General Fitzhugh Lee, by Harry Warren Readnour, Chapter 7

General Fitzhugh Lee: A Biographical Study


With the close of the disappointing year 1893, the personal fortunes of Fitzhugh Lee took a decided turn for the better. In the midst of the Senate race, Fitz was trying to extricate himself from the collapsing Rockbridge Company. Finally, resigning as president of the concern in 1894, he concentrated on clearing up his other business affairs and recouping some of his financial losses.1 Lee also made some effort to recover his public prestige after his surprising defeat in the Democratic caucus. As previously mentioned, in 1894 he made several appearances and speeches on the party’s behalf and voiced his criticism of Martin and the railroads only in private. However, Lee was viewed by some insurgent Democrats as a potential leader in challenging the so-called Martin “ring,” and reports of various maneuvers by Martin or his supporters continued to flow to Lee after 1893. But Fitz declined to take an active part in intraparty struggles and, although he supported and campaigned for its candidates, Lee never again sought a party nomination or made any attempt to exert a determining influence in the internal affairs of the Virginia Democracy. Lee had had enough of Virginia politicians.2

Fitz devoted more time to participation in activities which had a greater appeal to him during the less hectic months after the Senate election. In particular, he addressed himself to a labor of love and, in July 1894, finally completed his biography of General Robert E. Lee.3 His study of the great general, based primarily on manuscripts in his possession, enjoyed considerable acclaim from critics and a brisk sale to the public. After its publication, the author found himself increasingly in demand as a lecturer and a contributor to journals on events of the War.4 The success of he biography greatly pleased Fitz, although his partisan defense of his uncle accelerated the slowly reviving Gettysburg controversy. The old ex-cavalryman relished his immersion in military affairs again—fighting the battles of a bygone era, even if only on paper—and spent much time in discussions with other Confederate veterans. The revived Gettysburg dispute did not reach its proportions of the 1870s, but Fitz was now viewed by most veterans as the chief defender who had finally and completely dispelled Longstreet’s criticisms of their late Commanding General. Longstreet made his last major reply to Fitz and others in 1896 with the publication of his memoirs. Although his memoirs contained harsh criticisms of the great general and his nephew, Longstreet was unsuccessful in winning many new allies in the long struggle. By 1896, Fitz (then engaged in the pressing problems of his position in Cuba) had little time to devote to the dispute but did receive the satisfaction of knowing that his uncle’s military reputation would remain undiminished.5

Lee enjoyed the luxury of pursuing his personal interests after his withdrawal from the Rockbridge Company, but he also remained receptive to further public service. Although he was a defeated senatorial aspirant, he retained much of his public prestige. Moreover, his war relationship with Cleveland continued to be strengthened after 1893, especially as Virginia politicians tried to accommodate “free-silver” advocates.6 Lee, a leading Cleveland ally and proponent of gold or “sound-money,” was considered a potential leader around whom the President’s Virginia supporters could rally. Within a week of the Martin victory, speculation had begun that Fitz would be appointed to some Federal office. He rejected the first offer, to be ambassador to Sweden, since he did not wish to leave Virginia until he finished writing General Lee.7 Nor did he wish to become enmeshed in another intraparty fight; however, he took an increasingly stronger position in defending the Presidential monetary policies.

In April 1895, Fitz finally accepted a patronage appointment from Cleveland as the Collector of Internal Revenue for the Western District of Virginia. By that date, Lee was recognized as being a key individual in efforts to maintain the President’s personal stature in Virginia and the person who could gain adherents for Cleveland’s monetary policy. Most of the press comments stressed the appointment as a clever stroke on the part of the President. By making his surprising selection (Fitz had not sought the position nor had he been suggested by the Virginia Congressional delegation), Cleveland had not only rewarded a faithful and capable lieutenant but had also laid the foundation for a revival of sound-money supporters in the Virginia Democracy.8 Lee did make several speeches in defense of the gold standard in the next several months, but he made no other attempt to increase the friction among Virginia Democrats or to become the leader of a faction. Instead, Lee devoted his attention to his new duties and thereby repudiated the gossip that he would challenge senator Daniel and other free-silver Democrats.9 Lee fortunately escaped from what could have developed into another bitter political confrontation for him when Cleveland decided that Fitz’s services were needed in confronting a far more perplexing problem.10

Fitzhugh Lee formally began his last great public service to his country on April 13, 1896, when President Cleveland appointed him consul-general in Havana, the highest official American representative in Cuba. Characteristically, Cleveland kept his intention of appointing Lee to this key post a secret until the last moment.11 Several factors made the position of consul-general in Havana one of the most difficult but significant positions in the Administration, and one that Lee felt obliged to accept when the President requested him to serve there. In February 1895, a revolution erupted in Cuba against its Spanish rulers, and the struggle became an increasingly vexing but pressing problem for the Cleveland administration in subsequent months. The United States was a very interested observer in the insurrection owing to the island’s strategic location and to the large American economic interests in Cuba (primarily the sugar plantations) that seemed to be threatened by the fighting.12

Cleveland’s problems in dealing with the Cuban situation grew increasingly troublesome and complicated as American newspapers, particularly Joseph Pulitzer’s World and William Randolph Hearst’s Journal in New York, allotted more and more pages to Cuban activities. The papers reported numerous alleged atrocities of the Spanish and thereby contributed to the growing American sympathy for the rebels.13 Public opinion, already agitated by the gyrations of the press, was further inflamed by those politicians whose imperialistic tendencies caused them to leap at the chance of American acquisition of Cuba—or at least the expulsion of the Spanish. These pressures and the limitations they imposed on the Administration’s Cuban policy were to plague Cleveland until the end of his term in March 1897—nor did they, in fact, lessen for his successor in the White House until the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898.14

Cleveland and his Secretary of State, Richard Olney, were restrained by another factor in dealing with the Cuban insurrection. Neither wanted to initiate policies leading to overt American intervention, which might result in eventual annexation of Cuba by the United States and, more probably, a war with Spain. The Administration settled on a policy of neutrality but hoped that the Spanish would offer Cuba a degree of autonomy similar to that enjoyed by Canada within the British Empire. In April 1896, the revolution was over a year old with no end in sight, and Olney moved closer to intervention by suggesting that Spain propose reforms which the United States would attempt to persuade the rebels to accept.15 At this juncture, Cleveland decided that Fitzhugh Lee would be an invaluable man to have on the scene. He and Olney had long realized the need for a trustworthy agent with a military background who could investigate and report on the true conditions in Cuba. The Spanish had maintained that the revolt was doomed to a quick collapse, but obviously the rebels were growing stronger rather than weaker. The reports from American journalists were often highly colored in favor of the rebels and the Administration needed an accurate source of information on the military and political situation on the island. Since Spain opposed the visit of an American to conduct a special investigation, Cleveland selected Lee, his confidant and a man with wide military experience, to serve as the ranking American official in Cuba.16

