SAT Subject US History Practice Question 796: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 796

57. The event that immediately precipitated the Spanish-American War was

A. the nationalization of U.S. sugar plantations by Spain.
B. the murder of Cuban nationalist leader José Marti.
C. the sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in the Havana harbor.
D. a dispute involving the border between Mexico and the United States.
E. Spain's refusal to allow the United States to build a canal through Panama.

Correct Answer: C


The explosion on the Maine was later found to have occurred from within the vessel, probably originating in the coal room, but at the time the "yellow press" left little doubt that the culprit was Spain. (A) and (B) did occur in the years before the Spanish American War and contributed to the sentiment that the United States get involved in Cuba, but the final spark was the sinking of the Maine. A border dispute (D) was a factor contributing to the Mexican War of 1846-1848 but not the Spanish-American War (1898). Spain had lost control of Panama long before the United States considered building a canal there (E). In 1902, it was Colombia that was reluctant to allow the United States to build a canal through what was at that time the Colombian province of Panama; as a result, the United States supported the independence of Panama, but this was unrelated to the Spanish-American War.

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