The ceremonies attendant upon the inauguration of William McKinley on March 4, 1897, were typical of the care-taking generalship of Mark Hanna. The details of policing the crowds had been foreseen and attended to; the usual military review was effectively carried out to the last particular; "the Republican party was coming back to power as the party of organization, of discipline, of unquestioning obedience to leadership."[1]

The political capacity, the characteristics and the philosophy of the new President were sufficiently representative of the forces which were to control American affairs for the next few years to make them matters of some interest. McKinley was a traditional politician in the better sense of the word. As an executive he was patient, calm, modest, wary. Ordinarily he committed himself to a project only after long consideration, and with careful propriety he avoided entangling political bargains. His engaging personality, his consummate tact and his thorough knowledge of the temper and traditions of Congress enabled him to lead that body, where Cleveland failed to drive it. As a speaker he seldom rose above an ordinary plane, but he was simple and sincere. His messages to Congress breathed an atmosphere of serenity and of deferential reliance upon the wise and judicious action of the legislative branch. Their smug and genial tone formed a sharp contrast with his predecessor's anxious demands for multifarious reforms; while Cleveland inveighed against narrow partisanship and selfish aims, McKinley benignantly observed: "The public questions which now most engross us are lifted far above either partisanship, prejudice, or former sectional differences."

The political philosophy of McKinley typified that of his party. The possibilities which he saw in protective tariffs, which occupied the foremost position among his principles, were well set forth in his message to Congress on March 15, 1897. Additional duties should be levied on foreign importation, he asserted,

    to preserve the home market, so far as possible, to our own 
    producers; to revive and increase manufactures; to relieve and 
    encourage agriculture; to increase our domestic and foreign 
    commerce; to aid and develop mining and building; and to render 
    to labor in every field of useful occupation the liberal wages 
    and adequate rewards to which skill and industry are justly 

Like most American presidents, McKinley was a peace-lover, pleasantly disposed toward the arbitration of international difficulties and prepared to welcome any attempt to further that method of preserving the peace of the world. His conception of the presidential office differed somewhat sharply at several points from that of his predecessor. Like Cleveland he looked upon himself as peculiarly the representative of the people, but he was far less likely either to lead public opinion or to attempt to hasten the people to adopt a position which he had himself taken. This fact lay at the bottom of the complaints of his critics that he always had his "ear to the ground" in order that he might be prepared to go with the majority. On the other hand, although he was aware of constitutional limitation upon the functions of the executive, he was not so continually hampered by the strict constructionist view of the powers of the federal government as Cleveland had been. McKinley's attitude toward Congress was far more sagacious than Cleveland's. He distributed the usual patronage with skill; he approached Congressmen individually with the utmost tact; he appointed them to serve on commissions and boards of arbitration, and later, when matters upon which the commissions had been engaged came before Congress in the form of treaties or legislation, these men found themselves in a position to lead in the adoption of the principles which the President desired. All this indicated an ability to "touch elbows" with Congress that has rarely been exceeded. When coupled with the organizing power of Hanna, the harmonizing sagacity of the President soon brought about a notable degree of party solidarity. As a political organization, the Republican party reached a climax.

McKinley was hardly an idealist, and distinctly not a reformer. Although sensitive to pressure from the reform element, he was not ahead of ordinary public opinion on matters of economic and political betterment. Leaders in federal railroad regulation found the President cold toward projects to strengthen the Interstate Commerce law; the Sherman Anti-trust Act was scarcely enforced at all during McKinley's administration, and the parts of his messages which relate to the regulation of industry are vague and lacking in purpose. One searches these documents in vain for any indication that the Republican leader had either vigorous sympathy with the economic and social unrest which had made the year 1896 so momentous or even any thorough understanding of it. Even if he had possessed both sympathy and understanding, however, it is doubtful whether he could have made real progress in the direction of economic legislation and the enforcement of the acts regulating railroads and industry, in view of his long-continued and close affiliation with business leaders of the Mark Hanna type and his deep obligation to them at the time of his financial embarrassments in 1893.

