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April 25, 1898: Congress Declares War

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Headline In April 1898, months of tension between the United States and Cuba climaxed into war. After the destruction of the U.S.S. Maine and the Naval Court of Inquiry's implication of Spain, pro-war feeling in the United States reached new heights and by the Spring, the U.S. public got what it had demanded for months—war.

On April 11, 1898, President McKinley asked Congress for permission to use military force in Cuba. By the middle of April, the U.S.S. North Atlantic Squadron had fully blockaded Cuba; by early May, Commodore Dewey and his U.S. Asiatic Squadron had defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. The official declaration of war occurred on April 25, 1899 when President McKinley sent an official request to Congress.

The war with Spain continued into the summer of 1899. On August 12, Spain and the United States signed a peace protocol which officially ended the war. Ironically, an uninformed Commodore Dewey and General Wesley Merritt attacked the Spanish in Manila on August 13, 1899, forcing a Spanish surrender after the peace protocol had been already signed.


Dyal, Donald H.. Historical Dictionary of the Spanish American War. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT, 1996.

O'Toole, G.J.A., The Spanish War: An American Epic-1898. W.W. Norton & Company: New York, 1984.

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