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gress of our country voted to expend fifty thousand dollars from the national treasury. This excited Spain more than ever, and we were accused of trying to prolong the rebellion. But the deed was done, and many would have had us go farther, and recognize Cuba as a free and independent nation. This desire was overruled on the ground that our government could not with propriety endanger the peace of the world by taking so serious a step at that time. But the strength of popular sympathy with an oppressed people was shown by the fact that many Americans at grave personal risk went to Cuba, and joined the army in one capacity or another, fighting as bravely as if for their own individual rights.
DESTRUCTION OF THE MAINE DEWEY'VICTORY
THEODORE ROOBEVELT BECOMES А SOLDIER ORGANIZING THE ROUGH RIDERS - VARIOUS MEN IN THE COMMAND
“THE Maine has been blown up!
Such was the awful news which startled this whole nation in the middle of February, 1898, and which caused the question of war with Spain to crystallize without further deliberation.
The Maine was a battleship of large size, that had been sent down to the harbor of Havana, Cuba, on nothing more than a friendly visit. The explosion that destroyed this noble vessel occurred about ten o'clock at night, and was heard for miles around. Soon after the explosion, the war-ship began to sink, and over two hundred and fifty sailors and officers lost their lives.
The entire nation was now aroused, and many wanted to go to war with Spain immediately. But the Spaniards professed to be
ignorant of the cause of the explosion, and said it must have come from the inside of the ship and not the outside. Without delay a Board of Inquiry was established, and it was settled that the explosion had come from the outside, probably from a mine set by the Spaniards in Havana Harbor.
“This means war, and nothing but war,” said even the wisest of our statesmen. And so it proved. Without hesitation the whole nation sprang
forward to uphold the administration, and in a few days Congress passed an appropriation of fifty millions of dollars “ for national defence.” It may be added that this appropriation was passed unanimously, regardless of party politics and regardless of the differences which, in the past, had existed between the North and the South.
We have already learned what had been done to prepare the navy for the conflicts to follow. Now there was even more work on hand, to get the army into shape for service in Cuba and on other foreign soil.
The regular army at that time consisted of about twenty-five thousand men, scattered all over the United States, — on the frontier,
at the Indian reservations, and along the sea-coasts. Many of these troops were hurried to camps in the southeast portion of our country, leaving but small garrisons in the far West.
It was realized by President McKinley that our regular army could not cope with the troubles at hand, and soon came a call for one hundred and twenty-five thousand volunteers. These volunteers were to come from the various States and Territories, each furnishing its proportion of soldiers according to its population. These soldiers were quickly collected and marched to the various state camps, there to be sworn into the service of the United States.
The “war fever” was everywhere, and many private parties began to raise companies, while all sorts of independent commands, Grand Army, Confederate Veterans, Italian-American Guards, German Singing Societies, Colored Guards, and the like, offered their assistance. Even the colleges caught the fever, and men went forth from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and other institutions of learning to battle for Uncle Sam.
The first blow struck at Spain was a most
effective one. Commodore, afterwards Admiral, Dewey was at Hong Kong when the trouble began, and he was directed by the War Department to hunt for a Spanish fleet somewhere among the Philippine Islands and engage it. On Sunday, May 1, came the news that the gallant commodore had reached Manila Bay, fought the Spanish fleet and sunk every hostile ship, and come out of the battle with all of his own ships safe and not a single man killed !
“ Hurrah ! that shows what our navy can do!” cried many citizens. And they were justly proud. In the past, foreign nations had looked with something akin to scorn on our vessels and the way they were manned. Now such criticism was silenced ; and this result was, in a certain measure, due to the work of Theodore Roosevelt, while First Assistant Secretary to Secretary Long.
But Theodore Roosevelt was no longer in the department. He resigned and closed his desk, saying, “My duty here is done; my place is in the field.” With such an active nature, it was impossible for him to remain a private citizen while stern war was a reality.