The definitive version of the Spanish-American War as well as a dramatic account of America's emergence as a global power.
Musicant's nuanced approach stresses the desire of both President William McKinley and his Democratic predecessor, Grover Cleveland, to avoid any international issues that might impede America's recovery from the economic depression of 1893. Cuba, however, was impossible to ignore because of Spain's inability to develop either a military or a political solution to the insurrection that racked the island. Even without the impact of "yellow journalism," war was nearly impossible to avert after the sinking of the Maine, which Musicant attributes to an internal explosion. Musicant demonstrates that American operational and logistical performances were far better than might have been expected, given the complete lack of experience in every kind of fighting the Army and Navy undertook. The greatest U.S. weaknesses, he explains, were administrative; the country raised a much larger army than needed, only to find its military bureaucracy swamped by the resulting demands. Nor did anyone at planning and policy levels have any idea of the long-term consequences of the large-scale expeditions that decided the war. Philippine independence in particular was a chimera. Emilio Aguinaldo's rebels were only one of many armed factions, and a weak state was certain to attract foreign attention, leading to annexation and pacification being considered as a least-unacceptable option.
Musicant explores the ideology behind this policy, and satisfyingly demonstrates the beginnings of the American trade "empire" to have been less exploitative than altruistic.
His theme is that the American empire acquired as a result of the war wasn't planned, a point he illustrates rather than states explicitly by showing how both U.S. and Spanish actions were governed by the internal politics in each country and ultimately led to the clash. While discussing the problems and scandals as well as the successes, his very readable history is not as scholarly as David Trask's The War With Spain in 1898 (LJ 5/1/81) but still belongs in most academic and public library history collections.
--Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan University Library, Marquette
Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
--William L. O'Neill, The New York Times Book Review
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HAPTER ONE STATE OF THE UNION On the warm evening of July 12, in the exciting Chicago summer of 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner, a young history don at the University of Wisconsin, rose to speak before a stellar audience of international scholars. The setting was superb, the extravaganza of the World's Columbian Exposition, America's self-conscious debut commemorating four hundred years of progress since Christopher Columbus claimed the New World for the king and queen of Spain. Here on the shores of Lake Michigan, a gleaming white and gilt beaux arts temporary city rose to herald the remarkable achievements of the bursting new colossus of the Western Hemisphere. World-traveled tourists marveled at the breathtaking exhibits attesting to the social and technical advancement of the United States. Everything, from the giant Corliss electric dynamo, to George Washington Ferris's 250-foot wheel, to the hootchy-kootchy girls of the "Egyptian Village," brought wide eyes and gaping mouths to tens of thousands of parasoled and straw-hatted tourists. "We were all knocked silly," said the future secretary of state, John Hay. "It beats the brag so far out of sight that even Chicago is dumb." Historian Henry Adams, grandson and great-grandson of presidents, called the fair "the first great expression of American thought as a unity." Compared to these manufactured wonderments, it's no surprise that Professor Turner's learned address, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," got so little attention in the public journals, or indeed, even among his fellow historians. Federal civil service commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, no mean historian himself and a man who understood before a good many others the significance of what became the "Turner thesis" of American history, sent a polite congratulatory note: "I think you have struck some first class ideas, and have put into definite shape a good deal of thought which has been floating around rather loosely." To present the "frontier" as a driving catalyst of American history, Turner lifted a virtually unnoticed passage of enormous significance from the U.S. Census Bureau's Bulletin No. 12, of April 1891. Until the national census of 1880, the social and political map of the United States stopped at a frontier line of settlement, a pale, beyond which its statutes and civilization did not cross. A decade later, the bureau declared this unwrought world "so broken into by isolated bodies of settlement that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line.... It cannot, therefore, any longer have a place in the census reports." The frontier had vanished in law as well as in fact. Turner grounded his thesis on American economic power generated by "free land." America's unique individualism, nationalism, political institutions, its very democracy, depended on it. "So long as free land exists," he told the assembly, "the opportunity for ... competency exists, and economic power secures political power." For Turner, continental expansion, symbolized by the ever moving frontier creating more free land, was the driving, dynamic factor of American progress. It had been since Christopher