McKinley's cabinet was composed of men whose advanced age and conservative characteristics indicated that his advisers would commend themselves to the business world and would instinctively avoid all those radical proposals that were coming to be known as "Bryanism." The dean of the cabinet in age and experience as well as in reputation and ability was John Sherman, who was now almost seventy-four years of age and had been occupying a position of dignity and honor in the Senate. Two reasons have been given for his appointment to the post of Secretary of State. In the first place, important diplomatic affairs were on hand, in the settlement of which his long experience as a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations would be of obvious advantage. The second reason was the ambition of Hanna to enter the Senate. Since Sherman and Hanna were both from Ohio, it was possible to call the former to the cabinet and rely upon the Governor of the state to appoint the latter to the Senate. The propriety of this course of action depended somewhat on the question of Sherman's physical condition. Rumor declared that he was suffering from mental decay, due to his age, but McKinley believed the rumor to be baseless, summoned him to the cabinet, and Hanna was subsequently appointed to the Senate. When Sherman took up the duties of his office it appeared that the rumor had been all too true, and a serious lapse of memory on his part in a diplomatic matter forced his immediate replacement by William R. Day. Somewhat more than a year later Day retired and John Hay assumed the position. Many critics have asserted that McKinley was aware of the precise condition of Sherman and that he made the choice despite this knowledge, but it now seems likely that he was guilty only of bad judgment and carelessness in failing to inform himself about Sherman's infirmities. Another error of judgment was made in the choice of Russell A. Alger as Secretary of War. Alger failed to convince popular opinion that he was an effective officer and he resigned in 1899. As in the case of Sherman, McKinley then somewhat retrieved his mistake by appointing a successor of undoubted ability, in the person of Elihu Root.[2] It thus came about that the political and economic theories which had been characteristic of the leaders of both parties during the seventies and eighties, but more particularly of the Republican party, were again in the ascendancy. The President and his cabinet were uniformly men who had grown up during the heyday of laissez faire, and Hanna, who would inevitably be regarded as the mouthpiece of the administration in the Senate, was the embodiment of that philosophy.

McKinley's experience with the distribution of the offices emphasized the progress that had been made since civil service reform had been inaugurated. One of the steps which President Cleveland had taken during his last administration, it will be remembered, was to increase the number of positions under control of the Civil Service Commission. The immediate result, of course, was to increase the demand for places in the unclassified service. John Hay picturesquely described the situation in the State Department a few years later:

    All other branches of the Civil Service are so rigidly provided 
    for that the foreign service is like the topmost rock which you 
    sometimes see in old pictures of the Deluge. The pressure for a 
    place in it is almost indescribable.

Both in his inaugural address and in his message to Congress on December 6, 1897, McKinley expressed his approval of the prevailing system, but suggested the possibility of exempting some positions then in the classified service. President Cleveland had, indeed, admitted to the Civil Service Commission that a few modifications might be necessary. The Senate promptly ordered an investigation and discovered 10,000 places which it believed could be withdrawn, but because of other events further action was delayed. In 1899 the President returned to the subject and promulgated an order authorizing the withdrawal of certain positions from competitive examination and the transfer of others from the Commission to the Secretary of War - a total of somewhat less than 5,000 changes.[3] It appeared, in view of the circumstances under which the change had occurred, that a retrograde step had been taken, and McKinley received the condemnation of the reformers.

The first legislation undertaken by the administration was that relating to the tariff. The election of 1896, to be sure, had been fought out on the silver issue, but it was not deemed feasible to proceed at once to legislation on the subject, because of the strong silver contingent within the party. Several other considerations combined to draw attention away from the currency question and toward the tariff. The Wilson-Gorman Act of 1894 had been passed under circumstances that had caused the Democratic President himself to express his shame and disappointment; the period of industrial depression following the panic of 1893 had been attributed so widely to Democratic tariff legislation that a Republican tariff act could be hailed as a harbinger of prosperity; and the annual deficit which had continued since 1893 indicated a genuine need of greater revenue, if the current scale of expenditures was to be continued. The President and the party leaders in Congress were men who were prominently identified with the protective system, and it was not likely that the business interests which profited from protection, which believed in its beneficent operation, and which had contributed generously to the Republican war-chest would remain inactive in the presence of an opportunity to revise the tariff.

