UNITED STATES HISTORY THROUGH FILM

Rough Riders


*The Frontier closed in 1890.  America had fulfilled her Manifest Destiny to spread from sea to shining sea...  but why stop there?  The late nineteenth century was the age of imperialism for Europe; why could America not imitate the success of the British Empire, or the French, or even the Japanese?

 

*The Japanese, after all, had just transformed themselves from a feudal society to a highly industrialised one in three decades, and then beaten China severely in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895.

 

*In most places, American imperialism was economic and missionary in nature, but it was also based on new ideas of national security. 

 

*In 1890, Alfred Thayer Mahan, an American naval officer and historian, published one of the most influential books of the era, The Influence of Sea Power upon History 1660-1783.  It said that all great modern nations had become great and maintained their greatness through sea power.  Not only could a great navy promote and protect foreign trade and colonisation, but it could also defend the home country from foreign attack.  Through the power of blockades, a great navy could even defeat another country without having to resort to a large-scale invasion.  Both of these were particularly appealing ideas in America, who had no truly threatening neighbors on land and had a traditional aversion to a standing army or foreign invasions.  Indeed, it seemed like a natural extension of the Monroe Doctrine.

 

*Mahan, and those who expanded on his ideas, concluded that America needed a large, modern, steam-powered steel-plated navy.  This also required coaling stations around the world, so America would either need colonies or at least friendly and open trading partners all around the globe. 

 

*America also needed a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and considered building one in either Nicaragua (eventually rejected because of local volcanic activity) or Panama, which was then part of Columbia.

 

*The need for coaling stations would bring the United States, Britain, and Germany to the brink of war in 1889 over the islands of Samoa.  In March, 1889, three American warships and three German warships faced off in Apia harbour with a British warship watching to see what would happened.  The world was saved from a war between the three powers when a hurricane sank all the German and American ships and badly damaged the British ship.  In 1899, America and Germany agreed to split Samoa (America still owns the eastern part) while Germany paid Britain a large indemnity and recognised British claims in Tonga and in parts of Africa to make up for Britain not getting a share of Samoa.

 

*In the late 1800s, America did build a large and modern navy, and by the time World War I began, had the 3rd largest navy on Earth (slightly behind Germany’s High Seas Fleet, but still less than half the size of the British Royal Navy).  America also began looking for a route for a canal across Central America.  As American sea power grew, it was also able to protect and support American missionaries and businessmen.

 

*American missionaries first went to the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1820.  Many of their descendents remained there, some as religious leaders but others operating sugar and pineapple plantations, along with other Americans and Europeans who went there to grow tropical crops. 

 

*In 1887, Americans and Europeans in Hawaii forced a new constitution (the Bayonet Constitution) on King David Kalakaua, which stripped the monarch or most of his powers and limited the rights of native Hawaiians.  When he died and his sister Lili’uokalani became queen, she tried to regain political power for herself and equality for her people, but by now the planters were desperate.  The McKinley Tariff of 1890 had made it uneconomical for them to sell their products to the United States, and many wanted to be annexed to the United States.

 

*In 1893, a Committee of Safety overthrew Queen Lili’uokalani with the help of a group of US Marines, and established a provisional government that sought annexation by the US.  At first, Benjamin Harrison seemed to favour it, but many Americans, including newly-inaugurated Grover Cleveland opposed it.  Instead, the Republic of Hawaii was created in 1894 under president Sanford Dole, although it was later annexed as the Territory of Hawaii under President McKinley in 1898.

 

*Tropical crops did not just topple the Kingdom of Hawaii.  In the late 1800s, Americans began to invest in banana plantations in Central and South America.  In return for building railroads, American companies got preferential treatment in several countries, particularly Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Columbia.  In some places, the banana companies, especially those that merged to form the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita Banana) and Standard Fruit Company (now Dole Foods), became so powerful that they essentially controlled entire countries, which came to be called Banana Republics.

