An Unwanted War: The Diplomacy of the United States and Spain over Cuba, 1895-1898

By John L. Offner | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 8
BACKDROP FOR DIPLOMACY

During the weeks following the Maine disaster, the United States and Spain moved closer to war, and both prepared for it. From the start of the naval investigation of the Maine wreckage, the court of inquiry suspected an external explosion had caused the disaster. In theory, the court operated in secret, and the results were not to be known until the end of the investigation; in practice, there were constant leaks. Lee regularly gleaned information in Havana, which he forwarded to Day, and much the same news appeared in reputable journals within twenty-four hours. The public outwardly displayed patience, but this cloaked an intense emotional involvement in the catastrophe and a deep-seated conviction that the time had come to settle the Cuban issue. Most Americans expected the McKinley administration to solve the Cuban problem; if necessary, they were prepared to fight Spain to free Cuba. Just before the naval court completed its report, Senator Redfield Proctor, Republican of Vermont, heightened the emotion by dramatizing the deplorable condition of reconcentrados and Spain's futile efforts to end the insurrection. Spain's attempts to counter the naval court and Proctor's accusations had no influence on American opinion.

News about the Maine came quickly; the naval court opened hearings

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