Classic History Books


The Path of Empire. A Chronicle of the United States as a World Power
by Carl Russell Fish

personal service to the cry of suffering anywhere in the world. Just before the Spanish American War,
Gladstone had made his last great campaign protesting against the new massacres in Armenia; and in the

United States the Republican platform of 1896 had declared that "the massacres in Armenia have aroused

the deep sympathy and just indignation of the American people, and we believe that the United States

should exercise all the influence it can properly exert to bring these atrocities to an end."

John Hay wrote to Henry Cabot Lodge, of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, April 5, 1898, as
follows: "For the first time in my life I find the drawing-room sentiment altogether with us. If we wanted

it - which, of course, we do not - we could have the practical assistance of the British Navy - on the do ut

des principle, naturally." On the 25th of May he added: "It is a moment of immense importance, not only

for the present, but for all the future. It is hardly too much to say the interests of civilization are bound up

in the direction the relations of England and America are to take in the next few months." Already on the

15th of May, Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary, had said to the Birmingham Liberal Unionists:

"What is our next duty? It is to establish and to maintain bonds of permanent amity with our kinsmen

across the Atlantic. There is a powerful and a generous nation.... Their laws, their literature, their

standpoint upon every question are the same as ours."

In Manila Harbor, where Dewey lay with his squadron, these distant forces of European colonial policy
were at work. The presence of representative foreign warships to observe the maintenance of the

blockade was a natural and usual naval circumstance. The arrival of two German vessels therefore caused

no remark, although they failed to pay the usual respects to the blockading squadron. On the 12th of May

a third arrived and created some technical inconvenience by being commanded by an officer who

outranked Commodore Dewey. A German transport which was in the harbor made the total number of

German personnel superior to that of the Americans, and the arrival of the Kaiser on the 12th of June

gave the Germans distinct naval preponderance.

The presence of so powerful a squadron in itself closely approached an international discourtesy.
Disregarding the laws of blockade, as Dewey, trained in the Civil War blockade of the South, interpreted

them, the German officers were actively familiar both with the Spanish officials of Manila and with the

insurgents. Finally they ensconced themselves in the quarantine station at the entrance of the Bay, and

Admiral Diedrichs took up land quarters. Further, they interfered between the insurgents and the

Spaniards outside of Manila Bay. In the controversy between Diedrichs and Dewey which grew out of

these difficulties, Captain Chichester, commanding the British squadron, supported Dewey's course

unqualifiedly and, moreover, let it be clearly known that, in the event of hostilities, the British vessels

would take their stand with the Americans.

 

CHAPTER IX. The Blockade Of Cuba

 

While the first victory of the war was in the Far East and the possibility of events of world-wide
significance hung upon the level-headedness of Commodore Dewey at Manila, it was realized that the

war must really be fought in the West. Both President McKinley and the Queen Regent of Spain had

issued proclamations stating that they would adhere to the rules of the Declaration of Paris and not resort

to the use of privateers. The naval contest, therefore, was confined to the regular navies. Actually the

American fleet was superior in battleships, monitors, and protected cruisers; the Spanish was the better

equipped in armored cruisers, gunboats, and destroyers.

 

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