Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge
[Washington, DC] September 21, 1897
. . . The President has been most kind. I dined with him Friday evening, and yesterday he sent over and took me out to drive again. I gave him a paper showing exactly where all our ships are, and I also sketched in outline what I thought ought to be done if things looked menacing about Spain, urging the necessity of taking an immediate and prompt initiative if we wished to avoid the chance of some serious trouble, of the Japs chipping in. If we get Walker with our main fleet on the Cuban coast within forty-eight hours after war is declared—which we can readily do if just before the declaration we gather the entire fleet at Key West; and if we put four big, fast, heavily armed cruisers under, say. Evans, as a flying squadron to harass the coast of Spain until some of the battleships are able to leave Cuba and go there; and if at the same time we throw, as quickly as possible, an expeditionary force into Cuba, I doubt if the war would last six weeks so far as the acute phase of it was concerned. Meanwhile, our Asiatic squadron should blockade, and if possible take, Manilla. But if we hesitate and let the Spaniards take the initiative, they could give us great temporary annoyance by sending a squadron off our coast, not to speak of the fact that if they were given time, when once it was evident that war had to come, there would be plenty of German and English, and possibly French officers instructing them how to lay mines and use torpedoes for the defense of the Cuban ports. Besides we would have the Japs on our backs. However, I haven’t the slightest idea that there will be a war....
Source Note: TCyS, DLC-MSS, PTR, roll 314. Addressed below close: “Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge,/Nahant, Mass.” Henry Cabot Lodge was a Republican senator from Massachusetts and a vociferous champion of American expansion.