William McKinley (1897-1901): The 25th Retrospective
“Whatcha got ain’t nothin new. This country’s hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, it ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.” – Ellis, No Country for Old Men (2007)
In 1896, Democrat William Jennings Bryan was making the case for the common man. Republican William McKinley was backed by big money. Big money won.
Slavery and Civil Rights
McKinley was raised an abolitionist by his Methodist mother in Poland, Ohio. He was very sympathetic to African Americans who struggled under the “Jim Crow” system of second class citizenship in the South. When he became President in 1896, McKinley did not try to reverse Jim Crow (which had won Supreme Court approval in 1896), but he did name a number of African Americans to federal office in the South. These included George B. Jackson, a former slave, (to the post of customs collector in Presidio, Texas and Walter L. Cohen of New Orleans, a leader of the Black and Tan Republican faction, as a customs inspector in New Orleans.
McKinley made several speeches about the need to provide African Americans with equality and justice. He said:
It must not be equality and justice in the written law only. It must be equality and justice in the law’s administration everywhere, and alike administered in every part of the Republic to every citizen thereof. It must not be the cold formality of constitutional enactment. It must be a living birthright.
Our black allies must neither be forsaken nor deserted. I weigh my words. This is the great question not only of the present, but is the great question of the future; and this question will never be settled until it is settled upon principles of justice, recognizing the sanctity of the Constitution of the United States.
Nothing can be permanently settled until the right of every citizen to participate equally in our State and National affairs is unalterably fixed. Tariff, finance, civil service, and all other political and party questions should remain open and unsettled until every citizen who has a constitutional right to share in the determination is free to enjoy it.”
Although he made his intentions known in his public speeches, the political realities of the times prevented any real action or progress being made by the McKinley administration in the field of race relations. During the Spanish-American War, McKinley made certain that black soldiers served, and even reversed army orders preventing recruitment of African-American soldiers. Although giving African-Americans the “privilege” of dying in a foreign war would seem like a dubious benefit, at the time it was actually quite an achievement and a recognition of the value of these men.
Wilmington Massacre of 1898
The Wilmington insurrection of 1898, also known as the Wilmington massacre of 1898 or the Wilmington coup of 1898, was a mass riot and insurrection carried out by white supremacists in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Thursday, November 10, 1898. The white press in Wilmington originally described the event as a race riot caused by Black people, as was typical of such events. Since the late 20th century and further study, the insurrection has been characterized as a coup d’état, the violent overthrow of a duly elected government, by a group of white supremacists.
The coup was the result of a group of the state’s white Southern Democrats conspiring and leading a mob of 2,000 white men to overthrow the legitimately elected local Fusionist biracial government in Wilmington. They expelled opposition Black and white political leaders from the city, destroyed the property and businesses of Black citizens built up since the Civil War, including the only Black newspaper in the city, and killed an estimated 60 to more than 300 people. It has been described as the only incident of its kind in American history because other incidents of late-Reconstruction Era violence did not result in the direct removal and replacement of elected officials by unelected individuals.
The Wilmington coup is considered a turning point in post-Reconstruction North Carolina politics. It was part of an era of more severe racial segregation and effective disenfranchisement of African Americans throughout the South, which had been underway since the passage of a new constitution in Mississippi in 1890 which raised barriers to the registration of Black voters. Other states soon passed similar laws. Laura Edwards wrote in Democracy Betrayed (2000):
What happened in Wilmington became an affirmation of white supremacy not just in that one city, but in the South and in the nation as a whole”, as it affirmed that invoking “whiteness” eclipsed the legal citizenship, individual rights, and equal protection under the law that Black Americans were guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Robert Charles Riots
Robert Charles (b. circa 1865) had come to New Orleans from Mississippi. He was a self-educated activist for civil rights. He believed in self-defense for the African-American community and encouraged African Americans to move to Liberia to escape racial discrimination and violence
The Robert Charles riots of July 24–27, 1900 in New Orleans, Louisiana were sparked after African-American laborer Robert Charles fatally shot a white police officer during an altercation and escaped arrest. A large manhunt for him ensued, and a white mob started rioting, attacking blacks throughout the city.
The manhunt for Charles began on Monday, July 23, 1900, and ended when Charles was killed on Friday, July 27, shot by a special police volunteer. The mob shot him hundreds more times, and beat the body.
