16, 1896
Cuba Martial Law
Spanish generals place the entire island of Cuba under martial law.
Feb 28, 1896
U.S. Supports Cuba
The U.S. Senate recognizes the Cuban effort to gain independence and calls for support for the movement.
Mar 2, 1896
U.S. Recognizes Cuba
The U.S. House of Representatives calls for the recognition of the Cuban independence movement.
Aug 26, 1896
Filipino War for Independence
The Filipino war for independence from Spain begins.
McKinley Elected President
Republican William McKinley defeats Democrat William Jennings Bryan in the presidential election.
Dec 7, 1896
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.
Jan 19, 1897
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.
Mar 4, 1897
William McKinley is inaugurated as President of the United States.
Jan 1, 1898
Cuba Home Rule
Spain grants limited autonomy to Cuba. Cubans establish a home-rule government.
Jan 25, 1898
The United States battleship Maine arrives in Havana harbor.
Feb 9, 1898
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.
Feb 15, 1898
An explosion sinks the battleship Maine in Havana harbor. 266 U.S. crewmen are killed.
Mar 17, 1898
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.
Mar 20, 1898
Gómez Rejects Spain
Máximo Gómez, the leader of the Cuban Liberation Army, rejects an offer form Spain to ally against the United States.
Mar 28, 1898
Spanish Mine Blamed
U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry releases a report pronouncing that a Spanish mine caused the explosion of the Maine.
Mar 29, 1898
Ultimatum to Spain
The United States issues an ultimatum to the Spanish government to leave Cuba. Spain rejects it.
Apr 4, 1898
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.
Apr 11, 1898
McKinley Asks for War
President McKinley asks Congress for a declaration of war against Spain.
Apr 13, 1898
The U.S. Congress agrees to intervene in Cuba, but without recognizing the Cuban insurrection government.
Apr 19, 1898
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.
Apr 25, 1898
U.S. Declares War
The Spanish-American War is formally declared.
May 1, 1898
Navy Destroys Spanish Fleet
In a decisive battle, the U.S. Navy destroys a Spanish fleet in Manila Bay in the Philippine Islands.
May 19, 1898
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.
May 24, 1898
Responding to the poor conditions he discovered in the Philippines upon his return, Emilio Aguinaldo appoints himself head of a dictatorial government.
May 24, 1898
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.
May 25, 1898
The first U.S. troops disembark from San Francisco for the Philippine Islands.
Jun 6, 1898
Santiago de Cuba
U.S. troops bombard Santiago de Cuba, destroying many Spanish ships and fortifications.
Jun 11, 1898
McKinley Wants Hawaii
Congress agrees to annex Hawaii. The McKinley administration argues, "We must have Hawaii to help us get our share of China."
Jun 13, 1898
Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders regiment leave Tampa, Florida, headed for Santiago de Cuba.
Jun 14, 1898
U.S. Keeps Philippines
The McKinley administration decides not to return the Philippine Islands to Spain.
Jun 15, 1898
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.
Jul 1, 1898
U.S. Troops Arrive
U.S. troops arrive in Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Jul 1, 1898
The Battles of El Caney and San Juan Hill rage in Cuba.
Jul 8, 1898
The United States annexes Hawaii.
Jul 16, 1898
The Spanish army in Santiago de Cuba surrenders to the United States.
Jul 26, 1898
U.S. Invades Puerto Rico
United States troops invade Puerto Rico.
Aug 12, 1898
Spanish-American War Over
A ceasefire is announced, halting the Spanish-American War.
Theodore Roosevelt Elected Governor
Teddy Roosevelt is elected Governor of New York.
Dec 10, 1898
Treaty of Paris Ends War
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.
Feb 4, 1899
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.
Apr 11, 1899
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.
Feb 1, 1901
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.
Apr 23, 1901
U.S. forces capture Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader of the Philippine Republic. Later, he declares allegiance to the United States.
Sep 6, 1901
Anarchist Leon Czolgosz assassinates President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt becomes President of the United States.
May 20, 1902
U.S. Exits Cuba
United States military occupation of Cuba ends.
Jul 4, 1902
Philippine War Ends
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 13 years.
The New Empire Published
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."
Jul 15, 1913
Battle of Bud Bagsak
Several hundred Moro—or Muslim Filipino—guerilla fighters and 14 Americans die in the Battle of Bud Bagsak, the last major battle of the Philippine-American War.
Apr 22, 1915
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.
Latin American Revolutions: 1800-1914
Hidalgo's provocative speechVideo: Reenactment of Hidalgo's Speech Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a parish priest in Dolores, Mexico, rang his church bell to gain the attention of the locals. He then delivered a lively speech which promoted Mexican independence from Spain, racial equality, and other needed reforms.
