Spanish-Cuban-American War (1895-98)

On January 29, 1895, Jose Martí—poet, journalist, and leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Party in New York—sent written orders to Cuba to begin a military uprising against the Spanish colonizers. Thus started the second Cuban war for independence. Martí left for Cuba the next day. On May 19th he died in battle at Dos Ríos, Cuba.
 
Martí’s call to action and his subsequent death galvanized support for the revolution in New York and in Florida, especially among cigar workers. By 1898, the conflict was devastating the island but neither side could marshal the resources to win.
 
U.S. leaders debated what to do. Most believed the island was too important to American economic and political interests to risk a free Cuba, or a Cuba ruled by another foreign power. The explosion of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana’s harbor, the leak of a letter written by the Spanish minister insulting President McKinley, and goading by New York’s English-language press moved Congress and the president towards entering the Spanish-Cuban war.

Portrait of Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, bibliophile, ca. 1900s. Reproduction. New York Public Library, Arthur Alfonso Schomburg Photograph Collection, Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations. A young Puerto Rican activist named Arturo Schomburg co-founded the New York political club The Two Antilles to represent Afro- and working-class Puerto Ricans and Cubans in the liberation movement. In 1896, its members donated weapons to Cuba’s nationalist forces. Schomburg’s later collection of Afro-Americana is housed in the Schomburg Center of the New York Public Library.
Portrait of Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, bibliophile,ca. 1900s. Reproduction. New York Public Library, Arthur Alfonso Schomburg Photograph Collection, Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

Keppler & Schwarzmann, “The Duty of the Hour:— To Save Her Not Only from Spain but from a Worse Fate,” Puck, 1898. Lithograph. New-York Historical Society. Race prejudice played a role in persuading North Americans to support U.S. intervention in the Spanish-Cuban war. Whites who desired a racially segregated society shuddered at the prospect of an independent Cuba whose leaders wanted to eliminate the color line. Whites also traded on racial stereotypes to present the multi-hued Cubans as incapable of governing themselves, making it the duty of the U.S. to intervene. 
Keppler & Schwarzmann, “The Duty of the Hour:— To Save Her Not Only from Spain but from a Worse Fate,” Puck, 1898.Lithograph. New-York Historical Society.
""