Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Journal of Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 21, 1898.

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     One of the busiest days of the season. Appoint Captain Sampson an Acting Admiral.1 Telegraph him to move at once to blockade Cuba which, of course, is the beginning of the war.

     Postmaster General Gary2 resigns on account of ill health.

     Am with the President3 and other officers of the Cabinet, determining on the opening movements of the scene.

     My Naval War Board, consisting of Roosevelt, Crowninshield, Sicard, Barker and Clover,4 meet to discuss the formulation of preliminary orders.

     So busy that I get my lunch at the lunch counter in the basement of the Department.

     Half past four: the President walks with me for an hour through the streets. Says it is the longest walk he has taken since he has been in Washington, and he feels better for it. He opens his heart to me, with reference to the struggle through which he has been and the anxiety it has involved.5

     Evening at home.

Source Note: Transcript, MHi, Papers of John D. Long, vol. 78.

Footnote 1: Commo. William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Squadron

Footnote 2: James A. Gary.

Footnote 3: President William McKinley.

Footnote 4: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, Chief of theBureau of Navigation Commo. Arent S. Crowninshield, RAdm. Montgomery Sicard, Capt. Albert S. Barker, and Chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence, Cmdr. Richardson Clover.

Footnote 5: According to McKinley biographer Margaret Leech, the president developed a distaste for bloodshed when serving in the Civil War. McKinley’s preference for peaceful diplomacy appeared during the growing tension with Spain. During this period he faced a zealously pro-war Congress and press. McKinley believed, however, that the American military was ill-prepared and that war might reverse the nation’s recent recovery from a major depression. Diplomacy also resulted in tangible progress toward a resolution of hostilities in Cuba. Stress induced by losing control and the seemingly inevitable war had a considerable effect on McKinley’s mental health. He had difficulty sleeping, looked visibly worn, and on one occasion broke down in tears while talking with newspapermen and his friend Henry H. Kohlsaat. Margaret Leech, In the Days of McKinley (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959), 8, 179-82.

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