Lee spent several weeks in private consultation with Cleveland and Olney prior to his departure to Havana. The confidential nature of his mission was stressed by the two men, especially since the Cuban cause was becoming an American political issue as Congress passed resolutions calling for recognition of the rebels as belligerents. Lee would be depended upon to furnish essential information on Cuban military, economic, and political conditions whereby the administration could formulate policies to restore peace and indirectly to promote Cuban autonomy. He was also expected to protect vigorously the American interests and citizens on the island and thereby lessen the harsh criticisms hurled at Cleveland by the jingo press. The burdens of the position were further increased by the necessity for Lee to fulfill the normal responsibilities of a consul-general in addition to these special tasks.17

On June 3, 1896, the sixty-year-old ex-soldier reached Havana and began his long and trying service as the ranking American official on the troubled island. The hazardous nature of his position, as well as his fears about the climate, caused Lee to leave his wife and younger children in Richmond but Fitzhugh, Jr., his twenty-two-year-old eldest son, accompanied him as a confidential secretary.18

Promptly upon arriving, Lee attempted to see as much of the island and meet as many of its inhabitants as possible in order to send the Washington authorities thorough and meaningful reports. He had had little sympathy for American intervention in the earlier unsuccessful Cuban revolution (the Ten Years’ War of 1868–1878), but his presence on the isle in the next several months influenced his feelings about Cuba.19 Lee was impressed by Cuba’s natural beauty, its “splendid harbors,” and “its fertile soil, producing so many varieties of food, fruit, tobacco, coffee, and sugar.”20 The economic potential would never be properly developed until the insurrection ended, he believed. Also, after observing at first hand the personal sufferings caused by the fighting, Lee became an ardent proponent of ending the revolution for both economic and humanitarian reasons.21 In this initial period of his residence in Cuba, he formed opinions and made predictions on how peace could be restored. He consistently adhered to his convictions and, in retrospect, his predictions proved to be prophetic.

Lee sent his first honest appraisal of the Cuban imbroglio to the Secretary of State on June 24, 1896. The consul-general observed that the opposing forces were nearly equal and that a protracted struggle loomed ahead, one that would probably end in a stalemate—the rebels lacked the strength to gain independence while the Spanish were too weak to subdue them and restore order. Lee suggested that the United States could avert Cuba’s being “laid waste and destroyed” only by some positive action, possibly by buying the island.22 In subsequent letters, he spelled out his beliefs that the harsh measures of General Weyler (such as enforced concentration of civilians in camps under Spanish control) and other Spanish authorities precluded the fulfillment of the Administration’s hope that peace would be restored if Spain granted autonomy to the Cubans. The past intransigence of the Spaniards and their failure to implement former promises of reform caused most Cubans to believe that Spain would never inaugurate meaningful reforms, and the rebels would probably no longer accept anything other than complete Spanish withdrawal. If Spain preferred to continue her efforts to vanquish the rebels, the outlook was equally bleak since Weyler and his 240,000 troops had been unable to achieve much success during the last several months in subduing the revolutionary forces under Maximo Gomez. Consequently, Lee maintained that if the administration hoped to bring peace some new approach was necessary, and he also reiterated his earlier suggestion: “I do not know that it is proper for me to do anything except to report facts, but I cannot forbear from saying again that the purchase of the Island should first be attempted.”23

In Washington, Cleveland and Olney were still comfortably sustained by their belief that a Spanish grant of autonomy would end the revolution and restore tranquility to the devastated island. Olney was not much impressed with the proposal to buy Cuba and refused to accept the suggestion that the deadlock between Spain and the rebels could only be ended by American mediation.24 Cleveland also demonstrated his reluctance to take any action which might lead to acquisition of Cuba and expressed concern with the eventual results to which Lee’s suggestions might lead:

I am a little surprised at Consul-General Lee’s dispatch. He seems to have fallen into the style of rolling intervention like a sweet morsel under his tongue. I do not think the purchase plan would suit at all, though it is perhaps worth thinking of. Many of the fairest talkers in favor of intervening (Sherman, for instance) are opposed to incorporating the country into the United States system and I am afraid it would be entering upon dangerous ground. It would seem absurd for us to buy the island and present it to the people now inhabiting it, and put its government and management in their hands.25

Unfortunately, the two men proposed no new policy and instead clung to the hope that the United States might somehow escape from being drawn into the morass. Nonetheless, the problem of Cuba continued to grow despite the administration’s futile efforts to remain aloof as much as possible or, at most, to gently prod the Spanish into granting autonomy.

One reason Lee urged a serious attempt for American purchase of the island was what he considered to be the only logical (even if in the distant future) alternative remaining for the United States—war with Spain! He noted that the loss of American life and property would probably continue as a side effect of the fighting. These losses plus the sympathies for Cubans aroused by the jingo press required the United States to become increasingly involved in Cuban affairs which, in turn, might result in a Spanish-American armed confrontation.26 Lee also believed the Spanish were already giving serious consideration to the possibility of war. Spanish soldiers in Cuba who were willing to face honestly the fact of a stalemate now felt only two courses of action remained open to them; first, they could continue to fight the rebels haunted by the growing fear that the deadlock might end in “ignoble surrender” to the insurgents, or, second, they could wait until the United States forcibly intervened and ended the protracted struggle. No longer possessing any delusions of ultimate victory in Cuba, the proud Spanish officers vastly preferred a fight with Americans in which they could at least “lose the island with honor” and avoid capitulation to the detested rebels.27 Lee was no warmonger but he sincerely believed that war with Spain was inevitable unless a miraculous development occurred. His conviction that the suffering on the war-torn isle should be terminated as quickly as possible caused him to advance the argument to Cleveland and Olney that immediate action was better than trying to postpone the inevitable American intervention.28 In a letter to his wife, Fitz was even more depressed about his fears of a war with Spain but took consolation “that I cannot help it. I have done the best I could in the interests of” avoiding the conflict.29 For the remainder of his service under Cleveland, Lee tried to follow the President’s policy of avoiding war despite his personal views that such a policy was hopeless and futile. He fearfully expressed his opinions in the confidential reports to the President on Cuban matters but felt obligated to follow presidential dictum since Cleveland ultimately had to bear the responsibility for American actions.30

