Messages and Papers of William McKinley

Author: William McKinley

First Annual Message.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, December 6, 1897.

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

It gives me pleasure to extend greeting to the Fifty-fifth Congress, assembled in regular session at the seat of Government, with many of whose Senators and Representatives I have been associated in the legislative service. Their meeting occurs under felicitous conditions, justifying sincere congratulation and calling for our grateful acknowledgment to a beneficent Providence which has so signally blessed and prospered us as a nation. Peace and good will with all the nations of the earth continue unbroken.

A matter of genuine satisfaction is the growing feeling of fraternal regard and unification of all sections of our country, the incompleteness of which has too long delayed realization of the highest blessings of the Union. The spirit of patriotism is universal and is ever increasing in fervor. The public questions which now most engross us are lifted far above either partisanship, prejudice, or former sectional differences. They affect every part of our common country alike and permit of no division on ancient lines. Questions of foreign policy, of revenue, the soundness of the currency, the inviolability of national obligations, the improvement of the public service, appeal to the individual conscience of every earnest citizen to whatever party he belongs or in whatever section of the country he may reside.

The extra session of this Congress which closed during July last enacted important legislation, and while its full effect has not yet been realized, what it has already accomplished assures us of its timeliness and wisdom. To test its permanent value further time will be required, and the people, satisfied with its operation and results thus far, are in no mind to withhold from it a fair trial.

Tariff legislation having been settled by the extra session of Congress, the question next pressing for consideration is that of the currency.

The work of putting our finances upon a sound basis, difficult as it may seem, will appear easier when we recall the financial operations of the Government since 1866. On the 30th day of June of that year we had outstanding demand liabilities in the sum of $728,868,447.41. On the 1st of January, 1879, these liabilities had been reduced to$443,889,495.88. Of our interest-bearing obligations, the figures are even more striking. On July 1, 1866, the principal of the interest-bearing debt of the Government was $2,332,331,208. On the 1st day of July, 1893, this sum had been reduced to $585,137,100, or an aggregate reduction of $1,747,294,108. The interest-bearing debt of the United States on the 1st day of December, 1897, was $847,365,620. The Government money now outstanding (December 1) consists of $346,681,016 of United States notes, $107,793,280 of Treasury notes issued by authority of the law of 1890, $384,963,504 of silver certificates, and $61,280,761 of standard silver dollars.

With the great resources of the Government, and with the honorable example of the past before us, we ought not to hesitate to enter upon a currency revision which will make our demand obligations less onerous to the Government and relieve our financial laws from ambiguity and doubt.

The brief review of what was accomplished from the close of the war to 1893, makes unreasonable and groundless any distrust either of our financial ability or soundness; while the situation from 1893 to 1897 must admonish Congress of the immediate necessity of so legislating as to make the return of the conditions then prevailing impossible.

There are many plans proposed as a remedy for the evil. Before we can find the true remedy we must appreciate the real evil. It is not that our currency of every kind is not good, for every dollar of it is good; good because the Government’s pledge is out to keep it so, and that pledge will not be broken. However, the guaranty of our purpose to keep the pledge will be best shown by advancing toward its fulfillment.

The evil of the present system is found in the great cost to the Government of maintaining the parity of our different forms of money, that is, keeping all of them at par with gold. We surely cannot be longer heedless of the burden this imposes upon the people, even under fairly prosperous conditions, while the past four years have demonstrated that it is not only an expensive charge upon the Government, but a dangerous menace to the National credit.

It is manifest that we must devise some plan to protect the Government against bond issues for repeated redemptions. We must either curtail the opportunity for speculation, made easy by the multiplied redemptions of our demand obligations, or increase the gold reserve fortheir redemption. We have $900,000,000 of currency which the Government by solemn enactment has undertaken to keep at par with gold. Nobody is obliged to redeem in gold but the Government. The banks are not required to redeem in gold. The Government is obliged to keep equal with gold all its outstanding currency and coin obligations, while its receipts are not required to be paid in gold. They are paid in every kind of money but gold, and the only means by which the Government can with certainty get gold is by borrowing. It can get it in no other way when it most needs it. The Government without any fixed gold revenue is pledged to maintain gold redemption, which it has steadily and faithfully done, and which, under the authority now given, it will continue to do.

The law which requires the Government, after having redeemed its United States notes, to pay them out again as current funds, demands a constant replenishment of the gold reserve. This is especially so in times of business panic and when the revenues are insufficient to meet the expenses of the Government. At such times the Government has no other way to supply its deficit and maintain redemption but through the increase of its bonded debt, as during the Administration of my predecessor, when $262,315,400 of four-and-a-half per cent bonds were issued and sold and the proceeds used to pay the expenses of the Government in excess of the revenues and sustain the gold reserve. While it is true that the greater part of the proceeds of these bonds were used to supply deficient revenues, a considerable portion was required to maintain the gold reserve.

