Ted's Museum - The Spanish-American War


The Spanish-American War


Every Pitcher Tells a Story

This story's about pitchers, but not about baseball. It's about that other national pastime: war. The Spanish-American War, actually, that occurred in 1898.

The United States had always had an eye on Spanish rule in Cuba, and reports of intolerable conditions during an 1895 rebellion worked up American indignation to fever pitch.

Admiral Dewey

Dewey

In 1897, the US convinced Spain to grant Cuba a measure of self-government, but the Cuban rebels wanted total freedom. And on the opposite side of the issue, pro-Spanish Cubans who wanted to keep the status quo of Spanish rule began to riot in Havana.

On January 25, 1898, the American battleship Maine arrived in Havana, to protect Americans there from the riots. On February 15, the ship exploded, killing about 260 people on board.

The cause of the explosion was never determined, but the American public blamed Spain, and took up the cry, "Remember the Maine".

The US pushed Spain for complete independence for Cuba, and , on April 25, 1898, after a few months of applying pressure, declared war. The war was fought in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Commodore George Dewey sailed from Hong Kong to the Philippines, and destroyed the entire Spanish fleet there (10 ships) on May 1, without a single American loss of life. They eventually stormed and occupied Manila in August.

Cuba was blockaded and eventually invaded, with more destruction of Spanish ships. Puerto Rico was taken with little resistance.

The entire war was over by August 13, 1898. Cuba was granted its independence; the US gained Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Gridley

Gridley

George Dewey became a national hero. His face was featured on many of the souvenirs and memorabilia of the war, including a glass pitcher and tumbler set.

I own a Spanish American (also known as "Dewey") pitcher with its matching tumbler. I also own a Gridley pitcher featuring Charles V. Gridley, Master of Dewey's flagship. The pitcher has Dewey's famous (at the time) order, "Gridley, you may fire when ready".

The Dewey pitcher has the portrait of Dewey, and the Gridley has a very similar portrait of Gridley. I am told that the two men looked very similar.

Other patriotic items include commemorative glass plates and a "Remember the Maine" glass warship - I think maybe a butter or candy dish? So, I have a little more collecting to do.

So remember the Maine and the brief little war in 1898 that helped propel the US into the role of a world power. And pour yourself a glass of lemonade while you're at it.

Other Memorabilia

I also have a few other trinkets commemorating the Spanish-American War and the ships under the command of Admiral Dewey.

Here's a token created around the 1970's/80's from the propellor of the flagship Olympia.

These are close-up details from some commemorative spoons, featuring Admiral Dewey, "Our Hero", and the Olympia.


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