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Spain Declares War on USA – April 24, 1898

6 Things You May Not Know About the Spanish-American War

On April 24, 1898, Spain declared war on the United States, which days earlier had passed a resolution supporting Cuba’s independence. The United States issued its own declaration on April 25, making it retroactive to April 21.

In January 1898, as tensions flared between Cuban revolutionaries and Spanish troops, the battleship USS Maine was sent to Havana to protect American interests and civilians there. On February 15 a massive explosion sank the vessel, killing 266 sailors. Sensationalist newspaper articles and advocates of war accused the Spanish of destroying the ship, and a naval inquiry soon concluded that a mine had caused the disaster. With the rallying cry “Remember the Maine!” galvanizing Americans, President William McKinley reluctantly signed a resolution supporting Cuban independence and threatening Spain with military action. Today, however, experts generally doubt the Spanish had a hand in Maine’s demise. Though we may never know for sure what unleashed the tragedy that helped spark a war, recent investigations have implicated the ship’s design, ammunition storage and coal bunker.

Jimmy Doolittle Air Raid over Japan – April 18, 1942

Sixteen US Air Force B-25B Mitchell bombers take off from the flight deck of the USS Hornet for an air raid on Japan, on April 18, 1942. The unprecedented use of medium bombers from an aircraft carrier enabled the surprise attack on the Japanese homeland. Even with modifications and extra fuel the bombers were at the limit of their range and would not be able to return to the carrier. Instead, after bombing, they were to continue their flight over Japan and attempt to land in China or Russia.

When the USS Hornet was spotted by a Japanese patrol vessel the mission was brought forward, and the margin of error in the range was reduced even further. The crews all took off in the knowledge that they were very likely to have to crash land or ditch in the sea. Each aircraft carried three 500-pound high-explosive bombs and one incendiary bomb.

The raid was led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle.

This Day in US History: April 12

1945: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies and Harry Truman takes over.

1861: American Civil War kicked off as Fort Sumter is attacked.

Rough Riders Flag and Arizona Connection during the Spanish American War

Teddy Roosevelt and Rough Riders San Juan Hill 1898

Presented By Matthew C. Krahn
Arizona Capitol Museum Guild Historian

When Congress declared war on Spain in late April of 1898, President McKinley authorized the raising of a volunteer regiment of cowboy cavalry from the western territories of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Indian Territory. The “Rough Riders” was formed from men from the western frontier of the United States – men who were used to life in the saddle and to the use of firearms – and from some eastern high-class young men who were athletic and also skilled in horsemanship and the use of guns…but for entirely different reasons. In addition there were men from almost everywhere else! The unit included miners, cowboys preachers, tradesmen, writers, professors, athletes, and clergymen. Remarkably, there were men from each of the forty-five states then in existence, the four territories and from fourteen countries! There were even sixty Native Americans on the roster.  The unique combination reflected the interesting contrasts in one of the men who was one of the driving forces behind the unit – Theodore Roosevelt, the man who was initially the regiment’s lieutenant colonel and later its colonel.

This regiment was designated “The First United States Volunteer Cavalry” and was to go down in history as “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.” The idea of a volunteer cowboy regiment from Arizona originated in Prescott, and was inspired by Alexander Brodie and Mayor “Buckey” O’Neill. They had been recruiting for a volunteer Arizona regiment long before a war was declared. Because the Prescott or Northern Arizona Cavalry was the first to fill its quota, and was also, along with the southern Arizona unit, the first to arrive at the training base at San Antonio, Texas, it was designated “A” Troop. The southern unit was formed as “B” Troop. As Herner states, “thus the Arizonans assumed all seniority rights and corresponding troop designations.” They were the first troop of the first squadron (known as the Arizona Squadron) of the First United States Volunteer Cavalry. As Captain of “A” Troop, “Buckey” O’Neill also became the senior Captain of the regiment. Alexander Brodie commanded the First Squadron (consisting of four troops) and was, therefore, the ranking Major of the regiment. “A” Troop went on to serve with distinction in the war to liberate Cuba from Spain. The troop figured prominently in the two main battles of the Cuban campaign involving the 5th Army Corp.

