I posted about Hillsborough’s Old Courthouse this past Tuesday. The first picture was a marker about the Kentucky Expedition, led by Daniel Boone in 1775. The information was fashioned out of metal from the USS Maine, the very ship sunk in Havana Harbor that touched off the Spanish-American War. Spain declared war on the U.S. one-hundred, twenty-two years, ago, today and, the U.S. declared war the following day. Historically, the day of declaration is retroactively moved to April 21 as that was the day Spain severed diplomatic relations and the U.S. Navy began a Cuban blockade (the first of two). At the time of my Town Tuesday post, I didn’t realize that I actually posted it on the same day as the corrected date.
After first landing on an island then called Guanahani, Bahamas (San Salvador), on [October 12], Christopher Columbus commanded his three ships […] to land on Cuba’s northeastern coast on [October 28], 1492. Columbus claimed the island for the new Kingdom of Spain and named it Isla Juana after Juan, Prince of Asturias.
The main issue was Cuban independence. Revolts had been occurring for some years in Cuba against Spanish rule. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence.
The growing popular demand for U.S. intervention became an insistent chorus after the (still) unexplained sinking [of the Battleship Maine], which had been sent to protect U.S. citizens and property after anti-Spanish rioting in Havana. [P]olitical pressures from the Democratic Party pushed [President] McKinley into a war that he had wished to avoid. McKinley signed a joint Congressional resolution demanding Spanish withdrawal and authorizing the President to use military force to help Cuba gain independence […].
The ensuing, ten-week war, fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, was pathetically one-sided, since Spain had readied neither its army, nor its navy, for a distant war with the formidable power of the United States.
An army of regular troops, and volunteers, under General William Shafter, with Theodore Roosevelt (then, Assistant Secretary of the Navy) and his 1st Volunteer Cavalry, (The Rough Riders), landed on the coast, east of Santiago and, slowly advanced on the city […]. Madrid sued for peace after two Spanish squadrons were sunk in Santiago de Cuba and Manila Bay and a third, more modern, fleet was recalled home to protect the Spanish coasts.
The result was the 1898 Treaty of Paris. In it, Spain renounced all claim to Cuba, ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States and, transferred sovereignty over the Philippines to the United States for $20 million.
♦ In 1976, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover commissioned a private investigation into the [USS Maine] explosion and, the National Geographic Society did an investigation in 1999, using computer simulations. All investigations agreed that an explosion of the forward magazines caused the destruction of the ship but, different conclusions were reached as to how the magazines could have exploded.
♦ [T]heodore Roosevelt, who eventually became Vice President and, later, President of the United States […] was, posthumously, awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions in Cuba and, became the only U.S. President to win the award.
♦ The defeat and loss of the last remnants of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain’s national psyche […]. [There was a] philosophical and artistic re-evaluation of Spanish society known as the Generation of ’98.
Cuba: Population, History and Resources 1907 (Google Books)
Destruction of the Maine (PDF Library of Congress)
Spain Declares War Against The United States (On This Day Website)
Spanish-American War (The History Channel)
What Destroyed The USS Maine (The Spanish-American War Centennial Site)
Cuba: A New History (Web Archive)
Battle of San Juan Hill (Wikipedia)
Cuban War of Independence (Wikipedia)
Generation of ’89 (Wikipedia)
Spanish-American War (Wikipedia)
Treaty of Paris (1898) (Wikipedia)
The Story of the USS Maine
Smithsonian Channel Explosion of the USS Maine
History Channel Spanish-American War Documentary
Thirteen years ago, today, Cat 5 monster Hurricane Wilma became the most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. As part of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, Wilma’s mbar pressure reached a low of 882 (hPa; 27.05 inHg) and the eye shrank to 2.3 miles in diameter, the smallest ever seen. She made landfall several times but, the Yucatán Peninsula, Cuba and South Florida suffered the worst. She did $27.4 billion dollars in total damage and claimed 87 lives. Her name has been retired.
Other October 19 history:
While we are on the subject of hurricanes, ten years ago, today, Hurricane Ike struck Galveston, Texas, at 2:10am CDT. It was recorded as a Category 4 on September 4 as it moved near the Leeward Islands. Though it had lessened in strength from its prior Cat4 status to Cat2, this was a bad storm in costs, damage and death. Ike’s storm surge went right over the Galveston Seawall, a ten-mile wall built for protection after the devastating Galveston Hurricane of 1900.
Ike claimed 195 lives…74 in Haiti, six in Cuba and 113 in the US. As of August 2011, 16 are still missing. This was a huge storm that also damaged the Bahamas, the Turks & Caicos, the Florida Panhandle, Mississippi and Louisiana. It is the most expensive storm to ever hit Cuba and, at $38 billion, was the second-costliest storm in US history until 2012.
I was living in Texas when Ike hit. I was too far inland to be affected by more than some rain storms. The terrain in Texas is quite different from North Carolina and even though the Austin Area is roughly the same distance from the Texas coast as the Piedmont/Triangle is from the NC coast, my native Texan friends told me that Austin had never been hit by a hurricane.
I was employed by the very agency that responded to the disaster…The Texas General Land Office, though I was not working in the Coastal Management Unit. I was working for the Veterans Land Board but, I remember the teams going down to help with the clean up and the pictures of the damage that were posted to our intranet. The stunning images of the debris that littered I-45 and the heartbreaking photos of the flooding to downtown Galveston. NASA’s Johnson Space Center (Houston, we’ve had a problem…) suffered roof damage to Mission Control and my beloved Lone Star Flight Museum wound up with $18 million in damaged planes and had to be moved inland to Ellington Field. ~Victoria