Immediately after his succession to office, therefore, McKinley called a special session of Congress to legislate upon the chosen subject. His message urged an increase in revenue to be brought about by high import duties which, he suggested, should be so levied as to be advantageous to commerce, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, building and labor. The projected bill was already in hand. Republican success in the election had insured the return of Thomas B. Reed to the speaker's chair and Nelson Dingley to the Committee on Ways and Means. The latter was as devoted to the high-tariff cause as the Speaker and the President, and had laboriously constructed a bill which was distinctly protective. The legislative history of the Tariff Act of 1897 - more commonly known as the Dingley act - was in several respects much like that of similar measures of earlier years. Its passage through the House was expedited by the masterful personality and vigorous tactics of the Speaker - a process which consumed less than a fortnight. In the Senate, bargain and delay ruled procedure; a few of the silver Republicans held the balance of power and demanded a quid pro quo for their support; and the Secretary of the Wool Manufacturers' Association preserved a suggestively close connection with the Finance Committee which had charge of the bill. After amending the House draft in 872 particulars, the Senate entrusted its interests to the usual conference committee, and there, as had happened before, the rates were in many cases raised above those desired by either the Senate or the House. The bill became law in July, 1897.

The Dingley act added little to the settlement of the tariff problem. The ordinary consumer was as little able as before to present his demands effectively and at the time and place at which the rates were really determined. The requirements of the silver Republicans were met by the imposition of high duties on wool. For one reason or another, duties were restored or raised upon hides, silks and linens, although those on cotton goods were slightly lowered. The duty on sugar was retained at a point favorable to the trust. In brief, then, the Act of 1897 was aggressively protectionist. An abortive section of the act empowered the President to conclude treaties providing for reductions, as great as twenty per cent., in return for commercial concessions from other countries. Such reciprocity arrangements, however, must be made within two years of the passage of the law and might not remain in force more than five years, and each treaty must be ratified by the Senate. The President was favorable to reciprocal adjustments and several were arranged but were uniformly rejected in the Senate.

Business was prosperous after the enactment of the Dingley tariff and little agitation for a change was observable for a decade. Prosperity, being world wide, was doubtless not due in its entirety to the American tariff, yet the coincidence of protection and good times gave the Dingley act a pleasant reputation. For many years enthusiastic stump speakers placed the beneficence of Providence and the tariff of 1897 on an equality as causes of American well-being.

The President's first message to Congress had extended congratulations upon the fact that peace and good will with all the nations of the earth continued unbroken. Nevertheless it was necessary for him to devote much attention to the relations between Spain and its most valuable American possession - the island of Cuba.

American interest in Cuba was by no means of recent growth. The situation of the island - dominating the narrowest point of the waterway between the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico - insured the importance of Cuba as a strategic position. The traditional attitude of Spain toward her colony had been one of exploitation, a policy which was sure to be looked upon with suspicion by a nation which had itself revolted from oppression. Riots and rebellions in the island, having their origin in Spain's colonial policy, had long engaged American sympathy and attention. American statesmen - Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Clay and Webster - had pondered upon the wisest and most advantageous disposition of Cuba. In 1859 the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations had even concluded that "The ultimate acquisition of Cuba may be considered a fixed purpose of the United States." From 1868 to 1878 the "Ten Years' War" between Cuba and Spain had raised American feeling to a high pitch. The struggle was characterized by a barbarity that rivalled mediaeval warfare; islanders who escaped to the United States sent ships to Cuba laden with arms and men; American trade rights were interfered with and American citizens seized by the Spaniards and shot; the Virginius was captured - a ship carrying the American flag - and many of her crew were executed. Indignation meetings were held, the navy was put in order and war was in sight. Cautious diplomatic negotiations delayed hostilities, however, and subsequently exhaustion caused the restoration of peace between Spain and her distracted colony.

