As the 1890s opened Americans considered themselves, rightly or wrongly, as a world power nearly equal to England, which ranked No. 1. What they did not have, however, were colonies, a major fact for Englands power and status.
But right in their own back yard, they saw Spain losing grip on her colonies, which presented a wonderful opportunity to gain an empire for themselves. It was, some argued, our Manifest Destiny to free these people from their oppressors and grant them the great institutions of democracy. Other Americans saw it quite differently as imperialism.
Then the battleship U.S.S. Maine was sunk in Havana Harbor (Feb. 15, 1898) with heavy loss of life and all hell broke loose: MAINE BLOWN TO ATOMS IN HAVANA HARBOR.
For whatever reasons, war fever soon gripped the country, and Durangoans marched right in step.
The March 23, 1898, Durango Evening Herald reflected this:
We Do not want blood money from Spain. We want atonement in the shape of Cuban independence.
Spain is beset with internal problems and is almost as much in danger as from abroad.
HORROR OF CUBA: Among the Spanish soldiers discipline is slack. They have been unpaid for six months and are inadequately fed. Except for the lack of arms, the insurgents who hold most of the island are their superiors.
The Cubans ready to march on Havana.
United States Sen. (Jacob) Gallinger, New Hampshire, has just returned from there. He says it is a peculiar war, not the kind he became acquainted with at Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.
Intense Excitement Spanish Torpedo Flotilla Sails from the Canaries for Puerto Rico.
This has caused the most intense excitement at the Navy department and increased the gravity of the situation.
Meanwhile back in Durango:
The Wheel Club meeting advertised to be held tomorrow night at the court house will be held at Gartins repair shop instead.
Money can be had from the Interstate Investment Co. on long or short time.
The Smith Drug Co. are getting things in shape today and by tomorrow will be ready for business the same as usual.
The home for dependant and neglected children will receive dependants and children under 16 years. 3723 Hart St. Denver
J.C. Campbell came in from Rico last evening. The senator says mining matters are picking up along the line of the Southern (railroad).
A first class shine, any color, can always be had at Wesley Helms barber shop.
There will be a full rehearsal of the opera Golden Hair at Mr. Stanleys residence on Wednesday evening beginning at 8 oclock. Soloists, chorus and orchestra are requested to be present.
Duane Smith is a Fort Lewis College history professor. Reach him at 247-2589.