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Spanish American War (1898)
Remember the Maine! - Causes of America's War with Spain



Remember the Maine! - Causes of America's War with Spain
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.05

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    gory, hotbed, outlying, rampant, sensational, soul-searching, upheaval, discontent, starvation, bloodshed, countryside, bloody, naval, military, guerrilla, inquiry
     content words:    Puerto Rico, Ten Years, Spanish General Valeriano Weyler, General Weyler, President McKinley, Senator Teller, Teller Amendment


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Remember the Maine! - Causes of America's War with Spain
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     Whether the U.S. was ready or not, there was a war waiting in the wings. The drama was taking place in some exotic islands just off the southern edge of the U.S. Cuba and Puerto Rico had long been colonies of Spain. The Spanish empire had once cut a proud swath through many regions of the world. Now, these small, poor territories and the Philippines, halfway around the world in Asia, were all that was left.
 
2     The islands were pulsating with discontent. Cuba had been a hotbed of strife for several years. A guerrilla force of Cuban natives was waging a bloody war against the Spanish overlords. A long struggle called the Ten Years' War had ended in 1878. Still, the conflict ebbed and flowed. First one side and then the other won territory. Again and again, the Cuban rebels would strike and fade away into the countryside. While they rarely won a major victory, it seemed they couldn't be beaten.
 
3     As things stood, Spanish General Valeriano Weyler realized, the uprising would never be put down. The rebels could count on the people of the countryside for supplies and refuge. General Weyler had a solution to the problem. He used his army to force the villagers from their homes. The Spanish army moved thousands of men, women, and children from outlying areas into camps in the cities.
 
4     Conditions in the camps were horrible. Many thousands of people died of disease and starvation. During this time, the Spanish ruled with an iron fist. Suspected rebels were shot. Even those thought to be in support of the revolt were killed, most without trials.
 
5     Among those executed were 53 crew members of the Virginius, a vessel flying the American flag. The ship had been captured in October, 1873, by the Spanish. It was suspected of running guns to Cuban rebels. The ship was taken in Jamaican waters and brought to Cuba. Only the intervention of a British warship stopped the executions of the rest of the crew.

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