Columbus, and remained so until the Census Bureau erased the frontier with the keystroke of a typewriter. Without the economic energy created by expanding the frontier, he warned, America's political and social institutions would stagnate. If one adhered to this way of thinking, America must expand or die. Even as he spoke, an imbroglio between President Cleveland and the U.S. Senate over the annexation of Hawaii was in high spate, making it an extraordinary time for such observations. Would the United States halt at its saltwater margins? Must expansion be defined in terms of a terrestrial line across prairie or mountains, or might it include strategic and economic projection across a "free" ocean? Turner did not say. "And now," he concluded, "four centuries from the discovery of America ... the frontier is gone, and with its going has closed the first period of American history." While Turner's lucid thesis created hardly an inch of newspaper copy or a poke of interest among contemporary national policymakers, the reverse was true with another equally obscure historian: Gauging the pulse of the time, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan of the U.S. Navy had no qualms about moving the frontier beyond the coastline, and three years before Turner offered his thesis, he made his case. Born in 1840 at West Point, the son of Mary and "Old Dennis" Hart Mahan, a highly regarded, puritanical Episcopalian professor of mathematics and engineering at the U.S. Military Academy, young Alfred eschewed the army life and graduated (number two of twenty) from the Naval Academy in 1859. For thirty years, his naval career was drudgingly undistinguished. During the Civil War his sole experience of gunfire occurred when his ship arrived late for his only battle. He was decidedly uncomfortable at sea, a poor sailor and indifferent ship handler--hardly the stuff of his hero, the great David Farragut. Though Mahan was an outstanding student and intellect, his first efforts at naval history, the vocation that shot his comet across the celebrity cosmos of the 1890s, was a mind-numbingly dull account of the Civil War, The Gulf and Inland Waters, published in 1883. It was both Mahan's and the navy's good fortune that he caught the notice of Commodore Stephen Bleecker Luce, a broad-whiskered educational reformer during the navy's sinkhole, post-Civil War dark age. Luce had already established the Naval Apprentice Training System for enlisted sailors, and duty at the Naval Academy provided experience in molding young midshipmen. But Luce chose as his special project the revolutionary conception of graduate study in naval warfare for junior officers. The modern naval officer, Luce believed, could richly profit by a study of naval history, examining wars, leaders, theory, and battles "with the cold eye of professional criticism." Seeking a distinctly separate institution from the undergraduate Naval Academy, Annapolis, Luce submitted a proposal for a postgraduate Naval War College to the Navy Department in 1876, and there it languished for eight years. Then, in October 1884, shortly after the general reform of the service had gotten under way with modest beginnings, Navy Secretary William E. Chandler, over protests from most of the barnacled, seignioral bureau chiefs, found temporary quarters for Luce's school in an abandoned almshouse on Coaster's Harbor Island, by the torpedo station at Newport, Rhode Island. Luce, nearing sixty years old, was appointed its first commandant. "Poor little poor house," said the commodore to the small group of officers with him. "Poor little poor house, I christen thee the United States Naval War College!" Luce had begun his own systematic study of naval history almost twenty years before, in the final months of the Civil War. During that conflict, steam-driven armored warships fought on both sides, heralding eight decades of the "battleship era" in naval history. In the years that followed that war, several ironclad battles had erupted on the world's oceans, from the Pacific coast of South America to the Black Sea. Yet there were no codified principles on which to forge a canon of the new naval warfare of iron (soon to be steel) and steam. Brainy Alfred Thayer Mahan, Luce thought, might be just the man to establish them, and he invited him to join the War College faculty. Of the two subjects Luce proposed for Mahan's syllabus of instruction, naval tactics and naval history, it was the second that gave Mahan "more anxiety." But in the summer of 1884, he could not have been further removed from the intellectual ferment beginning to bubble up slowly within the service. Mahan commanded the Wachusett, a twenty-year-old Civil War wooden screw-sloop, on her last commission before being sent to the knacker's yard. In the isolation of the far Pacific station, Mahan plumbed the well of naval history, "continuously seeking" the elusive thread that bound ancient and modern maritime empires, their admirals, galleons, ships of the line, and sea battles into a cohesive, encompassing historical theory. Aboard the tired Wachusett there came to him "from within, the suggestion that the control of the sea was an historic factor which had never been systematically appreciated and expounded." This was the nut, the kernel of Mahanian philosophy that would dominate the world's naval and foreign policy councils for decades into the next century. In October 1885, Mahan, newly promoted to captain, reported to Rear Admiral Luce at the War College. A year later, he succeeded to the presidency. Ignoring the sniping that constantly pinged around the college from the mossback element in the