At Las Guasimas the troop, led by “Buckey” O’Neill, formed the extreme right wing of an extended skirmish line that pressed forward, through thick jungle, to help dislodge the Spanish from their positions. At San Juan Hill, the troop recovered from the devastating loss of its commander, Captain “Buckey” O’Neill, and participated in the famous charge of the “Rough Riders” led by Theodore Roosevelt. Several members of “A” troop were with Col. Roosevelt at the front of the regiment when the Spanish positions were taken. Fifteen members of “A” troop were either killed or wounded during these engagements. Several more died of dysentery. After returning to the United States with the regiment, they were disbanded, on September 15, 1898, only four months after leaving Prescott. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “it marked the close of the four months life of a regiment of as gallant fighters as ever wore the United States uniform.”

Upon final preparations the regiment was ready to leave Prescott and head for departure in Florida. It was brought to the commander’s attention that Roosevelt’s Rough Riders had everything ready but did not possess the Stars and Stripes for the regiment to bring in to battle. The story goes that upon hearing this news the ladies of the Women’s Relief Corps of Phoenix decided to make a flag for the regiment to take with them. Working all through the night they sewed together a “beautiful silk standard” by hand. The materials are rumored to have been very difficult to come by, and the story describes an amazing blue gown being used to construct the blue field in which the star would lay.

The flag was completed and presented to the regiment by the Governor of Arizona, personally handing the flag to the regiment’s leader Captain James M. McClintock. As the handoff was completed a chorus of young girls from the Territorial Normal School began to sing “God Be With You Till We Meet Again”. This in turn according to war correspondent Edward Marshall was met by the Rough Riders rowdy rendition of “A Hot Time” (composed in 1896, by Theodore Metz it was a favorite of the military at the turn of the 20th century). As the Rough Riders made their way to Tampa for the trip to Cuba they received a very warm welcome form the people of the South. The cheers and praise was so great that Theodore Roosevelt’s own account of it was recorded by Edward Marshall: “Everywhere the people came out to greet and cheer us. Everywhere we saw the Stars and S tripes, and everywhere we were told, half-laughing, by grizzled ex-Confederates, that they greet the old flag as they now were greeting it, and to send their sons as they now were sending them, to fight and die under it”.

The first volunteer regiment in Cuba would be the first to raise the US flag over foreign soil since the Mexican War, these were but a few of the accomplishments of the Rough Riders and their special flag from right here in Arizona! So where else did the colors travel while in battle; stories of its exploits throughout the war have become legendary in the area of flag history. The one that shines above the rest was most famously noted when the flag was seen waving above the crest of Loriltires. It is here Surgeon La Motte, Color-Sergeant Wright, Trumpeter Platt, and Edward Marshall, climbed the hill with the famous flag. They discovered an abandoned block-house and attempted to hoist Old Glory up. The impromptu band of flag raisers realized the tin roof of the house was too slippery, and all but gave up on hoisting the colors when a sailor came to the rescue. Risking injury the sailor grabbed the flag the women of Arizona had worked so hard to produce, and attached it to a piece of lumber atop the block-house. On the bay below as material and men wade ashore one of the soldiers caught site of the flag fluttering in the wind. The stories go Marshall said that a fever pitch of patriotism caught on, steam-whistles blew, nearly 20,000 men yelled and cheered joined by a dozen military bands. The women and really the town of Prescott thousands of miles away must have been very proud indeed!

The flag from Arizona would go on to appear in almost every battlefield in the war, serving as bravely as the soldiers who carried it. I would like to leave you with my personal favorite tale regarding this special flag and its adventures abroad. In Las Guasimas, Color-Sergeant Wright was grazed three different times near his neck by Spanish bullets while carrying the flag from Arizona. The flag received at least four bullet holes that we are aware of while in battle, but thankfully it did survive to make its way back home. Soon after the Rough Riders became legendary and Roosevelt went on to eventually become president of the United States of America. The regiment was discharged honorably from service, and the unique men that made up the famous volunteer regiment made their way home. Teddy Roosevelt’s legendary Rough Riders existed for only 133 days but earned a lasting place in the history of the United States. Few groups that were so short lived have made such an impression in the hearts and minds of Americans. I am proud to call Arizona my home, and thank you all for joining us here today!

