Flags of the United States: Twenty-Third U.S Flag, July 4, 1896
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Flags of the United States: Twenty-Third U.S Flag, July 4, 1896


By Jon R. Warren

When the new forty-five star flag was raised to honor the admission of Utah on July 4, 1896, the United States was in the midst of an election year. The conservative candidate William McKinley won over his opponent William Jennings Bryan. The new administration promptly raised protective tariffs to encourage American industry. So protective was the tariff of 1897 that it secured monopolies for a large number of American businessmen.

The nation's attention was diverted by the Cuban rebellion against inept Spanish rule. American sympathy for the rebels was increased by the journalistic efforts of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. On February 15, 1898, the U.S.S maine exploded in Havana harbor with heavy casualties. A naval court of inquiry found the cause was an external explosion, and there was immediate national clamor for war with Spain. In March, McKinley sent demands to Spain for Cuban independence. Spain made some concession, and meanwhile Spanish negotiations with the Cuban insurgents proceeded. Although hostilities seemed unlikely, McKinley felt impelled by the force of public opinion to declare war. The formal declaration was made on April 25.

On May 1 Admiral Dewey's Pacific fleet steamed into Manila Bay in the Philippines, a colonial possession of Spain. With the aid of native insurgents, the United States defeated the colony in ten weeks. The Spanish, badly outnumbered, lost several battles in Cuba. Commodore Winfield S. Schlay demolished the spanish Atlantic fleet on July 3. Santiago , Cuba, surrendered on July 15, and the war virtually over.

In conquering the ancient Spanish colonial empire, the United States itself became a colonial power with the acquisition of the Philippines, Puerto Rico and control over Cuba. With no experience in administering colonial territory, the American government was slow to evolve a method for dealing with the new empire, which was further expanded when the Hawaiian Islands were annexed on July 7, and when , in 1899, parts of samoa were acquired.

McKinley was triumphantly elected to a second term. On september 6, 1891, he was shot by an anarchist and he died eight days later. He was succeeded by Theodore roosevelt, his popular vice-President and Spanish-American War hero prominent in the Charges at SanJuan and Kettle Hills. The illustration shows American troops charging up San Juan Hill.

Roosevelt, the youngest man ever to assume the Presidency, was a reformer. His first targets were the trusts, massive conglomerates formed to keep prices up and control competition. He supported labor positions and demanded fair practices from both labor and management. He refused to use Federal troops as strikebreakers, and settled a mining strike in 1902 by forcing mine owners to submit to Presidential arbitration. Reelected in 1904, Roosevelt spent the next few years attempting, with limited success, to regulate the large companies.

On November 16, 1907, in the last year of Roosevelt's second term, Oklahoma was admitted as the forty-sixth state. The forty-five flag was lowered on July 3, 1908.

This article has been read 3799 times. Last read on 2/28/2021 10:50:51 AM

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