Navy Department, Mahan buried himself in research at the New York Public Library, trying to formulate basic principles governing the art and science of naval warfare. Eventually, his concept of the history of sea power was not a simple chronology of campaigns and battles, or even an examination of tactics; instead, it concentrated on the elements that combined to make a nation powerful at sea: trade, geography, natural resources, diplomacy and naval policy, the character of the people and their government. By the autumn of 1886, Mahan had synthesized his research into a series of lectures, which he delivered to an audience of twenty student officers at the War College. Occasional speakers from the civilian world complemented the classroom; one such, a recent Harvard graduate, had just written a well-accepted, creditable history, The Naval War of 1812; this was Theodore Roosevelt. Both men took an instant liking to each other. In September 1887, at the beginning of Mahan's second year at the War College, he was convinced that his lectures might equally serve as naval history for a mainstream book publisher. Not only would theories on the development of modern naval warfare be presented to the public, but publication, said Admiral Luce, would "assist the college" in its continuing bureaucratic and financial struggle "for bare existence." The Boston house of Little, Brown, and Company was persuaded to undertake the project, offering Mahan an advance of $2,500. In May 1890, the lectures, bolstered with a hefty introduction, appeared under the title The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. As a work of historical prose, the book was an improvement on the pedantic yawner that had previously come from Mahan's pen. Yet it was not the four hundred-plus pages of straight-ahead naval history that captured the world's attention, but its introduction, "Elements of Sea Power," written as a marketing tool and designed, Mahan frankly admitted, to make the book "more popular," an "attractive subject to the public." Basing his introductory theme on the contemporary condition of the United States, an industrial complex manifestly capable of producing vast surpluses, Mahan held the mirror of history for his countrymen to see in their reflection England at the seventeenth-century beginnings of her maritime empire. Each possessed characteristics that in Mahan's view were vital to the growth of a modern naval, indeed world, power. First, strategic geography. Unlike certain maritime states, France or the Netherlands, for instance, the United States need not worry about protecting a landed frontier that drained manpower and resources better suited for overseas expansion. Second, physical geography. A nation embarking on a course for sea power needed extensive coastlines, deep, protected harbors, and a fertile agricultural interior. The United States held all in abundance. Third, a well-distributed seafaring population having "an inborn love of the sea." Until the post-Civil War maritime doldrums, the United States had been a great seafaring nation, and it was time to rekindle the spirit. Fourth, the establishment of a large merchant marine. America's carrying trade had once rivaled Great Britain's in tonnage and prestige. But that had ended for all time at the hands of Confederate sea raiders during the Civil War. (Mahan soon realized this as false doctrine. A nation no longer needed to ship products under her own flag to become commercially prosperous; it need only have a navy capable of protecting the goods and vessels.) Fifth, national character. The people of a maritime state must be materially acquisitive, with a knack and yearning for profitable overseas trade, and generally "love money." Americans held these traits--indeed, held them rather high. To Mahan, the full flowering of these national qualities was held in check by the "legislative hindrances" of those distinctly unwilling to expand into overseas possessions. Last, character of the government. Mahan granted that the governments of several historically great maritime powers, Carthage and Spain for example, had been particularly despotic, and it was infinitely more desirable to have a participatory political structure. "In the matter of sea power, the most brilliant successes have followed where there has been intelligent direction by a government fully imbued with the spirit of the people. Such a government," he observed, "is most certainly secured when the will of the people ... has some share in making it." England in the late seventeenth century contained the germ of this ideal. The United States in the late nineteenth had arguably progressed somewhat further. As Mahan reasoned, the theories of history and the reality of the present molded themselves in the America of 1890. The productive capacity of the nation had grown too large for the strictly continental market to absorb. Further, having lost the landed frontier--a political line--it must turn to the sea, its ever present, strategic geographical frontier. Reversing the traditional American thought of the oceans as a barrier against European entanglements, Mahan compared them to "a great ocean highway; or better, of a wide common, over which men pass in all directions." Mahan charted America's imperial passage away from the mercantilism of European maritime empires such as Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Spain. Their colonies were mainly sources for raw materials, and markets and outlets for manufacturing and human surplus. These outposts of empire, be they at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, the Cape of Good Hope, Havana, or