Last week we spoke about abolition and the terrible Capt. Helm and the Stewarts, Brister’s and Bristol’s and the 1818 event on Vienna Street. It will be hard to walk down Vienna Street without envisioning that night. You also read about one of Palmyra’s favorite sons, Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, born and raised right here in Palmyra. This week we will continue with a very important part of the Admiral’s career. The Admiral was born in a house almost across the street from this 1818 incident, how incredible history is.
On Feb. 15, in the year 1898, The USS Maine battleship exploded in Havana Harbor losing approximately 260 crew members. What caused this explosion was questioned and sabotage was the probable cause. This was the last straw in the attacks by the Spanish and the Spanish American War was spurred on by this incident. Teddy Roosevelt’s’ Rough Riders were marked in history by their storming San Juan Hill. Commodore Dewey headed the fleet and the activity in the Philippines and Admiral Sampson under the appointment by President Cleveland headed up the Atlantic Fleet.
A very short battle ensued except for the rebuilding of the Philippines. Mr. Cadwalleder of this village, living in what is called now the “Liberty House” signed up and participated in this war. Although the war was not long, there were many deaths on both sides. It wasn’t until April 25 that war was declared on Spain. Republican President McKinley was trying to avoid war although Cuba had been seeking independence for a number of years and Puerto Rico was also under the control of Spain. The Democratic Party pushed the administration into this war. The war only lasted 10 weeks but there were many casualties, deaths, and much disease. A treaty finally came called the Treaty of Paris in 1898. The U. S. received temporary control of Cuba, indefinite authority over Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines Islands. This resulted in the collapse of the Spanish Empire which was really on its way out, but the Spanish Empire had not come to that realization.
This war caused the United States millions of dollars and 3,000 lives which were mostly lost from disease, about 90 percent. Many U. S. troops in San Juan were the African-American Ninth and Tenth cavalry fighting along with the Rough Riders headed by Lt. Col. Teddy Roosevelt. On July 16, 1898 Spain surrendered. Cuba got their independence, Puerto Rico, Guam were ceded to the U. S. and the Philippines were sold for $20 million by Spain. Museums are open this week Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Come on by for a tour.