With the recurrence of insurrection in 1895, interest in the United States was renewed, and this time circumstances combined to bring about a climax in American relations with Spain. On both sides the contest between Spain and her colony was carried on with unutterable cruelty. The island leader, Maximo Gomez, conducted guerrilla warfare, devastating the country, destroying plantation buildings and forcing laborers to cease work, in order to exhaust the enemy or to bring about American intervention. Spanish procedure was even more barbaric. A "reconcentration" order, promulgated by Valeriano Weyler, Governor-general of the island and General-in-chief of the army, compelled the rural population to herd together in the garrisoned towns. Their buildings were then burned and their cattle driven away or killed; hygienic precautions were disregarded and the people themselves were insufficiently clothed and fed. The extermination of the inhabitants proceeded so rapidly as to promise complete devastation in a short time.

President Cleveland had been deeply affected by the Cuban situation. His last annual message to Congress had noted the $30,000,000 to $50,000,000 of American capital invested in the island, the volume of trade amounting yearly to $100,000,000, the use of American soil by Cubans and Cuban sympathizers for raising funds and purchasing equipment, and the stream of claims for damages done to American property in Cuba. In spite of his well-known disinclination to share in the internal affairs of other peoples, he had voiced a suggestive warning that American patience could not be maintained indefinitely.

The succession of McKinley seemed likely to result in a change in the attitude of America toward the Cuban problem. He was more responsive to public opinion than his predecessor had been, public opinion was more and more coming to favor intervention, and his party had committed itself in its platform to Cuban independence through American action. Moreover, two events early in 1898 greatly irritated the United States.

On February 9 a New York newspaper published a letter written by Senor Enrique Dupuy de Lome, Spanish minister to the United States, to a personal friend in Havana. It referred to President McKinley as a "would-be politician who tries to leave a door open behind himself while keeping on good terms with the jingoes of his party." It further revealed the intention of the Minister to carry on a propaganda among senators in the interest of a commercial treaty. On all sides it was seen that the usefulness of Senor de Lome was at an end and his government immediately recalled him. On February 15 the whole world was shocked by the destruction of the United States battleship Maine in Havana harbor, with the loss of 260 officers and men. News of the disaster was accompanied by the appeal of Captain Sigsby, commander of the vessel, that popular judgment of the causes of the disaster be suspended until a court of inquiry could investigate and report. Nevertheless on March 9, Congress placed $50,000,000 at the President's disposal for the purposes of national defence and the navy prepared for a conflict that seemed inevitable. Both the Spanish and American authorities conducted examinations. The American court reported that the ship had been destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine, which had caused the partial explosion of two or more of her magazines. No evidence could be found which would fix the responsibility on any individual. The Spanish court came to the conclusion that the catastrophe was due solely to an explosion of the ship's magazines. American opinion naturally supported the findings of the American court, and feeling ran high; newspapers demanded war; "Remember the Maine" summarized much of popular discussion.[4]

Under such circumstances, diplomatic negotiations looking toward peace were difficult, and resulted only in disagreements and delay. Accordingly on April 11 the President laid before Congress a succinct account of Cuban affairs and earnestly called for forcible intervention. The grounds for this action he found in the sufferings of the people of Cuba, the injuries to Americans and to American property and trade, and the menace to American peace which was entailed by continuous conflict at our very threshold.[5] The transfer of the Cuban question from the hands of the President to those of Congress was equivalent to a decision in favor of war. On April 19 the Senate and House resolved that the people of Cuba were and ought to be independent, demanded that Spain withdraw from the island and directed the President to use the force of the nation to achieve the results desired. The approval of the Executive on the following day completed the severance of peaceful relations with Spain. At daylight on April 22 Admiral Sampson and his fleet were crossing the narrows between Florida and Cuba, on the way to establish a blockade of the greater part of the island. Within three days more, Commodore George Dewey, who was in command of a fleet at Hong-Kong, had been instructed to proceed at once to the Philippine Islands and capture or destroy the Spanish fleet there. On April 25 Congress formally declared war upon the kingdom of Spain.

