People were supporting independence, were defending Cuban independence, were buying bonds for Cuban independence. The church pulpits, ah, in this country had come out in favor of Cuban independence. The proposition of freedom for the island had now seized the public imagination.
I don’t propose to be swept off my feet by the catastrophe. We must learn the truth and endeavor, if possible, to fix the responsibility. The Administration will go on preparing for war, but still hoping to avert it. President William McKinley.
Secretary of the Navy John Long shared McKinley’s measured approach. Long made special efforts to meet with congressmen to discuss alternatives to war. One afternoon in late February, Long took time off and left Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt in charge. Roosevelt cabled Commodore George Dewey to gather his Asiatic Squadron in Hong Kong, only 600 miles from the Philippine Islands.