With our revenues equal to our expenses, there would be no deficit requiring the issuance of bonds. But if the gold reserve falls below $100,000,000, how will it be replenished except by selling more bonds? Is there any other way practicable under existing law? The serious question then is, Shall we continue the policy that has been pursued in the past; that is, when the gold reserve reaches the point of danger, issue more bonds and supply the needed gold, or shall we provide other means to prevent these recurring drains upon the gold reserve? If no further legislation is had and the policy of selling bonds is to be continued, then Congress should give the Secretary of the Treasury authority to sell bonds at long or short periods, bearing a less rate of interest than is now authorized by law.

I earnestly recommend, as soon as the receipts of the Government are quite sufficient to pay all the expenses of the Government, that when any of the United States notes are presented for redemption in gold and are redeemed in gold, such notes shall be kept and set apart, and only paid out in exchange for gold. This is an obvious duty. If the holder of the United States note prefers the gold and gets it from the Government, he should not receive back from the Government a United States note without paying gold in exchange for it. Thereason for this is made all the more apparent when the Government issues an interest-bearing debt to provide gold for the redemption of United States notes--a non-interest-bearing debt. Surely it should not pay them out again except on demand and for gold. If they are put out in any other way, they may return again to be followed by another bond issue to redeem them--another interest-bearing debt to redeem a non-interest-bearing debt.

In my view, it is of the utmost importance that the Government should be relieved from the burden of providing all the gold required for exchanges and export. This responsibility is alone borne by the Government, without any of the usual and necessary banking powers to help itself. The banks do not feel the strain of gold redemption. The whole strain rests upon the Government, and the size of the gold reserve in the Treasury has come to be, with or without reason, the signal of danger or of security. This ought to be stopped.

If we are to have an era of prosperity in the country, with sufficient receipts for the expenses of the Government, we may feel no immediate embarrassment from our present currency; but the danger still exists, and will be ever present, menacing us so long as the existing system continues. And, besides, it is in times of adequate revenues and business tranquillity that the Government should prepare for the worst. We cannot avoid, without serious consequences, the wise consideration and prompt solution of this question.

The Secretary of the Treasury has outlined a plan, in great detail, for the purpose of removing the threatened recurrence of a depleted gold reserve and save us from future embarrassment on that account. To this plan I invite your careful consideration.

I concur with the Secretary of the Treasury in his recommendation that National banks be allowed to issue notes to the face value of the bonds which they have deposited for circulation, and that the tax on circulating notes secured by deposit of such bonds be reduced to one-half of one per cent per annum. I also join him in recommending that authority be given for the establishment of National banks with a minimum capital of $25,000. This will enable the smaller villages and agricultural regions of the country to be supplied with currency to meet their needs.

I recommend that the issue of National bank notes be restricted to the denomination of ten dollars and upwards. If the suggestions I have herein made shall have the approval of Congress, then I would recommend that National banks be required to redeem their notes in gold.

The most important problem with which this Government is now called upon to deal pertaining to its foreign relations concerns its duty toward Spain and the Cuban insurrection. Problems and conditions more or less in common with those now existing have confronted this Government atvarious times in the past. The story of Cuba for many years has been one of unrest, growing discontent, an effort toward a larger enjoyment of liberty and self-control, of organized resistance to the mother country, of depression after distress and warfare, and of ineffectual settlement to be followed by renewed revolt. For no enduring period since the enfranchisement of the continental possessions of Spain in the Western Continent has the condition of Cuba or the policy of Spain toward Cuba not caused concern to the United States.

The prospect from time to time that the weakness of Spain’s hold upon the island and the political vicissitudes and embarrassments of the home Government might lead to the transfer of Cuba to a continental power called forth between 1823 and 1860 various emphatic declarations of the policy of the United States to permit no disturbance of Cuba’ s connection with Spain unless in the direction of independence or acquisition by us through purchase, nor has there been any change of this declared policy since upon the part of the Government.

The revolution which began in 1868 lasted for ten years despite the strenuous efforts of the successive peninsular governments to suppress it. Then as now the Government of the United States testified its grave concern and offered its aid to put an end to bloodshed in Cuba. The overtures made by General Grant were refused and the war dragged on, entailing great loss of life and treasure and increased injury to American interests, besides throwing enhanced burdens of neutrality upon this Government. In 1878 peace was brought about by the truce of Zanjon, obtained by negotiations between the Spanish commander, Martinez de Campos, and the insurgent leaders.

The present insurrection broke out in February, 1895. It is not my purpose at this time to recall its remarkable increase or to characterize its tenacious resistance against the enormous forces massed against it by Spain. The revolt and the efforts to subdue it carried destruction to every quarter of the island, developing wide proportions and defying the efforts of Spain for its suppression. The civilized code of war has been disregarded, no less so by the Spaniards than by the Cubans.

The existing conditions can not but fill this Government and the American people with the gravest apprehension. There is no desire on the part of our people to profit by the misfortunes of Spain. We have only the desire to see the Cubans prosperous and contented, enjoying that measure of self-control which is the inalienable right of man, protected in their right to reap the benefit of the exhaustless treasures of their country.

