After the Civil War, American trade with Latin America, including the Spanish colony of Cuba, grew. United States traded more heavily with Cuba than Spain did.
U.S. Maine ship exploded February 15, 1898
When the Cubans rebelled against Spain, Americans sympathized with the rebels. After the battleship U.S.S. Maine sank in the Cuban harbor of Havana, Americans blamed the Spanish, and Congress declared war.
After defeating the Spanish, the United States extended its influence in territories such as Puerto Rico, Panama, and Mexico.