It was not by mere chance, of course, that Admiral Sampson and Commodore Dewey were prepared to act with such celerity. Authorities in the Navy Department had long felt that a collision with Spain was inevitable and had been preparing for such an eventuality. With as little publicity as possible the Department completed and commissioned ships that were already under construction; it hastened the repair of vessels which were in any way defective; it ordered target practice and fleet manoeuvres; and it prepared plans for the conduct of a naval war. Commanders of squadrons were instructed to keep in service men whose terms of enlistment were about to expire; supplies of ammunition were procured and shipped to points where they would be needed; the Oregon, which had been stationed on the Pacific coast, was ordered to return to Key West by way of the Straits of Magellan and so began a voyage whose closing days were watched with interest by a whole nation. A Northern Patrol Squadron was organized to guard New England; a Flying Squadron was assembled at Hampton Roads for service on the Atlantic coast or abroad; and a formidable array gathered at Key West under Rear-Admiral Sampson for duty in the West Indies. Foreign shipyards were scoured for vessels in process of building and several were purchased, completed and renamed for American service. Greater additions were made through the purchase of merchantmen and their transformation into auxiliary cruisers, gunboats and colliers. In these ways the attempt was made, with some success, to improvise a navy on the eve of war.

The people of the country had scarcely become accustomed to the thought that war with Spain had actually come to pass when word was received in Washington of the exploit of Commodore Dewey in the Philippine Islands. Attention for the moment was focussed on the Far East, and the press dilated upon the first test of the new American Navy.

The story of the test proved to have points of interest and importance. When Commodore Dewey received the orders already mentioned, on April 25, he finished immediately the preparations for conflict which had been initiated and turned his flagship, the Olympia, in the direction of Manila. His available force consisted of four protected cruisers, two gunboats, a revenue cutter, a collier and a supply ship. The city of Manila is on Manila Bay, a body of water twenty miles or more wide, and is reached only through a narrow entrance. Dewey judged that the channel was too deep to be mined successfully except by trained experts and that both contact and electrical mines would deteriorate so rapidly in tropical waters as to be effective only for a short time. He therefore decided to steam through the channel at night, disregarding the mines, and to attack the Spanish fleet which lay within. The plans worked out even better than he had hoped. With all lights masked and the crews at the guns, the squadron moved silently through the passage with no other opposition than three shots from a single battery. Once within the Bay Dewey steamed slowly toward the city of Manila and then back to a fortified point, Cavite, where he found his quarry arranged in an irregular crescent and awaiting the conflict. Oblivious of the hasty and inaccurate fire from the batteries on shore, he deliberately moved to a position within two and a half miles of the Spanish ships and said to the Captain of the Olympia, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley."

Three times westward and twice eastward the American squadron ran slowly back and forth, using the port and starboard batteries in turn, and in a short time the shore batteries and the Spanish fleet were masses of ruins. Of the American forces, only eight were injured, and they only slightly, while 167 of the Spanish were killed and 214 wounded. News of the victory was as unexpected as it was welcome in the United States. President McKinley appointed Dewey an acting Rear-Admiral and on all sides discussion began of the situation and possibilities of the Philippines.

In the meantime, the position of the American squadron was far from secure. To be sure, all resistance from the batteries in and around Manila was quickly suppressed by a threat to destroy the city; nevertheless Admiral Dewey was in command of too slight a force to enable him to occupy both the town and its environs. He accordingly notified Washington that more troops were necessary if it were intended to seize and retain Manila, and expeditionary forces were despatched, the first of which arrived on June 30. Indeed it was high time that assistance be forthcoming, for new possibilities of conflict had appeared in the presence of a powerful force of German warships.