 

*The original banana republic was Honduras.  In 1910, Cuyamel Fruit (which merged with the United Fruit Company in 1930) complained that its taxes were too high.  When the president of Honduras refused to give the company tax breaks, Cuyamel Fruit sent some thugs down to throw him out.  The next president gave Cuyamel Fruit a 25-year waiver from paying any taxes.

 

*America was willing to annex Hawaii in 1898 in part because that were not America’s first military adventure in the Pacific.  Shortly before the annexation of Hawaii, America had embarked on her first foreign war since the Mexican War by declaring war on the oldest empire in the Americas, Spain.

 

*In the early 1500s, the King of Spain controlled half of Europe and most of North and South America.  By the late 1800s, Spain owned the Philippines and a few small Pacific islands, Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, and a few areas in Africa.  In both Cuba and the Philippines, however, many local people wanted independence from Spain, and thought they could get it, as Spain was much weaker than it had once been.

 

*In the early 1500s, the English had barely begun to explore North America, and would not settle it for another century.  By the late 1800s, though, the old English colonies had become the United States and had filled up half the continent.  Furthermore, the Frontier had been filled in, and Americans wanted to expand beyond the seas.

 

*One reason America wanted to expand, particularly in the tropics, was the sugar trade.  Sugar was a valuable commodity, and many Americans had invested in sugar plantations in Cuba, Hawaii, and elsewhere, and wanted to protect their investments, particularly as those islands had political problems.  They also wanted to develop those islands, particularly Cuba, as places to sell more American products.

 

*Cubans began a war for independence from Spain in 1895.  The Spanish general Valeriano Weyler, in command of 150,000 troops, brutally crushed the rebellion, rounding up dissenters and placing them in ‘reconcentration camps’ and earning the nickname ‘Butcher Weyler.’  About 200,000 Cubans died due to this policy, and a number of American-owned sugar plantations were destroyed.


*Many Americans sympathised with the Cubans, partly because we remembered our revolutionary war, partly because American property was being destroyed in the war and businessmen wanted to put a stop to that, and partly because American newspapers covered the war in brutal detail.


*Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst competed with each other for readers, and therefore published the most sensational papers they could.  They exaggerated news and told it in a very biased fashion with shocking photographs to drum up interest.  This was called Yellow Journalism or the Yellow Press. 

 

*The Yellow Press presented Weyler as a monster who was not only brutal to the Cubans but ignored the rights of Americans.  A famous photograph showed an American woman being strip-searched by the Spanish authorities.  To protect Americans in Cuba, President McKinley sent a battleship, USS Maine, to Havana. 

 

*Soon afterwards, a private letter written by the Spanish Ambassador to the US was stolen by Cuban rebels and leaked to the press.  It called McKinley weak and stupid.  This infuriated Americans further, and many began to call for war. 

 

*Soon after this letter was published, USS Maine blew up in Havana Harbour.  An investigation showed that a Spanish mine had blown up the ship (although years later it was discovered that the real cause was probably an electrical failure that caused a spark in the powder magazine).  Soon Americans demanded war, chanting ‘Remember the Maine!’

 

*This desire for was known as jingoism, a term from an old British song:

We don't want to fight but by Jingo if we do

We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too.

 

*On 25 April, 1898, the United States declared war on Spain, and on 1 May, the US Pacific Fleet under Commodore George Dewey (a Civil War veteran who had sailed with Farragut) showed up in Manila Bay.  He was prepared to do so because the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, had told him to get ready for major operations before war had even been declared.

 

*Dewey’s fleet destroyed the entire Spanish fleet without the loss of a single American life (although one of his sailors did die of heat stroke). 

 

*Dewey brought exiled Philippine independence leader Emilio Aguinaldo back from Hong Kong, and he led Filipino guerrillas alongside the US Army to take control of most of the Philippines within a few months. 

 

*On 13 August, US General Wesley Merritt and the Spanish general in Manila agreed to stage a bloodless battle so that the Spanish could surrender with honour.  Aguinaldo and the other Filipinos were left out of the bargain, and not allowed to march into Manila.

