Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Commodore George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Squadron

From Secretary of Navy.

To COM’D’R-IN-CHIEF

Date May 7, 1898.

Subject President’s thanks,

Promotion.

Charleston, Pekin1

and troops coming.

Received at Cavite May 10.

The President2 in the name of the American people thanks you and your officers and men for your splendid achievement an overwhelming victory.

In recognition he has appointed you acting Rear Admiral and will recommend a vote of thanks to you by Congress as a foundation for further promotion.3

The Charleston will leave at once with what ammunition they can carry.

Pacific Mail S.S.Co’s4 steamer Pekin will follow with ammunition and supplies, and will take troops unless you telegraph otherwise.5

How many will you require?

Source Note: CyC, DLC-MSS, PGD.

Footnote 1: Civilian steamship, City of Peking.

Footnote 2: President William McKinley.

Footnote 3: News of Dewey’s victory was received with national jubilation. Dewey became a national hero overnight. Municipal and state government declarations were made to celebrate his 1 May 1898 victory. A celebration to honor Dewey was held in Madison Union Square and it was attended by 100,000 people. Dewey was permanently promoted to Rear Admiral on 16 May 1898. In July of 1898 Congress voted to give all members of the Asiatic Squadron bronze medals emblazoned with Dewey’s visage. Dewey was presented with his own medal and a custom made Tiffany sword with an ornate gold hilt, covered in diamonds. President McKinley personally presented the sword to Dewey during a celebration in Washington, D.C. after his return to the United States in September, 1899.

As a Civil War veteran, who worshipped Admiral David G. Farragut, Dewey held a keen understanding of his role as a national hero. He wrote in his autobiography:

The Civil War had sent its admiral with the message of a nation reunited by force; and the Spanish War had sent its admiral with the message of a country reunited in sentiment and become a world power. Dewey, Autobiography, 288.

Veneration for Dewey continued long after the Battle of Manila Bay. In March 1899, Dewey was given the title of Admiral of the United States Navy - a title he was empowered to hold until retirement or death, and one which had never been bestowed before or since. Ronald Spector, Admiral of the New American Empire, 286, 288.

Footnote 4: Pacific Mail Steam Ship Company. 

Footnote 5: This cable was made in response to Dewey’s first report, delivered to Hong Kong by McCulloch on 4 May. It reached Washington on 7 May. This response was drafted immediately upon its reception. See: Dewey to Long, 1 May 1898.

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