White rioting continued, with several blacks killed after Charles had died. A total of 28 people were killed in the riots, including Charles. More than 50 people were wounded in the riots, including at least 11 who had to be hospitalized. Blacks made up most of the fatalities and casualties.
Fourth Party System or Progressive Era
The Fourth Party System is the term used in political science and history for the period in American political history from about 1896 to 1932 that was dominated by the Republican Party, except the 1912 split in which Democrats held the White House for eight years. American history texts usually call the period the Progressive Era. The concept was introduced under the name “System of 1896” by E. E. Schattschneider in 1960, and the numbering scheme was added by political scientists in the mid-1960s.
The period featured a transformation from the issues of the Third Party System, which had focused on the American Civil War, Reconstruction, race, and monetary issues. The era began in the severe depression of 1893 and the extraordinarily intense election of 1896. It included the Progressive Era, World War I, and the start of the Great Depression. The Great Depression caused a realignment that produced the Fifth Party System, dominated by the Democratic New Deal Coalition until the 1970s.
The central domestic issues concerned government regulation of railroads and large corporations (“trusts”), the money issue (gold versus silver), the protective tariff, the role of labor unions, child labor, the need for a new banking system, corruption in party politics, primary elections, the introduction of the federal income tax, direct election of senators, racial segregation, efficiency in government, women’s suffrage, and control of immigration. Foreign policy centered on the 1898 Spanish–American War, Imperialism, the Mexican Revolution, World War I, and the creation of the League of Nations. Dominant personalities included presidents William McKinley (R), Theodore Roosevelt (R), and Woodrow Wilson (D), three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan (D), and Wisconsin’s progressive Republican Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
A 20th Century President
He took over at a time when many thought corporate America had taken control of political America. In an era of big personalities, his tranquil demeanor caused him to be underestimated, but he brought a sense of corporate sensibility and efficiency to the presidency.
William McKinley implemented modern management of the press from the executive branch. His administration gave stories to the press, fed the press information, kept the press informed, and basically introduced the 20th century press guide for the presidency on the eve of it. McKinley may have been the role model for the title character of L. Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz”
Cuban War of Independence
The Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898) was the last of three liberation wars that Cuba fought against Spain, the other two being the Ten Years’ War (1868–1878) and the Little War (1879–1880). The final three months of the conflict escalated to become the Spanish–American War, with United States forces being deployed in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine Islands against Spain. Historians disagree as to the extent that United States officials were motivated to intervene for humanitarian reasons but agree that yellow journalism exaggerated atrocities attributed to Spanish forces against Cuban civilians.
President McKinley could not control the press when it came to Cuban suffering under Spanish rule, who owned other colonies including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Cubans had been revolting for years, and Spain used tactics including concentration camps to quash the rebellion.
McKinley was not opposed to war but reluctant. He was the last president to fight in the Civil War, and the bloodshed had taught him it should be option of last resort. However, human suffering coupled with events abroad made war look inevitable to most Americans.
The concept of war against Spain was idealism and concern mixed with self interest. There were indeed humanitarian reasons for going to war against Spain as they were abusing and oppressing the Cuban people. But the great nations of the world were building empires, and there was a growing fear the U.S. would be overpowered if it didn’t start taking colonies.
Interested parties, mainly Republicans, wanted to take military and naval bases overseas, acquire territories, and expand American presence in the Caribbean and Pacific even before there was any conflict. Additionally, Americans had an appetite for foreign resources, and yearned for economic relations with Cuba. Cuban crops were in demand by American companies to develop and sell.
The Spanish–American War was an armed conflict between Spain and the United States in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. The war led to the U.S. emerging predominant in the Caribbean region, and resulted in U.S. acquisition of Spain’s Pacific possessions. That led to U.S. involvement in the Philippine Revolution and later to the Philippine Insurrection.
The main issue was Cuban independence. Revolts had been occurring for some years in Cuba against Spanish colonial rule. The U.S. backed these revolts upon entering the Spanish–American War. There had been war scares before, as in the Virginius Affair in 1873. But in the late 1890s, American public opinion swayed in support of the rebellion due to reports of concentration camps (death estimates range from 150,000 to 400,000 people) set up to control the populace. Yellow journalism exaggerated the atrocities to further increase public fervor, and to sell more papers.
Joseph Pulitzer (April 10, 1847 – October 29, 1911) was a newspaper publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York World. He became a leading national figure in the Democratic Party and was elected congressman from New York. He crusaded against big business and corruption, and helped keep the Statue of Liberty in New York.
