Remember the Maine
By the time the USS Maine, an American warship in Havana Harbour was blew up under questionable circumstances with over 250 hands lost, the American public had already formed their united stand on the rebellion in Cuba. Two leading newspapers of the time, Joseph Pulitzer’s The World, and William Randolph Hearst’s the New York Journal, both informed their readers of the virtue of the Cubans and the perfidy and cruelty of the Spaniards.
Two editors were rivals and wanted to attract more readers, and to do so, both Pulitzer and Hearst claimed that the Spanish were the cause of the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine. Pulitzer covered the horrible explosion of the ship while Hearst focused on the enemy who set the bomb — and offered a reward of 50,000 dollars to anyone who can detect the perpetrator. To this day, what happened on 15 February under the cover of night at 9:40 p.m. remained a mystery.
The World says that the Maine was exploded by the Spanish because one of their journalists arriving from Cuba had “overheard” a plot to blow up the Maine. Thus began the long march of the war hawks: the assistant secretary of the navy, Teddy Roosevelt left his post to fight the Spain. From then on, it was “Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!” all the way to San Juan Hill. The war was over in a matter of weeks, but marked the birth of the American imperial overreach.