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The Spanish-American War Part 4: Aftermath
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Part 4: Afterward
 
Treaty of Paris
The Treaty of Paris established the independence of Cuba, ceded Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States, and allowed the victorious power to purchase the Philippines Islands from Spain for $20 million. The war had cost the United States $250 million and 3,000 lives, although ninety percent of the fallen had died from infectious diseases. The war had lasted only four months. Ambassador (later Secretary of State) John Hay, writing from London to his friend Theodore Roosevelt declared that from start to finish it had been “a splendid little war.”
"Our Terms," Judge, 1898
"Our Terms," Judge, 1898, by Eugene Zimmerman
Roosevelt and the Rough Riders
Roosevelt and the Rough Riders
Sheet Music: Teddy Roosevelt
Sheet Music: "Teddy Roosevelt" (1899)
Theodore Roosevelt
With the end of the war, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt mustered out of the U.S. Army after the required 30 day quarantine period at Montauk, Long Island, in 1898. The battle of San Juan Hill launched Roosevelt into national fame along with his regiment of "Rough Riders". Roosevelt had a hand in this, first by employing a reporter to issue battle reports on the scene from Cuba, and later through his own writings. Roosevelt's memoir of Cuba so emphasized his own role that Mr. Dooley, the barroom pundit created by humorist Peter Finley Dunne, said the book should have been called "Alone in Cuba." Roosevelt was a national hero. He was quickly elected Governor of New York, and and he became Vice President three years later. Roosevelt along with 23 other participants were awarded the Medal of Honor.
Political rivalries prevented Roosevelt from receiving his award during his lifetime, but in 2001 President Bill Clinton presented the award to Tweed Roosevelt, great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt.
 
Black Americans
The Spanish-American War was a significant moment for black Americans. The black American community strongly supported the rebels in Cuba and American entry into the war, as thirty-three black American sailors died in the Maine explosion. The most influential black leader, Booker T. Washington, argued that his race was ready to fight. War offered them a chance "to render service to our country that no other race can", because, unlike whites, they were "accustomed" to the "peculiar and dangerous climate" of Cuba. In March 1898, Washington promised the Secretary of the Navy that war would be answered by "at least ten thousand loyal, brave, strong black men in the south who crave an opportunity to show their loyalty to our land and would gladly take this method of showing their gratitude for the lives laid down and the sacrifices made that Blacks might have their freedom and rights." Black units gained prestige from their wartime performance in Cuba (and later in the Philippines). One prejuiced white lieutenant serving in the black Ninth Infantry confessed to a change of heart after witnessing the 24th Infantry's charge up San Juan Hill:
Do you know, I shouldn't want anything better than to have a company in a Negro regiment? I am from Virginia,
and have always had the usual feeling about commanding colored troops. But after seeing that charge of the Twenty- Fourth up the San Juan Hill, I should like the best in the world to have a Negro company. They went up that incline yelling and shouting just as I used to hear when they were hunting rabbits in Virginia. The Spanish bullets only made them wilder to reach the trenches.
Other White officers and news reports offered similar praise. A Lieutenant Roberts, shot in the abdomen, later said:
The heroic charge of the Tenth Cavalry saved the Rough Riders from destruction; and, had it not been for the Tenth Cavalry, the Rough Riders would never have passed through the seething cauldron of Spanish missiles."
When Colonel Theodore Roosevelt returned from the command of the famous Rough Riders, he delivered a farewell address to his men, in which he made the following kind reference to the gallant Negro soldiers:
Now, I want to say just a word more to some of the men I see standing around not of your number. I refer to the colored regiments, who occupied the right and left flanks of us at Guásimas, the Ninth and Tenth cavalry regiments. The Spaniards called them 'Smoked Yankees,' but we found them to be an excellent breed of Yankees. I am sure that I speak the sentiments of officers and men in the assemblage when I say that between you and the other cavalry regiments there exists a tie which we trust will never be broken.
Unfortunately, these heroes of Cuba returned home to discrimination, segregation, and even a revision of the importance of their contribution from Roosevelt himself. In 1899, writing for Scribner's magazine in an act of self-promotion, Roosevelt revised his earlier comments to criticize the performance of African Americans in the taking of San Juan Hill. He wrote that they were "peculiarly dependent on their white officers," and that they ran when encountering heavy enemy fire. Only when he threatened to shoot them, Roosevelt said, did they return to the line.
Sheet Music: "Lazy Bill, A Volunteer of Rest" (1898)
Sheet Music: "Lazy Bill, A Volunteer of Rest" (1898)
Sheet Music: "The Black K.P.'s" (1898)
Sheet Music: "The Black K.P.'s" (1898)
Sheet Music: "The Darkey Volunteer" (1898)
Sheet Music: "The Darkey Volunteer" (1898)
   