In the 1890s the fierce competition between his World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal caused both to develop the techniques of yellow journalism, which won over readers with sensationalism, sex, crime and graphic horrors. The wide appeal reached a million copies a day and opened the way to mass-circulation newspapers that depended on advertising revenue (rather than cover price or political party subsidies) and appealed to readers with multiple forms of news, gossip, entertainment and advertising.
Today, his name is best known for the Pulitzer Prizes, which were established in 1917 as a result of his endowment to Columbia University. The prizes are given annually to recognize and reward excellence in American journalism, photography, literature, history, poetry, music, and drama. Pulitzer founded the Columbia School of Journalism by his philanthropic bequest; it opened in 1912.
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst Sr. (April 29, 1863 – August 14, 1951) was an American businessman, newspaper publisher, and politician known for developing the nation’s largest newspaper chain and media company, Hearst Communications. His flamboyant methods of yellow journalism influenced the nation’s popular media by emphasizing sensationalism and human interest stories. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887 with Mitchell Trubitt after being given control of The San Francisco Examiner by his wealthy father, Senator George Hearst.
Moving to New York City, Hearst acquired the New York Journal and fought a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. Hearst sold papers by printing giant headlines over lurid stories featuring crime, corruption, sex, and innuendo. Acquiring more newspapers, Hearst created a chain that numbered nearly 30 papers in major American cities at its peak. He later expanded to magazines, creating the largest newspaper and magazine business in the world. Hearst controlled the editorial positions and coverage of political news in all his papers and magazines, and thereby often published his personal views. He sensationalized Spanish atrocities in Cuba while calling for war in 1898 against Spain. Historians, however, reject his subsequent claims to have started the war with Spain as overly extravagant.
He was twice elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives. He ran unsuccessfully for President of the United States in 1904, Mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909, and for Governor of New York in 1906. During his political career, he espoused views generally associated with the left wing of the Progressive Movement, claiming to speak on behalf of the working class.
After 1918 and the end of World War I, Hearst gradually began adopting more conservative views and started promoting an isolationist foreign policy to avoid any more entanglement in what he regarded as corrupt European affairs. He was at once a militant nationalist, a fierce anti-communist after the Russian Revolution, and deeply suspicious of the League of Nations and of the British, French, Japanese, and Russians. He was a leading supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932–34, but then broke with FDR and became his most prominent enemy on the right. Hearst’s empire reached a peak circulation of 20 million readers a day in the mid-1930s. He was a bad manager of finances and so deeply in debt during the Great Depression that most of his assets had to be liquidated in the late 1930s. Hearst managed to keep his newspapers and magazines.
His life story was the main inspiration for Charles Foster Kane, the lead character in Orson Welles’s film Citizen Kane (1941). His Hearst Castle, constructed on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean near San Simeon, has been preserved as a State Historical Monument and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.
War Was Bad for Business
The business community had just recovered from a deep depression and feared that a war would reverse the gains. Accordingly, most business interests lobbied vigorously against going to war. President William McKinley ignored the exaggerated news reporting and sought a peaceful settlement; however, after the United States Navy armored cruiser Maine mysteriously exploded and sank in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898, political pressures from the Democratic Party pushed McKinley into a war that he had wished to avoid.
The USS Maine was a United States Navy ship that sank in Havana Harbor in February 1898, contributing to the outbreak of the Spanish–American War in April. American newspapers, engaging in yellow journalism to boost circulation, claimed that the Spanish were responsible for the ship’s destruction. The phrase, “Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!” became a rallying cry for action. Although the Maine explosion was not a direct cause, it served as a catalyst that accelerated the events leading up to the war.
Maine was sent to Havana Harbor to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban War of Independence. She exploded and sank on the evening of February 15 1898, killing three-quarters of her crew. In 1898, a U.S. Navy board of inquiry ruled that the ship had been sunk by an external explosion from a mine. However, some U.S. Navy officers disagreed with the board, suggesting that the ship’s magazines had been ignited by a spontaneous fire in a coal bunker. The coal used in Maine was bituminous, which is known for releasing firedamp, a mixture of gases composed primarily of flammable methane that is prone to spontaneous explosions. An investigation by Admiral Hyman Rickover in 1974 agreed with the coal fire hypothesis. The cause of her sinking remains a subject of debate.