As soon as the defeat of the Spanish squadron had been effected, Admiral Dewey established a blockade of Manila Bay and, according to custom, the war vessels of interested nations went thither to observe the effectiveness of the blockade and to care for the well-being of their nationals. Among the early arrivals were the British, the French and the Japanese, all of whom observed the formalities of the situation and reported to the American Admiral before venturing into the harbor. The Germans, however, omitted the proprieties until sharply reminded by a shot across the bow of the Cormoran. By mid-June five German men-of-war under command of Vice Admiral von Diedrichs were in the Bay - a force nearly if not quite the match of the American squadron. When the Germans continued their disregard of the regulations controlling the blockade, indicating a potential if not an actual hostility, it became necessary for Admiral Dewey to have done with the Teutonic peril at once. He sent a verbal message to von Diedrichs which effectually ended all controversy. Admiral Dewey has not disclosed the exact phraseology of the message, nor did he send a record of it to the Navy Department. A newspaper correspondent who was acting as one of the Admiral's aides asserted that the protest was against von Diedrich's disregard of the usual courtesies of naval intercourse and that it closed with the words, "if he wants a fight he can have it right now." The disclosure by Captain Edward Chichester, in command of the English force, that he had orders to comply with Admiral Dewey's restrictions and that his sympathies were with the Americans, together with the arrival of the expeditionary force, assured American supremacy and a peaceful blockade. On August 13 a joint movement of the naval forces and the infantry under General Wesley Merritt resulted in the speedy surrender of the city of Manila. The Americans were now in control of the capital of the Philippine Islands and would, perforce, face the question of the ultimate disposition of the archipelago in case of the eventual defeat of Spain. In the meanwhile, popular attention turned toward stirring events which were taking place in the Caribbean Sea.

On April 28 - a week after Admiral Sampson started for Cuba - the Spanish Admiral Cervera left the Cape Verde Islands. His force was a considerable one; his goal was unknown, although naturally believed to be some point in the Spanish West Indies. On the assumption that this hypothesis was a correct one, Sampson patrolled the northern coast of Cuba, extending his movement as far as Porto Rico, and scouts were placed out beyond Guadeloupe and Martinique. The entire nation anxiously awaited the outcome of the impending encounter.

On May 19 Cervera slipped into Santiago, a town on the eastern end of Cuba which had rail connection with Havana, the capital of the island. Commodore W.S. Schley who was in command of a squadron on the southern coast soon received information of the enemy's whereabouts and established a blockade of the city, while Sampson hastened to the scene and assumed command of operations. The American force now included four first-class battleships, one second-class battleship and two cruisers. They were arranged in semi-circular formation facing the harbor, and at night powerful search-lights were kept directed upon the channel which Admiral Cervera must take in case of an attempt to escape. The main part of Santiago Bay is between four and five miles long and is reached through a narrow entrance channel. Elevated positions at the mouth of the channel rendered the vigorous defence of the harbor a matter of some ease. Early in the progress of the blockade the Americans attempted to sink a collier across the entrance, but fortunately, as it turned out, this daring project failed, and Admiral Sampson settled down to await developments.

It was apparent that the capture of Santiago, and the destruction of the fleet could be brought about only through a joint movement of the army and navy. Hitherto the war had been entirely on the sea. Nevertheless over 200,000 volunteers had been called for, in addition to somewhat over 50,000 regular troops and the "Rough Riders" - the last a regiment of volunteer cavalry which had been raised by Colonel Leonard Wood and Theodore Roosevelt and which was largely composed of cowboys, ranchmen, Indians and athletes from eastern colleges. The regulars, together with a few volunteers and the Rough Riders, were sent to Tampa, Florida, while most of the volunteers were trained at Chicamauga Park, in Georgia. It had been expected that the important military operations would take place around Havana and for that reason the officer commanding the army, General Nelson A. Miles, with most of the regular troops, were retained for the larger service. The command of the expedition to Santiago fell to General William E. Shafter. Sixteen thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven officers and men set sail from Tampa on June 14 and began to disembark eight days later at Daiquiri, sixteen miles to the east of Santiago.