AZ Rough Riders Flag Working Bibliography

Abbott, Samuel. The Dramatic Story of Old Glory. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1919.

In this account of famous American flag stories author and member of the American Historical Association retells numerous flag stories. In chapter 42 he discusses the famous Rough Riders flag sewn by the ladies of the Women’s Relief Corps of Phoenix. The flag trailed with the famed 1st Volunteer Calvary Division from Prescott, AZ into multiple engagements in the war with Spain.

Edward, Marshall. The story of the Rough Riders, 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry: the regiment in camp and on the battle field. New York: G.W. Dillingham Co, 1899.

A very detailed account of the building and creation of the Rough Riders, starting in Prescott and following them all the way until their disbandment upon returning to America. This detailed account of the furnishing of regimental colors by the ladies of the Women’s Relief Corp of Phoenix is very fascinating. The author discusses the vital role the flag played in being the first to accompany the Rough Riders Division.

I have provided some links as well that will direct you to several E-Books regarding the flag in question. My efforts continue to acquire the hard copy, as many of these are very old first editions they have been digitized to avoid mass lending.

Rough Rider: Bucky O’Neill of Arizona
http://books.google.com/books?id=bO5HPgpFGbQC&lpg=PA158&dq=Women%E2%80%99s%20Relief%20Corps%20of%20Phoenix%20rough%20riders%20flag&pg=PA158#v=onepage&q=Women%E2%80%99s%20Relief%20Corps%20of%20Phoenix%20rough%20riders%20flag&f=false

The Stars and Stripes and other American Flags
http://books.google.com/books?id=Ka4aAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA227&dq=Women%E2%80%99s+Relief+Corps+of+Phoenix+flag+for+rough+riders&hl=en&ei=1WZUTfnlBMGclgewt7SzCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CF4Q6AEwCA

Rough Riders’ Flag is part of Arizona’s History

Teddy Roosevelt and Rough Riders San Juan Hill 1898

It was 1898 and the Spanish-American War had just begun.

The men of the First US Volunteer Cavalry, more commonly known as Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, were eager to leave Prescott, to fight for Cuba’s independence.

The Rough Riders had weapons, ammunition, supplies, even regiment mascots. But no US flag could be found among the items that had been packed for the long trip.

“They were about to leave without an American flag. Personally, it’s the first thing I would have packed,” Matthew Krahn, historian at the Arizona Capitol Museum Guild, told an audience of about two dozen people Wednesday afternoon.

Krahn’s history lesson was a part of an annual tradition where the Rough Rider’s flag is displayed during a ceremony at the museum. Typically, the flag is unveiled to little pomp, but Arizona’s upcoming centennial celebration changed that. This year, the Arizona Rough Riders Historical Association, a living history group, was invited to a re-enactment ceremony.

One of the re-enactors represented a seamstress for the Women’s Relief Corps of Phoenix, who worked all night to make the almost forgotten flag.

The Rough Riders took a train across the Deep South to their deployment site in Tampa, Florida. Krahn said the Civil War, which had ended in 1865, had not been forgotten.

“The flag and the Rough Riders acted as a unification between the North and South,” Krahn said.

After arriving in Cuba, the flag would become the first one flown over foreign soil since the Mexican-American War. However, the man who flew the flag is identified by historians only as “the unnamed sailor.”

After being honorably discharged in September 1898, the flag’s ownership is speculative. Krahn said some believe Color-Sergeant Albert P. Wright, a native of Yuma, brought the Rough Riders’ flag back to Arizona. The museum has had the flag since statehood in 1912.

The flag is on display at the Arizona Capitol Museum through July.

General Robert E Lee Surrenders at Appomattox Courthouse: April 9, 1865

Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox Courthouse this day in 1865, thus ending the Civil War.