The ship lay at the bottom of the harbor until 1911, when a cofferdam was built around it. The hull was patched up until the ship was afloat, then she was towed to sea and sunk. Maine now lies on the sea-bed 3,600 feet below the surface. The ship’s main mast is now a memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.
Declaration of War
On April 20, 1898, McKinley signed a joint Congressional resolution demanding Spanish withdrawal and authorizing the President to use military force to help Cuba gain independence. In response, Spain severed diplomatic relations with the United States on April 21. On the same day, the U.S. Navy began a blockade of Cuba. Both sides declared war; neither had allies. The 10-week war was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Battle of Manila Bay
The Battle of Manila Bay (May 1, 1898) saw the American Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey engage and destroy the Spanish Pacific Squadron under Contraalmirante (Rear admiral) Patricio Montojo. The battle took place in Manila Bay in the Philippines, and was the first major engagement of the Spanish–American War. The battle was one of the most decisive naval battles in history and marked the end of the Spanish colonial period in Philippine history.
Tensions between Spain and the United States worsened over the Spanish conduct during their efforts to quell the Cuban War of Independence, with many Americans being agitated by largely falsified reports of Spanish atrocities against the Cuban population. In January 1898, fearing the fate of American interests in Cuba due to the war, the cruiser USS Maine was dispatched to protect them. Less than a month later, the cruiser exploded while lying at anchor in Havana harbor, killing 261 sailors onboard and inflaming American opinion, with Spain being portrayed as the culprit in the American media regardless of the actual source of the explosion. Two months later, war was declared.
Upon the outbreak of war, the Americans realized that defeating a significant Spanish squadron then stationed in the Philippines was important to ensuring victory in the war. The U.S. Asiatic Squadron commanded by Dewey, a veteran of the American Civil War, was dispatched to ensure success.
On the 1st of May, the American squadron steamed into Manila Bay to engage with the Spanish. The Spanish, aware that they were hopelessly outgunned, made a desperate defense against the Americans. The battle was not much of contest, with superior American naval gunnery and seamanship ensuring the entire Spanish fleet would be sunk with minimal casualties for the Americans, who suffered only ten casualties in all. Upon realising that the battle was hopeless, Montojo ordered his two protected cruisers to be scuttled to ensure that they did not fall into the hands of the Americans. The battle remains one of the most significant naval battles in American maritime history.
Puerto Rico Campaign
The Puerto Rico campaign was the American military sea and land operation on the island of Puerto Rico during the Spanish–American War. The offensive began on May 12, 1898, when the United States Navy attacked the capital, San Juan. Though the damage inflicted on the city was minimal, the Americans were able to establish a blockade in the city’s harbor, San Juan Bay. On June 22, the cruiser Isabel II and the destroyer Terror delivered a Spanish counterattack, but were unable to break the blockade and Terror was damaged.
The land offensive began on July 25, when 1,300 infantry soldiers led by Major General Nelson A. Miles disembarked off the coast of Guánica. After controlling the first skirmish, the Americans advanced to Coamo, where they engaged Puerto Rican and Spanish troops in battle. The battle concluded when the allied soldiers retreated after the battle left two dead on their side, and four on the American side.
The United States was able to seize control of Fajardo on August 1, but was forced to withdraw on August 5 after a group of 200 Puerto Rican–Spanish soldiers led by Pedro del Pino gained control of the city, while most civilian inhabitants fled to a nearby lighthouse. The Americans encountered larger opposition as they advanced towards the main island’s interior. They engaged in two crossfires in Guamani River and Coamo, both of which were inconclusive as the allied soldiers retreated. A battle in San Germán concluded in a similar fashion with the Spanish retreating to Lares.
On August 9, 1898, American troops that were pursuing units retreating from Coamo and Asomante encountered heavy resistance in Aibonito and retreated after six of their soldiers were injured. They returned three days later, reinforced with artillery units and attempted a surprise attack. After about an hour of fighting, Spanish artillery batteries had been silenced. American guns advanced some 2,150 yards and set up positions, but soldiers reported seeing Spanish reinforcements nearby and the guns were withdrawn back to the main line.
Shortly before the launch of a flanking movement on the Spanish, all military actions in Puerto Rico were suspended on August 13, after U.S. President William McKinley and French Ambassador Jules Cambon, acting on behalf of the Spanish government, signed an armistice whereby Spain relinquished its sovereignty over the territories of Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Philippines and Guam.