In July 1896, the Democratic national convention denounced the Cleveland administration and nominated William Jennings Bryan on a free-silver platform. This action not only shocked Lee, Cleveland, Olney, and other conservative Democrats but also became a factor in the administration’s Cuban policy. In a confidential message to Olney, Lee damned the convention as a “populistic, anarchist assembly,” and declared that any conservative Democrat nominated by another convention would lost “unless we take the chance to win” by immediately initiating a dramatic change—but what he believed to be the only practical and humanitarian course—in Cuban policy. He proposed the adoption of a platform calling for the following:

. . . a recognition of the helplessness of the struggle in Cuba, because of the inability of either side to win ultimate success, and that a war protracted for years, means the devastation of the Island, the shooting, arrest and imprisonment of American citizens, day by day, the abatement of American commerce and the destruction of American interests, and should be brought to a close by American mediation or if necessary American intervention.

Further, Lee speculated that Cleveland and the other “Sound [Money] Democrats” would receive “the credit of stopping the wholesale atrocities daily practiced here” as well as “the acquisition of Cuba by purchase or by fighting a successful war, if war there be.” In this letter to Olney (marked “private and personal”), Lee’s political naïveté was manifest, but his suggestions for immediate action in Cuba by the United States cannot be dismissed as a simplistic plea for a foreign adventure to rescue the administration from its domestic difficulties.31 Convinced that the Cuban situation would deteriorate, he merely argued that the Administration should cease to postpone the inevitable intervention and act while political advantages could accrue from the endeavor.32

President Cleveland, more politically astute than Fitz, disagreed with his consul-general. Cleveland suspected that direct intervention and the resulting war with Spain would be too late to save the conservative Democrats and that the new administration (of either Bryan or Republican nominee William McKinley) would reap any benefit from an end to the Cuban insurrection.33 This political analysis contributed to his determination in subsequent months to continue to avoid policies which might lead either to American acquisition of Cuba or war with Spain. However, he requested Lee to return to Washington for intensive consultations with administration officials on the Cuban problem, and Fitz spent November and December in Washington or in Richmond visiting his family.34 Moreover, in his annual message to Congress in December, the President assumed a more militant stance towards Spain although it was far short of Lee’s position. Cleveland intimated that Spain was incapable of defeating the rebels by force of arms. Accordingly, “genuine autonomy” was the best solution, and it was hopeless for the Spanish to continue their policy of trying to pacify the island before granting autonomy. He warned that American interests (business as well as those of a sentimental and philanthropic character) were endangered by the chaotic conditions and urged the Spanish to act promptly. Reforms should be granted soon since the past “expectant attitude of the United States will not be indefinitely maintained.” In a passage especially appealing to Lee, the President noted that the time was imminent when American wishes to rescue the island “from complete devastation, will constrain our Government to such action as will . . . promise to Cuba . . . the blessings of peace.”35

For the remainder of his administration, Cleveland continued to ignore the possibility that autonomy might be unacceptable to the rebels (as Lee suggested in his reports), but he had at last clearly warned Spain that if she could not quickly end the insurrection, America would intervene. The jingo newspapers in New York were dissatisfied with the unveiled threat of intervention in the message since they demanded immediate action.36 Lee was far less displeased with the President’s policy, however, as the message had declared that the United States possessed the right and the duty to intervene if the Spanish failed to pacify the island.37 In subsequent months, Fitz continued to bolster Cleveland’s efforts to force Spanish initiation of a new Cuban policy and thereby avoid American intervention, but he still placed little reliance on the Spanish to end the conflict: “There has been no change here in the situation,” he wrote Olney on February 18, 1897, “and no prospect, in my opinion, of peace, unless the United States stops this horrible war.”38 Lee also stressed the Spanish inability to control the movements of high-ranking rebel leaders or to pacify a single province. With “no peace in sight,” Lee reiterated his earlier prediction that neither side would accept a compromise nor win a military victory and again urged the American purchase of the island or, as the last resort, military intervention.39 Cleveland, with his administration nearing its close, spurned the consul-general’s advice to act, however, and left the problem for his successor.

By the time William McKinley assumed office on March 4, 1897, Cleveland and Lee were at marked odds with one another on certain aspects of the Cuban policy. Lee believed nothing was to be gained by Cleveland’s refusal to participate in settling the Cuban matter, and he exhibited displeasure with the policy of inaction and the attempt to postpone everything for McKinley’s administration.40 To Lee in Havana, such a policy bordered on being callous and inhumane. In turn, Cleveland feared the outbreak of war before he left the White House and was disturbed by the provocative attitude of Consul-General Lee. He expected war to come soon because of the “activities of the Americans in Cuba” (with Fitz as their “ringleader”) who favored direct intervention in the Cuban mess.41 At McKinley’s inauguration, Cleveland bluntly expressed his feelings to the new President about Lee’s seeming opposition to a pacific, moderate approach in dealing with the Spanish in Cuba.42 President McKinley, who sincerely wished to avoid a war if possible, nevertheless decided to retain Fitz (a lifelong Democrat) in the sensitive position in Havana. McKinley knew Lee was honest and dependable if too outspoken in favor of intervention. Moreover, an experienced man at the Cuban capital would be invaluable if the situation continued to deteriorate. Further, Spanish hostility to Lee was well known, and his replacement might give the Spanish an impression that American demand for an end to the Cuban imbroglio was lessening.43 When Lee offered the new Secretary of State, John Sherman, his resignation, he promised to remain in Havana if needed. McKinley disregarded Cleveland’s advice and sent word of his confidence in Lee’s “devotion to American interests,” and urged the Consul-General to continue in his duties.44

