One of the reasons the posting has been lighter over the past few months is because I have been doing a fair amount of writing for the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace website and Facebook page. With the season now underway at Governors Island I will soon be doing the same there. One reason I love the TRB so much is that it offers so many interpretive possibilities. Far from feeling I have gotten away from the Civil War intellectually, I believe I am even more close to it. Senator William Seward of New York gave his “Irrepressible Conflict” speech on 25 October 1858 two days before Roosevelt’s birth. Teedie came into manhood in the 1870s and 1880s when the country was getting back on its feet.
I have something a little different for Memorial Day weekend. Between now and Monday I will be posting a few political cartoons from the era.
Sort of The Onion of its day, Puck put this on its cover the first Memorial Day after the Spanish-American War.
Both World Wars helped reunite the North and South. It is well known for instance that George Patton’s grandfather was a Confederate officer. Even though the Spanish-American War was shorter and required fewer men than these wars that came later, it had an even stronger and more immediate reconciliationist element.
For starters Civil War veterans fought in Cuba, which took place just thirty-five years after Vicksburg and Gettysburg. Confederate General Joseph Wheeler, a West Point graduate and veteran of Shiloh and Chickamauga among other battles, commanded the V Corps’s Dismounted Cavalry Division which included the Rough Rider regiment. General Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of Robert E. Lee, led the VII Corps.
By the time Puck put this on its cover Theodore Roosevelt had been back from the fighting in Cuba for nine months, feted around the country, and elected governor of New York.
(image/Library of Congress)