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Cuba
Congress had passed the Teller Amendment prior to the war, promising Cuban independence. However, the Senate passed the Platt Amendment as a rider to an Army appropriations bill, forcing a peace treaty on Cuba which prohibited it from signing treaties with other nations or contracting a public debt. The Platt Amendment was pushed by imperialists who wanted to project U.S. power abroad (this was in contrast to the Teller Amendment which was pushed by anti-imperialists who called for a restraint on U.S. hegemony). The amendment granted the United States the right to stabilize Cuba militarily as needed. The Platt Amendment also provided for the establishment of a permanent American naval base in Cuba; it is still in use today at Guantánamo Bay. The Cuban peace treaty of 1903 governed Cuban-American relations until 1934.
"We Have Remembered The Maine"
"We Have Remembered The Maine" Button
 
The United States
The Spanish–American War marked American entry into world affairs. The United States annexed the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. The notion of the United States as an imperial power, with colonies, was hotly debated in the 1900 presidential election, with President McKinley and the Pro-Imperialists winning despite vocal opposition led by Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who had supported the war. The American public largely supported the possession of colonies, but there were many outspoken critics such as Mark Twain, who wrote The War Prayer in protest. The decision to annex the Philippines rather than support their bid for independence led to the long and bloody Philippine-American War.
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The Return of Admiral Dewey, 1899
Sheet Music: "Come Home Dewey (we won't do a thing to you)" (1899)
Sheet Music: "Come Home Dewey (we won't do a thing to you)" (1899)
Sheet Music: "When Dewey Comes Sailing Home" (1899)
Sheet Music: "When Dewey Comes Sailing Home" (1899)
1899 Dewey Borax Advertising Token
1899 Dewey Borax Advertising Token (2 views)

1899 Dewey Medal "The Gift of the People of the United States"
1899 Dewey Medal "The Gift of the People of the United States" (2 views)

Admiral Dewey, "Hero of Manila" Medal
Admiral Dewey, "Hero of Manila" Medal
1899 Stereoview of Dewey Receiving Sword1899 Stereoview of Dewey Receiving Sword Article on Dewey Receiving Sword, St. Nicholas Magazine, 1899
Article on Dewey Receiving Sword, St. Nicholas Magazine, 1899 (2 pages)
The Dewey Arch in Manhattan, 1899
The Dewey Arch in Manhattan, 1899
Pears' Soap ad Featuring Admiral Dewey and "White Man's Burden" Reference
Pears' Soap ad Featuring Admiral Dewey and "White Man's Burden" Reference, Harper's Weekly, c. 1900
Admiral Dewey Souvenir Dinner Plate, named (February 8, 1900)
Admiral Dewey Souvenir Dinner Plate, named (February 8, 1900) (4 views)
The USS Maine
In February of 1898, the recovered bodies of sailors who died on the American Battleship Maine were interred in the Colon Cemetery, Havana. Some injured sailors were sent to hospitals in Havana and Key West. Those who died in hospitals were buried in Key West. In December of 1899 the bodies in Havana were disinterred and brought back to the United States for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. The burial site also features a memorial to those who died, including the ship's anchor and main mast. Some bodies were never recovered and the crewmen buried in Key West remain there under a statue of a U. S. sailor holding an oar.

