Mecklenburg County, NC & The Spanish-American War April 25, 1898 – April 11, 1899

Shipp MonumentWhen Mecklenburgers answered the call of Uncle Sam, Charlotte streets were crowded with well-wishers as the trains carried the men off to training. This was the first great war fought on foreign soil and two continents and expanded our territories. Many of our soldiers had never been out of the piedmont region of North Carolina, much less at sea or in a foreign country.

Unlike the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I and World War II, the Spanish-American War had a very small economic or historic impact on Mecklenburg County. Its brief span of time, distant battlefields and training required for mostly citizen soldiers kept many men from even getting to the battlefields.

The Peace Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898, although it took several weeks for Congress to ratify it. Enforcement, beginning on April 11, 1899, allowed many, but not all soldiers, to return home. Spain ceded Guam, Puerto Rico and other islands under Spanish sovereignty in the West Indies, as territories to the United States. Cuba was declared independent, and the United States paid $20,000,000 to Spain for the Philippine Islands.

Shipp MonumentOne of the Spanish-American War’s remaining symbols in Mecklenburg County is the monument dedicated to Lieutenant William Ewen Shipp (seen right), killed at the Battle of San Juan in Puerto Rico.

This monument was originally erected at the rear of the U. S. Post Office, W. Fourth Street and Mint Street. (seen left)

Details of Lt. Shipp’s life and the erection of the monument are chronicled in The Charlotte News, October 26, 1933.

USS MaineMost of our citizens today only remember that our entry into the war was escalated with the sinking of the battleship USS Maine in Havana, Cuba. But to the soldiers, who returned to civilian life in Mecklenburg County, their service, though brief, brought new confidence in a global market and America’s ability to fight abroad and assume responsibility for territories hundreds and thousands of miles from their mainland.

CannonAnother remaining item is from the spoils of war. The cannon, located in front of The Charlotte Museum of History, was forged in 1769 in Spain. After the war was over, the cannon was given to the city of Charlotte. Although it has been moved many times, it now has a permanent home at the Museum. John Wilkes' company, Mecklenburg Iron Works, built its stand in 1906.

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