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and men to a realization that millions spent for ships and equipment could not alone provide an efficient navy. Within those hurrying months from the spring of 1897, when he was appointed, to the day in 1898 when he resigned, Mr. Roosevelt caused every ship to be put in readiness for actual service. He had their bunkers filled with coal, and impressed their commanders with the necessity of maintaining a supply. He had the crews filled by enlistment, and the official list weeded of material that could not be depended upon. He ordered target-practice with powder and ball—and that was an innovation which called forth a good deal of criticism at the time. It had been the general habit, not often varied, to make target-practice simply a matter of quick and orderly handling of the guns. It seemed a woeful waste of money to shoot valuable steel and iron at an inoffensive mark. But there was no other way in which to perfect officers in finding the range, or gunners in accuracy of aim. He saw the unprepared condition of American ships in the China Sea, a condition that would be embarrassing indeed if circumstances should arise requiring movement against Spain in the far Pacific. And he caused ammunition to be sent to that station, and held there pending demand. And, above all things, as the day of collision with Spain came inevitably nearer, he ordered Commodore Dewey to the China station with a fleet fully equal to all demands that could be made upon it. Meantime events in the United States were swiftly tending to war. It was impossible for a nation of the culture and justice realized in the United States to permit without protest the savage atrocities of the Spaniards in the West Indies. The people of Cuba had begun their revolution in 1895, and the warlike Campos had been unable to suppress them. He was recalled to Madrid, and Weyler was sent in his stead. This latter officer, ineradicably established in the enduring gallery of infamy, had served his country well in the Philippines. He had crushed a rebellion there, and he came, fresh with the laurels of an Alva or a Caligula, to the work of throttling human freedom on the very threshold of the American Republic. Every day Americans were learning more and more of the cruelty of his rule. His celebrated “reconcentrado” order, which swept the population from their farms and huddled them in the towns, treating as rebels all who did not come in; abusing, insulting, outraging and starving those who came, passed into history as the climax of executive barbarity. Statesmen from America, loath to move unadvisedly, went to Cuba and made a personal investigation of conditions there. John M. Thurston, United States Senator from Nebraska, accompanied by his wife, was one of those who sought a personal assurance by a visit to the troubled island. Mrs. Thurston, worn with labor for the suffering, crushed by the spectacle of such cruelty, died on her return to Washington; and her husband, in one of the most notable addresses ever delivered there, pleaded for intervention in the name of that broad humanity which all the world could appreciate. She had been a woman of keen sensibilities and large charity. She had seen the starving and naked women and children lying in the sun, in cities to which they had been driven and from which they could not escape, gazing with unwinking, uncomprehending eyes at the visitors; and she had seen them die. When her sorrowing husband rose to address the Senate he said: “I have a right to speak. I give to you a message from silent lips; and if I held my peace when such a question is under discussion, if I refrained from testifying to the atrocious cruelties inflicted upon the people of Cuba, I should falter in my trust; I should fail in my duty to one whose heart was broken while a nation hesitated.” He was one of many whose voice was for intervention, even though intervention should mean war. Without regard to party, the people of the United States, more unitedly than they ever had been before on a question of such import, urged Congress and the President to move for the relief of Cuba. But the executive end of the Government was—as it should have been—conservative to the last. There was to be no blind rushing into war, no official action which should precipitate a conflict between nations, if any less costly course could be found. In the very midst of that pause, when popular clamor and administrative reserve held equally balanced through the midwinter season, came the one astounding event which swelled the popular clamor to a roar, and stilled utterly the voice of caution.
The Maine was blown up!
Lying in the harbor of a nation still “friendly,” in the “noon of the night,” an American battle-ship on a visit of courtesy was destroyed by a submarine mine in the supposed security of Havana harbor. Captain Sigsbee, of the sunken craft, appealed to the American people for a suspension of judgment until an investigation could be had. But the nation had decided. The case had been tried. The Spaniards were found guilty in the court of American common sense. The Maine was blown up on the night of February 15, 1898. April 20 President McKinley cabled to Minister Woodford, at Madrid, the ultimatum of the United States: Spain must retire from Cuba and Cuban waters within thirty days, or take the consequences. The next day, before he could present the demand of his Government, General Woodford was handed his passports, by order of the ministry at Madrid, and thus officially terminated the friendly relations of the two governments. It was the final act in a remarkable succession of events which proved Spain's contempt for the United States— which illustrated her remarkable ignorance both of the power against which she flung her