1998 32¢ Battleship “Maine”
Issue Date: February 15, 1998
City: Key West, FL
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Perforations: 11.2 x 11
Color: Red and black
In 1898, after years of harsh rule, the Spanish colony of Cuba was embroiled in a struggle for independence. At least 100,000 people had died due to Spain’s crackdown on Cuban guerrillas. In addition to hunger relief efforts, the United States sent the battleship USS Maine to Cuba to represent American interests.
On February 15, 1898, the Maine mysteriously exploded while moored in Havana Harbor. Of the ship’s crew of 354, only 88 survived. Although the cause of the explosion has never been conclusively proven, the American press blamed a Spanish mine, popularizing the slogan “Remember the Maine. To hell with Spain!” Two months after the sinking of the battleship, the United States declared war on Spain.
It took the U.S. less than a year to win the Spanish-American War. Among the heroes to emerge from the conflict were Theodore Roosevelt and the “Rough Riders.” Roosevelt’s fame later helped him to become president.
Excise taxes were imposed to pay war costs. Revenue tax stamps (illustrated on front) were created showing a battleship like the Maine. Need for the new revenue stamps forced the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to print the 1898 Trans-Mississippi commemoratives in one color instead of two.