Long, John D.

1894 LS while Boston lawyer, declines invitation to address a civic group; later Navy Secretary during Spanish-American War

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Description:
(1838-1915) Massachusetts lawyer, politician, and writer, 32nd Governor of Massachusetts (1880-83). He was Secretary of the Navy 1897-1902, a period that notably included the Spanish-American War. Active in Republican Party politics in the 1870s, won election to the state legislature in 1874, and was elected lieutenant governor in 1879 and governor in 1880. He advocated modest reforms as governor and was relatively undistinguished. Offered a cabinet post by his friend President McKinley, he chose to become Secretary of the Navy despite lacking knowledge of naval matters. He clashed with Under-Secretary Theodore Roosevelt over expansion of the Navy when the Spanish–American War broke out in 1898. In addition to personality differences, Roosevelt aggressively sought to modernize and expand the Navy; Long preferred to expand the Navy gradually and committed himself to its peaceful growth in line with McKinley's policies. Long took steps to minimize the amount of power Roosevelt could exercise while Roosevelt sought ways to spur Long into action. TR chafed against Long's policy of deferring much of the Department's work to permanent bureau chiefs, which resulted in a constrained flow of information to the administration. Long believed that tensions with Spain were unlikely to lead to war, and even if they did, the war would be easily won, so consequently he took no significant steps to prepare the Navy for that contingency. By early February 1898 tensions had reached crisis proportions, and Long was compelled to begin drawing up plans for war. Ten days after the sinking of the Maine Long took a day off, and Roosevelt used his authority in Long's absence to issue a orders to increase the Navy's readiness for war, including ordering Commodore Dewey into an aggressive offensive posture in the Philippines. Long countermanded some of Roosevelt's orders but began stepping up naval war preparations. When war was declared in April 1898 Roosevelt resigned the next month and Long directed the Navy's activities throughout the war, greatly increasing its size in the process. He ordered Dewey to neutralize the Spanish fleet in the Philippines, ordered the seizure of Guam, supported a blockade and offensive operations against Cuba, and directed naval resources into threatening mainland Spain to encourage the recall of a Spanish fleet headed for the Philippines. Long moved to create a permanent advisory staff after the war. The board, created in March 1900, was to unify the work of the Naval War College, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and fleet leadership for production of war plans and proper preparation, planning, and deployment of naval resources defined in those plans. After the war he moved plans to create a naval base in the Philippines, but funding was held up in Congress and the base was also caught up in rivalry with the War Department. Construction of the Subic Bay Naval Base began after Long left office. He resigned after Roosevelt became president, and resumed law practice. LS on 9 1/2 x 6 "Law Office of/Long & Hemenway", Boston, November 26 1894, to Wendell P. Yerrinton. Long regrets professional activities prevent him from accepting his invitation to address the Citizens No License League of Chelsea, having "but very little time to public service."

Condition: Very good, folds
Type:Letter






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