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Chapter Three. The Assistant Secretary of the Navy and the Spanish-American War Hero

Joseph Smith


“His industry was prodigious. He bought ships for the invasion of Cuba, and fitted them out … When at last the war broke out, Dewey found everything he needed at Hongkong where he sought it, and was able to sail across to Manila a week before they expected him there. ( Riis 1904 , 162) After having actively campaigned on behalf of the Republican candidate, William McKinley, in the 1896 presidential election, TR was keen to secure the reward of an appointment in the new administration. The change would allow him to move to Washington and away from the bruising politics of New York City and his job as Police Commissioner. Moreover, it was known that the post of Assistant Secretary of the Navy would be available. The post was attractive and well suited to TR who had long nourished a personal interest in naval affairs. In his senior year at Harvard in 1879 he had written an essay on the naval aspects of the War of 1812. The essay was eventually published as a book in 1882 entitled The Naval War of 1812. From his readings in naval history, TR was convinced that nations required strong navies if they wished to protect themselves and exert an influence in international affairs. In this respect, TR believed that, although the US Congress had voted a series of appropriations to establish a battleship navy, it was not spending nearly enough on the whole range of modern warships to include ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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