Advancing from this point General Lawton, commanding a division of infantry, moved parallel to the shore and seized Siboney. General Wheeler, a former Confederate who was now in command of the cavalry, met and defeated a Spanish force at Las Guasimas. Further advance met difficulties that were more serious. On the left of the American line was San Juan Hill, an eminence which commanded the country toward the east; on the right was El Caney, a fortified village held by a small force of Spaniards. The country between the two points was a jungle, the roads hardly better than trails, where troops frequently had to go in single file. The fight at El Caney was severe, the enemy being well-entrenched, well-armed and protected by wire entanglements and block houses, and General Lawton suffered a loss of more than 400 killed and wounded before driving the Spaniards out of their position. San Juan Hill was still more stubbornly defended, and an American advance was impeded by the heat, the tropical growth and the uneven character of the country. Under these circumstances officers became separated from their men and victory was gained through the determination and resourcefulness of the individual. The Spaniards then fell back upon Santiago.

The continued success of the Americans compelled the Spanish authorities to make an immediate decision in regard to the fleet. To remain in the harbor seemed to mean being encircled and starved; to go out through the narrow channel seemed to lead to sure destruction. Yet the latter venture appealed to the commander-in-chief of Cuba, Captain-General Blanco, as the more honorable one and on July 2 orders were sent to Admiral Cervera to make the attempt. Early next morning, while Admiral Sampson was away at a conference with General Shafter, lookouts on the American battleships descried the Infanta Maria Teresa feeling her way out of the harbor, followed by the remainder of the Spanish fleet, three armored cruisers and two torpedo-boat destroyers. The Americans instantly closed in, directing their fire first against the Teresa and later against the rest of the fleet as they tried to follow their leader out to safety. Once out of the harbor the entire Spanish fleet dashed headlong toward the west, parallel to the coast, while the Americans kept pace, pouring a gruelling fire from every available gun. The Spaniards returned the fire and thus "the action resolved itself into a series of magnificent duels between powerful ironclads." One by one the enemy's vessels were sunk or forced to run ashore - the Cristobal Colon last, at two o'clock in the afternoon. The Spanish losses, besides the fleet, were 323 killed and 151 wounded; the Americans lost one killed and one wounded. The city of Santiago, deprived of its fleet, found itself in a desperate plight and surrendered on July 16. Shortly afterwards General Miles led an expedition into Porto Rico, but operations were soon brought to a close because of the suspension of hostilities, and from a military point of view the importance of the campaign was negligible.

The succession of overwhelming defeats drove home to Spain the futility of further conflict. The despatch of American troops to the Philippines and to Porto Rico, moreover, indicated that Spain would soon suffer other losses. Hence the Spanish government, acting through Jules Cambon, the French ambassador to the United States, sought terms for the settlement of the war. The President's reply of July 30 made the following stipulations: Spain to relinquish and evacuate Cuba and to cede Porto Rico and one of the Ladrone Islands; the United States to occupy the city and bay of Manila, pending the conclusion of peace and the determination of the final disposition of the Philippines. Spain wished to restrict negotiations to the Cuban question, but was forced to accept the conditions laid down by the victor. A preliminary agreement or protocol was therefore signed, which provided for a conference at Paris concerning peace terms.