Another aspect of Lee’s performance at his Havana post helps to explain his retention by both presidents in spite of his continuous arguments to Washington officials on the necessity of American intervention. As consul-general, Lee was expected not only to furnish reports on conditions in Cuba but also to serve as the symbol of American power there. The colorful, flamboyant ex-Confederate general was a zealous patriot who ardently defended the rights of American citizens residing on the island as well as American-owned property.45 By the end of the Cleveland administration, Lee had won an enviable reputation for his defense of American citizens who ran afoul of Spanish authorities and was hailed as a hero by the press.46 His assiduous work on behalf of Americans in Cuban jails or those threatened with punishment annoyed the Spanish authorities, but it contributed to his retention in Havana by McKinley who praised Lee’s “earnest desire to guard the rights of American citizens.”47 Fitz tried to maintain proper diplomatic protocol when dealing with the Spanish authorities—but not at the expense of threatened American citizens. As the insurrection dragged on the situation became more chaotic, the number of sharp conflicts between Lee and the Spanish authorities greatly increased. Each challenge by Fitz earned a concomitant increase in Spanish hatred for him. These clashes with the authorities made Lee more avid for Spanish expulsion and the cessation of the rebellion, while they added eye-catching fuel to the flaming columns of jingo journalists. In turn, the press exerted heavier pressure on Washington officials for positive efforts to solve the Cuban problem quickly.48 Both Cleveland and McKinley, however, commended Lee for his work in protecting American citizens despite the resultant increase in demands for intervention by their administrations.

At times, cases of mistreatment or imprisonment of Americans by Spanish officials became the most perplexing and potentially explosive problem facing Washington in dealing with the Cuban situation. Lee’s involvement in these cases not only enhanced his position as the key American representative in Cuba but also won him much favorable publicity in American newspapers. These cases also influenced both American public opinion and the government’s policy on Cuba. Trying to secure the release of Americans held by the Spanish was a major headache for the overworked Lee in his taxing, frustrating position as consul-general, but he never faltered in his efforts to “demand the release of all American prisoners” who were “suffering and lingering in the prisons and jails” of Cuba with “no reasonable prospect of their cases being taken up and decided upon one way or the other. . . .49—The unpleasant experiences of imprisoned Americans (and Cuban nationals) increased Fitz’s support for intervention to end the fighting. Since American policy barred other countries from intervening, he believed that the United States had a humanitarian obligation to “take such action, in the interest of peace, prosperity, human life, commerce, and American progress.”50

One of he most notable and inflammatory incidents involving American citizens occurred in February 1897 (during the last month of the Cleveland administration). Lee was in the midst of the pandemonium that resulted when the case came to light, and his conduct during that turbulent uproar was typical of his actions in similar cases. On February 18, Fitz reported to Secretary of State Olney the death of Richard Ruiz, a dentist and naturalized American citizen since 1880, who had been held incommunicado in a remote Spanish prison for nearly two weeks. Lee noted that the death was rumored as being due to suicide or to beatings but promised he would investigate fully to determine if the dentist’s death involved “foul work.”51 Lee reported more fully on the Ruiz case the next day and announced his firm belief that the dentist had not participated in the rebellion and had died from neglect or violence. The Consul-General admitted it was “very difficult to ascertain the facts” because most knowledge of the affair was “confined to officials” who refused to cooperate with American authorities.52 The matter took on an added complication when he received the report of the arrest of Charles F. Scott, another American who also was being held incommunicado. Lee, fearful that the Spanish might expand their violations of American rights, pleaded for the United States to demand from the Spanish government the immediate release of all American prisoners in Cuba. If necessary, Lee hoped warships would be available to enforce that demand.53 Olney and the State Department were less interested in taking immediate action, however, and concentrated on acquiring a thorough account of the Ruiz case. In contrast, Lee, after viewing the bruised body of the dead dentist, was perturbed with the slower moving Washington bureaucrats and critical of their wish for an extensive, time-consuming investigation. Haunted by fears that the fate of Ruiz might be repeated in the case of Scott and other Americans, Fitz pleaded that he could not afford the luxury of a delay since American lives depended on him.54

The Ruiz affair took on an added importance to the United States as the jingo press devoted more and more space to militant and fiery comments on all aspects of the case. Hearst’s Journal declared there was “strong evidence to show that this man was murdered” and that because of the crime “national respect, as well as national honor, demands that the United States declare war against Spain.”55 Pulitzer’s World, not to be outdone in bellicosity, reported the refusal of Lee’s request (later granted, however) to Spanish officials for exhumation of the body with a headline which read: “The United States May Fight Spain Yet.”56 The newspaper correspondents in Cuba possessed much sympathy for the activities of Consul-General Lee on behalf of imprisoned or threatened Americans, and they lauded him frequently while criticizing the alleged indifference and unconcern exhibited by Washington officials. Both Cleveland and Olney were attacked for not publicly supporting the Consul-General’s efforts to free American captives.57 However, Fitz had no intention of being the leader of a movement designed to stampede the administration he served into an undesired war. Although several sharp exchanges had occurred between Olney and him, Lee assured the Secretary of State that he would do nothing in Havana to constitute deliberate provocation of the Spanish and tersely cabled Washington: “[I] deprecate war, [since I have] seen too much of it.”58

At the peak of the crisis ignited by the Ruiz-Scott cases, Lee stressed to Olney (and Cleveland) that the remedy for relief was ultimately “in your hands and you should not hesitate to employ it.” At the same time, he justified his conduct, by reminding the Washington officials that he was located at the scene of the Cuban insurrection and bluntly noting: “No one not here can appreciate the situation.”59 His offer to resign was declined, and the crisis passed owing to Scott’s release and the failure to discover conclusive evidence as to the cause of Ruiz’s death.60 Lee’s actions in the two related cases revealed his typical conduct in such matters during his service under both the Cleveland and McKinley administrations; specifically, he was more militant in defending American citizens than were Washington officials, but he was less eager for an American war to end Cuban strife than correspondents supposed. Nonetheless, reports of Lee’s activities enhanced his popularity with the jingo journalists and their readers while increasing doubts among Washington officials regarding his commitment to a pacific solution to the Cuban problem.61 Unfortunately, the cases also had a broader importance—more newspapers expanded their coverage of similar emotion-filled cases in the next several months. The new McKinley administration suffered a corresponding restriction of options in trying to impose peace in Cuba without direct American intervention.

