To the extent that Americans knew that there was an insurgency in the Philippines, there was a vague sympathy in support. Americans have been at least rhetorically supportive of anti-colonialist, anti-imperial movements from the time of the American Revolution. Compared to the insurgency in Cuba which Americans knew all about, the Philippines were really a blank spot in the American public’s perception.
TITLE CARD: “On the Shores of Havana, Far Away”
Through 1897, the New York newspapers portrayed Cuba as a damsel in distress, Uncle Sam as her gallant savior, and Spain as the villain in an intriguing romance of war. And every romance has its troubadour. Hearst’s was Richard Harding Davis.
Richard Harding Davis was a brilliant writer, but, more than that, he was an incredible character. Hearst paid him three thousand dollars a month plus expenses, which was absolutely phenomenal.
As the international correspondent for Harper’s Weekly, Davis had journeyed through the Middle East and Central America. For the New York Journal, Davis cabled back stories from Cuba that flared his readers’ imaginations. One story described the young Adolfo Rodriguez, sentenced to die for joining the Cuban rebellion.
RICHARD HARDING DAVIS
The officer of the firing squad whipped up his sword; the men leveled their rifles; the sword dropped; and the men fired. The Cuban sank on his side without a struggle or sound, and did not move again. At that moment the sun shot up suddenly from behind them and the whole world seemed to wake to welcome the day. But the figure of the young Cuban was asleep in the wet grass, his arms still tightly bound behind him, and the blood from his breast sinking into the soil that he had tried to free. Richard Harding Davis.
President McKinley read a dozen newspapers a day. Like millions of Americans, he was touched by Hearst’s portrayal of Evangelina Cisneros, a convent-educated, Cuban teenager, imprisoned by the Spanish in Havana.
Hearst set up a international campaign to get prominent women all over the world to send telegrams to Spain demanding the release of Ms. Cisneros.