 

*The United States also took Guam from Spain, planning to use it as a coaling station.  The small Spanish garrison there had not even known there was a war on until the US Navy arrived, and surrendered without a fight.

 

*The most conspicuous fighting of the war would be in the Caribbean, as America invaded the Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico and Cuba.

 

*This was harder than it seemed, as the US Army was still fairly small (28,183 men), and to reach its planned war-time size of 250,000 men, it had to be augmented with volunteers, many of them organised as militia from the various states—including some Southern states, who had spent the past three decades resenting the US government and US Army.  One US Major-General in the war was Joseph Wheeler, a congressman from Alabama and a former Major-General of the Confederate Army. 

 

*The most famous volunteers, however, were the Rough Riders, a cavalry regiment recruited by Theodore Roosevelt from the cowboys he had met as a rancher out west and the polo players and Ivy League athletes he knew as a wealthy member of New York society back east. 

 

*Furthermore, the army had problems with supplies.  Wool winter uniforms were sent to the troops in Cuba while lightweight summer uniforms were distributed to troops when they returned from Cuba to cold northern harbours.  Transporting horses to Cuba was almost a total failure--although the Rough Riders were supposed to be a cavalry unit, most of them had to fight on foot.  Canned beef provided to soldiers was of such poor quality that an investigation was ordered by the Commanding General of the US Army, Nelson Miles, after the war. 

 

*Although Havana is the capital of Cuba, its main naval base and a large part of its army were at Santiago, so that is where American forces concentrated.  The Army landed near Santiago between 22 and 24 June, 1898, while the Navy blockaded and eventually took control of the harbour after capturing the port at Guantanamo Bay to use for shelter during hurricane season.

 

*On 1 July, the US Army fought the Battle of San Juan Hill (which, along with Kettle Hill, was part of San Juan Heights, the more proper name for the entire battlefield), just outside Santiago.  The Rough Riders captured Kettle Hill after fierce fighting alongside the 10th US Cavalry, made up of Buffalo Soldiers, who actually planted the first US Flag atop San Juan Hill (one of their white officers was John Pershing, called ’Black Jack’ due to his command of the Buffalo Soldiers, who later commanded the American Expeditionary Force in World War I).

 

*Although there were a few other battles before and after the Battle of San Juan Hill, it was the key to surrounding and besieging Santiago, which surrendered on 17 July, 1898.

 

--Introduce Rough Riders


     -Rough Riders was produced as a two-part television miniseries for TNT that aired in July, 1997.  It was later released on VHS and DVD as a single movie.

 

     -The movie is mainly set in February through July, 1898, and tells the story of the Rough Riders in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.  Most of the characters in the movie are historical figures, although most of them are partly fictionalised, usually slightly, but in some cases they have little in common with their historical counterpart besides their name.  Likewise, the movie specifies which troops in the regiment many of the major characters are members of, yet many of those are incorrect.

 

     -The movie was filmed in Texas, mostly near San Antonio.

 

     -Overall, the costuming is good.  The movie states that the Rough Riders are armed with Krag-Jorgensen carbines, which was the Army's goal, as that model rifle had just been adopted, but due to supply issues, many of them actually carried their own weapons or even purchased Winchester carbines of their own (which can actually be seen in several scenes, although not always accurately--most notably, Theodore Roosevelt actually carried a revolver that was dredged up from the wreck of the Maine, but he is depicted with a different revolver in the movie).  Likewise, most US Army units used an older model of rifle that still produced a lot of smoke that gave away their positions because the Army had not yet fully switched to the Krag, while the Spanish had more advanced rifles of a German design that used smokeless powder.

 

     -Although most of the movie is set in the first half of 1898, it is actually a frame story, with a short introduction and conclusion set in 1920, as an old veteran of the Rough Riders thinks back on his memories from 22 years before.  These scenes probably include more historical inaccuracies than the rest of the movie combined.

