The Spanish American War began 115 years ago, following a series of events including the controversial de Lôme letter and the sinking of the USS Maine and increased tensions over Cuba. These culminated in the final disintegration of diplomatic relations when Spain declared war with the United States. Congress reciprocated with this Act of April 25, 1898, Public Law 55-69, which declared that a state of war existed between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain.
Many had prepared for this eventuality. Then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy (and future Rough Rider, and future President) Theodore Roosevelt had sent coded orders 2 months earlier to the Pacific Squadron to engage the Spanish Fleet.