Manila Bay, naturally assumed the roles of distant naval stations to service the colonial trade and, latterly, for local defense. Mahan separated these functions and reversed their polarity. It is a given, he said, that colonies are markets, both outlets and nursery for home industry and commerce, but this is not their true value. That lies in what was formerly taken for granted, their role as strategic naval bases. Military conflict between nation-states will not end, and holding critical points in the strategic geography of the world is enormously important. Whatever the reason for the strife, Mahan stated, "when a question arises of control over distant regions ... whether they be crumbling empires, anarchical republics, colonies, isolated military posts, or [small] islands, it must ultimately be decided by naval power." It was so in the British defense of Gibraltar, a strategic outpost purely, and it would be so when the United States acquired the way for its linchpin of empire, the Central American isthmian canal. Naval power, not the marching thousands of conscript armies, would decide these contests. Whereas Frederick Jackson Turner talked of closure, Mahan clearly understood the beginnings of an America dominant in a new, dangerously opportunistic world. Writing in 1890, Turner's benchmark year, Mahan, too, identified the disappearance of the frontier as a milestone of American history, with large implications for its economic and political future. In a companion piece to The Influence of Sea Power, he closed the circle of Turner's frontier thesis and charted America's new course: "Whether they will or no, Americans must now begin to look outward." The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, translated into a dozen languages, exploded like a 12-inch shell on the naval and geopolitical world. Only the U.S. Navy Department turned a blind eye. "It is not the business of a naval officer to write books," said leading mossback Commodore Francis M. Ramsay, chief of the Bureau of Navigation, and he shipped Mahan off to sea in command of the new steel cruiser Chicago. But in Great Britain, Germany, and Japan, the book found wide audiences, and indeed, planted the poisonous seed of the Anglo-German naval rivalry that became a root cause of World War I. Kaiser Wilhelm ordered a copy placed aboard every ship of the growing Imperial German Navy. Certainly there were many midlevel and junior officers in the Navy Department who knew its significance. Those who sought reform came away impressed. Admiral Luce thought it "altogether exceptional." An enthusiastic Theodore Roosevelt wrote a splendid review in the Atlantic Monthly, calling it "by far the most interesting book on naval history which has been produced on either side of the water for many a long year." The Chicago Times assured its readers that Mahan was assuredly no "crank." And what of the America of Turner and Mahan, so ready to break its continental boundaries and burst on the international stage as a feature player in the great game of empire? These were peculiar and pregnant times. The Civil War had ended a quarter century before. Its history had been written, sectional and social passions had faded, the pain and gore of battlefields and gun decks had been forgotten; its great public figures passed into retirement or the grave. One of Mark Twain's minor works, The Gilded Age, contained the character of "Colonel" Beriah Sellers, an entrepreneurial braggart whose hollow standards and materialistic dreams painted, in broad strokes, the era between the Civil and Spanish-American Wars. The book's title was a very apt term, for gilding is a surface treatment only. In November 1888, the nation elected the Fifty-first Congress--the "Billion-Dollar Congress," the first to ever spend a billion dollars during peacetime. When someone used the nickname to taunt the new Speaker of the House, Republican Thomas B. "Czar" Reed of Maine, he rejoined, "Yes, but this is a billion dollar country!" Reed was guilty of understatement. The national wealth in 1890 topped $65 billion, higher than Great Britain's, or Germany's and Russia's combined. The new America entering the decade craned its urban neck at the first iron-skeleton skyscrapers; incandescent light was no longer a novelty and, along with electric "trolleys," was rapidly replacing the gas lamp and horsecar on America's streets. The telephone was coming into use in the business world, and the navy installed an experimental system in the steel cruiser Philadelphia. On December 15, 1890, Sitting Bull died in a firefight with reservation police on the Grand River in South Dakota. Five days later came the Battle of Wounded Knee, the last major clash in four hundred years of Indian wars. Utah renounced polygamy as a preliminary to statehood. The navy, if any civilian noticed, was rising slowly from the status of the joke fleet into which it had degenerated since the Civil War. Two small battleships, the Texas and the Maine, were already under construction. The population stood at 75 million, a 50 percent increase in ten years, largely due to waves of immigrants, most from eastern and southern Europe and a fair number from Japan. "Wall Street" and its "interests" were established phenomena of American commercial growth, generating a boom of industrial jobs, along with financial "panics" almost on a programmed schedule. Great city slums were spawned, and in contrast, greedy monopoly trusts arose, hoarding and manipulating the wealth of railroads, mines, iron and steel, beef and sugar in the bank accounts of the new industrial plutocracy. Already in 1890 a groping public