 

     -Henry Nash is the old Rough Rider in the frame story that begins and ends the movie, and is named after an historical character.  However, the actual Henry Nash was a school teacher, miner, and politician, whereas in the movie he is portrayed as a criminal who joins the Rough Riders to hide from the law.  While this is nothing like the historical Henry Nash, it is probably based on another man, William Sterin, a train robber who was arrested and imprisoned in 1889, but pardoned in 1897 and who then may have joined the Rough Riders under a false name and gone to Cuba and died in the Battle of San Juan Hill.  Sterin was originally arrested by a man that Henry Nash was friends with, but who is portrayed as his nemesis in the movie, Buckey O'Neill.

 

     -Buckey O'Neill (whose name is misspelled when it appears in the movie) is the Sheriff of Yavapai County, Arizona.  He was also a newspaper editor and a politician.  Although depicted in the movie as a stone-cold frontier lawman, he actually fainted the first time he attended a hanging.  He was also well-educated, spoke several languages, and became good friends with Theodore Roosevelt, with whom he liked to discus history and literature.  In the Rough Riders he was the captain of Troop A, but in the movie he is the captain of G Troop.

 

     -Theodore Roosevelt is the lieutenant-colonel of the Rough Riders.  Although he had been born sickly, asthmatic, and nearly blind, he had taken up exercise and body-building, and become very physically fit.  By this point in his life he had already served as a member of the New York State Assembly, U.S. Civil Service Commissioner, New York City Police Commissioner, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy (where he usually acted as the Secretary, as the actual Secretary liked to take long vacations, leaving Roosevelt in charge).  He had also graduated from Harvard, where he boxed and was on the rowing team, and was a best-selling author of several books on history and the outdoors.  He had suffered a terrible tragedy in 1884, when his wife had died at their home a few hours after his mother died in the same house.  He dealt with this as a man should, by never speaking of it again, going out west, and becoming a cowboy.  Although the worst winter in recorded history destroyed most of his herds in 1886-87, his experiences formed the basis of three of his many books.  Afterwards, he came home and married his childhood sweetheart, Edit.  Some historians have complained that his portrayal in the movie is too extreme or even cartoonish, and there are some scenes in which that is probably true, but overall it captures his essence well, as he truly was full of boundless energy and enthusiasm (and was sometimes thoughtless of the effects this could have on those around him).  Furthermore, the physical likeness and even the voice are quite accurate, although the movie leaves out the fact that his teeth were so over-sized that sometimes they clicked together when he talked in a somewhat frightening way.

 

     -Leonard Wood is the colonel of the Rough Riders, chosen because of his actual military experience fighting the Indians on the Great Plains.  He was also a medical doctor.


     -Fighting Joe Wheeler is a Congressman from Alabama and a veteran of the Confederate States Army, in which he was the top-ranking cavalry commander in the Western Theatre, doing his best to keep Sherman out of Atlanta and then to slow him down once he began marching across Georgia.  When war breaks out with Spain, he is offered command of the cavalry again, making him the only man to serve as a general in both the Confederate and United States armies.  In the movie it is often suggested that this gives him far more military experience than other American officers in the Spanish-American War; in fact, there were many other Civil War veterans besides him, as well as many veterans of the Indian Wars.  The historical Wheeler was also smaller than portrayed in the movie (just 5’2”) and had a full beard, just as he had had in the early 1860s.  Furthermore, while one of his sons did serve on his staff, he son was not named William, but was Joseph Wheeler, IV, usually called Joe, junior.

 

     -John J. Pershing is a white lieutenant commanding Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry.  He will go on to serve in the Philippines, Mexico, and World War I where he will command the entire American Expeditionary Force as General of the Armies, the highest rank ever held by a US Army officer.

 

     -William Randolph Hearst is the owner of the San Francisco Examiner and the New York Journal which is engaged in a circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer's New York World.  To sell more papers, they will publish anything, even if they have to exaggerate or invent it.  This Yellow Press journalism published sensationalistic stories about Spanish brutality in Cuba partly out of genuine sympathy for the Cuban rebels and partly to sell papers, doing a great deal to inflame Americans against Spain and build up a fever for war, so that when the Maine exploded, many Americans were eager to fight.  During the war, Hearst himself chartered a boat and went to Cuba with many of his reporters, and even captured 29 Spanish sailors during the blockade of Santiago.

