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Sat Feb 15, 2014, 10:07 AM

116 Years Ago Today: USS Maine explodes and sinks in Havana Harbor

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Maine_(ACR-1)#Sinking

In January 1898, Maine was sent from Key West, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban War of Independence. Three weeks later, at 21:40 on 15 February, an explosion on board Maine occurred in the Havana Harbor. Later investigations revealed that more than 5 long tons (5.1 t) of powder charges for the vessel's six and ten-inch guns had detonated, obliterating the forward third of the ship. The remaining wreckage rapidly settled to the bottom of the harbor. Most of Maine's crew were sleeping or resting in the enlisted quarters, in the forward part of the ship, when the explosion occurred. In total 260 men lost their lives as a result of the explosion or shortly thereafter, and six more died later from injuries. Captain Sigsbee and most of the officers survived, because their quarters were in the aft portion of the ship. Altogether, though, there were only 89 survivors, 18 of whom were officers. On 21 March, the US Naval Court of Inquiry, in Key West, declared that a naval mine caused the explosion.

The New York Journal and New York World, owned respectively by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, gave the Maine intense press coverage, but employed tactics that would later be labeled "yellow journalism." Both papers exaggerated and distorted any information they could attain, sometimes even fabricating "news" when none that fitted their agenda was available. For a week following the sinking, the Journal devoted a daily average of eight and a half pages of news, editorials and pictures to the tragedy. Its editors sent a full team of reporters and artists to Havana, including Frederic Remington, and Hearst announced a reward of $50,000 "for the conviction of the criminals who sent 258 American sailors to their deaths." The World, while overall not as lurid or shrill in tone as the Journal, nevertheless indulged in similar theatrics, insisting continually that the Maine had been bombed or mined. Privately, Pulitzer believed that "nobody outside a lunatic asylum" really believed that Spain sanctioned the Maine's destruction. Nevertheless, this did not stop the World from insisting that the only "atonement" Spain could offer the U.S. for the loss of ship and life, was the granting of complete Cuban independence. Nor did it stop the paper from accusing Spain of "treachery, willingness, or laxness" for failing to ensure the safety of Havana Harbor. The American public, already agitated over reported Spanish atrocities in Cuba, was driven to increased hysteria.

The Maine's destruction did not result in an immediate declaration of war with Spain. However, the event created an atmosphere that virtually precluded a peaceful solution. The Spanish–American War began in April 1898, two months after the sinking. Advocates of the war used the rallying cry, "Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!" The episode focused national attention on the crisis in Cuba, but was not cited by the William McKinley administration as a casus belli, though it was cited by some hawks already inclined to go to war with Spain over perceived atrocities and loss of control in Cuba.

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Reply 116 Years Ago Today: USS Maine explodes and sinks in Havana Harbor (Original post)
Cooley Hurd Feb 2014 OP
no_hypocrisy Feb 2014 #1
thucythucy Feb 2014 #2
no_hypocrisy Feb 2014 #3
Wounded Bear Feb 2014 #4
Alkene Feb 2014 #5
flamingdem Feb 2014 #6

Response to Cooley Hurd (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2014, 10:17 AM

1. Leading to the first U.S. military incursion in the name of empire.

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 15, 2014, 10:31 AM

2. The U.S. invasion of Mexico in the 1840s,

"justified" by a trumped up "border incident"--followed by the annexation of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada--was pretty much imperialism. But yeah, invading Cuba, occupying the Philippines, annexing Puerto Rico was our introduction to overseas empire.

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Response to thucythucy (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 15, 2014, 11:12 AM

3. You're right. Missed that.

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Response to Cooley Hurd (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2014, 11:16 AM

4. And sadly, our current state of journalism in America is...

not much better than it was then.

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Response to Cooley Hurd (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2014, 12:50 PM

5. It's a good thing that nothing like that has happened since then.

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Response to Cooley Hurd (Original post)

Sat Feb 15, 2014, 02:14 PM

6. A few months ago it was discovered that the boiler blew up the SS Maine

So at least they did not necessarily use it as a pretext - unless of course they had someone blow up the boiler!

Remember the Maine! (?)

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