Issue 11-2-14 Website - page 10

Remember TheMaine
I came into theoffice theother
day, andon the library tablewas
a pretty unusual mirror. I had
neverseenanything like it. Itwas
about two feet square andmade
of copper with a small mirror in
thecenter. Therewerehat hooks
on it and Iwas told it hung in the
front hall and the woman who
donated it said that her kids said
it was ugly and it needed to find
anewhome. Theunusual part of
themirror is that it has the relief
of three men, and at the bottom
it says: “Remember theMaine.”
and “Sampson” - - all heroes of
Most people don’t know a lot
about theSpanishAmericanWar.
In fact, it only lasted tenweeks.
Tensions had beenmounting be-
tween theUnitedStatesandSpain
over thefight for independence in
Cuba.But economic factorsmay
have played a more important
role. Cuba exported 90% of its
commodities to theUnitedStates
and40%of its importscame from
the U.S. American businessmen
invested heavily in the devalued
with caution, but he had sent the
U.S.S. Maine to Havana after
riots broke out. On February
15, 1898, an explosion ripped
through theU.S.S.Maine, and it
sunk. Twohundred andfifty-five
men lost their lives, and the
Americanpress ledbyJosephPu-
litzer of the
WilliamRandolphHearst of the
, capitalizedon
sensational headlines. “Remem-
ber theMaine, andToHellWith
Spain” became the battle cry.
Andalthough itwasneverclearly
determinedwhowas responsible
for the explosion, Spain became
the target for American aggres-
impacted theSpanishholdings in
theCaribbean and in thePacific.
The men immortalized on the
mirror were war heroes. Richard
Pearson Hobson had graduated
from theNavalAcademy in1889.
During theWar, hewasordered to
take commandof the collierMer-
rimac (coal tender) and to sink it
in the Santiago Harbor, blocking
in the Spanish fleet. It was con-
sidereda suicide, butHobsonwas
able to scuttle the ship, although
not in the shallow part of the
harbor. He and the sixmenof his
crew were captured and held in
Spanishprison. Uponhis release,
hewas hailed as a hero. After his
career in theNavy, hewaselected
proponentofprohibition laws. (He
was also a close friend of Nikola
Tesla, and Tesla was best man in
GeorgeDeweygraduated from
theNavalAcademy in1858, and
distinguishedhimself in theNavy
during theCivilWar.At theonset
of the SpanishAmericanWar he
was inChinaaboard theOlympia.
He received orders to proceed to
the Bay ofManila. In six hours,
onMay 1, 1898, he sunk or cap-
tured the entire Spanish Pacific
fleet. Spanish domination in the
Pacific ended.
After thewar, aspecialmilitary
medal was struck in honor of
Dewey’s victory at Manila Bay.
Known as the Dewey Medal, it
was awarded to everyAmerican
officer, sailor andmarinepresent
at thebattle.Themedalswerede-
sculptorof theLincolnMemorial,
and produced by Tiffany and
Company. Because Dewey’s
imagewason themedal, hewore
hismedal reversed.
William Sampsonwas born in
ed from the Naval Academy in
1857.He servedduring theCivil
War and became the Superin-
tendent of the Naval Academy.
Twodays after the sinkingof the
manof theBoardofInquiryof the
incident. In March he assumed
command of the North Atlantic
Later in the war, Sampson
would take credit for the victory
of the efforts of Rear Admiral
Winfield Scott Schley would
eventually come tohaunt him.A
special tribunal acknowledged
Bay (but hewas not included on
the mirror) Sampson Air Force
Base on the east side of Seneca
Lake,which isnow theSampson
State Park, known for its white
albinodeer, isnamed forWilliam
Sowhatabout themirror? Well
it’s not as rare as I thought. In
fact it isprettycommonand they
come up on eBay regularly. But
has found a home at the LeRoy
Historical Society, and might
serveasahat holder inouroffice
for the time being.
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