 

     -William McKinley is the 25th President of the United States.  He is a veteran of the Civil War who served at Antietam.  He is a conservative Republican who supports the gold standard and a protective tariff, but who has also done a lot to modernize the Presidency, particularly its relationship with the media.  He hoped to negotiate with Spain to bring peace to Cuba, but Spain was unwilling to offer independence while Cubans would not accept anything less.  McKinley was still not eager for war, and told Congress to decide.  Congress then declared war.

 

     -Show Rough Riders

 

-#4 quoted her and later in the movie is from Shakespeare’s play Henry V, often quoted in war movies and in actual wars.

 

-#5 is actually pretty unrealistic.  Craig Wadsworth’s father and grandfather both served in the Civil War; his grandfather was killed during the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, so he probably wouldn’t have the anti-war attitude expressed here, unless his exposure to combat created it in him.

 

-#7 is partially true.  The oldest of those six children, Alice Roosevelt, was actually a step-daughter to Edith, having been born to Roosevelt’s first wife, Alice, and Alice and Edith had a rough relationship, and Alice was pretty wild in general—when Roosevelt was president, he said he could manage Alice or he could manage the country, but he could not do both.  Furthermore, the Roosevelt children as shown in one of the last scenes of the movie were, for the most part, younger than depicted—the youngest (Quentin) was not much more than a year old.

 

-#12 is true—France took over Mexico in 1863 (officially because Mexico was not paying off debt they owed to France, Britain, and Spain) and in 1864 set up Maximillian Hapsburg as Emperor of Mexico.  When the American Civil War ended, Secretary of State Seward pointed out to France’s emperor, Napoleon III, that the United States had a 900,000-man army, the biggest in the world, and the French pulled out.  Maximillian stayed behind, but was captured and executed by Mexican rebels in 1867.

 

-Furthermore, as shown here and later in the movie, Roosevelt was fluent in French and German (and could also speak Italian).

 

-#13:  to ‘see the elephant’ was a common term in the 1800s to do something dangerous, particularly meaning to see combat.

 

-#16 is probably untrue.  Wheeler and Forrest had a major argument during the Civil War so serious that Forrest refused to fight under Wheeler’s command any more.  Although Forrest truly was a brilliant commander, Wheeler didn’t like him and probably would not have described him as better than him.

 

-#17 is a reminder that after the Civil War, almost the entire South voted solidly and consistently Democratic, because no Southerner (outside East Tennessee) could vote for the Party of Lincoln, and that would persist well into the second half of the Twentieth Century.

 

-#18 is mostly untrue.  Southerners were proud of the American Revolution, with its many Southern heroes like George Washington, and even saw the Civil War as a similar war for independence.  However, the City of Vicksburg, Mississippi really did not celebrate the 4th of July until partway through World War II, but that was because that was the date in 1863 when General Grant captured Vicksburg after a long siege starved the city into surrender.

 

-#19 is based on a legend that at an earlier point Remington was in Cuba and sent that message to Hearst back in America and got that famous reply.

 

-#20 is true:  Roosevelt ordered Dewey to prepare for battle and set sail for the Philippines even before war had been declared, just in case.

 

-#22 is true—when he was a cowboy out West, Roosevelt was pretty tough, and did beat up people who made fun of his looks or mannerisms (at least if they went too far).  He once even hunted down escaped criminals for miles, made them build a raft at gunpoint, and then floated back down the river to the nearest jail.

 

-#23 may or may not be true.  His mother was a Southerner, which may be one reason his father paid to avoid the draft during the Civil War, and some of his uncles on his mother’s side even fought for the Confederate Navy and stayed in Britain for several years after the war out of fear they might be prosecuted for piracy for attacking US shipping during the war.  However, the Roosevelts were rich, so his mother probably never actually made grits—if they ate grits at all, they had servants to fix them.

