February 24, 1895, the Second Cuban Insurrection began, making what would
later become the Spanish-American war a possibility. 1895 was a year of
severe bloodshed and violence, with Cuban resistance leaders Antonio Maceo
and Maximo Gomez leading their forces on "La Invasion", fighting
nearly every day. This fighting lasted from October of 1895 to January of
1896. While the level of active fighting cooled down among the next couple
years, America, partially because of deceptive "yellow"
journalism, was drawn into the conflict with at least an interest in
monitoring the state of affairs. For multiple purposes, including this,
the battleship U.S.S. Maine was sent to Havana on January 25, 1898.
It still remains to be fully explained (all modern official investigations have turned up inconclusive), but the Maine exploded on February 15, killing 266 crewmen and becoming the topic of outrage among Americans. "Remember the Maine!" became the popular slogan. Six days later, The Naval Court of Inquiry into the loss of the Maine began and a month after that, the Court concluded that the Maine was lost due to a mine. Of course, on March 28th, the Spanish Board of Inquiry into the loss of the battleship stated its beliefs that the explosion was due to an internal accident, creating yet more tension between the two already on-edge countries.
President William McKinley had been leaning towards war for some time now, and eleven days after Spain rejected the demands of the United States for Cuban independence, he asked Congress for war. Although war had not been declared yet, between April 11th and April 22nd, conflict began, with the U.S. Army mobilizing, Congress declaring Cuba as an independent country, and a naval blockade of Cuba put into place (the first Spanish ship was taken shortly after). Spain declared war on the 23rd, and Congress declared that a state of war had existed since the 22nd. The Spanish-American War had begun.
Immediately, the American naval presence began to bombard key locations in Matanzas, Cuba. On May 1st, under the leadership of the rather famous Commodore Dewey, the U.S. Navy's Asiatic Squadron defeated the Spanish Pacific Squadron at the famous Battle of Manila Bay. Indirectly, through this great victory, America quickly became a real world power (in the eyes of other countries), showing it's vast naval superiority.
America soon began to make land combat movements. They took Guam (with no resistance) and landed General Lawton's 5th Corps. Theodore Roosevelt also landed his "Rough Riders" - the 1st United States Volunteer Infantry. The ground battles of San Juan Hill and El Caney quickly determined ground superiority, and the naval Battle of Santiago destroyed the remainder of the local Spanish fleet. The ground troops in Santiago were forced to surrender, and Puerto Rico was taken. Spain, beginning to worry about the possibility of an attack on their homeland, asked for peace terms through France on July 26th.
On August 9th, the Spanish accepted McKinley's terms of peace, and peace protocols were signed three days later. Peace and order were gradually restored to Cuba. The United States acquired Puerto Rico and the Philippines from Spain, and the war was officially over when the two countries signed a treaty on December 10th in Paris, bringing an end to real conflict in Cuba for some time.