The Cross of War
Christian Nationalism and U.S. Expansion in the Spanish-American War
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication
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It was my adviser, James Byrd, who first showed me the importance of America’s wars—and the Spanish-American War in particular—for exploring my questions about the history of American Christianity. I am grateful to him for that nudge, and for his steady guidance as a mentor and friend throughout my graduate career. I am also thankful to the others who served on my dissertation...
Chronology of Events
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When Abraham Lincoln delivered the words of the Gettysburg Address, as many as fifty-one thousand men had just fallen in one of the many catastrophic battles of an indisputably catastrophic war. To locate meaning in these events—meaning worthy of such sacrifice—was the president’s unenviable task. This war, in Lincoln’s formulation, was to test whether a nation such...
1. “My Brother’s Keeper”: Justifying a New Kind of Sacrifice, Defining a New Kind of War
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On the night of February 15, 1898, the U.S. battleship Maine mysteriously exploded and sank to the bottom of Cuba’s Havana Bay, carrying with it 266 navy sailors. The cause of the explosion was never determined. But, given that the ship was there to monitor the war between Cuban insurgents and the Spanish military, it is hardly surprising that so many suspected foul play. Just...
2. Clash of Civilizations: Spain as Enemy and the Crystallization of American Messianism
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The first blow of the Spanish-American War was landed nearly ten thousand miles away from Cuba. On what became known as “the glorious first of May,” Commodore George Dewey and the U.S. Asiatic Squadron steamed into the Philippines’ Manila Bay. And in a span of mere hours they achieved an unqualified victory that set the tone for all that was to follow in the “splendid...
3. “The Hand of God in the Nation’s Victory”: Providence, American Success, and the Meaning of National History
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When measured against the tone set by Dewey’s dramatic victory, the following two months of the war were anticlimactic at best. It is difficult to imagine a military operation less organized or efficient than the American mobilization. As one historian summarized the problem, “the last vestiges of nineteenth-century voluntarism and amateurism collided with an incipient...
4. To Anglo-Saxonize the World: Racial Providentialism and the American Mission
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George Winton’s confidence in America’s God-ordained, messianic destiny rested on more than the nation’s remarkable success in battle. There was another crucial dimension to the war and its results to which his article turned in its conclusion. By this war, he believed, God had drawn together Anglo-Saxons at home and abroad. In fact, Winton suggested, “there are those...
5. Duty and Destiny: Messianic Interventionism and the Ideology of American Expansion
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The lopsided naval contest at Santiago had, in effect, ended the Spanish-American War. Through the end of July, all that remained were a few minor skirmishes—most notably the occupation of Manila and Puerto Rico by American ground forces—before a provisional peace protocol brought the dramatic little war to a close. That ceasefire came on August 12, barely one...
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For the cover of their December 1, 1898, issue, the editors of the Evangelist chose a full-page extended quotation from Psalm 2, the first of the so-called Messianic Psalms.
Yet I have set my king
Upon my holy hill of Zion.
I will tell of the decree:
Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son;
This day have I begotten thee.
Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance,
And the uttermost parts of the earth for...
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Other Works in the Series
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Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2014
Series Title: Studies in American Thought and Culture