• Political cartoons lampooned national debates with playful caricatures and wordplay and quickly became a popular feature of the "yellow press." Here, cartoonist Clifford Berryman speaks to war supporters. He depicts an angry, unforgiving Uncle Sam staring out from a ship of ready sailors. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

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    "And, Boys, Remember the Maine!"
    • Creator
    • U.S. Senate. Office of Senate Curator. ?-.
    • Description
    • This illustration entitled "And Boys, Remember the Maine!", by cartoonist Clifford Berryman, which appeared in the Washington Post on April 3, 1898, depicts an angry Uncle Sam addressing sailors as the USS Maine sinks in the background.
    • Rights
    • Unrestricted.
    • Partner
    • National Archives and Records Administration
    • Contributing Institution
    • Center for Legislative Archives

  • This glass slide includes an illustration of the explosion of the USS Maine. While no photographs were actually taken of the incident, this did not stop the press from commissioning and publishing images inspired by dramatic witness testimony. Courtesy of Highland Park Historical Society via Illinois Digital Heritage Hub.

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    Explosion of the Maine
    • Date
    • Approximately 1898
    • Creator
    • Rice, George D., Chaplain, 1861-1936
    • Description
    • Glass slide image of the explosion of the USS Maine.
    • Rights
    • This material is made available by the Highland Park Public Library. To request reproductions or inquire about permissions, contact: hppla@hplibrary.org
    • Partner
    • Illinois Digital Heritage Hub
    • Contributing Institution
    • Highland Park Historical Society

  • "Remember the Maine!" embellished everything from pins to plates, toys to canes. This letter to Daviddie Mobley bears the familiar stamp with the addition of the flag marching "on to Cuba." Courtesy of Smyrna Public Library via Digital Library of Georgia.

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    Envelope addressed to Daviddie Mobley, 1898
    • Date
    • 1898
    • Description
    • Envelope addressed to Daviddie Mobley, 527 Whitehall St., Altanta, Ga. Design on envelope shows U.S. soldiers and the USS Maine under a banner reading "Remember the Maine. Smyrna Public Library, Smyrna, Georgia.
    • Rights
    • Http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • Digital Library of Georgia
    • Contributing Institution
    • Smyrna Public Library

  • The USS Maine also inspired an outpouring of national pride. A showdown with Spain would not only avenge the victims of the attack, but also serve as a testament to America’s strength. In this tune written by J.W. Wheeler, the chorus celebrates: "Old glory stands for freedom everywhere / A flag we are more than proud to bear." Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

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    We are marching on to glory for the flag. [first line]
    • Date
    • 1898
    • Creator
    • Wheeler, J. W. (James W.). Browne, William Maynadier.
    • Description
    • On cover: Gen. Miles; Gen. Fitzhugh Lee; Capt. Sigsbee. On cover: American flags.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Music Division. The New York Public Library

The late nineteenth century was a time of crisis and confidence in the US. A financial panic left industries in search of new markets to sell their goods, particularly in Asia and Latin America. Meanwhile, as immigration rates to the US soared, a wave of nationalism inspired citizens to define what it meant to be an American. For example, the 1890s saw the creation of patriotic traditions like the Pledge of Allegiance. Others thought more strategically. Captain Alfred Mahan Thayer published The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, which argued for the US to invest in its navy and take control of international waters.

On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine, an American naval ship, exploded in Havana, Cuba leaving 262 American soldiers dead. Although an official investigation named no perpetrator, newspapers quickly blamed Spain. The "yellow press," sensational journalism that relied more on fabrication than fact, transformed the USS Maine into a national spectacle as reporters circulated dramatic accounts of the explosion and made allegations about Spain's involvement in the attack. "Remember the Maine!" became an inescapable cry. Americans demanded retribution.

Vengeful public sentiment mixed with economic interests and rising nationalism compelled the US to take action against Spain. As one man recalled, "Whenever the battleship Maine is mentioned, my memory leaps...to the excitement aroused by the word 'war.'"