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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Patriotic envelope
SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR. The Spanish-American War of 1898 ended Spain’s colonial empire in the Western Hemisphere and guaranteed the position of the United States as a Pacific power. U.S. victory in the war produced a peace treaty forcing the Spanish to relinquish claims on Cuba, and to cede sovereignty over Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the United States. The United States also annexed the independent state of Hawaii during the conflict. The war enabled the United States to establish its predominance in the Caribbean region and to pursue its strategic and economic interests in Asia. (1)

One of the overlooked effects of the war was on the goal's of Iowa's James "Tama Jim" Wilson from Traer and serving as United States Secretary of Agriculture to make this country agriculturally independent. Eager to see the United States gain territory in other parts of the world with agricultural potential, Wilson endorsed the war. (2)

Spanish-American War encampment veteran pin pendant 1898-1902 Cuba USA Dubuque, Iowa

Dubuque's contribution to the military included Gottfried BLOCKLINGER. On his way to an illustrious career in the United States Navy, Blocklinger served as the Executive Officer, on board the USS Charleston during the capture of Guam. The largest island of the Marianas island chain, Guam was under Spanish control since 1668, when a Spanish mission was founded on the island. Despite the approach of hostilities between Spain and the United States no effort was made by Spain to reinforce this remote post of its empire. (3)

The Ericsson torpedo boat was launched here by the IOWA IRON WORKS in May, 1894; Miss Carrie Kiene christened the vessel; 20,000 people witnessed the launching. This boat went down the MISSISSIPPI RIVER and saw service in the war. (4) Ericsson took part in the July 3, 1890 battle off Santiago. (5)

The United States military may have had an idea of the situation on Guam. On June 4, 1898, the U.S.S. Charleston accompanied by the transports City of Peking, City of Sydney, and Australia left Honolulu. Once at sea, Captain Henry Glass of the Charleston opened his sealed orders. The directive for the cruiser and transports was proceed to Guam and take the island. It was anticipated that these actions "should not occupy more than one or two days." (6) The bloodless capture of the island gave the United States its first possession in the Pacific and a possible coaling station for the U.S. Navy.

President William McKinley called the GOVERNOR'S GREYS into service. They left Dubuque on April 26, 1898 and were mustered into the army as Company A, 49th Iowa Voluntary Infantry. (7) The group was part of the United States troops that accepted the surrender of Spain on January 1, 1899. In 1899 they returned to Dubuque and were mustered out of service. (8)



1. "Milestones: 1866-1898," U. S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, Online: http://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/spanish-american-war


3. "The United States Navy," The Spanish American War Centennial Website, Online: http://www.spanamwar.com/usnavy.htm

4. Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Online: http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/franklin-t-oldt/history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl/page-27-history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl.shtml

4. "The United States Navy."

5. "U. S. Navy Ships." Online Library of Selected Images Ships of the Spanish-American War. Online: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/OnlineLibrary/photos/events/spanam/ships/torp-bt.htm

6. "Governor's Greys Left City 29 Years Ago for War Duty," Telegraph Herald, Apr. 26, 1927, p. 15. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=03pFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=srwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6861,5940408&dq=governor%27s+greys&hl=en

7. "Governor's Greys Mustered Out of Service 32 Years Ago," Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, May 13, 1930. p. 13. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=F7BFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Pb0MAAAAIBAJ&pg=2498,6974175&dq=governor%27s+greys&hl=en