Battle of Guantanamo Bay
The Battle of Guantánamo Bay was fought from June 6 to June 10 in 1898, when American and Cuban forces seized the strategically and commercially important harbor of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Capturing the bay from the Spanish forces was instrumental in the following Battle of Santiago de Cuba and the subsequent invasion of Puerto Rico. Although overshadowed by the land and sea battles at Santiago, the establishment of the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay and the rout of defending Spanish troops by American and Cuban forces was important in the final Spanish defeat.
Capture of Guam
The Capture of Guam was a bloodless engagement between the United States and Spain June 20, 1898 during the Spanish-American War. The U.S. Navy sent a single cruiser, USS Charleston, to capture the island of Guam, then under Spanish control. However, the Spanish garrison on the island had no knowledge of the war and no real ability to resist the American forces. They surrendered without resistance and the island passed into American control. The event was the only conflict of the Spanish–American War on Guam.
Battle of San Juan Hill
The Battle of San Juan Hill was a major battle of the Spanish–American War fought between an American force under the command of William Rufus Shafter and Joseph Wheeler against a Spanish force led by Arsenio Linares y Pombo. The battle proved to be one of the most significant battles of the war and, along with the Siege of Santiago, a decisive engagement in deciding the fate of the United States Army campaign in Cuba. The American forces, outnumbering the Spanish defenders 16-to-one, charged upon the heights and dispersed the Spanish after suffering heavy casualties.
Tensions between Spain and the United States worsened over Spanish behavior during their efforts to quell the Cuban War of Independence, with many Americans being agitated by exaggerated reports of Spanish atrocities against the Cuban population. In January 1898, fearing the fate of American interests in Cuba due to the war, the cruiser USS Maine was dispatched to protect them. Less than a month later, the cruiser exploded while lying at anchor in Havana harbor, killing 261 sailors onboard and inflaming American opinion, with Spain being portrayed as the culprit in the American media without conclusive evidence. Two months later, war was declared.
The Americans, after already landing troops in the Battle of Guantánamo Bay, moved inland to seek a decisive encounter with the Spanish forces. Both sides drew blood at the Battle of Las Guasimas, with the Spanish moving to defend the strategically valuable San Juan Heights from the Americans. A week later, a significantly larger American force, including the famed ‘Rough Riders’, moved to clear the heights of the Spanish. After enduring artillery fire which inflicted heavy casualties, the Americans charged up the hill and dispersed the Spanish, suffering even more heavily in the process. The fight for the heights proved to be the bloodiest and most famous battle of the war.
The battle also proved to be the location of the “greatest victory” for the Rough Riders, as stated by the press and its new commander, Theodore Roosevelt, who eventually became vice president and later president of the United States, and who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions in Cuba and became the only U.S. president to receive the award. The Americans won another engagement at El Caney the same day, with both battles highlighting the bravery and skill of the American/Cuban forces, as well as the Spanish defenders. Following the surrender of the Spanish army at Santiago, they agreed to depart Cuba, ending over four centuries of Spanish rule.
Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders
Almost singularly and solely concerned with expansion of U.S. influence and power for the welfare of the country and world, Teddy Roosevelt was McKinley’s Assistant Secretary of the Navy and complete opposite personality wise. He was controversial and hungered for international conflict. Roosevelt almost singlehandedly pushed us into war against Spain because he wanted it, and was the most trusted person in America at the time when it came to foreign policy.
The Rough Riders was a nickname given to the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, one of three such regiments raised in 1898 for the Spanish–American War and the only one to see combat. The United States Army was small, understaffed, and disorganized in comparison to its status during the American Civil War roughly thirty years prior.
Following the sinking of USS Maine, President William McKinley needed to muster a strong ground force swiftly, which he did by calling for 125,000 volunteers to assist in the war. The U.S. had gone to war in opposition to Spanish colonial policies in Cuba, which was then torn by a rebellion. The regiment was also nicknamed “Wood’s Weary Walkers” for its first commander, Colonel Leonard Wood, reflecting their dissatisfaction that despite being cavalry, they ended up fighting in Cuba as infantry, since their horses were not sent there with them.
Wood’s second in command was former Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, a strong advocate for the Cuban War of Independence. When Wood was promoted to become commander of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade, the regiment became known as “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.” That term was borrowed from Buffalo Bill, who called his traveling Western show “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World.”
