TR's Wild Side

As a Rough Rider in the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt’s attention to nature and love of animals were much in evidence, characteristics that would later help form his strong conservationist platform as president

ON JUNE 3, 1898, 39 days into the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders arrived in Florida by train, assigned to the U.S. transport Yucatan. But the departure date from Tampa Bay for Cuba kept changing. Just a month earlier, the 39-year-old Teddy had quit his job as assistant secretary of the Navy, taken command of the 1,250-man 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment along with Leonard Wood, and began a mobilization to dislodge the Spanish from Cuba. Read more »

America’s First Iraq

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WE DELIVERED THE PHILIPPINES FROM TYRANNY A CENTURY AGO

All happy occupations may, like Tolstoy’s families, be alike; but each unhappy occupation is definitely unhappy in its own way. Of course it is too early to tell which our occupation of Iraq—not to mention Afghanistan— will be. As of this writing, the portents are ominous, with mounting numbers of Iraqis dead in violent street demonstrations, the Iranian-backed Shiite clergy clearly positioning themselves to make a power grab, and the remnants of the Taliban still conducting hit-and-run attacks in Afghanistan.

 
Read more »

1898 One Hundred Years Ago

The White Man’s Burden

When an armistice ended the Spanish-American War on August 12, the United States found itself with three major new territories obtained in three different ways. The first was Hawaii, annexed on July 7 with the President’s signature on a joint congressional resolution. The islands, controlled by a friendly American-installed government, had shown their value as a naval base, and in the exhilaration of impending victory over Spain, America took up a long-standing offer to absorb them.Read more »

The Meaning of ’98

Our war with Spain marked the first year of the American Century

One hundred years ago, in April 1898, the American Century suddenly began. “Suddenly” because what happened then—the declaration of war against Spain—led to a rapid crystallization of a passionate nationalism. The American longing for national aggrandizement existed before 1898—indeed it was gathering momentum—but as the great French writer Stendhal wrote in his essay “On Love,” passion has a way of “crystallizing” suddenly, as a reaction to external stimuli. Such a stimulus, in the history of the United States, was the Spanish-American War in 1898.

 
Read more »

Cuba Libre

Sexy and melancholy, festive and forlorn, the island has always heated the Yankee imagination. The author visits there in the late afternoon of a straitened era and looks back on four centuries of passionate misunderstandings.

In those days, back in the thirties, the forties, the fifties of this century, Cuba was Havana, and Havana was a dream.

I went to Havana On one of those cruises, Forty-nine fifty To spend a few days.…

The dream was set to music—Xavier Cugat playing Ernesto Lecuona’s “Siboney” and “Malaguena” and “You Are Always in My Heart,” Bing Crosby crooning, “They’re glad to see you, in See-You-Bee-Ay.” Read more »

The Second Sinking Of The ‘Maine’

Giving the men who died aboard America’s first battleship a decent funeral took fourteen years, three-quarters of a million dollars, and some hair-raising engineering. But in the end, they did it right.

On the evening of February 15, 1898, the U.S. battleship Maine rode peacefully at her mooring in Havana Harbor. Officially she was there on an innocuous diplomatic mission, but many saw her presence as a demonstration of U.S. sympathy for Cuban rebels in their struggle against Spanish imperialism. Read more »

The Spanish-American War: Conquering Yellow Fever

 

A SOLDIER LIES in a tent hospital in Siboney, Cuba, in July 1898, a victim of yellow fever. That month, senior U.S. Army officers fresh from victories at San Juan Hill and Santiago proposed immediate evacuation: “The army is disabled by malarial fever to such an extent. … that it is in a condition to be practically entirely destroyed by the epidemic of yellow fever sure to come.

 
Read more »

Under Fire In Cuba

A Volunteer’s Eyewitness Account of the War With Spain

From the Revolution at least through World War II, American boys hurrying off to war calmed their fear s by believing that their country’s cause wan just and right and would surely prevail.

Read more »

A Taste Of Victory

Not so long ago, indeed well within a lifetime, there was no “dearth of heroes” in this country, to quote the title of our opening article a little out of context. At the end of what John Hay called our “splendid little war” with Spain, there seemed to be a plethora, and the occasion shown above still exudes the pride and joy of that moment.Read more »

“Black Jack” Of The 10th

A Negro cavalry regiment was John J. Pershing’s “home” in the service. From it came his nickname, and he never lost his affection for—or failed to champion—the valorous colored troopers he led.

If there is a military stereotype in United States history, it must closely resemble the public impression of John J. Pershing, who was accorded the highest possible rank—General of the Armies—after commanding the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. “Brass hat” was written all over him: the jutting jaw, the cold, direct gaze, the bluntly authoritarian manner, the stiff back and square shoulders. Most people believed that his sobriquet “Black Jack” was bestowed because of the forcefulness of his character.

 
Read more »