A “Remember the Maine!” quilt from 1898 is the Artifact of the Month for February at the Kenosha History Center, 220 51st Place.
The armored cruiser USS Maine exploded and sank in a harbor in Havana, Cuba, on Feb. 15, 1898, killing 261 of the 355 on board. Cuba was revolting against Spanish rule at the time, and tensions between Spain and the U.S. were high.
The sinking — and inflammatory articles published in newspapers published by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer — fueled furor against Spain (even though the explosion was later determined to be accidental, not an attack by Spain), which erupted in the slogan “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!” President William McKinley eventually asked Congress to declare war on Spain.
In Kenosha, the Woman’s Club made made banners and demonstrated in what is today Library Park. On May 19, 1898, 500 gathered for a demonstration at Chicago Brass Co. in support of the war and to unfurl a 20-foot-long American flag.
Mary Disch and her daughter, also named Mary, designed and sewed this quilt in 1898. It bears the slogans of the day: “Free Cuba!” “Remember the Maine!”