The original plan called for the regiment to be composed of frontiersmen from the Indian Territory, the New Mexico Territory, the Arizona Territory, and the Oklahoma Territory. However, after Roosevelt joined the ranks, it attracted an odd mixture of Ivy League athletes, glee club singers, Texas Rangers, and Native Americans. All accepted into the regiment had to be skilled horsemen and eager to see combat.
The Rough Riders would receive more publicity than any other Army unit in that war, and they are best remembered for their conduct during the Battle of San Juan Hill, though it is seldom mentioned how heavily they outnumbered Spanish soldiers who opposed them. Several days after the Battle of San Juan Hill, the Spanish fleet sailed from Cuba, and in only a few weeks an armistice ending the fighting was signed. Despite the brevity of their service, the Rough Riders became legendary, thanks in large part to Roosevelt’s writing his own history of the regiment and the silent film reenactments made a plethora of years later.
Battle of Santiago de Cuba
The Battle of Santiago de Cuba was a decisive naval engagement that occurred on July 3, 1898 between an American fleet, led by William T. Sampson and Winfield Scott Schley, against a Spanish fleet led by Pascual Cervera y Topete. The significantly more powerful US Navy squadron, consisting of four battleships and two armored cruisers, decisively defeated an outgunned squadron of the Royal Spanish Navy, which consisted of four armored cruisers and two destroyers. All the Spanish ships were sunk, but no American ship was lost. The crushing loss sealed American victory in the Cuban theater of the war and ensuring the independence of Cuba from Spanish rule.
In January 1898, fearing the fate of American interests in Cuba from the war, the cruiser USS Maine was dispatched to protect them. Less than a month later, the cruiser exploded while lying at anchor in Havana harbor, killing 261 sailors onboard and inflaming American opinion with Spain being portrayed as the culprit in the American media regardless of the actual source of the explosion. Two months later, war was declared.
The Americans realized that defeating a significant Spanish squadron then stationed in Cuba was vital to ensuring victory in the war. A squadron consisting of six warships were dispatched to ensure success, commanded by both Sampson and Schley, each admiral having his own approach to naval warfare.
On July 3, the Spanish squadron steamed out of the harbor to engage with the Americans. The Spanish, being totally unprepared and outgunned, made a desperate attempt to reach the open sea with the American battleships and cruisers in hot pursuit. Superior naval gunnery and seamanship prevailed, and the entire Spanish fleet was sunk with minimal casualties for the Americans, who suffered only two men killed or wounded.
The Americans pulled a total of 1889 Spanish sailors from the water, among them Cervera. The captured Spaniards were treated with respect and care by the Americans, and Cervera gained respect from the American officers for his dignified conduct during and after the battle.
Although the battle ensured the American campaign in Cuba would end in a success, tensions soon arose between Sampson and Schley, with various parties in the US Navy and the American public debating over which admiral had made the greatest contribution to victory, and the dispute reached the desk of Theodore Roosevelt. The battle remains one of the most significant naval battles in US maritime history.
Battle of Manila
The Battle of Manila was a land engagement which took place in Manila on August 13, 1898, at the end of the Spanish–American War, four months after the decisive victory by Commodore Dewey’s Asiatic Squadron at the Battle of Manila Bay. The belligerents were Spanish forces led by Governor-General of the Philippines Fermín Jáudenes, and American forces led by United States Army Major General Wesley Merritt and United States Navy Commodore George Dewey. American forces were supported by units of the Philippine Revolutionary Army, led by Emilio Aguinaldo.
The battle is sometimes referred to as the “Mock Battle of Manila” because the local Spanish and American generals, who were legally still at war, secretly and jointly planned the battle to transfer control of the city center from the Spanish to the Americans while keeping the Philippine Revolutionary Army out of the city center. The battle left American forces in control of Intramuros, the center of Manila, surrounded by Philippine revolutionary forces, creating the conditions for the Battle of Manila of 1899 and the start of the Philippine–American War.
Treaty of Paris
The Treaty of Paris of 1898 was signed by Spain and the United States on December 10, 1898, ending the Spanish–American War. Under it, Spain relinquished all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba and also ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. The cession of the Philippines involved a compensation of $20 million from the United States to Spain.
The treaty came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the documents of ratification were exchanged. It was the first treaty negotiated between the two governments since the 1819 Adams-Onís Treaty.
