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Spanish American War (1898)
A Splendid Little War, Part 1 - The First Battle



A Splendid Little War, Part 1 - The First Battle
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.95

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    epitome, rabble, sensational, snared, ultimatum, negotiation, blockade, fuse, flagship, locking, naval, commander, commodore, military, triumph, command
     content words:    Many Americans, President McKinley, De Lôme, Civil War, Native American, Assistant Secretary, Teddy Roosevelt, Navy Secretary John Long, George Dewey, In March


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A Splendid Little War, Part 1 - The First Battle
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     In February 1898, the U.S. found itself facing war. Sensational news stories had ranted for months about the abuse of the Cuban people under Spanish rule. Many Americans were clamoring for a fight. President McKinley hesitated. "War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed," he said.
 
2     Events seemed fated to override McKinley's views. First, the U.S. press got hold of a personal letter written to a friend by De Lôme, Spain's ambassador to the U.S. In the letter, the ambassador expressed a low opinion of McKinley. The president was a coarse, weak man who "catered to the rabble," De Lôme said. The letter hit the headlines in early February. Americans fumed over the insult.
 
3     A week later, the U.S.S. Maine was sunk in Havana harbor. In the judgment of the press, the Spanish were to blame. Goaded by sensational news stories, the outraged public shouted for war. The U.S. military, however, was far from ready to rush to the rescue of Cuba. In the years since the Civil War, the army had been reduced to a few regiments of cavalry. The soldiers had spent most of their time confining Native American tribes to reservations.
 
4     The navy confronted the war on more stable footing. Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Teddy Roosevelt, had long argued the need for a strong navy. Roosevelt was so eager in his job that he often went ahead with plans without consulting his boss, Navy Secretary John Long. He'd wrested money from stingy committees and built the navy up. He'd bought ships and armed them. He'd seen that their crews were well-trained.

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