Spanish-American War Timeline: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

This lesson presents a timeline of the major events of the Spanish-American War, which lasted for a short time in 1898, but changed the roles that Spain and America played in the world.


There are some wars in American history that are famous, like the American Revolutionary War or the Civil War. Then there are others, which may not be as well known, but that had a big impact on history like the Spanish-American War.

The United States (U.S.) fought against Spain in the Spanish-American War. For years, Spain had a powerful empire and controlled large amounts of land around the world. As more countries declared independence from Spain, the empire got smaller until the areas that remained were Guam and the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean and Puerto Rico and Cuba in the Atlantic Ocean. This is where the Spanish-American War took place.

Spain would lose these lands, while America gained power and land. Below is a timeline covering key events.

Buildup to War

  • 1895 - Rebellion in Cuba against Spain begins. Spain treats the rebels harshly.
  • June 12, 1895 - U.S. President Grover Cleveland says the U.S. will be neutral and would not get involved in Cuba.
  • December 7, 1896 - As news spreads about what is happening to the rebels, President Cleveland says the U.S. could get involved.
  • March 4, 1897 - William McKinley becomes president of the U.S.
  • February 9, 1898 - An American newspaper prints a letter from a Spanish official writing bad things about President McKinley.
  • February 15, 1898 - The American battleship USS Maine sinks in Cuba, killing 266 people. The ship was sent to keep Americans and their property safe.

USS Maine

  • March 28, 1898 - The U.S. Navy says that the USS Maine was blown up by a mine. People blame Spain. A popular slogan was, ''Remember the Maine. To Hell With Spain!''
  • March 29, 1898 - The United States tells Spain to get out of Cuba. A few days later, Spain says no.


  • April 1898 - Congress approves going to war with Spain, but says that the U.S. will leave Cuba afterward. McKinley asks men to volunteer to fight, starts a blockade around Cuba to keep Spanish ships out, and sends American ships to Cuba. On April 24, Spain declares war. The next day, President McKinley says the U.S. is at war against Spain and has been since April 21.
  • May 1, 1898 - The war spreads to the Philippines. In the Battle of Manila Bay, many Spanish ships sink in a short period of time. This was a major loss for Spain.

American soldiers in the Philippines

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