- Manila Bay, Battle of
- (1898)The first battle of the Spanish-American War, whereby the United States defeated Spain, acquired colonies in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and joined the ranks of the Great Powers. On April 25, 1898, the United States declared war on Spain. Three days later, Commodore George Dewey steamed from Mirs Bay, located just up the China coast from neutral British Hong Kong, toward the Spanish colonial possession of the Philippines.Backed by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, Dewey had become commander of the U.S. Asiatic Squadron in November 1897. With the cruiser Olympia as his flagship, Dewey commanded a squadron of five cruisers and three gunboats. Dewey’s squadron arrived in Manila Bay on the evening of April 30. Early the next morning, Dewey commenced operations against the Spanish fleet at the Cavite naval station under the command of Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón. Before the day ended, Montojo’s entire fleet was destroyed. Dewey’s victory was accomplished with only eight American servicemen wounded. The Spanish forces reported 167 killed and 214 wounded.Dewey’s squadron then silenced Cavite’s shore batteries and established a naval blockade. After Major General Wesley Merritt arrived with ground troops, the United States took control of the capital city of Manila on August 13, marking the end of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. Filipino nationalists proclaimed independence and established a republic under Asia’s first democratic constitution, but Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War in December 1898. Subsequently, the United States suppressed the Filipino independence movement headed by Emilio Aguinaldo, who waged an insurrection against the U.S. occupying forces until his capture in April 1901.News of his victory at Manila Bay made Dewey a national hero in the United States, and he was promoted to admiral of the navy, a position created especially for him by the U.S. Congress. Dewey returned home to become president of the newly created General Board of the Navy Department, in which capacity he was instrumental in helping now President Theodore Roosevelt display American power through the world tour of the U.S. Navy’s Great White Fleet from 1907–1909. The Philippines was granted independence from the United States on July 4, 1946.See also <
>; < >; < >; < >.FURTHER READING:Balfour, Sebastian. The End of the Spanish Empire, 1898–1923. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997;Hattendorf, John B. “The Battle of Manila Bay.” In Jack Sweetman, ed. Great American Naval Battles. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1998, pp. 175–197;Lehman, John. On Seas of Glory: Heroic Men, Great Ships, and Epic Battles of the American Navy. New York: Free Press, 2001;Symonds, Craig L. Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles That Shaped American History . New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.DAVID M. CARLETTA
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.