The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898
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On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor. The sinking of the Maine was just the provocation Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt was looking for. Along with his friend Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and his rival, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, Roosevelt began stirring the public's desire for war against Spain. Roosevelt was soon charging up San Juan Hill in Cuba with his Rough Riders in a tragi-comic campaign that marked America's emergence as an empire abroad. Through the perspective of five larger-than-life characters—war lovers Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and two prominent doves, House Speaker Thomas Reed and philosopher William James—Evan Thomas portrays a pivotal chapter in American history.
An intriguing examination of the pull that war has on men, THE WAR LOVERS is moving saga of courage, ambition, and broken friendships with a provocative relevance to today.
to leave him behind. With the advent of World War I, Roosevelt ranted that President Wilson was a coward for trying to keep the country out of war, and he attacked pacifists as less than men while demanding their persecution.17 Though overweight and increasingly infirm, he proposed to Wilson that he be given command of a division to fight in France. Not wanting to make Roosevelt either a hero or a martyr, Wilson declined. “I don’t understand,” Roosevelt complained to Wilson’s aide, Colonel E. M.
8, 354–55. 5. Santayana, Middle Span, vol. 2, 166. 6. Skrupskelis and Berkeley, eds., Correspondence of William James, vol. 3, 26. 7. Ibid., vol. 8, 358–59. 8. Skrupskelis and Berkeley, eds., Correspondence of William James, vol. 2, 28–32. 9. Ibid., vol. 8, 361. 10. Spector, Admiral of the New Empire, 49. 11. Dewey, Autobiography, 171–73. 12. Spector, Admiral of the New Empire, 49–50. 13. G. J. A. O’Toole, Spanish War, 178–79. 14. Spector, Admiral of the New Empire, 56–57. 15.
McKinley rested his head on his hands, elbows on knees. He complained of not sleeping, and vowed that Congress was trying to drive him into a war with Spain. “He broke down and cried like a boy of thirteen,” Kohlstaat wrote in a memoir. According to the newspaperman, he put his hand on the president’s shoulder and tried to reassure him that the country would back whatever course he took. After a while McKinley asked Kohlstaat, “Do my eyes look very red? Do they look like I’ve been crying?”
press made fun of them. The “rather dudish Roosevelt” and the “properly English” Lodge “applauded with the tips of their fingers, held immediately in front of their noses,” wrote one reporter, exaggerating for effect. At first their voices were barely heard—Lodge’s “rasping” Brahmin accent, Roosevelt “shaking with the effort” to shout above the roar.7 Nevertheless, the two were far from impotent. Playing the role of upstart reformers, they managed to unseat the party regulars’ choice for
In February he began flaunting his “war fleet”—the yachts Anita and Buccaneer, and the tug Echo. The flotilla grew to include about a dozen dispatch boats and steamers owned or chartered by Hearst plying the Caribbean as the invasion of Cuba neared.5 According to Hearst editor Willis Abbott, the newsroom virtually emptied as men were sent to cover the war; by the end the Journal had dispatched forty reporters, editors, and photographers to Cuba. The expense far exceeded the revenue from