If McKinley’s decision to retain Lee had been partially based on the Consul-General’s high standing with the journalists, the new President soon received other evidence to support the wisdom of his choice. Wishing to secure a new analysis to determine whether Lee and other Americans were too biased by their closeness to the scene, McKinley dispatched William J. Calhoun, his political friend and a prominent Illinois attorney, on a private fact-finding tour of the island in May 1897. Calhoun’s report of the Cuban situation on June 22 was a fundamental reaffirmation of Lee’s views on the matter. The special agent confirmed the vast evidence of the brutal warfare by noting: “The island is one of the most unhappy and most distressed places on the earth. . . . The country was wrapped in the stillness of death and the silence of desolation.” Calhoun agreed with another interpretation of Lee’s—the inability of Spain to defeat the rebels—and stated that the Spanish claim that Weyler and his re-concentration policies were concluding the rebellion “is more theoretical than actual.” The agent also supported the Consul-General’s opinion that the Cubans were too embittered to accept autonomy and no longer had any fait in Spanish promises of reform. Therefore, the rebellion was likely to continue. Even in provinces where the insurrection was temporarily dormant, “the moment there is any relaxation of the attempt to suppress it, the flames will break out again with renewed fury.” Calhoun concluded with an avowal of the correctness of Lee’s interpretations and asserted that the only real hope of pacifying Cuba lay in ultimate American intervention.62

McKinley, as his predecessor had done, continued to hope that the Cubans and Spaniards would compromise during the first months of his administration. The new president at first tried to reduce popular excitement about conditions on the island by avoiding any mention of Cuba in public statements. Simultaneously, he urged the Spanish (as Cleveland had done) to establish a government there modeled after the Canadian one, but Spain was not interested and refused to consider it.63 As the Calhoun report and the Lee dispatches made clear, the plan had no lure for the rebels who demanded complete Spanish evacuation. Lee devoted considerable time to summarizing the Cuban situation for his new superiors and concentrated on the futility of American demands for autonomy as a solution to the problem.64 After reminding them of his belief that “no one can fully appreciate the situation without being here in person,” he subsequently informed them in June that “on one who is well acquainted with existing conditions now has any hope that Spain can grant reforms approximating, even, to Canadian autonomy, such as is so often mentioned.”65 Lee and others in Cuba also continued to report the atrocities and widespread suffering of those caught up in the revolutionary environment.

During September, Lee was on leave in the United States and on his return in November, he found that a new Spanish ministry—in response to McKinley’s earlier pleas—had offered various reforms which eventually would give the island self-government. General Weyler had also been replaced by the more congenial Ramon Blanco as commander of the Spanish forces. The Spanish moves little impression on Lee, and he expected that the smoldering island would erupt if any effort were made to implement the reforms—the Spaniards on the island and the Cuban rebels shared a common hatred for autonomy, although for opposite reasons.66 However, Lee was powerless to dictate to Washington authorities and could only mark time while the new administration promulgated policies to cope with the seemingly insoluble Cuban problem. From the summer of 1897 onward, McKinley slowly but publicly committed himself on Cuba. By December, in his annual message to Congress, his announced policy contained the firm threat of ultimate intervention unless the helpless Spaniards bowed to American demands.67 Lee chafed during this evolutionary period since he continued to feel helpless in alleviating the troubles borne by the Cubans.

The new year 1898 brought with it a series of momentous events which finally resulted in Lee’s departure from Havana as Consul-General and, more importantly, the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. After the formal announcement of an autonomy plan by the Spanish government, riots occurred in Havana during mid-January as Lee had predicted. Lee notified the State Department of the outbreak of rioting and expressed his fears once more about the danger to the lives and property of American residents. Fortunately, the powder keg did not explode. Most of the rioters were junior officers from the Spanish garrison or other Spanish residents who were opposed to autonomy. After smashing the presses of three anti-Weyler newspapers, the Spaniards ceased their violent protests.68

However, the brief riots were to have important consequences for the future of Cuba as well as of Spain and the United States. From the beginning of his services in Havana, Fitzhugh Lee had pleaded for an American warship to be stationed as close as possible in order to protect American citizens in emergencies and to serve as an ominous symbol of American power. By December 1897, Lee reasoned that the Cuban situation was sufficiently precarious for him to have the ship at his immediate disposal, and he proposed that the officer in command be instructed to sail immediately for Havana upon receipt of a code letter from the consular officer.69 The Maine, a second-class battleship stationed at Key West, was accordingly assigned that duty. When news of the January riots reached Washington, the Navy dispatched the Maine to Havana without consulting Lee. Fitz, although he would have welcomed the ship in earlier times, frantically tried to have the order countermanded since he feared the ship’s arrival might spark more violent riots (to him, the riots on January 12–13 had been surprisingly mild).70 The President refused to cancel the order. He felt that protection for Americans might be needed, but he also hoped to present the Maine‘s visit as a resumption of friendly naval visits and a sign of lessening tension between the countries. The pacific hopes of McKinley seemed to be realized when the ship finally steamed into Havana Harbor on January 25. Lee reported that American’s were relieved by the Maine‘s presence and the Spanish had cordially and politely received the vessel.71

Unfortunately, the Maine was destined to be the principal overt cause for he war that Consul-General Lee had long predicted. After the arrival of the ship in Havana, relations between Spain and the United States reached a new level of tension when the famous “de Lome letter” was published on February 9. The Spanish Ambassador’s criticisms of President McKinley in private letter (which had been stolen, sent to Cuban leaders in New York, and eventually passed on to the newspapers) led not only to his recall but also to increased demands for war by the press and the politicos.72 These taut relations between Spain and America were capped by an unbearable strain when the Maine blew up on February 15. Lee reacted to the disaster in a restrained manner and urged the administration to remain calm. His initial impression was that the explosion might be accidental, and he stressed his belief that General Blanco and other high Spanish officials were not responsible for the ship’s destruction and the loss of 264 crewmen. He conceded that lesser officials or outside parties might be involved but pleaded for restraint from wild speculation while awaited the findings of a naval inquiry.73 Fitz cooperated with the naval authorities in conducting the board of inquiry and also testified before it about the official Spanish reception to the Maine‘s arrival. On March 22, the naval court concluded its investigation with the report that “the Maine was destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine” but admitted its failure “to obtain evidence fixing the responsibility for the destruction . . . upon any person or persons.”74

After the explosion of the Maine, the scene of decisive events which had begun with the birth of the Cuban insurrection shifted to Washington and Madrid. Within a few days the President sent his ultimatum to Spain, and although oblivious as usual to the press screams for war, he decided early in April to intervene in Cuba with armed force.75 Lee asked and received a delay in McKinley’s war message to Congress in order to secure the safety of Americans in Cuba.76 On April 10, Consul-General Lee left Havana with the last group of Americans and returned home to be met with a hero’s welcome from his appreciative fellow citizens. Crowds gathered to cheer and praise him at every stop made by the special train that carried him from Florida to Washington. In the national capital, he received a “hearty reception” from the President and the Congress and praise for his faithful, vigilant service in Havana.77 For Fitzhugh Lee, the long disheartening ordeal was over.