Execution of Miguel HidalgoDocuments Conveying Hidalgo's Stance Hidalgo is shot to death under orders of the Spanish authorities for his heretic opinions. His cause continues under another priest, José María Morelos y Pavón. Depicted: Illustration of Hidalgo's execution
Paraguayan IndependenceIndependence of Paraguay occured when colonists overthrow the Spanish governor themselves. Depicted: Casa de la independencia in Asuncion, Paraguay; In this building the colonists began their rebellion against Spainsh rule.
Battle of RancaguaA battle during the Chilean War for Independence. Chileans were defeated by Spanish forces. This defeat caused commander Bernardo O'Higgins to seek assistance in Jose de San Martin. Depicted: The Battle of Rancagua
Independence of ArgentinaArgentine independence from Spain; Led by Jose de San Martin Depicted: Casa de la independencia in Tucuman City; Building where Argentine Independence was declared
Independence of ChileChilean Independence led by Bernardo O'Higgins. O'Higgins was placed in power by San Martin to liberate Chile, and remained as a dictator in Chile to encourage and support the nation's reformations. Depicted: Bernardo O'Higgins
Plan of Iguala PublishedPlan of Iguala Agustín de Iturbide, an officer in the Spanish army, changes his stance after crushing independence movements and begins his own. He outlines his policies and procedures in the Plan of Iguala.
Treaty of Córdoba SignedTreaty of Cordoba Treaty signed in Córdoba, Veracruz, Mexico by the Spainish crown that recognized Mexican independence.
Independence of GuatemalaVideo: Modern-day Independence Day Celebration in Antigua, Guatemala After observing Mexico's independence, Guatemalans decided to follow the Mexican's lead and break free from Spain themselves. Guatemala then opts to join with Mexico to form a larger state under Iturbide. This arrangement prevails until Iturbide abdicates in 1823.
Guayaquil ConferenceMeeting of Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin. San Martin called Bolivar to meet with him to discuss troubles regarding the liberation of Peru and to receive guidance. Both men found themselves to have strikingly similar interests, and by the end of their meeting, San Martin abdicated his power in Peru, and Bolivar took the initiative to begin its liberation. Depicted: An illustration of Bolivar and San Martin during the Guayaquil Conference
Brazilian IndependenceDom Pedro, regent of Brazil son of John IV of Portugal, declares Brazilian independence from Portugal. Depicted: Dom Pedro I of Brazil
Peruvian IndependceSimon Bolivar and his chief of staff Antonio Jose de Sucre win a battle together against the Spanish on August 6th. Sucre finalizes independence for Peru on December 9th at Ayacucho. Later, in 1825, Sucre completes the independence of Upper Peru in the Andes Mountains. Depicted: Antonio Jose de Sucre
Inception of BoliviaThe region of Upper Peru won by Bolivar's go-to military man Sucre was established as a separate state in 1825 and named Bolivia (to honor Simon Bolivar). Sucre was named president of Bolivia for his lifetime, but his time in office ended with his resignation after two short years. Depicted: Illustration of Simon Bolivar
Independence of UruguayThe Initial Attempts at Uruguayan independence by Artigas After Spanish forces are initially put under siege in Montevideo by Jose Gervasio Artigas, Uruguay is technically still unable to declare its own independence. Both Brazil and Argentina fight to take Uruguay for their own territory. Finally, in 1828 Brazil and Argentina sign a treaty to stop their warring and to declare the independence of Uruguay.
Carlos Antonio Lopez becomes Dictator of ParaguayDepicted: Carlos Antonio Lopez
Abolition of Slavery in New Granada (Colombia)
Civil War in MexicoCivil War begins in Mexico when the Church is expropriated of its land. This was done in an attempt to precipitate wealth for the middle class.
Federico Errázuriz Zañartu becomes President of ChileDepicted: Federico Errázuriz Zañartu
Abolition of Slavery in BrazilBrazil was the last nation of the Americas to abolish the practice of slavery. Slaves liberated by Brazilian princess Isabel.
U.S.A. defeat Spain in the Spanish-American WarU.S.A. gains the Phillipines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico from this victory. This concludes Spanish rule in the Americas. Depicted: "Charge of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill" By Frederic Remington
Argentinian SuffrageUniveral male suffrage is achieved in Argentina
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Reign of Emperor Augustin I of MexicoIn the chaos of a newly freed Mexico, Augustin de Iturbide declares himself emperor Augustin I in 1822. He has absolutely no intentions to bring about a republic in Mexico. Because of his ineptitude as a ruler, he abdicates the throne and flees to Europe in 1823.
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The Thousand Days' WarColombian Civil War. This war was raised with disagreements between liberals and conservatives. There was no true victor, and nearly 100,000 Colombian lives were lost. While the war was taking place, the United States helped Panama, a Colombian holding, to independence.