Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Maine, U.S.S.

U.S.S. Maine Memorial (2014)

U.S.S. Maine Memorial (’14) @

U.S.S. Maine Plaque (2014)

U.S.S. Maine Plaque (2014)

Battleship Maine in Havana Harbor, January 1898

Battleship Maine in Havana Harbor, January 1898

was the United States battleship that steamed past the lighthouse in Havana (Cuba) Harbor  in January, 1898. In a few weeks the U.S.S. Maine was destroyed  there on February 15, 1898 by an explosion.

A memorial is in a small park in Bangor.

The event, which killed 260 men, sparked a national debate and outrage that produced a declaration of war on Spain, Cuba’s colonial power, on April 19, 1898.

Maine newspapers and the public were caught up in war fever that spring. Volunteers were easily found to intervene in the Cuban revolution against Spain to support the cause of democracy and independence. By April 26th, soldiers had taken positions at Fort Preble and Portland Head in Casco Bay and at other forts along the coast.

Bath Iron Works landed lucrative contracts from the U.S. Navy, but Maine’s congressional delegation, lead by Speaker of the House Thomas Bracket Reed, opposed the movement toward war.

Poet Edwin Arlington Robinson, novelist William Dean Howells, and women’s rights activist Hannah Bailey opposed what they saw as the imperialist and expansionist aims of the war.

After the Explosion of February, 1898

After the Explosion of February, 1898

The brief war ended on August 13, 1898 when Spain agreed to independence for Cuba, and U.S. control over Puerto Rice and the Philippines. Only seventeen Maine men, civilian members of the Signal Corp, saw military action in Cuba during the war, providing important communications support.

The cause of the explosion that sank the Maine was unclear in 1898, though recent research seems to point toward an accident.

1898 photos from the National Archives # NWDNS-111-SC-94543 and # NWCTB-125-PC32E30-CASE4950-4950B.

Additional resources

Donahue, William J. The United States Newspaper Press Reaction to the Maine Incident, 1898. 1970 (Thesis–University of Colorado) [University of Maine at Presque Isle. Library and Learning Resource Center.]

Hazard, Elizabeth. “The Maine Remembered: Responses to the Spanish-American War in the Pine Tree State,” Maine History, Spring, 1998.

McNeese, Tim. Remember the Maine!: The Spanish-American War Begins. Greensboro, N.C. Morgan Reynolds. c2002.

“U.S.S. Maine Centennial: Bangor, Maine, February 14-15, 1998.” Bangor, Me.U.S. Battleship Maine Centennial Commission. 1998. (22 page brochure)

Weems, John Edward.  The Fate of the Maine. New York. Holt. c1958.

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This entry was last modified: June 08, 2014 02:23 AM

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