Fitzhugh Lee experienced a troubled, and often unrewarding, two years as consul-general in two presidential administrations. While meeting his responsibilities as the senior American emissary on the war-torn island, he endured the disappointment of witnessing an indifferent and even icy reception by Washington officials of his suggestions. His initial opinion on the proper policy of the United States—and his view of the circumstances on which he formed his opinion—remained unchanged during his Cuban residence. To him, there would be no permanent peace in Cuba until America intervened. This belief was based on his conviction that neither the Spanish nor the insurgents could win a military victory but that neither side would accept anything less than a victor’s peace. Consequently, he viewed the efforts of Cleveland and McKinley as being unrealistic and insufficient to end the stalemate, although he earnestly tried to execute the policy of his Washington superiors. He repeatedly urged American intervention in some form to end the Cuban disorders, but he never called for outright war with Spain at any point in his tenure. After he returned to America, however, with the country at last committed to war as the instrument to bring peaces to Cuba, ex-General Lee, C.S.A., anxiously awaited the opportunity to render further service to the American nation.


1 Receipt from South Boston Improvement Company issued to Lee, February 21, 1894, H. J. Watkins to Lee, March 1, 1894, and W. T. Shields to lee, October 25, 1895, Opie Papers.

2 Anne S. Green to Lee, May 10, 1895, ibid.; but see also Henry Loving, Jr., to J. Hoge Tyler, April 23, 1897, and R. T. Irvine to Tyler, December 15, 1898, James Hoge Tyler Papers, University of Virginia Library.

3 The biography, entitled General Lee, was published by D. Appleton and Company of New York as a volume in its The Great Commanders Series edited by General James Grant Wilson. It was reprinted in 1904 by the University Society, Inc. (New York), and published as a paperback in 1961 by Fawcett Publications, Inc., with an introduction by Philip Van Doren Stern. See also Lee to James G. Wilson, July 18, 1895, Fitzhugh Lee Papers.

4 Book reviews (newspaper clippings, 1894), Charles Venable to Lee, August 6, 1894, E. P. Alexander to Lee, August 27 and September 24, 1894, Opie Papers; Philadelphia Times, October 28, 1894; Lee to Gordon McCabe, September 28, 1894, Lee Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society; preface by lee for Ben La Bree (ed.), The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War, 1861–1865 (Louisville, Kentucky, 1895), 7–8.

5 E. P. Alexander to Lee, July 26 and 31, 1894, Thomas Carter to Lee, August 3 and 18, 1894, Lee to Carter, August 5, 1894, J. William Jones to Lee, January 24 and March 10, 1896, B. H. Robertson to Lee, January 27, 1896, Cullen A. Battle to Lee, March 15, 1896, Frank Huger to Lee, April 24 and 28, 1896, and C. C. Penick to Lee, April 24 and 28, 1896, Opie Papers. Prior to the publication of his From Manassas to Appomattox, Longstreet added fuel to the controversy by his public statements; see Richmond Times, March 1, 1896, and Atlanta Constitution, March 29, 1896.

6 Lee to W. A. Jones, January 9, 1894, Jones Papers; Cleveland to Lee, September 17, 1894, Opie Papers.

7 Richmond Times, December 10, 1893; New York Times, February 22, 1894.

8 Newspaper clippings, April–May, 1895, Opie Papers; Richmond Times, April 20, 1895; New York Tribune, April 23, 1895.

9 New York Times, April 23, 1895.

10 Lee to Joseph S. Miller, April 10, 11, 28, and May 6, 1896, Lee Executive Papers.

11 Ibid.; Cleveland to the U.S. Senate, April 13, 1896, printed in its Executive Journal, 54th Cong., 1st Sess., 1896, 223–233; Certificate, Appointment of Lee as Consul-General, April 23, 1896, Opie Papers.

12 Several books relate to U.S. interest in Cuban affairs prior to the Spanish-American War. The author found the following particularly helpful: Walter LaFeber, The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1963), Ernest R. May, Imperial Democracy: The Emergence of America as a Great Power (New York, 1961), French E. Chadwick, The Relations of the United States and Spain: Diplomacy (New York, 1909), Allan Nevins, Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage (New York, 1933), Hugh Thomas, Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom (New York, 1971), and H. Wayne Morgan, America’s Road to Empire: The War with Spain and Overseas Expansion (New York, 1965).

13 The standard work on the major jingo newspapers is Joseph E. Wison, The Cuban Crisis as Reflected in the New York Press, 1896–1898 (New York, 1934), but also consult Charles H. Brown, The Correspondents’ War: Journalists in the Spanish-American War, (New York, 1967). An interesting case study of local newspapers and their influence on the formulation of public opinion about the Cuban rebellion is David C. Boles, “Editorial Opinion in Oklahoma and Indian Territories on the Cuban Insurrection, 1895–1898,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma, XLVII, No. 3 (Autumn, 1969), 258–267.

14 This biographical study of Lee concentrates on his tenure in Cuba. However, this general period in American history has been subjected to intense investigation by numerous historians primarily interested in the rise of the American imperialist movement. Their thorough studies have led to various explanations and interpretations concerning the origins of the Spanish-American War and the acquisition of America’s overseas empire. Some of these historians provide invaluable insight into the general national and international setting in which Lee served as consul-general in Cuba. For example, Julius W. Pratt emphasized public opinion as a cause of the war and denied that American businessmen had been responsible for it. See his Expansionists of 1898: The Acquisition of Hawaii and the Spanish Islands (Baltimore, 1936). Richard Hofstadter contended that the origins of war and the later acquisition of the Philippines cannot be properly understood except by considering the frustrated responses of various groups to the Panic of 1893, i.e., “the psychic crisis of the 1890’s.” See his “Manifest Destiny and the Philippines,” America in Crisis, ed. by Daniel Aaron (New York, 1952), 173–200. In The New Empire, Walter LaFeber argued that the war grew out of a gradual expansionist process—with primarily economic roots—which began in the 1860s. Ernest R. May noted the influence of European liberal thought on the imperialist movement. By the time of the war, elite opinion was ambivalent on imperial ventures, but mass opinion was more favorable to an aggressive foreign policy. See his American Imperialism: A Speculative Essay (New York, 1968).