 

-#27 is probably true.  Edward Marshall and Stephen Crane were both war correspondents in Cuba, and Crane was already famous for writing The Red Badge of Courage.  Crane had also tried to go to Cuba to report on the insurrection there in 1897, but his ship had sunk and he barely made it to shore in a small lifeboat, an experience he turned into the famous short story ‘The Open Boat,’ published in the same year.

 

-#30 is sort of true.  Although Indian Bob himself is fictional, a number of American Indians did serve in the Rough Riders, one even frightening many people on the battlefield by letting out an Indian war cry in the Battle of San Juan Hill.  Furthermore, the Sioux Nation was so pleased by this movie’s depiction of American Indians that they named the script writer an honourary member of the Sioux Nation.

 

-#31:  Henry Bardshar was a real person, but more competent and successful than suggested in the movie, although probably not perfect—his first marriage did end in divorce, although both the marriage and the divorce took place years after he returned from Cuba.

 

-#35 is not really true—William Tiffany’s father had died twelve years before, and while the movie hints that William Tiffany was part of the famous family of jewelers who owned Tiffany & Company, he was not (although he was still from an upper-class family).  However, the Rough Riders really did have two Colt machine guns, purchased by several of the ‘millionaire recruits,’ including William Tiffany.  They could fire 500 bullets a minute that could tear a man apart over half a mile away.


    -#36:  Dechaney is fictional, but the Carlisle Indian Academy in Pennsylvania was a school where Indians sent their children (not always voluntarily) to learn American culture and modern skills and trades.

 

-#39 is possible.  Roosevelt was, in addition to being a politician, well-known as an author of books on the outdoors and wildlife (although birds were his particular specialty) and for promoting the conservation of wildlife so that future generations could hunt all the creatures he had.  As President, he would later set aside more National Parks and other lands than all other Americans presidents combined.

 

-#40 is true.  Shafter weighed over 300 pounds, sometimes had to be lifted with a crane, and was too big to ride a horse, so he sometimes rode a mule (as shown in #54) and was sometimes carried around on a door.  Even one of Thomas Edison’s documentary films of the war makes fun of his weight in its official description of the film.

 

-#41 is certainly true.

 

-#42 and #43 are true.  Pershing would later lead all American forces in Europe during World War I.

 

-#45 is true.

 

-#47 is not true.  Funston had gone to Cuba to fight in the insurrection earlier in the war, but at the time the US declared war on Spain he was at home recovering from malaria and then joined up with the US Army.

 

-#48 is based on truth.  Roosevelt knew something was wrong before the ambush because he kept hearing birdcalls that should not have been in Cuba.  He also saw a piece of barbed wire that had just been cut—he could tell because the end of was shiny, whereas in Cuba’s humidity it would have begun to rust within a few hours of being cut.

 

-#49 is based on reality:  Edward Marshall did pick a rifle and shoot at Spanish soldiers, and so did another war correspondent named Richard Harding Davis.

 

-#50 may be an exaggeration, but at least during the battle of Las Guasmimas he really did shout out "Let's go, boys! We've got the damn Yankees on the run again!"

 

-#52 is true.

 

-#55 is not true.  Although the Spanish did use Mausers, a German-designed gun, there were not actually any German advisors in Cuba, and the Spanish did not actually have machine guns on San Juan Heights, although their Mauser rifles fired so much more quickly than the Americans’ guns that many Americans thought the Spanish had machine guns.

 

-#58 is true.

 

-#61 may seem idealistic, but in the 1800s, many people in Latin America viewed America as their example of a nation winning independence from a European power and setting up a republic, and many deeply admired America.  After the Spanish-American War, however, the United States (especially under President Theodore Roosevelt and President Woodrow Wilson) became more aggressive in Latin America, viewing ourselves as the region’s policeman, and many people in Latin America came to resent the power of the Colossus of the North.  Porfirio Diaz, president of Mexico for many years in the late 1800s and early 1900s once said of his own country, ‘Alas, poor Mexico:  so far from God, and so close to the United States.’