consciousness had aroused Congress to pass Ohio senator John Sherman's "anti-trust act," a still-toothless federal statute to quell rapacious capitalism. And at the opposite economic end of Wall Street came the contentious birth of industrial labor unions. To meet their threat, state National Guards and sometimes the regular army were called in to suppress them in the name of law and order. The dry prairie states and the cotton-growing South suffered under the increasing burdens of erratic industrial prosperity. Economic growth since the Civil War had been wildly uneven. For the farmers, agricultural prices never seemed able to keep up with costs, and increasingly they turned to radical solutions to ease the down-spiraling plight. "In God we trusted, in Kansas we busted" read painted signs on wagons heading east. The "farm problem" became a chronic national agony. When farmers had a bumper crop, commodity prices sank to no-profit levels, and in drought or grasshopper years, farmers went broke anyway. By 1890 a significant proportion of the original homesteaders had sold out or quit. Class lines were drawn between the consuming, banking East and their dirt cousins of the plains and South. The same election that created the Billion-Dollar Congress sent Benjamin Harrison, stalwart Republican lawyer of Indiana, to the White House. "A frigid little general" with a fine Civil War record, good brains, and an unshakable devotion to the Grand Old Party, he was described by a visitor as "the only man he ever knew who could carry a piece of ice in each pants pocket on a July afternoon and never lose a drop." While the candidate stayed home in Indianapolis, the campaign was dominated by the charge that Grover Cleveland's incumbent Democrats were out to kill the protectionist tariff and American industry with it. Manufacturers were "fried" by Republican fund-raisers for over $4 million in political "fat" that was lavishly spread in critical states. It worked, and Harrison squeaked through the electoral college with a sixty-five-vote majority. Benjamin Harrison and his first secretary of state, James G. Blaine, were frankly expansionist, though nothing directly would come of their efforts during their tenure in office. In the navy, however, important changes were occurring that would eventually position it to be, in Mahanian terms, the engine of U.S. expansion. Harrison's navy secretary, Benjamin Franklin Tracy of New York, a former Civil War brigadier and U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, continued the line of sound navy administrators begun when President Garfield had named William H. Hunt to the post in 1881, and it was due to the efforts of such men that the pattern of attrition and stagnation began to change. At the end of the Civil War, the U.S. Navy ranked first in the world: seven hundred vessels mounting five thousand guns, with a modern, revolutionary fleet of ironclad monitors unmatched afloat. But within months of peacetime, the nation turned inward to settle the frontier and get on with Reconstruction. There followed sixteen years of the "dark ages" of the old navy. The service bottomed out to less than seventy steamers and a world ranking of twelfth, behind China and Chile. The monitors were laid up to rust in the navy yards, officer promotions stagnated, the number of enlisted sailors dropped to 7,500--the level during Andrew Jackson's presidency. Technological experimentation did not exist. (When Captain Mahan reported as commanding officer to the Wachusett, he described her as an "old war-horse, not yet turned out to grass or slaughter, ship-rigged to the royals, and slow-steamed.") In part, the cause was endemic political corruption in the sleepy navy yards, usually attributable to the district congressman. In 1873, the navy had been utterly humiliated by Spain in the notorious Virginius affair. A small iron steamer, with an American captain and dubious American registry, the Virginius was illegally running guns and guerrillas to Cuba during the independence struggle known as the Ten Years' War. Captured by a Spanish gunboat, she was taken to Santiago de Cuba and declared a pirate. The American captain and 52 of her officers, crew, and "passengers" were put against a wall and summarily shot. The remainder, 155 men, would likely have met the same fate were it not for the arrival of a British warship whose commander vigorously protested the butchery. The U.S. Navy, under Civil War hero Admiral David Dixon Porter, mobilized to meet the crisis, and all available ships assembled at Key West. Rear Admiral Robley Evans, then a lieutenant, remembered, "The force collected ... was the best, and indeed about all we had ... and if it had not been so serious it would have been laughable to see our condition. We remained several weeks, making faces at the Spaniards 90 miles away at Havana, while two modern vessels of war would have done us up in 30 minutes. We were dreadfully mortified over it all." Diplomatic intervention prevented a Spanish-American war. Spain, with ill grace, came up with an indemnity of eighty thousand dollars, allowing the United States to forget the incident. In 1881, however, the navy's condition started slowly to improve. During the short-lived Garfield administration, Congress refused to authorize ever more costly repairs for what had become floating museum pieces, and two years later, it authorized funds for the construction of the first ships of the "new navy," the small protected cruisers Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago, and the dispatch vessel Dolphin--the "ABCD" ships, the first U.S. naval vessels built of steel. In 