The Treaty of Paris marked the end of the Spanish Empire, apart from some small holdings in Northern Africa and several islands and territories around the Gulf of Guinea, also in Africa. It marked the beginning of the United States as a world power. Many supporters of the war opposed the treaty, which became one of the major issues in the election of 1900 when it was opposed by Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who opposed imperialism while Republican President William McKinley supported the treaty and was easily reelected.
The Philippine–American War was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic and the United States that lasted from February 4, 1899 to July 2, 1902. While Filipino nationalists viewed the conflict as a continuation of the struggle for independence that began in 1896 with the Philippine Revolution, the U.S. government regarded it as an insurrection. The conflict arose when the First Philippine Republic objected to the terms of the Treaty of Paris under which the United States took possession of the Philippines from Spain, ending the Spanish–American War.
Battle of Manila
The Battle of Manila the first and largest battle of the Philippine–American War, was fought on February 4–5, 1899, between 19,000 American soldiers and 15,000 Filipino armed militiamen. Armed conflict broke out when American troops, under orders to turn away insurgents from their encampment, fired upon an encroaching group of Filipinos. Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo attempted to broker a ceasefire, but American General Elwell Stephen Otis rejected it and fighting escalated the next day. It ended in an American victory, although minor skirmishes continued for several days afterward.
On June 2, 1899, the First Philippine Republic officially declared war against the United States. The war officially ended on July 2, 1902, with a victory for the United States; however, some Philippine groups—led by veterans of the Katipunan, a Philippine revolutionary society—continued to battle the American forces for several more years. Among those leaders was General Macario Sakay, a veteran Katipunan member who assumed the presidency of the proclaimed Tagalog Republic, formed in 1902 after the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo. Other groups, including the Moro, Bicol and Pulahan peoples, continued hostilities in remote areas and islands, until their final defeat at the Battle of Bud Bagsak on June 15, 1913.
The war resulted in at least 200,000 Filipino civilian deaths, mostly due to famine and disease. Some estimates for total civilian dead reach up to a million. The war and especially the following occupation by the U.S., changed the culture of the islands, leading to the rise of Protestantism and disestablishment of the Catholic Church and the introduction of English to the islands as the primary language of government, education, business, industry and, in future decades, among upper-class families and educated individuals.
In 1902, the United States Congress passed the Philippine Organic Act, which provided for the creation of the Philippine Assembly, with members to be elected by Filipino males (women did not have the right to vote until after the 1937 suffrage plebiscite). This act was superseded by the 1916 Jones Act (Philippine Autonomy Act), which contained the first formal and official declaration of the United States government’s commitment to eventually grant independence to the Philippines. The 1934 Tydings–McDuffie Act (Philippine Independence Act) created the Commonwealth of the Philippines the following year, increasing self-governance in advance of independence, and established a process towards full Philippine independence (originally scheduled for 1944, but interrupted and delayed by World War II). The United States granted independence in 1946, following World War II and the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, through the Treaty of Manila.
On September 14, 1901, six months into his second term, Leon Czolgosz, anarchist and unemployed factory worker enraged at the disparity between the rich and the poor, shot and killed President William McKinley at the Pan-Am fair in Buffalo. It was the nation’s third presidential assassination in 36 years.
Well, this is the Iraq War all over again with a much different result. Teddy Roosevelt was Paul Wolfowitz selling the war, and faulty intelligence led us into a war for which we had legitimate humanitarian reasons for entering though the military and economic objectives certainly outweighed them. Income inequality and a lack of belief in government also pushed people to the edge though, overall, the country was much stronger economically.
- The 1898 Wilmington massacre is an essential lesson in how state violence has targeted Black Americans. (2020, July 1). Time. https://time.com/5861644/1898-wilmington-massacre-essential-lesson-state-violence/
- Arsenio Linares Pombo. (n.d.). DB-e | Real Academia de la Historia. https://dbe.rah.es/biografias/12074/arsenio-linares-pombo
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Theodore Roosevelt (1901 – 1909) would follow William McKinley
Grover Cleveland (1893 – 1897) preceded William Mckinley
Zachary Taylor (1849-1850) would assume the presidency after the Mexican War.
Woodrow Wilson (1913 – 1921) would guide the United States through World War I.
Jimmy Carter (1977 – 1981) would be the only Democratic President for 25 years post Civil Rights.
George W. Bush (2000 – 2008) is the final President in our series.