On August 5, 1910, Congress authorized the raising of the Maine to remove it as a navigation hazard in Havana Harbor. On February 2, 1912, she was refloated under supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers and towed out to sea where she was sunk in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico on March 16, 1912, with appropriate military honors and ceremonies.
June 6, 1911: Raising the Maine in Havana Harbor
June 6, 1911: Raising the Maine in Havana Harbor
June 16, 1911: Raising the Maine in Havana Harbor
June 16, 1911: Raising the Maine in Havana Harbor
March 23, 1912: Memorial service for recovered Maine victims
March 23, 1912: Memorial service for recovered Maine victims
Graves at Arlington National Cemetery
Graves at Arlington National Cemetery
The Maine's anchor, Arlington National Cemetery
The Maine's anchor, Arlington National Cemetery
The Maine's mast, Arlington National Cemetery
The Maine's mast, Arlington National Cemetery
       
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Causes of the sinking
Because of the uproar the sinking of the Maine caused in the United States, President McKinley demanded an immediate investigation into the cause of the explosions. A U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry arrived in Havana and began its investigation. Survivors and eyewitnesses testified for the court, and several navy divers explored the sunken ship, hoping to find clues as to what may have caused the disaster. All parties involved concluded without a doubt that the explosion of the forward six-inch ammunition magazines had caused the sinking. Why those magazines had exploded, no one could determine conclusively, and doubt remains as to the exact cause to this day. There have been four major investigations into the sinking since 1898. From the four inquiries, two hypotheses have emerged: The External mine hypothesis is that a mine in Havana Harbor had exploded underneath the battleship, causing the explosion of the magazines. The Coal bunker fire hypothesis is that spontaneous combustion of the coal in bunker A16 created a fire that detonated the nearby magazines.

1898 Court of Inquiry
The 1898 Court of Inquiry headed by Captain William T. Sampson began its work on February 21. Survivors and eyewitnesses testified for the court, and several navy divers explored the sunken ship, hoping to find clues as to what may have caused the disaster. Though several volunteered, no experts outside the Navy were called upon for advice. The Sampson Board concluded that the Maine had been blown up by a mine, which in turn caused the explosion of her forward magazines. The official report from the board, which was presented to the Navy Department in Washington on March 25, specifically stated that, “The court has been unable to obtain evidence fixing the responsibility for the destruction of the Maine upon any person or persons.” This, of course, did not stop the U.S. from pinning the destruction on the Spanish, and war was declared one month later. Ever since the ship sank, doubts about the validity of the Navy's 1898 and 1911 findings have been expressed by historians and scientists.

1911 Court of Inquiry
Between November 20 and December 2, 1911 a court of inquiry headed by Rear Admiral Charles E. Vreeland visited the wreck of the Maine. The conclusions of the Vreeland Board differed with the Sampson Board only in detail. The Vreeland Board agreed that the explosion of the magazines was triggered by an external blast, but the damage to the Maine was much more extensive than the Sampson Board had thought. It was also concluded that the initiating blast occurred further aft on the ship, and a lower powered explosive breached the hull than was originally thought. After the investigation, the newly located dead were buried in Arlington National Cemetery and the hollow, intact portion of the hull of the Maine was refloated and ceremoniously scuttled at sea on March 16, 1912.

1976 Rickover investigation
The argument was not touched for another half a century, until a private investigation in 1976 was triggered by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover after he read a newspaper article on the sinking. He and several scientists from the U.S. Navy launched an investigation based on the evidence collected during the two Courts of Inquiry. Rickover believed that the new knowledge collected since World War II on analyzing ships damaged by internal and external explosions would shed new light on the sinking of the Maine. The Rickover analysis came to a completely different conclusion than the Courts of Inquiry. Rickover found that the cause of the explosion did not originate outside the ship. The cause of the explosion originated within the ship, but what actually happened could not be precisely determined. Rickover believed that the most likely cause was a fire within a coal bunker, which had heated the magazines to the point of explosion. His 170-page book, How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed, was first published in 1976. The world accepted this new conclusion, and for more than a quarter of a century, the coal bunker fire theory reigned over the external mine theory.

1999 National Geographic investigation
In 1999, to commemorate the centennial of the sinking of the Maine, National Geographic Magazine commissioned an analysis by Advanced Marine Enterprises, using computer modeling that was not available for previous investigations. The AME analysis examined both theories and concluded that neither theory could be ruled out. Some experts, including Admiral Rickover’s team and several analysts at AME, do not agree with the conclusion, and the fury over new findings even spurred a heated 90-minute debate at the 124th annual meeting of the U.S. Naval Institute.
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Last modified September 7, 2012