Academy of Lifelong Learning

Remember the Maine & to Hell with Spain - Session 1

Bentley Orrick

Wednesdays, February 3 – March 9 (six weeks)
4:15 – 5:30 pm
A look at the press barons Pulitzer and Hearst, their reporters, Cuban rebel leaders, and American politicians who pressed for a war to free Cuba from Spain. They got their way when the U.S.S. Maine blew up in Havana’s harbor on February 15, 1898. The “dandy little war” was over quickly, but its aftermath lingered on with the American love-hate relationship with Cuba that began in the early1800s—when Southern planters coveted it as a potential slave state—and has continued until today during the half-century-plus of the revolutionary Castro regime. The war boosted Teddy Roosevelt into national politics. The war also took American troops to Asia in force and led to the Philippine Insurrection, which turned America’s first try at Asian colonialism into a brutal guerilla war three generations before the Vietnam war.
How truthful was the press and its colorful caste of intrepid reporters in urging America on to war? What revolutionary poet proved to be a feckless soldier? Was the Maine a victim of an accidental fire or an act of war? Who,without permission, gave Admiral Dewey his sailing orders that led to the destruction of the Spanish Fleet in Manila Bay? What caused President McKinley’s reluctance to go to war? Why was Tampa chosen as the embarkation point? How did we seize Guantanamo? What beach village is a daiquiri named for? Why did the Rough Riders have to charge up Kettle Hill on foot? What role did the Buffalo Soldiers play? What grotesquely obese commanding general threatened to shoot a reporter for helping raise the Stars and Stripes over the conquered city of Santiago de Cuba? What was most deadly, yellow fever or Spanish shot and shell? What was the “water cure” U.S. troopgave to captured Filipino rebels?