 

-#68 and #79 are partly true.  Marshall was shot through the spine (or possibly in the leg—accounts differ), but that had actually happened earlier at the Battle of Las Guasimas.  He also lived for many years afterwards, although he had to use a wheelchair.  Several years later, though, he was in a deadly hotel fire in London, but survived.  In 1916, during World War I, he was sailing across the English Channel aboard the French ferryboat Sussex when she was torpedoed by a German submarine.  Although at least 50 people were killed, Marshall survived that as well.

 

-#69 is mostly true.  Buckey O’Neill was trying to encourage his men by walking back and forth in front of them smoking a cigarette.  When one told him he was going to get shot, he said, 'Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn't made that will kill me.'  Shortly after that, he was shot through the mouth and the bullet came out the back of his head, killing him instantly.

 

-#70 is partly true.  There is a statue of Buckey O’Neill in Prescott, Arizona that honours him and the entire 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, but Henry Nash had nothing to do with it.  Furthermore, although Buckey O’Neill’s gravestone is shown in the movie as being in the middle of the desert, he is actually buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


-#73 is based on reality—Roosevelt always carried several spare pairs of spectacles because he was blind as a bat.  That may have saved his life in when he was campaigning for the Presidency in 1912 and a man tried to assassinate him, but a steel spectacle case slowed the bullet down.

 

-#77 is not really true.  Tiffany did not die in battle, but rather died several months later of yellow fever while waiting to go home after the Spanish surrender.

 

-#81 is more than true—Roosevelt is not just in bad health by 1920, he is dead, having died in his sleep in 1919.  As stated here, his youngest son, Quentin, did die during World War I when his plane was shot down behind German lines.  Roosevelt’s other three sons also served in World War I, and went on to serve in World War II, where Theodore Roosevelt, junior was in the first wave of the attack on Utah Beach on D-Day with a pistol in one hand and a cane in the other, the oldest man to take part in the attack.

 

*Besides invading Cuba, the US Army also invaded Puerto Rico, where they faced stiff resistance from the Spanish, who would fight small battles and then retreat before they could be captured.  However, many Puerto Ricans supported the US, who they believed were helping them win their independence.

 

*Fighting between the US and Spain officially ended on 12 August, 1898 (and actually ended shortly after that).  A peace treaty officially went into effect on 11 April, 1899, and it made the United States into an empire.

 

*John Hay called the Spanish-American War a ‘splendid little war,’ and in many ways it was.  The United States lost fewer than four hundred soldiers killed in battle (although more than 5,000 died of disease).

 

*The US gained Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines (where the US Army fought a long, hard war against the Filipinos who thought they had been fighting for their independence from Spain).  Cuba was made an independent country, but the US retained the right to intervene in Cuba whenever necessary (as defined by the United States).  The United States also retained a perpetual lease on Guantanamo Bay.

 

*In the United States, the Splendid Little War reinforced Americans’ opinions favouring a strong Navy, which continued to expand in the early 1900s.  It forced improvements in Army organisation and Federal regulation of the National Guard.  It helped reunite Northerners and Southerners.  It also made Theodore Roosevelt a national hero, and his fame as leader of the Rough Riders helped him become Governor of New York, Vice-President, a powerful reforming President, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

 

*Some Americans were opposed to keeping these new colonies.  Mark Twain helped found the Anti-Imperialist League in 1898 and served as its vice-president from 1901 to 1910.  Andrew Carnegie, Samuel Gompers, Grover Cleveland, Jane Addams, and William Jennings Bryan were among its many prominent members.

 

*William Jennings Bryan ran on an anti-imperialist platform in 1900, but was unable to defeat William McKinley and his running mate, war hero Theodore Roosevelt.  Most Americans were proud of their victory in the war, which established the United States as a major world power.

