Remember the Maine
The USS Maine (BB–2) was the largest warship ever built in the United States during it’s time. After her completion she was a classified as a battleship (second class). The Maine was different. She was the first ship designed to use electricity. She was outfitted with a generator and electric lights, a technology new for the 1890s.
Tensions were growing between the U.S. and Spain during 1896 and 1897. Several American newspapers, manly the New York Journal and the New York World, railed against Spain and denounced "Spanish atrocities" in Cuba. There were many in this country who thought the United States should go to war and force Spain to leave Cuba. President McKinley and others counseled a more cautious approach. Even though tensions were high, an American warship it was felt could still sail to Cuba without inciting war.
The USS Maine enters Havana Harbor
Upon arrival in Havana on Tuesday, January 25th, the U.S.S. Maine anchored at Buoy #4 a space reserved for war ships. Despite this, the potential with the unrest in Cuba to turn violent, and the Maine's impressive array of military power, the mission was a peaceful one. Captain Sigsbee informed his crew that there would be no shore liberty while in Cuba.
The Spanish welcomed, though somewhat nervously, the arrival of the Maine and sent a case of sherry to the officer's mess along with an invitation to a bull fight at the "Plaza de Toros". Captain Sigsbee and a few of his officers dutifully accepted the invite, attending in civilian attire. On his visit ashore the commander of the Maine was at one point handed an anti-American propaganda pamphlet by someone in the crowd. Scrawled across it was the message, "Watch out for your ship."
On the night of February 15, 1898 at 9:40, an explosion took place on the Maine that lifted her bow into the air causing the ship to break into two large sections. The worst of the explosion occurred near the crew's quarters and trapped many men below decks. The Maine quickly took on water and started to sink. The captain, a number of other officers and some crewmen were able to escape, but more than two hundred died in the explosion and the sinking that followed. A number of the crew were rescued from the wreckage, but died soon after.
The Destruction of the Maine
Later, investigations revealed that more than five tons of powder charges for the vessel's six and ten-inch guns ignited virtually obliterating the forward third of the ship.
Newspapers sent hundreds of reporters, artists, and photographers south to record this Spanish atrocity. When the correspondents arrived they found little to report on. Artist Frederick Remington wrote to his boss, William Randolph Hearst, "There is no war, request to be recalled." Hearst sent a cable in reply: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war." Hearst was true to his word. For weeks after the Maine disaster the Journal devoted more than eight pages a day to the story. Not to be outdone, other papers followed Hearst's lead. Hundreds of editorials demanded that the Maine and American honor be avenged. Many Americans agreed. Soon a rallying cry could be heard everywhere -- in the papers, on the streets, and in the halls of Congress: "Remember the Maine!”
An investigation on the cause of the explosion was opened. Within weeks a report was filed that strongly suggested that an outward force had destroyed the Maine. Other investigators argued that eternal combustion in the magazine room caused the explosion. In April 1898, war was declared on Spain. Three months later the war was over and Cuba was free at last.
Twelve years later in 1910, a second inquiry into the fate of the Maine began. At this time many Americans wanted the remains of the men which had been left on board the Maine removed from the wreck and brought back to the United States for burial. Others wanted a second more thorough investigation of the disaster. In addition, the Cubans wanted the wreck removed from Havana harbor where it was a hazard to shipping. In response, Congress authorized the raising of the MAINE and supplied the appropriated funds.
The job was given to the US Army Corps of Engineers, which constructed a water-tight elliptical cofferdam on the floor of Havana harbor around the wreck of the MAINE. After its completion in November, 1911, the water was pumped out from around the wreck inside the cofferdam. This left the wreck in the open air where it was more easily and thoroughly examined by the new investigators for the first time since it had sunk.
A second board of inquiry, lead by Rear Admiral Charles E. Vreeland met on November 10. Their investigation was finished in several weeks and the report was sent to President Taft on December 14, 1911. The remains of the crewmen had been removed from the ship and taken back to the United States on board the armored cruiser USS NORTH CAROLINA for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. The wreck of the ship was then refloated, towed out to sea, and ceremonially scuttled on March 16, 1912.
In 1976, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover published his book How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed. The admiral became interested in the disaster and wondered if the application of modern scientific knowledge could determine the cause. He called in two experts on explosions and their effects on ship hulls. Using documentation gathered from the two official inquiries, as well as information on the construction and ammunition of the Maine, the experts concluded that the damage caused to the ship was inconsistent with the external explosion of a mine. The most likely cause, they speculated, was spontaneous combustion of coal in the bunker next to the magazine.
The bodies of many of the ship's victims were originally buried in Havana. In 1912, they were exhumed and moved to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia for burial. One of Maine's masts stands there today as a memorial. Another cemetery holding remains of victims of the USS Maine is in Key West, Florida.
Pieces of the Maine are scattered all over the country. Her bow plate and scrolls are mounted on a monument in Bangor, Maine. One of her cannons is a monument in Portland, Maine. The ship's silver service, recovered from the wreckage, now resides in the Blaine House, the Governor's residence in Augusta, Maine. One of her masts is erected in Annapolis, Maryland, on the grounds of the Naval Academy. Other artifacts from the ship are in private collections or on public display all over the nation. This dispersion of components from the wreckage has prompted some to call the USS Maine "the longest ship in the world" stretching from Maine to Cuba!
To this day no one really knows for sure what happened on that night in February in 1898. It was during this time when America found out the power of the Press and how it was the main reason the U.S. went to war. In the famous war cries that shaped our world, one of the most famous will always be:
“Remember the Maine!!”
You may be reading this and you have never answered the most important question in your life and that is …
How does anyone get to heaven?
First realize that they cannot get to heaven on their own merits. The Bible says that “For all have sinned and come short (that means everybody can’t get to Heaven on their own) of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
Jesus Christ (who is the Son of the living God) came to earth and was born of a virgin woman (therefore he was not born of the curse of mankind) he lived a sinless life and died on a cross for all the sins in the world. Three days later, God the Father raised Him from the dead. He was seen of 500 witnesses and returned to heaven. God’s word says that if we believe these things and call upon the Lord, we will be saved. Romans 10:9 - 13