15 LaFeber, The New Empire, 292–293.

16 Olney to Cleveland, September 25 and October 8, 1895, and Cleveland to Olney, September 29 and October 6, 1895, Richard Olney Papers, Library of Congress; May, Imperial Democracy, 88–89.

17 Chadwick, United States and Spain, 433–439; Fitzhugh Lee, “Cuba and Her Struggle for Freedom, From Personal Observations and Experiences,” The Fortnightly Review, LXIII (June 1, 1898), 855–866.

18 Lee to Mrs. Lee, June 3 and 17, 1896; Special Passport for Fitzhugh Lee, May 1, 1896, Opie Papers.

19 Lee to an unknown general, December 3, 1873, Fitzhugh Lee Papers. Believing that the United States had enough problems to cope with in 1873, he maintained that Americans ought to avoid participation in filibustering expeditions or other direct involvement in the island’s political affairs.

20 Lee to Olney, June 24, 1896, Olney Papers.

21 Lee’s economic and humanitarian reasons for ending the rebellion reflected the concern of other Americans. Julius Pratt notes that American businessmen engaged directly and indirectly in the production and marketing of Cuban sugar—unlike the general business community—favored U.S. intervention. See his Expansionists of 1898, 232–278. The humanitarian impulses of Americans in going to war with Spain are stressed in Norman Graebner, Ideas and Diplomacy: Readings in the Intellectual Tradition of American Foreign Policy (New York, 1964), 334–346.

22 Lee to Olney, June 1896, Olney Papers. During his service as consul-general, Lee favored intervention but not annexation by the United States. After the Spanish-American War, however, he became convinced that eventual annexation was the best means to promote Cuban economic progress. His postwar ideas are discussed in Chapter VIII.

23 Lee to Olney, July 8, 1896, Opie Papers; see also Olney to Lee, June 27, 1896, Olney Papers; and Lee to Olney, July 1 and 4, 1896, dispatches from U.S. Consuls in Havana, Record Group 59, National Archives (hereafter dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA).

24 Olney to Cleveland, July 14, 1896, Olney Papers.

25 Cleveland to Olney, July 16, 1896, ibid.

26 Lee to Olney, July 8, 1896, Opie Papers; Lee to W. W. Rockhill (2 cables) July 3, 1896, and Lee to Olney, July 4, 1896, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA.

27 Lee to Olney, July 4, 1896, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA.

28 Lee to Olney, July 8, 1896, Opie Papers.

29 Lee to Mrs. Lee, June 24, 1896, ibid.

30 The harshest criticism of Lee’s consulship is found in Gerald G. Effert, “Our Man in Havana: Fitzhugh Lee,” The Hispanic American Historical Review, XLVII, No. 4 (November, 1967), 463–485. Effert argues that Fitz was far more militant in dealing with the Spanish than Cleveland (and later McKinley) but concedes the Consul-General was not a warmonger who disobeyed presidential instructions.

31 Lee to Olney, “Private and Personal,” July 22, 1896, Olney Papers. A draft of the letter with numerous insertions and deletions in the Opie Papers suggests that Lee gave considerable thought to its composition. In this candid confidential communication, Lee also noted that if war came, the conflict “might do much towards directing the minds of the people from imaginary [economic] ills.” This statement suggests the validity of Richard Hofstader’s explanation of jingoism as a frustrated response to the economic crisis of the 1890s; see his The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays (New York, 1965), 145–187. However, Lee was not advocating war for the sake of economic relief; rather, he was simply urging his superior to take advantage of a future possibility which he considered to be inevitable.

32 Eggert, “Our Man in Havana,” 464, 469–470; Lee to Olney, July 8, 1896; Lee to his wife, July 8, 12, and 25, 1896; Translation of a report entitled “Organization of the Insurgent Army,” signed by Antonio Maceo (a rebel general), August 4, 1896, Opie Papers.

33 LaFeber, The New Empire, 286.

34 Lee to L. L. Lomax, October 20, 1896, Lomax Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society; Lee to Mrs. Lee, October 5 and 20, 1896, and newspaper clippings (October–December, 1896), Opie Papers; Festus P. Summers (ed.), The Cabinet Diary of William L. Wilson, 1896–1897 (Chapel Hill, N. Car., 1957).

35 James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789–1897 (Washington, 1900), IX, 716–722.

36 New York World, December 8, 1896; New York Journal, December 8–11, 1896; see also Wisan, The Cuban Crisis, 239–245.

37 Chadwick, United States and Spain, 465–466; LaFeber, The New Empire, 300.

38 Lee to Olney, February 18, 1897, Olney Papers.

39 Lee to W. W. Rockhill, February 18 and 19 (3 cables), 1897, dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA; Lee to Rockhill, February 19, 1897, Cleveland Papers.

40 Lee to Assistant Secretary of State, March 2, 1897, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA, and also consult Olney to Rockhill, March 9, 1987, Olney Papers.

41 Cleveland to Frederic R. Condert and to Olney, February 28, 1897, Cleveland Papers; Nevins, Grover Cleveland, 719. In calling Lee a “ringleader,” Cleveland was probably referring to the intimate association of Fitz and the American press corps in Havana. For example, Lee lived at the Hotel Inglaterra, where numerous journalists (including Hearst’s two famous correspondents, Richard Harding Davis and Frederic Remington) also resided. See Thomas, Cuba, 343.

42 Cleveland to Olney, February 16, 1898, reprinted in Allan Nevins (ed.), Letters of Grover Cleveland, 1850–1908 (Boston, 1933), 494–495, and the footnoted, 495.

43 John L. Offner, “President McKinley and the Origins of the Spanish-American War,” (Ph.D. dissertation, Pennsylvania State University, 1957), 96–97, 149–151; H. Wayne Morgan, William McKinley and His America (Syracuse, N.Y., 1963), 337; William R. Day, a McKinley protégè and his second Secretary of State, later wrote Lee: “You know the President reposes great confidence in your judgment and discretion” and requested “any suggestions which occur to you, as a military man, should it become necessary to use an armed force against Cuba.” See Day to Lee, “Personal and Confidential,” January 18, 1899, Opie Papers.

