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CHAP: tion. On the 15th of February, 1898, between nine LXXVI.
and ten o'clock in the evening, the Maine was blown Jan. up. By the explosion two officers and 266 marines lost
their lives. The news of this catastrophe caused intense excitement throughout the Union, for it was deemed an act of treachery on the part of the Spanish authorities.
An investigation followed, by a Naval Court of Inquiry, of which Captain W. T. Sampson of our navy was the president. The court made an elaborate report,
which was rendered in due time. Article 7th of the 1898, report says: “In the opinion of the court, the Maine
was destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine, which caused the partial explosion of two or more of her forward magazines. The Spanish authorities also instituted an inquiry by which the opinion was expressed that the Maine was blown up by the explosion of one of her own magazines. This report was at once published, and for obvious reasons.
The relations between the two countries became more and more strained, and several misunderstandings arose, which when taken alone in times of mutual friendly feeling would have been easily arranged, but under the circumstances became very irritating. For instance, the Spanish Minister at Washington-DeLome—in a private letter used insulting language in respect to the President of the United States. In some unexplained way, but contrary to DeLome's wishes, this letter was found in the public prints. The attention of the Span
government was called to the matter, and after some hesitation it disavowed what De Lome had written, recalled him, and sent in his place another minister. Soon afterward, apparently in way of reprisal, the Spanish government, without giving a reason, asked that Gen. Lee, our Consul-General at Havana, should be recalled. The President declined even to consider the request. Neither did he, as a matter of convenience, see any rea
MCKINLEY'S FIRST ADMINISTRATION.
son why he should not send supplies to the destitute CHAP.
LXXVI people of Cuba in war vessels, to which mode of conveyance the Spanish government had objected. These matters seem trivial, but under the circumstances they were none the less irritating.
The general aspect of the condition of affairs seemed ominous of impending evil; the President was induced to invite prominent members of Congress and leaders in both political parties to a conference on the whole subject. The conference considered the proper steps to be taken in view of future contingencies. As a measure of prudence, as war seemed imminent, on March 6th the House of Representatives unanimously voted to put at 1898. the disposal of the President $50,000,000 to be utilized as he thought best in the emergency. Afterward Con. gress enacted a special tax to meet the extra expenses of the impending war.
In the meantime the North Atlantic Squadron was directed to assemble at Key West, Florida, and oth measures were taken in the general line of defense in case of war. Against these preliminaries the Spanish government remonstrated, but at the same time made similar preparations, voted large amounts of money, etc.
Negotiations were continued, but without definite results. Spain made proposals that could not be accepted, because they virtually granted nothing, and in truth gave the impression that in so doing she was not sincere, but preferred that her advances should be rejected. Meanwhile the Cuban oppressions were not relaxed and the opinion prevailed that a decided stand on the part of the United States must be taken. In accordance with that view the President sent to Congress a message covering the whole ground-historic and 1898. diplomatic—in which document he gave among many others one reason that of itself would justify interven
CHAP, tion of some kind, namely: “to put an end to the bar
barities, bloodshed, starvation, and horrible miseries now existing there [in Cuba], and which the parties to the conflict are either unable or unwilling to stop or mitigate.” He also stated—as to our own interest in the condition of Cuban affairs, endangering the life and property of American citizens there, and the commerce and even health of our Southern ports—that “the only hope of relief and repose from a condition that can no longer be endured is the enforced pacification of
Cuba." 1898. Diplomatic intercourse between the two Governments
ceased on April 24, 1898, Spain taking the initiative, and thus war was in effect declared. The patriotism of this country rallied to the support of the Government and the President, the prevailing sentiment being that, though war was to be deprecated, yet under the circumstances this was a war which all recognized as righteous and waged in the cause of a humane civilization and of human freedom. This view of the justice of the war, also, appears to have been universal among the nations of Europe, every one of whom turned a deaf ear to the
pathetic appeals of Spain for aid and sympathy. 1898. Owing to the threatening aspect of affairs with Spain
the President thought it prudent to issue a call for the enlistment of 125,000 volunteers, apportioned among the States, the Territories, and the District of Columbia, according to the number of their population. These troops were to serve for two years if not sooner discharged. The call for these volunteers was responded to promptly throughout the country. Camps were speedily formed at convenient points in order to accom. modate the recruits and to afford facilities for their effective drill. A month later the President called for an additional 75,000 volunteers.
While these troops were preparing, stirring events
MCKINLEY'S FIRST ADMINISTRATION.
were in progress on the ocean. Commodore Dewey, CHAP:
. commanding the United States squadron in Asiatic waters, consisting of six vessels, was ordered to proceed from Mirs Bay, China, to engage and if possible destroy the Spanish fleet in the harbor of the city of Manila, 1898. in the Philippine Islands, that archipelago having been for two hundred years in the possession of Spain.
When he arrived, at daylight on the morning of 1898. May 1, in spite of the information that the harbor was mined with submarine torpedoes and guarded by several forts, he boldly took his way into the harbor, and at once opened fire on the Spanish fleet of ten warships of different grades, and in a few hours captured or destroyed the entire number. The Spanish loss in men was 618; the Americans did not lose a man and only two were wounded. This marvelous result was owing to the skill and rapid firing of the American gunners, who scarcely threw away a shot, while the Spanish artillery was utterly ineffective. Three days later Dewey's fleet took possession of Cavité, a naval station in the harbor, destroying the fortifications at the mouth of the bay. Commodore Dewey, having no accommodation for prisoners, paroled all the prisoners taken in these conflicts. The Spaniards fought with desperate bravery, but were powerless to effectively reply to our gunnery.
While the operations just mentioned were going on in the Philippine Islands, military movements were also in progress around Cuba and Porto Rico, an effective blockade was maintained around both islands and a number of their fortifications were bombarded from time to time and more or less injured, while some were totally demolished. The fleet in Cuban waters was under command of Rear-Admiral W. T. Sampson.
It was known that a Spanish fleet consisting of four 1898. cruisers and three torpedo boats had sailed from the Cape Verde Islands. The question was, where had they
gone? Were they to prey upon our commerce or assail some port on our coast? The Spanish squadron eluded the American and finally slipped into the harbor of Santiago, on the south coast of Cuba. The Spanish Senate afterward complimented Admiral Cervera for “cleverly dodging the American fleet,” though in the end it proved a great mistake. It was soon ascertained that the Spanish fleet was in the harbor, the entrance to which is a long, narrow and crooked channel. It was determined in some way to prevent the fleet coming out. Assistant Naval Constructor Richmond P. Hobson volunteered to make an effort to put an obstruction in the channel. With a brave crew of seven men-all volunteers-Hobson ran the steam-collier Merrimac to a certain point in the channel under the plunging fire of forts on the heights, and then scuttled and sank her, but the channel at that point proved to be too wide for the Merrimac to close it completely. In trying to escape the gallant little band drifted in a boat to the shore and were all captured. Admiral Cervera, recognizing their heroic deed, treated them in a chivalrous manner, even sending word to the American commander of his action,
saying: “Daring like theirs makes the bitterest enemy 1898. proud that his fellow men can be such heroes. Hobson
and his crew were not long afterward exchanged, though the Spanish government refused at first to make the exchange.
The Spanish forts having been silenced by the guns
of the American warships, the first landing of United 1898. States troops on Cuban soil was made at Guantanamo, a
few miles east of Santiago, where 800 marines under Col. R. W. Huntingdon hoisted the Stars and Stripes on the island of Cuba.
Immediately after the landing desultory fighting began and was carried on by Spanish irregular soldiers. To put an end to this annoyance, four days after the