Theodore Roosevelt and His Time Shown in His Own Letters - Vol. 1

By Joseph Bucklin Bishop | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
THE WAR WITH SPAIN

THAT the Navy was reasonably well prepared for the war solely because of the efforts of Roosevelt, is clearly revealed by these citations from his correspondence. For months he had been working unceasingly with the hearty co-operation of the ablest men in the service to get material in readiness and have the ships properly equipped and commanded. It was due solely to him also that Admiral Dewey was in command of the Asiatic squadron and that that squadron was ready to sail from Hong Kong to the Philippines at a moment's notice and was in condition to win the battle of Manila. There is abundant proof in support of these statements.

When the question of appointing a commander of the Asiatic squadron arose in the fall of 1897, Roosevelt, in accordance with his established policy of gathering from every source information as to who were the beat men to occupy the fighting positions, ascertained that sound naval opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of Dewey for the command of a squadron. He had been struck by an incident in Dewey's career in which he had, without authority from the Navy Department and on his own responsibility, bought a supply of coal in preparation for a threatening emergency. "The incident," Roosevelt says in his 'Autobiography,' "made me feel that here was a man who could be relied upon to prepare in advance, and to act promptly, fearlessly, and on his own responsibility when the emergency arose. Accordingly I did my best to get him put in command of the Asiatic fleet, the fleet where it was most essential to have a man who would act without referring things back to the home authorities."

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