44 Lee to John Sherman, March 10, 1897, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA; John A. Porter (McKinley’s private secretary) to Sherman, March 15, 1897, William McKinley Papers, Library of Congress.

45 The consul-general maintained close relations with the American planters. The major planters, with the notable exception of Edwin F. Atkins, agreed with Lee on the necessity of American intervention. Atkins felt that he could continue his operations without undue difficulties if he cooperated with the Spanish authorities. However, even Atkins requested assistance from Lee at times. See his Sixty Years in Cuba: Reminiscences of Edwin F. Atkins Cambridge, Mass., 1936), 221–222, 248–250, 281.

46 Lee even achieved the honor (?) of being satirized by the famous Mr. Dooley; see Finley Peter Dunne, Mr. Dooley: In Peace and War (Boston, 1898), 10–13. Fitz was portrayed as a hot-headed Irish-American (an alleged descendant of the Fitz-Hugh family of Ireland), who jumped out of bed at a moment’s notice to confront Spanish authorities over the slightest affront to American honor.

47 Porter to Sherman, march 15, 1897, McKinley Papers.

48 For press activities, consult Wisan, The Cuban Crisis, especially 174–186, 277–301, and Brown, The Correspondents’ War, 103–110. McKinley’s treatment of the Cuban problem is discussed thoroughly in Moran, William McKinley, 326–378.

49 Lee to W. W. Rockhill, February 20, 1897, Cleveland Papers.

50 Lee to Rockhill, February 20, 1897, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA.

51 Lee to Rockhill, February 18, 1897, ibid.

52 Lee to Rockhill (3 cables), February 19, 1897, ibid., and a letter on the same day, Cleveland Papers. Lee contacted the Ruiz family and also the rebel leaders on the matter; see Mrs. Ruiz to Lee, February 21, 1897, and General Gomez to Lee, March 31, 1897, Opie Papers.

53 Lee to Rockhill and lee to the Assistant Secretary of State, February 20, 1897, Cleveland Papers. Since July 1896, one ship (the Maine) had been kept at Key West in case of emergency; see Olney to Lee, July 15, 1896, Opie Papers.

54 Lee to Olney, February 24, 1897, and Olney to Lee, February 23, 1897, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA; Lee to Olney, February 26, 1897, Olney to Lee, February 21, 24, and 25, 1897, Olney to Cleveland, February 27, 1897, Cleveland Papers.

55 New York Journal, February 20 and 22, 1897.

56 New York World, February 21, 1897.

57 Ibid., February 24, March 1 and 2, 1897; Journal, February 23, 26–27, 1897.

58 Lee to Secretary of State, February 22, 1897, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA.

59 Ibid.

60 Lee to Secretary of State, February 23, 1897, Cleveland Papers; and Lee to Olney, February 24, 1897, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA.

61 Lee’s intimate friend, General Bradley Johnson, was a reporter for the World; see Lee to Mrs. Lee, June 3 and 24, 1896, Opie Papers. In addition, Fitz won praise for securing the release of another journalist, Sylvester Scovel; see Brown, The Correspondent’s War, 84–87, 108–110.

62 The Calhoun report of twenty-two typed pages, dated June 22, 1897, is filed in Special Agents Reports, Volume 48, RG 59, NA. For further information on the Calhoun mission, consult H. Wayne Morgan, America’s Road to Empire, 24–26. Calhoun visited Cuba ostensibly for the purpose of investigating the death of an American citizen.

63 Morgan, William McKinley, 327–340.

64 Lee to John Sherman, March 17, 1897, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA.

65 Lee to Sherman, April 20, 1897 (first quotation); Lee to William R. Day, the assistant Secretary of State and McKinley’s most trusted confidant on Cuba, June 8, 1897 (second quotation); and also Lee to Day, June 12 and July 14, 1897, ibid.

66 Lee to Day, November 27, December 1 and 3, 1897, ibid. Lee’s opinions of the insurgent reactions to Spanish proposals were partially based on his occasional contacts with rebel leaders. See Ignacio Betancourt to Lee, September 1, 1897, and General M. Gomez to General Lachambra, November 12, 1897, Opie Papers.

67 Richardson, Messages and Papers, X, 30–38.

68 Lee to Assistant Secretary of State, January 13 (2 cables), Lee to Day, “Personal,” January 15 and 18, 1898, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA.

69 Lee to Day, December 1, 3, and 25, 1897, ibid.

70 Lee to Assistant Secretary of State (cables), January 24 and 25, 1898, ibid.

71 Lee to Day, January 15 and 26, February 5, 1898, ibid.

72 New York Journal, February 9, 1898; Morgan, William McKinley, 355–359.

73 Lee to Day, February 15 and 16, March 1, 1898, ibid.; General Blanco to Lee, February 16, 1898, Opie Papers.

74 U.S. Senate, The Report of the Naval Court of Inquiry Upon the Destruction of the United States Battleship Maine, 55th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1898, Doc. No. 297, page 281; for Lee’s testimony, see pp. 246–247. For other matters relating to the Maine, consult Walter R. Herrick, Jr., The American Naval Revolution (Baton Rouge, La., 1966), 205–219.

75 McKinley was long stereotyped as the aimless, weak President who bowed to the pressures of the jingo press, imperialistic politicians, and a bellicose public. However, some recent historians have portrayed him as a strong and forceful leader who maintained his control over the conduct of foreign policy and one who accomplished his objectives. In addition to Morgan’s study, William McKinley, consult Paul S. Holbo, “Presidential Leadership in Foreign Affairs: William McKinley and the Turpie-Foraker Amendment,” The American Historical Review, LXXII, No. 4 (July, 1967), 1321–1335. At least in his relations with his consul-general in Havana, McKinley seems to have withstood Lee’s bombardment of suggestions concerning the hopelessness of autonomy proposals and the consequential necessity of American intervention.

76 Lee to Day, April 6, 1898, Dispatches from Havana, RG 59, NA; May, Imperial Democracy, 154.

77 Washington Post, April 10, 21, 1898. These issues contain detailed accounts of Lee’s journey from Key West and his initial activities upon arrival in Washington.

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