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April 16, 1897: T. Roosevelt Appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy

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Theodore Roosevelt In 1897, President McKinley appointed Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Roosevelt's enthusiastic support for intervention--he once said, "I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one"--was based on his belief that his generation of young men needed to test their mettle in battle. Roosevelt greatly admired naval officer and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan and supported his theory that the United States needed a modern navy to protect its growing interests around the world. Although he served as the Navy's Assistant Secretary for only a year, Roosevelt was instrumental in preparing Theodore Rooseveltthe U.S. Navy for a future war with Spain. During his tenure with the Navy, Roosevelt developed contacts with noted naval strategists, planned future strategies for a naval war with Spain, and appointed George Dewey to command the Asiatic Squadron. Dewey would be victorious in the first combat of the Spanish-American War, the Battle of Manila Bay, on May 1, 1898. Roosevelt himself would become a hero of the war as one of the leaders of the First Volunteer Cavalry, nicknamed the "Rough Riders." On his return from Cuba, he ran successfully for governor of New York in the election of 1898, and two years later was tapped at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia to be McKinley's vice presidential running mate.


Dyal, Donald H.. Historical Dictionary of the Spanish American War. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT, 1996.

Jeffers, Paul H. Colonel Roosevelt. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York: 1996.

O'Toole, G.J.A., The Spanish War: An American Epic-1898. W.W. Norton & Company: New York, 1984.

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