Further Reading: http://americancivilwar.com/appo.html

Civil War Death Toll Raised 20 Percent

Since the 1860s, most people agreed that 618,222 men died in the Civil War, 360,222 from the North and 258,000 from the South — by far the greatest toll of any war in American history. By combing through new census data from the 19th Century, J. David Hacker, a demographic historian has recalculated the death toll and increased it by more than 20 percent — to 750,000.

The new figure is already winning acceptance from scholars. Civil War History, the journal that published Dr. Hacker’s paper, called it “among the most consequential pieces ever to appear” in its pages. And a pre-eminent authority on the era, Eric Foner, a historian at Columbia University, said:

“It even further elevates the significance of the Civil War and makes a dramatic statement about how the war is a central moment in American history. It helps you understand, particularly in the South with a much smaller population, what a devastating experience this was.”

Dr. Hacker decided to look at the ratio of male to female deaths in 1870. Next, he examined mortality figures from the decades on either side of the war — the 1850s and 1870s — so that he could get an idea of the “normal” ratio of male to female deaths for a given decade. When he compared those ratios to that of 1860-70, he reasoned, he would see a dramatic spike in male mortality. And he did. Subtracting normal attrition from the male side of the equation left him with a rough estimate of war dead.

He had made several assumptions, each of which stole accuracy from the final result. Among them: that there were no war-related deaths of white women; that the expected normal mortality rate in the 1860s would be the average of the rates in the 1850s and 1870s; that foreign soldiers died at the same rate as native-born soldiers; and that the War Department figure of 36,000 black war dead had to be accepted as accurate because black women suffered so terribly both during and after the war that they could not be used as a control for male mortality.

The study had two significant shortcomings. Dr. Hacker could make no estimate of civilian deaths, an enduring question among historians, “because the overall number is too small relative to the overall number of soldiers killed.” And he could not tell how many of the battlefield dead belonged to each side.

“You could assume that everyone born in the Deep South fought for the Confederacy and everyone born in the North fought for the Union,” he said. “But the border states were a nightmare, and my confidence in the results broke down quickly.”

With all the uncertainties, Dr. Hacker said, the data suggested that 650,000 to 850,000 men died as a result of the war; he chose the midpoint as his estimate.

He emphasized that his methodology was far from perfect. “Part of me thinks it is just a curiosity,” he said of the new estimate.

“But wars have profound economic, demographic and social costs,” he went on. “We’re seeing at least 37,000 more widows here, and 90,000 more orphans. That’s a profound social impact, and it’s our duty to get it right.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/science/civil-war-toll-up-by-20-percent-in-new-estimate.html?_r=2

Civics Education

written in part by Matthew Krahn

Constitutional Theory

Adopted initially on September 17, 1787, the US Constitution and its twenty-seven amendments enacted between 1791 and 1992 are the supreme law of the land. They create “balance of power” between three co-equal branches of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial), limit the power of the federal government, empower the individual citizen to maintain control of government officials, and create a series of individual rights that government cannot remove.

The Preamble to the US Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Creating Legislation: An Overview

Local Law:

1. A member of the community or a council member has an idea for a law.
2. A council member proposes or introduces the idea.
3. City council members (or village trustees) often form a committee to evaluate the proposed law, or assign the proposal to an appropriate committee. This step is not required.
4. A public hearing is required for some ordinances, such as zoning ordinances. Citizens must have at least 10 days notice of the hearing.
5. The members of the committee vote on whether or not to adopt the ordinance.
6. The committee recommendation goes to the Council. A majority of the Council must approve the ordinance for it to pass. Usually the mayor or village president does not vote except in the case of a tie.
7. The mayor or village president can veto an ordinance, but only if it
1) Creates liability against the city
2) Provides for spending of money
3) Involves selling any city property
8. The members can override the executive’s veto with a 2/3 vote.

Federal Law:

The detailed process for how a bill becomes a law can be complicated and tedious. The system of checks and balances is designed to make sure that there is significant agreement before a new law is enacted.