1886, at the urging of Secretary of the Navy William C. Whitney, Congress wisely stipulated that all armor plate, structural steel, gunnery, and propulsion components be of domestic manufacture, guaranteeing a symbiotic relationship between the infant American heavy industries and the new navy, the birth of the modern military-industrial complex. In September 1888, just prior to the election of the Billion-Dollar Congress, Congress passed the largest naval appropriation since the Civil War. For around $16 million, the nation received an aggregate of 27,436 tons of new warships that included the armored cruiser New York, the protected cruiser Olympia, five smaller cruisers, and a Naval Academy practice gunboat. The Samoa crisis that unfolded in the winter of 1888-89 added further impetus to the development of the new navy. Relationships between Germany, Great Britain, and the United States neared the sparking point over proposed coaling stations in those South Pacific islands. Rumors of a clash between American and German ships brought a flurry of war talk and once more turned public and legislative attention to the navy's unreadiness. It was nature, in the form of a gigantic hurricane on March 16, 1889, that calmed the diplomatic waters. Of the three obsolete wooden American naval vessels in Apia Harbor, the Trenton and the Vandalia (ships similar to Mahan's creaking Wachusett) were a total loss. Fifty-one American sailors died. The United States was left, as the New York Herald reported, "with almost no ... war vessels worthy of the name in the Pacific Ocean." The disaster provided an excellent argument for accelerating the naval construction program. Then came the Chilean war scare, a crisis of the first order. Through 1890 and 1891, Chile was enmeshed in a civil war between presidential and congressional factions, with the latter eventually gaining the upper hand. For slights true and imagined, it held decidedly anti-American sentiments. On the evening of October 16, 1891, there was a violent, premeditated incident in the harbor of Valparaiso. The new steel cruiser Baltimore, skippered by Captain Winfield Scott Schley, an officer of some note and ability, was at anchor there. Many of her crew were on shore, and, in one of the city's saloons, a fight erupted when a Chilean spat in the face of an American sailor. The brawl spread; police stood aside, except when they joined the mob. The locals dragged two sailors from a streetcar. One, after being stabbed, was shot and killed by police; the other died after receiving eighteen knife wounds in the back. Thirty-six sailors, eighteen seriously injured, were arrested and beaten at police stations. The episode was a national insult, and the American (and Chilean) press demanded war. Conflict was a real possibility, and President Harrison was all for it. But the Chileans yielded, tendering a grudging apology and seventy-five thousand dollars to the families of the two killed American sailors. Interest in American naval preparedness zoomed. As Mahan's Influence of Sea Power neared completion, Navy Secretary Benjamin Tracy was similarly absorbed in writing his first annual report. Released by the department in December 1889, it is one of the most revolutionary documents in the history of American naval policy. Defense, he cautioned, not conquest, was the object; but it required a "fighting force," and the navy didn't have one. The ABCD ships and their immediate successors--and even the big armored cruisers New York and Brooklyn, then nearing completion--were simply scouts and commerce destroyers, unable to "prevent a fleet of [hostile] ironclads from shelling our cities." To raise a blockade of its coasts, or to "beat off the enemy's fleet on its approach," America required "armored battleships." Embracing the as yet unpublished Mahanian principles, Tracy concluded that naval war, "though defensive in principle, may be conducted most effectively by being offensive in its operations." On the theory that if he asked for everything, he would receive something, Tracy decided to risk all. He recommended building "two fleets of battleships," twelve for the Atlantic, eight for the Pacific, plus sixty fast cruisers. To stroke the ultraconservatives in the department and the handwringers from congressional coastal districts, he further requested twenty useless monitor-type coast-defense vessels. To put real bone and sinew into the fleet, the navy's congressional partisans endorsed the portion of Tracy's report that established battleship fleets in both oceans, but nowhere near the secretary's inflated numbers. The bill for the "Increase of the Navy" that came out of the Billion-Dollar Congress provided funds for three "sea-going coastline battle ships designed to carry the heaviest armor and most powerful ordnance," one commerce-raiding cruiser, and a torpedo boat. Following Tracy's dictum for a two-ocean fleet, the act stipulated that one battleship be constructed on the West Coast. The reason for the battleships' oxymoronic "sea-going coast-line" designation was basely political. The "coast-line" designation was plugged into the bill to placate those who feared the advent of a truly offense-minded navy, those who would vote funds only for a service whose duties were strictly confined to coast defense. Indeed, strong opposition to the battleships came from a wide range of the politically conscious population: Quaker pacifists, midwestern and southern "small navy" congressmen, commerce-raiding enthusiasts with their eyes glued to the War of 1812 and the need for coastal and merchant shipping d
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