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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spanish American War: On this day in 1898, Spain declared was against the US

This certainly echoes today (emphasis mine):

The guns that thundered off Manila and Santiago left us echoes of glory, but they also left us a legacy of duty. If we drove out a medieval tyranny only to make room for savage anarchy we had better not have begun the task at all. It is worse than idle to say that we have no duty to perform, and can leave to their fates the islands we have conquered. Such a course would be the course of infamy. It would be followed at once by utter chaos in the wretched islands themselves. Some stronger manlier power would have to step in and do the work, and we would have shown ourselves weaklings, unable to carry to successful completion the labors that great and high-spirited nations are eager to undertake.
~Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) (quoted in DiNunzio, ed., Theodore Roosevelt, An American Mind)

It has been a splendid little war; begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that fortune which loves the brave. 
~John Hay (1838-1905)*(of the Spanish-American War, letter to Theodore Roosevelt, 1898)

The Spanish-American war was not a great war. A large number of our troops took the hazard of watermelons in Georgia and Florida, and fought the malaria and mosquitoes, but very few Spanish... The Spanish-American War yielded comparatively little in heroics [but] paid the most marvelous dividends in politics and in magazine articles of any war in the history of the country. 
~James L. Slayden (1853-1924) (to the House of Representatives, 1906) 

An hour or two at Manila, an hour or two at Santiago, and the maps of the world were changed. 
~Rear Admiral A. S. Barker, USN (1843-1916) (attributed) 

Today is the 116th anniversary of Spain's declaration of war against the United States in 1898, marking the formal beginning of the Spanish-American War (wiki). Motivated in part by sympathy for the Cuban rebellion against Spanish rule, outraged by the sinking of the battleship Maine at Havana in February (wrongly attributed to Spanish sabotage), and with the "yellow press" inflaming public opinion, the United States openly supported the Cuban rebels and demanded Spanish withdrawal from Cuba. Spain's declaration of war soon followed. After decisive American naval victories at Manila Bay (in the Philippines) and at Santiago de Cuba, along with heavy ground fighting in Cuba itself, Spain was quickly defeated and in the ensuing Treaty of Paris in December, Cuba was freed (under U.S. tutelage), and the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam were ceded to the United States, making it an international power for the first time. President William McKinley (1843-1901) would later remark of the American gains, 
"The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation."
* N.B. John Hay served as one of President Lincoln's private secretaries during the Civil War and was later Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. 

Commodore George Dewey at the battle of Manila Bay:

"You may fire when ready, Gridley... I'm going down to the barbette where the armor's thicker." 

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