1. Where does a bill start?
An individual or group gets an idea for a new law or a change to an old law.
2. What is a bill?
An idea that is written as a proposed law.
3. After a bill is drafted, Representatives (either Congresspersons or Senators) propose a bill in the House or Senate.
4. The bill is read to the representatives on the floor of the House or Senate (a proposed bill must be read into the Congressional record three times before it moves forward).
5. The bill is sent to the appropriate House or Senate committee (For example, an issue dealing with education would be sent to the Education Committee; an issue dealing with the interstate highway system would be sent to the Transportation Committee).
6. The committee holds public hearings on the bill where individuals or interested groups can give public comment or testimony on their opinions of the bill.
7. The committee debates and votes on whether to approve the bill and send the bill back to the floor (with or without amendments), or to “kill” the bill by keeping it in committee for further debate.
8. If the committee approves the bill, it goes to the floor of the originating house where it is read a second time. At this point, any amendments made to the bill are debated by the members of this house of Congress.
9. After the debate is finished, the bill is read a third time. The members debate again, and vote on the bill.
10. If the first house passes the bill, it goes to the second house (for example, if the bill started in the House of Representatives, it would then go on to the Senate).
11. The whole process starts over again in this second house.
12. If the House and Senate pass different versions of the same bill, the bill is sent to a conference committee made up of members from both houses to try and reach a compromise on the bill. Both houses must then agree to the compromise by majority vote.
13. If both houses agree on a final version of the bill, it goes to the President for his or her signature.
14. The President can sign the bill into law or veto the bill.
15. If the President vetoes the bill, it is sent back to Congress. Congress can then re-vote on the bill. If each house of Congress votes to override the veto by a 2/3 majority vote, the bill becomes a law.

Voting is a Right, not a Privilege

Election Day in the United States of America is the day set by law for the election of public officials, initiatives and referendums. For federal offices (United States Congress, President and Vice President), it occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November in even-numbered years; the earliest possible date is November 2 and the latest is November 8. Presidential elections are held every four years, elections to the United States House of Representatives are held every two years, and a US Senator runs for election every six years. General elections in which Presidential candidates are not on the ballot are referred to as midterm elections. Many state and local government offices are also voted upon on Election Day as a matter of convenience and cost savings. Election Day is a civic holiday in some states, including Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Wisconsin.

Amendment 14:

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Amendment 15:

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Amendment 19:

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Amendment 24:

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Amendment 26:

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

Conclusion

As I discussed in chapter 1, perception is reality. Each individual will interpret laws and the role of government differently, depending on his/her political goals. The progressive focuses on “establish Justice” and encourages equal rights for all individuals. The conservative focuses on “provide for the common defence” and “powers not delegated to the United States… are reserved to the States… or to the people (10th Amendment).” Conservatives encourage a strong military and a federal government with limited powers. I will irritate many people with this next statement. Both interpretations are correct. Over the years we have given voting rights to all races and both genders. And we have been victorious in many armed conflicts, including: Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II.

The Constitution is a flexible design that allows for various interpretations. As a matter of fact, the US Constitution is a direct result of compromise. Back during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, there was a dispute between large states and small as to how many representatives a state may have. Large states wanted proportional representation in which larger states would have more representation. Small states wanted equal representation in which all states have the same number of representatives. A compromise was reached and the House of Representatives and Senate were born. The House conforms to proportional governance whereas the Senate conforms to equal governance. For a bill to pass the legislative body and be advanced to the President for a signature, both houses have to agree on a final version.

Individuals vote for the President and Congressional members. It is through this method that government officials stay in tune with their constituencies. If a government official does something that the general public disagrees with, that person runs the risk of losing his/her position. This, in theory, is how the federal government is supposed to work.

The Constitution, its amendments, our representatives, and the laws we enact, are just a reflection of the society as a whole. I described in chapter 4 what makes the United States of America great and unique. It is our value system and our culture. And it is this American culture of generosity, hard work, and personal liberty that keeps everything moving forward in a positive direction.

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