THE DE LÔME LETTER AND
THE MAINE DISASTER
During the first part of February two unexpected events, the publication of the de Lôme letter and the sinking of the Maine, jolted Spanish-American relations. The astonishing incident of the de Lôme letter was settled quickly through diplomatic channels, but it deepened American suspicion of Spain. The catastrophic sinking of the Maine aroused much greater public passion. Both of these sensational episodes took place while the condition of the reconcentrados remained deplorable, and there was a growing belief that Spanish reforms were ineffective. Time was running out as both Madrid and Washington considered war more likely.
During the first part of February, Cuban news was depressing. On I January, Blanco established an autonomist government composed entirely of anti-Weyler Cubans. Expecting the centrist regime to appeal to moderates, the Spanish hoped to end the war quickly through negotia-