 

*Although America planned to keep most of the territory taken from Spain, it was not an easy thing to do.  For one thing, the most valuable of all the territories, Cuba, was off-limits.

 

*When America declared war on Spain, anti-imperialists in Congress passed a resolution adding the Teller Amendment to the declaration of war, saying that Cuba would not be annexed if conquered.  However, in 1902, the Platt Amendment gave America the right to intervene in Cuban foreign and domestic affairs whenever necessary--necessity being defined by the United States.  The main points were protection of American property in Cuba and preferential trade agreements between the two countries.  The US Marines would also be sent to Cuba several times.

 

*Furthermore, the Philippines were much easier to conquer than to occupy.

 

*During the Spanish-American War, the US had fought alongside Filipinos who sought independence from Spain led by Emilio Aguinaldo.

 

*When the Spanish surrendered, Aguinaldo helped create the Philippine Republic and served as its first president.  However, despite what he thought, the United States intended to keep the Philippines as a US possession to have a trading and military base near Asia and the US did not recognise the Philippine Declaration of Independence. 

 

*Some fighting between Filipino and American forces took place in 1898, and in 1899 a large-scale uprising called the Philippine Insurrection began, led by Aguinaldo. 

 

*Among the Americans who fought in the war were Black Jack Pershing, Joe Wheeler, and Fred Funston.

 

*The Filipinos fought a guerrilla war, attacking out of the jungle and out of villages, often hitting the US Army behind their own lines.  The US fought a war of extermination in return, particularly under the US military governor Arthur MacArthur.  Both sides tortured prisoners and generally fought in the most brutal fashion they could. 

 

*Insurgents tortured American prisoners, some of whom were buried alive, or worse, up to their necks in anthills to be slowly devoured, or tied to trees next to anthills with their stomachs cut open and marmalade spread on their exposed bowels. Others were castrated, had the removed parts stuffed into their mouths, and were then left to suffocate or bleed to death. Supposedly some prisoners were deliberately infected with leprosy or other diseases before being released to spread the disease among their comrades. Spanish priests were horribly mutilated before their congregations, as were other people who refused to support the insurrection.

 

*American soldiers often shot surrendered in Filipinos or gave them the water cure, forcing water down their throats until their stomachs or bladders burst, while other Filipinos, both soldiers and civilians, were placed in concentration camps.  A few American officers were tried in courts martial for their actions, and many captured Filipino leaders were executed, but many perpetrators of war crimes went unpunished.

 

*Many people felt the role of the US in the Philippines should be to ‘civilise’ the local people—teach them English, end the role of the Catholic Church in government, convert the large Muslim minority to Christianity, and generally make the Philippines as much like America and Europe as possible—a duty some described as taking up the White Man’s Burden.

 

*Among the large number of Americans who went to the Philippines to serve as teachers was Henry Nash, who became Superintendent of schools in Macabebe in 1902.  He died not long afterwards of a cerebral hćmorrhage on 5 July, 1901.

 

*Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in 1901 and only allowed to go free after swearing allegiance to the US and asking his followers to stop fighting.  Most did so by 1902, although in more remote areas violence lasted at least until 1913.

 

*Over 5,000 Americans died in the Philippine Insurrection and more (perhaps many more) than 200,000 Filipinos were killed.

 

*One reason violence did decrease is that Arthur MacArthur was replaced by a new governor of the Philippines, William Howard Taft, who treated the Filipinos with much greater respect and allowed some self-government (although he also was strict in some areas, limiting the freedom of the press and imprisoning people who protested against American rule).

 

*In 1916 the Jones Act promised that the Philippines could eventually have their independence, which was granted in 1946 after the end of World War II, although the US continued to keep military bases in the Philippines for years afterwards.  Emilio Aguinaldo did live to see this and was given a position in the Council of State in which he served a full term before retiring.

 

*Despite these difficulties, by the dawn of the Twentieth Century, America was an imperial power to match any ancient power of Europe.


 



This page last updated 1 March, 2019.
Powered by Hot Air