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The de Lôme Letter: A Factor in the Spanish-American War

Enrique Dupuy de Lôme was the Spanish minister to Washington. On February 9, 1898, a letter he had written to a government official in Havana was published in the American press. The private correspondence labeled President McKinley as “a low politician” and a man who was weak and catered to the rabble. Many Americans probably shared those views, but were outraged when they were voiced by a foreign official. War fever began its spread throughout the country. De Lôme promptly submitted his resignation and informed the U.S. authorities that the letter represented his views, not those of his government. This public insult, coupled with looming congressional elections in the fall, pushed McKinley into reconsidering his view of the conflict in Cuba. That change was accelerated by the destruction of the Maine a few days later.