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Sinking of the Maine: Topics in Chronicling America

A mysterious explosion sank the USS Maine in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898. This guide provide information on researching the topic of the "sinking of the Maine" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Illustration of the USS Maine en route to doom. February 22, 1898. The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Breaking residential windows and shaking the city of Havana to its core, a mysterious explosion sinks the USS Maine to the bottom of the Havana Harbor on the evening of February 15, 1898. The American "yellow press" blame Spain in banner headlines, outraging the public and inciting the rallying cry, "Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!" Over 260 crew members perish in this event, which was a contributing factor in the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


January 24, 1898 President William McKinley sends the battleship USS Maine to Havana to protect U.S. interests in Cuba.
February 15, 1898 The Maine explodes in Havana Harbor, killing 266 men.
March 25, 1898 An inquiry conducted by the U.S Navy concludes that the explosion was caused by the detonation of a mine under the ship.
April 19-20, 1898 The U.S. Congress adopts a joint resolution for war with Spain and sends an ultimatum to the Spanish government.
April 21, 1898 The U.S. orders a blockade of Cuba.
April 23, 1898 Spain declares war on the United States, and the U.S. Congress responds on April 25 by issuing a formal declaration of war.