Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain

10 False Flags that Changed the World: #9

9In 1898, elites within the United States government falsely accused Spain of blowing up the USS Maine in order to stoke the American people into a flag-waving frenzy that resulted in the Spanish-American War.

Death of the Spanish Empire

The Spanish Empire was the first truly global empire, reaching its territorial height in the late 1700s.

As evidence of Spain’s once vast footprint, the Spanish language is still the 3rd most spoken language in the world. (Even if you don’t think you speak Spanish, you probably know some Spanish words: Can you say tornado? Bonanza? Patio? Quesadilla? Enchilada? Taco grande supreme?)

The Spanish EmpireBut nothing lasts forever, and like every empire since the beginning of time (save the USA, which is still young…) Spain’s status as the world’s greatest power was not to last.

By 1898, Spain was regularly losing territories. Although Spain still ruled Cuba, it, too, was becoming increasingly hard to control, and a minor revolution had broken out. This wasn’t welcome news to people in the United States who owned Cuban sugar, tobacco, and iron industry properties valued at over $50 million (which was a chunk of change in the 1890s!)

Selling the Spanish American WarThe mainstream media, then dominated by newspaper magnates Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, exaggerated—and outright fabricated—stories of horrible conditions under Spanish rule.

Following the age-old maxim, “If it bleeds, it leads,” the newspapers published stories about Spanish death camps, Spanish cannibalism, and inhumane torture. Americans ate it up and asked for more gravy.

So the newspapers sent more reporters to Cuba.

When they got there, however, the reporters found a different story. Artist and correspondent Frederick Remington even wrote back to Hearst, “There is no war. Request to be recalled.” Hearst’s famous reply: “Please remain. You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.”

And he did. His newspaper, continually screaming how Spanish Cuba was going to hell in a handbasket, convinced big business interests in the U.S. to put pressure on anti-war President William McKinley to protect their Cuban investments.

McKinley, in response, sent the USS Maine battleship to Havana Harbor as a calming show of force.

Instead, the battleship exploded…

USS Maine Explodes in Havana Harbor

Three weeks after arriving, on the night of February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded.

There are two theories for the explosion: Some believe the explosion was caused by an external mine that detonated the ship’s ammunition magazines. Others say it was caused by a spontaneous coal bunker fire that reached the ammunition magazines. Currently, the evidence seems to favor the external mine theory.

USS Maine ExplodesOne thing, however, is almost certain: if the explosion was caused by a mine, it wasn’t planted by Spain.

Nevertheless, the explosion killed 266 men. Without waiting on an investigation, America’s main stream media blamed the tragedy on Spain and beat the drums for war. By April, McKinley yielded to public pressure and signed a congressional resolution declaring war on Spain.

Wars and Taxes

To help pay for the Spanish-American War, congress enacted a “temporary” tax of 3 percent on long-distance telephone bills. This was essentially a tax on the rich, as only about 1,300 Americans owned phones in 1898.

Although the Spanish-American War ended in 1898, the temporary tax was only abolished in…2005.

Over its lifetime, the 107-year-old tax generated almost $94 billion—more than 230 times the cost of the Spanish-American War.

The Birth of an American Empire

The Spanish-American War put a large nail in the coffin of Spain’s global empire. And by the end of 1898, the United States, which was founded in opposition to imperialism, found itself in control not only of Cuba, but of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Hawaiian Islands as well.

Not a bad catch for one second-class battleship.

Go to the next article in this series:
The Manchurian Incident.

Go to the previous article in this series:
Nero, Christians, and the Great Fire of Rome.

Go to the original article in this series:
10 False Flags that Changed the World.

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11 Responses to Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain

  1. PETE says:

    Over a hundred years have passed, and the people haven’t learned how easily the media can sway opinion. Harp on a subject long enough and they take it for the gospel truth.

  2. TheDevil says:

    the world of falses… what is truth and what is false? I agree media easily influences one’s opinion. We human beings easily believe what is shown to us, whether it be true, false or bullshit.

  3. Joe says:

    It’s a fine line between patriotism and brainwashed nationalism, and it’s a fine line between being openminded and being too trusting, and there’s a fine line between creativity and insanity, and there’s also a fine line between Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb.

    The easy way is for or against, black or white, but the best way for everyone involved (and since we are all one, wouldn’t that be best?) is to find the right balance in a shade of gray. Ahhh, yes, gwassssshoppppper….now we learning.

