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coatThe Spanish American War and Morrisville

The Spanish American War was fought in part to increase trade in the East. Here at the Noyes house museum in Morrisville, we have products from the East that show the United State's interest. We also have souvenirs of a veteran who fought in the war, and artifacts from a man who had an important part of the war.

Contact between the US and the East started in the 1780s when New England captains, following Magellan's route, reached China. Missionaries followed in 1807. Chinese goods such as tea, silks, cotton goods, and chinaware rapidly gained profitability. Japan was opened up when Commodore Matthew C. Perry persuaded leaders to allow foreign trade. As the trade in the East grew, western countries began to stake out footholds to serve as trading centers. China was particularly vulnerable to this exploitation.

Going by the Open Door policy, the United States had no definite trade foothold in China during the trade boom that followed the Opium Wars. During that time, European countries had selected specific regions of China for their trade needs, called spheres of influence. In the states, we did not want the limited trade that specific so called ïspheres' would result in. In the Spanish American war, our attempt to bring Eastern influence to the United States through trade started with our conquest of the Philippines. In addition to the Philippines providing an excellent foothold for the United States in eastern trade, they could serve as a naval base. The idea of such a trading post had been on the minds of American colonists for years, since the first French and English landings. Columbus himself went across the Atlantic with such goods as spices and handcrafted Chinese goods to set up Oriental trade.

Evidence that Morrisville was affected by the trade boom following the U.S. conquest of the Philippines can be seen at the Noyes House museum. At the museum there are a number of antiques of oriental origin, such as dolls, fans, and spices.

There is a collection of artifacts from a veteran of the Spanish American War, Earnest L. Dill, though he was a resident of Crafts bury. These include a ration box (still containing food) and a pair of Japanese sandals for wearing in the rain. There is also a uniform from the Spanish American War. There was one man from Morristown who served in the war: Dell L. Sanders. Other than him, however, there was no real affect of the war on Morristown, according to Morristown Two Times.

Public opinion of the war was seemingly nonexistent. People were in favor of intervention in Cuba after Vermont Senator Redfield Proctor's supporting speech. His sons, Admiral Dewey and Capt. Charles Clark were two of the more favored heroes of the war, however, no one from Morrisville enlisted. People continued their lives, unaffected and uninhibited by any foreign affair. There is not even any evidence in our small town to show that there was any increase in Oriental trade.

There are, however, two people from Morrisville that were directly affected by the war though they did not fight. Morristown citizen Mason Stone graduated from Peoples Academy in the late 1870s then taught at the school starting 1886. He became Superintendent of Vermont in 1892, and after the war was over became the Superintendent of Schools for the Island of Negros in the Philippines. In 1905 he returned to Vermont to further pursue his education career, and with him he brought the fans that are now in the Noyes House.

Urban A. Woodbury, soldier in the Civil War and governor of Vermont in 1894, also graduated from Peoples Academy and later became a graduate of the Medical School in Burlington, VT where he became mayor of that city. He then was elected lieutenant governor, and from there became governor. After the Spanish American War, Urban A. Woodbury was appointed by President McKinley as a member of the Commission to Investigate the Conduct of the War Department in the War with Spain.


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This is a spice box containing a kit to make curry. Evidence of Morrisville's interest in Asian goods. (Our interest hasn't ended, either as evidenced by our three Chinese restaurants.)
Handcrafted Chinese fan fashioned from ivory and hand painted feathers, donated by Mason Stone.
Wooden Japanese rain sandals brought back from the Philippines by Earnest L. Dill.
doll doll
Just two of the many dolls from Lydia Liberty Flanders' Collection representing different peoples of Asia