The uniform success of the American arms could not obscure the popular belief that the Department of War had been guilty of many shortcomings. It will doubtless be always a subject for dispute as to whether the major portion of the blame is to be laid at the door of the traditional American disinclination to be prepared for warfare, or upon Secretary Alger and his immediate advisors. That the conduct of the military affairs was inexpert, however, is admitted on all sides. The facilities for taking care of the troops at Tampa were inadequate. When transports reached Tampa to take the troops to Santiago, officers wildly scrambled to get their men on board. The Rough Riders, for example, made their way into a transport intended for two other regiments, one of regulars and the other of volunteers, with the result that the volunteers and half of the regulars were left on shore. The clothing supplied for the Cuban campaign was better suited to a cold climate than to summer in the tropics. The health of the troops during the Santiago campaign was such that the general officers expressed the opinion that the army must immediately be removed from Cuba or suffer severe and unnecessary losses from malarial fever. When the men were removed, however, they were taken to Montauk Point on Long Island, where the climate was too cool and bracing. Unsanitary conditions in the training camps within the borders of the United States were the cause of fatalities estimated at several times the number killed in battle. A controversy over the quality of the beef supplied to the troops led to an executive commission of investigation. Both unnecessary and unfortunate was the Sampson-Schley controversy, which originated in a difference of opinion about the proportion of credit which each of these officers should have for the success of Santiago and which was continued in charges that the latter had made serious mistakes in the conduct of his share of the operations. Subsequently a Court of Inquiry investigated the accusations and made a decision which did not completely satisfy either side.

Despite these minor mistakes, however, the war increased the strength of the administration. The most lasting effects of the conflict on constitutional and political history demand detailed discussion at a later point, but the immediate results can be briefly stated.[6] The successful prosecution of a popular war, combined with widespread prosperity and the demoralization of the opposition party greatly heightened the prestige of the Republicans. McKinley appeared to have been in truth, the "advance agent of prosperity"; and his party obtained a dominating control of public policy.


H. Croly, Marcus A. Hanna (1912), and C.S. Olcott, William McKinley (2 vols., 1916), discuss the politics of the period, subject to the limitations already mentioned. W.D. Foulke, Fighting the Spoilsman (1919), describes the relation of the administration to the civil service; for the Dingley tariff, Stanwood, Tarbell and Taussig.

The literature on the Spanish war is extensive. Most detailed and reliable is F.E. Chadwick, Relations of the United States and Spain ; I, Diplomacy, II, III, The Spanish War (1909, 1911). J.H. Latane,America as a World Power (1907), has several good chapters; H.E. Flack, Spanish-American Diplomatic Relations Preceding the War of 1898 (1906), and E.J. Benton, International Law and Diplomacy of the Spanish-American War (1908), take up the diplomatic side. On naval preparations, J.D. Long, New American Navy (2 vols., 1903), is by McKinley's Secretary of the Navy; see also E.S. Maclay, History of the United States Navy (rev. ed., 3 vols., 1901-1902). Good autobiographical accounts are: C.E. Clark, My Fifty Years in the Navy (1917); George Dewey, Autobiography(1913); Theodore Roosevelt, Autobiography; and W.S. Schley, Forty-five Years under the Flag (1914). See also A.T. Mahan, Lessons of the War with Spain (1899).

       * * * * *

[1] Cf. Peck, 518.

[2] Other members of the cabinet were: Lyman J. Gage, Ill., Secretary of the Treasury; Joseph McKenna, Calif., Attorney-General; J.A. Gary, Md., Postmaster-General; J.D. Long, Mass., Secretary of the Navy, C.N. Bliss, Secretary of the Interior; James Wilson, Ia., Secretary of Agriculture.

[3] The National Civil Service Reform League estimated the changes at 10,000.

[4] In 1911 the wreck of the Maine was raised and examined. The evidence found was such as to substantiate the findings of the American court of inquiry. Scientific American, January 27, 1912.

[5] It has commonly been felt among certain classes in the United States since 1898 that the business interests whose property and trade were mentioned by President McKinley had an undue share in bringing about the declaration of war. While it can not be doubted that the President was swayed more by business interests than most of our executives since the Civil War have been, yet it is also true that the sufferings of the Cubans aroused genuine sympathy in the United States. The President himself was anxious to delay war as long as possible.

[6] Below, Chap. XVIII.