This presentation reports on a research and public outreach project being carried out by the Smithsonian in cooperation with the San Carlos Institute. This initiative developed from Dr. Paul Taylor’s recent discovery of previously unpublished historical documents written by William Louis Abbott (1860-1936), which he has now published in the Florida Historical Quarterly. This presentation by Paul Taylor and Matthew Arnold, of the Smithsonian Institution, sets the events recounted in these documents within the broader history of the Spanish-American War and the history of Florida and of US-Cuban relations, including the role of Cuban-American civilian volunteers who mustered at Tampa. The Smithsonian is working with the San Carlos Institute to increase public understanding of this important period in our history.
Abbott’s recently discovered letters to his family were written from May to August of 1898 during his time as a volunteer in the exclusive ‘irregular’ (volunteer) cavalry assembled in Tampa to battle the Spanish during the Spanish-American War. These letters comprise a substantive addition to the corpus of primary data on key historical figures in this Tampa-based effort to aid the Cuban insurgency as part of the war effort. They also contain first-hand accounts of conditions at Tampa, where U.S. military soldiers and irregular volunteer forces under Cuban insurgent command prepared for the Cuban incursions.
About the Presenter:
Dr. Paul Michael Taylor is a research anthropologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. He is curator of Asian, European, and Middle Eastern Ethnology and head of that museum’s Asian Cultural History Program. He is also the author or editor of numerous books and scholarly articles on the ethnography, ethnobiology, linguistic anthropology, and art or material culture of Asia.
Funding for this program was sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support from The Helmerich Trust, Aloys & Carol Metty and The John & Marilyn Rintamaki Family Charitable Fund.