February 15 - 1898 - The USS Maine Sinks in Havana Harbor
The USS Maine went down in a foreign harbor, killing over 260 men on board, which made everyone in America angry about the event. The problem was that it was fairly unclear what actually caused the Maine to go to the bottom of Havana harbor. In America, consensus opinion, bolstered by the Hearst and Pulitzer publishing empires, was that Spain had attached a mine. Many people who looked carefully at it realized that the Maine probably went down because of an explosion among the ship's coal reserves. One of the key reasons Spain probably didn't touch the Maine was that Spain was embroiled in a rebellion by Cuba. Seeking a conflict with the USA was really a bad idea. Nonetheless, the yellow journalism of the time, declaring "Remember the Maine; To Hell with Spain!" encouraged a war with Spain. That war, which lasted a little more than one summer, made America a global power, ended the Spanish empire, and transferred control of Cuba to the United States.