Start Your Visit With

Historical Timelines
Chronological Eras
Information Tables
General Interest Maps
History Quizzes

Travel and History Blog

Follow OregonCoastMag on Twitter



The European discovery of Cuba took place on October 12, 1492, during the Christopher Columbus's first voyage of discovery. It became an important colony of Spain.

One of the factors that may have led to the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 was American fears that the weak Spanish control of Cuba would pass to more vigorous colonial powers like France or Britain.

In 1848, President James K. Polk offered to purchase Cuba from Spain for $100 million, but Spain declined. An expedition under the leadership of General Narciso Lopez attempted to seize Cuba from Spain by force in 1849, but failed. Another attempt, supported by Southerners who hoped to make Cuba another slave state in the Union, was put together in New Orleans in 1850 but again failed. A third invasion the following year again failed.

In 1854, Secretary of State William Marcy authorized three Americans -- the future president James Buchanan among them -- to investigate the feasibility of purchasing Cuba from Spain. The three exceeded their authority when they drafted and released a document, known as the Ostend Manifesto, which suggested that Spain could either sell or lose Cuba to force. The document was repudiated by President Franklin Pierce, there being no international support and no domestic support outside the South.

Cuba gained its independence from Spain during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Its national policies remained under American supervision for another three decades, however. After World War II, Cuba became a haven for American criminal elements, who operated openly in Havana. Fidel Castro overthrew the pro-American dictator Fulgencia Batista on New Years Day in 1959. He established a socialist government that has been in conflict with the United States government for more than half a century.

The United States maintains an embargo which forbids trade with or travel to Cuba by Americans. The embargo is not supported by any other nation.

- - - Books You May Like Include: ----

Pan Am by Lynn M. Homan, Thomas Reilly.
Pan American World Airways could be considered a corporate Cinderella—a rags-to-riches-and-back-again phenomenon. From its founding in 1927 and its re...
Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer.
"Regime change" did not begin with the administration of George W. Bush, but has been an integral part of U.S. foreign policy for more than one hundre...
Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Robert F. Kennedy.
In October 1962, when the United States confronted the Soviet Union over its installation of missiles in Cuba, few people shared the behind-the-scenes...
Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot.
For decades, books about John or Robert Kennedy have woven either a shimmering tale of Camelot gallantry or a tawdry story of runaway ambition and rec...
The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War by Leonard L. Richards.
It has always been understood that the 1848 discovery of gold in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada influenced the battle over the admission of Califo...
The Frozen Water Trade: A True Story by Gavin Weightman.
In the tradition of Cod by Mark Kurlansky, here is a remarkable book about a long-forgotten historical phenomenon that changed our world--the rise and...
One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Kennedy, and Castro, 1958-1964 by Aleksandr Fursenko.
The Berlin Wall has been rubble for a decade and the memories of the cold war are growing dim. And yet no one is ever likely to forget the Cuban Miss...