Remembering the Maine: the United States, 1898 and Sectional Reconciliation

  • John Oldfield


There is very little doubt that the Spanish-American War was a turning-point in US history. Victory ensured that for the first time the United States acquired an overseas empire and, with it, new responsibilities.1 The Spanish-American War also came to be regarded as a landmark of a different sort. Except for frontier skirmishes with the Indians, the country had not been at war for over thirty years. The Civil War, the United States’ most recent war experience, had torn the country apart. The Spanish-American War, by contrast, was hailed from the first as a war of sectional reconciliation. As Henry Cabot Lodge put it in The War with Spain (1899), ‘the war came, and in the twinkling of an eye, in a flash of burning, living light, [the people of the United States] saw that the long task was done, that the land was really one again without rent or seam, and men rejoiced mightily in their hearts with this knowledge which the new war had brought’.2


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  1. 2.
    Henry Cabot Lodge, The War with Spain (New York, 1899), pp. 233–4. For similar comments, see Richard E. Wood, ‘The South and Reunion, 1898’, The Historian, vol. 31 (1969), p. 415.Google Scholar
  2. 17.
    J.W. Floyd, History, Roster and Itinerary of South Carolina Volunteer Troops who served in the late War between the United States and Spain, 1898. Compiled with Brief Sketches of their Movements from the Beginning to the Ending of the Conflict ( Columbia, South Carolina, 1901 ), pp. 12–13.Google Scholar
  3. 46.
    James Ford Rhodes, The McKinley and Roosevelt Administrations, 1897–1909 (New York, 1927), pp. 231–2; Woodward, op. cit., pp. 472–4; Kendrick A. Clements, The Presidency of Woodrow Wilson (Lawrence, Kansas, University Press of Kansas, 1992), pp. 1–2 and 14.Google Scholar
  4. 49.
    Ben W. Fortson, The State Capitol of Georgia (Atlanta, Georgia, n.d.), p. 18. Other monuments on the capitol grounds include a bronze statue of Joseph E. Brown, who served as governor at Milledgeville from 1857 to 1865.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Oldfield

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