In 1898 national
attention focused on Florida as the Spanish-American War began. The port
city of Tampa served as the primary staging area for U.S. troops bound
for the war in Cuba. The arrival of over 30,000 troops, including Lieutenant
Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders cavalry unit, changed
Tampa from a small town to into a city.
the closest state to the Caribbean and home to a large Cuban immigrant
population, became the setting for much of the action in Cuba's fight
for independence from Spain.