    Ok, so, while we’re remembering the Maine, how long before one of those aircraft carriers we sent to intimidate Iran goes belly up from a terrorist attack with all the markings of, trust us–we’ve got good intelligence on this…an Iranian-made weapon!!!

  4. kill yankee says:

    how long before one of those aircraft carriers we sent to intimidate Iran goes belly up from a terrorist attack with all the markings of, trust us–we’ve got good intelligence on this…an Iranian-made weapon!!!

    according to condoleeza rice’s “guys @ fox news”,you no longer need a ‘smoking gun”……pretend “weapons of mass destruction” was enough to convince most of you to invade 2 countries with absolutely NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SELF INFLICTED WOUND W HITLER-BUSH CAUSED.

    of course, if we were really hunting renegade nations with “W.M.D’s”,we’d be in about Washington, whilst Bush would STILL be @ school,trying to learn how to read……”George, can you say ‘democratically elected’?”

  5. kill yankee says:

    the curious thing for me was the “temporary tax” that lasted 107 years.

    not one so called left or right wing politician acted to rectify this untill W.BUSH had to offer you a caveat to continue the invasion of AFGHANI/IRAQ/IRAN/FREE MINDS/VIETNAM………..AMERIKKKA:YOU ARE FREE TO DO WHAT WE TELL YOU. GO BACK TO BED AMERIKKKA, YOUR GOVERNMENT IS IN CONTROL AGAIN

    .Humble,SINCERE,Love & GRATITUDE to goat boy…….an ameriCan we can trust. (no, that was not an oxymoron, or a joke.)

    kill yankee
    international slave

  6. Gustavo Caldas says:

    There is an error in this article.The ‘theory’ about the Spanish mine was discounted,when divers photographed the hulk of the Maine and found that the metal plates of the hul were bent outward as a result of an internal explosion.The explosion of the magazine was caused by spontaneous combustion of the coal,stored under and adjacent to the ammunition magazine.

  7. JoeC says:

    Gustavo: Are you sure? Can you supply a link to a source? Everything I’ve read said the hulls were actually bent INWARD, which was a major prop for the external mine theory. Albeit, there was still a lot of evidence for the spontaneous coal combustion theory, also, with some thinking an external mine set off the coal explosion…in a sense there was an external explosion followed by an internal explosion

    Here’s a link to some info:

    If you have a link to newer, later research, please post it.

    Thanks for the input!

  8. john says:

    I remember that from history class, way back in school. Funny thing is, that war ALWAYS seems ridiciolous in some way.

  9. Xman says:

    Hopefully, someday some old secret agents papers will surface and explain it all.

    The one comforting thought I have in all this and our present circumstances is, that “Murphy’s Law” applies equally to everyone. Friend and foe alike.
    Which may explain why the administration looks more like a Chinese fire drill than a thoughtful and dignified ship of state.

    I imagine what it would be like if “W” set a plan to invade a candy store.
    “W” yells “charge”, Cheney yells “every man for himself”, they charge in and find themelves sharing the shop with the “Bull” that we all remember from the china shop.

  10. Max says:

    Hi JoeC,

    I’m enjoying reading your work. Regarding Gustavo’s comment and your request for more info, here’s a page I found with an opinion supporting Gustavo’s (I’m not speaking for its veracity; merely pointing it out):
    Technical experts at the time of both investigations disagreed with the findings, believing that spontaneous combustion of coal in the bunker adjacent to the reserve six-inch magazine was the most likely cause of the explosion on board the ship. In 1976, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover published his book, How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed. The admiral became interested in the disaster and wondered if the application of modern scientific knowledge could determine the cause. He called on two experts on explosions and their effects on ship hulls. Using documentation gathered from the two official inquiries, as well as information on the construction and ammunition of Maine, the experts concluded that the damage caused to the ship was inconsistent with the external explosion of a mine. The most likely cause, they speculated, was spontaneous combustion of coal in the bunker next to the magazine.

  11. Russ says:
    “In 1975, an investigation led by Admiral Hyman Rickover examined the data recovered from a 1911 examination of the wreck and concluded that there had been no evidence of an external explosion. The most likely cause of the sinking was a coal dust explosion in a coal bunker imprudently located next to the ship’s magazines. Captain Sigsbee’s caution had been well founded.

    Photos of the wreck showed an internal blast hole.”

    The USS Maine was NOT sunk by a mine. That theory has no credibility.

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