This Day in History – July 28th, 1898

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The wreck of the USS Maine

At the start of 1898, the Cuban revolution against the Spanish was entering its third year and rioting in the streets took a sharp increase. Due to continued and animosity with Spain, feeling the spirit of revolution, and an opportunity to expand its international influence, America had intervened and supported the revolutionaries, but now it was time to get U.S. citizens out of Cuba for their safety. The USS Maine was sent to collect Americans trapped on Cuba, but instead was the ship was destroyed by an explosion that killed 258 crew members and sank the USS Maine in the harbor. The cause of the explosion has not been clearly established to this day.

The sinking of the Maine sparked a wave of public indignation in the United States. Newspaper owners such as William R. Hearst leapt to the conclusion that Spanish officials in Cuba were to blame, and they widely publicized the conspiracy, although Spain could have had no interest in getting the United States involved in the conflict. Yellow journalism fueled American anger by publishing “atrocities” committed by Spain in Cuba. Hearst, when informed by Frederic Remington, whom he had hired to furnish illustrations for his newspaper, that conditions in Cuba were not bad enough to warrant hostilities, allegedly replied, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war”. Although McKinley, Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed and the business community opposed the growing public demand for war, which was lashed to fury by the yellow journalism. The American cry of the hour became, Remember the Maine, To Hell with Spain!

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With this strongly misguided public opinion and political pressures from the Democratic Party and certain industrialists, the administration of Republican President William McKinley was pushed into a war he had wished to avoid. Compromise was sought by Spain, but rejected by the United States which sent an ultimatum to Spain demanding it surrender control of Cuba. First Madrid, then Washington, formally declared war.

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Spanish cartoon of American Expansionism

On April 25th, 1898, the war had officially begun! A war that only lasted three months, two weeks, and four days, but managed to exacerbate the unwinding and collapse of the Spanish Empire. And it was on this day in 1898 that Spain, through the offices of the French embassy in Washington, D.C., requests peace terms in its war with the United States. It was not, however, until August 12, 1898 that fighting was halted with the signing in Washington of a Protocol of Peace between the United States and Spain. After over two months of difficult negotiations, the formal peace treaty, the Treaty of Paris, was signed in Paris on December 10, 1898, and was ratified by the United States Senate on February 6, 1899.

The treaty went heavily in favor of the U.S. by allowing temporary American control of Cuba, and ceded indefinite colonial authority over Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine islands from Spain. The defeat and collapse of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain’s national psyche, and provoked a thorough philosophical and artistic revaluation of Spanish society known as the Generation of ’98.The United States gained several island possessions spanning the globe and a rancorous new debate over the wisdom of expansionism.

 

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One Response to “This Day in History – July 28th, 1898

  • “Of all the classic cocktail books few tell as good a story as Charles H. Baker’s “The Gentleman’s Companion: Being an Exotic Drinking Book or Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask”, first published in 1939. The book chronicles his adventure traveling the world, sampling its finest cocktails. He offers a recipe for just about every cocktail along with an interesting tale to go with it. The prose of his words make it worth the read but the cocktails can be heavy-handed at times. Choice libations can be found within the book, one simply need to adjust them for modern spirits and tastes.

    Erik Adkins, bar manager at San Francisco’s Heaven’s Dog, based the entire cocktail menu from Charles’ book, proving it has merit. The first drink to catch my eye on their menu was “Remember the Maine.” This fine rye drink leaves a complex layer of tastes from the Cherry Heering and a dash of absinthe.

    Upon returning from Heaven’s Dog, I found it to be a strange twist of fate when I opened my own copy of Charles’ book to find that I had bookmarked the exact page on which this recipe lay. Mr. Baker writes, “REMEMBER the MAINE, a hazy memory of a night in Havana during the unpleasantness of 1933, when each swallow was punctuated with bombs going off on the Prado, or the sound of 3″ shells being fired at the hotel NACIONAL, then haven for certain anti-revolutionary officers”. This is in reference to the coup led by General Batista in Cuba in 1933. Interestingly enough, the name of the drink itself is in reference to the USS Maine which sank in the Havana harbor in 1898 when some of its ammunition inexplicably exploded. To this day, the cause of the explosion is still debated, however, this event precipitated the Spanish–American War and popularized the saying “Remember the Maine, the Hell with Spain!”

    Remember the Maine (adaptation)
    “Treat this one with the respect it deserves, gentlemen” – Charles H Baker

    2 oz rye
    3/4 oz sweet vermouth
    2 bar-spoons cherry heering
    1/2 bar-spoon absinthe

    “Stir briskly in clock-wise fashion—this makes it sea-going, presumably!” From: http://www.adventuresincocktails.com/2010/02/14/remember-the-maine-a-1933-classic-cocktail-from-charles-h-baker/

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