The offer made by my predecessor in April, 1896, tendering the friendly offices of this Government, failed. Any mediation on our part was not accepted. In brief, the answer read: "There is no effectual way to pacify Cuba unless it begins with the actual submission of the rebels to the mother country." Then only could Spain act in the promised direction, of her own motion and after her own plans.

The cruel policy of concentration was initiated February 16, 1896. The productive districts controlled by the Spanish armies were depopulated. The agricultural inhabitants were herded in and about the garrison towns, their lands laid waste and their dwellings destroyed. This policy the late cabinet of Spain justified as a necessary measure of war and as a means of cutting off supplies from the insurgents. It has utterly failed as a war measure. It was not civilized warfare. It was extermination.

Against this abuse of the rights of war I have felt constrained on repeated occasions to enter the firm and earnest protest of this Government. There was much of public condemnation of the treatment of American citizens by alleged illegal arrests and long imprisonment awaiting trial or pending protracted judicial proceedings. I felt it my first duty to make instant demand for the release or speedy trial of all American citizens under arrest. Before the change of the Spanish cabinet in October last twenty-two prisoners, citizens of the United States, had been given their freedom.

For the relief of our own citizens suffering because of the conflict the aid of Congress was sought in a special message,* and under the appropriation of May 24, 1897, effective aid has been given to American citizens in Cuba, many of them at their own request having been returned to the United States.

* See pp. 6248-6249.

The instructions given to our new minister to Spain before his departure for his post directed him to impress upon that Government the sincere wish of the United States to lend its aid toward the ending of the war in Cuba by reaching a peaceful and lasting result, just and honorable alike to Spain and to the Cuban people. These instructions recited the character and duration of the contest, the widespread losses it entails, the burdens and restraints it imposes upon us, with constant disturbance of national interests, and the injury resulting from an indefinite continuance of this state of things. It was stated that at this juncture our Government was constrained to seriously inquire if the time was not ripe when Spain of her own volition, moved by her own interests and every sentiment of humanity, should put a stop to this destructive war and make proposals of settlement honorable to herself and just to her Cuban colony. It was urged that as a neighboring nation, with large interests in Cuba, we could be required to wait only a reasonable time for the mother country to establish its authority and restore peace and order within the borders of the island; that we could not contemplate an indefinite period for the accomplishment of this result.

No solution was proposed to which the slightest idea of humiliation to Spain could attach, and, indeed, precise proposals were withheld to avoid embarrassment to that Government. All that was asked or expected was that some safe way might be speedily provided and permanent peacerestored. It so chanced that the consideration of this offer, addressed to the same Spanish administration which had declined the tenders of my predecessor, and which for more than two years had poured men and treasure into Cuba in the fruitless effort to suppress the revolt, fell to others. Between the departure of General Woodford, the new envoy, and his arrival in Spain the statesman who had shaped the policy of his country fell by the hand of an assassin, and although the cabinet of the late premier still held office and received from our envoy the proposals he bore, that cabinet gave place within a few days thereafter to a new administration, under the leadership of Sagasta.

The reply to our note was received on the 23d day of October. It is in the direction of a better understanding. It appreciates the friendly purposes of this Government. It admits that our country is deeply affected by the war in Cuba and that its desires for peace are just. It declares that the present Spanish government is bound by every consideration to a change of policy that should satisfy the United States and pacify Cuba within a reasonable time. To this end Spain has decided to put into effect the political reforms heretofore advocated by the present premier, without halting for any consideration in the path which in its judgment leads to peace. The military operations, it is said, will continue, but will be humane and conducted with all regard for private rights, being accompanied by political action leading to the autonomy of Cuba while guarding Spanish sovereignty. This, it is claimed, will result in investing Cuba with a distinct personality, the island to be governed by an executive and by a local council or chamber, reserving to Spain the control of the foreign relations, the army and navy, and the judicial administration. To accomplish this the present government proposes to modify existing legislation by decree, leaving the Spanish Cortes, with the aid of Cuban senators and deputies, to solve the economic problem and properly distribute the existing debt.

In the absence of a declaration of the measures that this Government proposes to take in carrying out its proffer of good offices, it suggests that Spain be left free to conduct military operations and grant political reforms, while the United States for its part shall enforce its neutral obligations and cut off the assistance which it is asserted the insurgents receive from this country. The supposition of an indefinite prolongation of the war is denied. It is asserted that the western provinces are already well-nigh reclaimed, that the planting of cane and tobacco therein has been resumed, and that by force of arms and new and ample reforms very early and complete pacification is hoped for.

The immediate amelioration of existing conditions under the new administration of Cuban affairs is predicted, and therewithal the disturbance and all occasion for any change of attitude on the part of the United States. Discussion of the question of the international duties and responsibilities of the United States as Spain understands them ispresented, with an apparent disposition to charge us with failure in this regard. This charge is without any basis in fact. It could not have been made if Spain had been cognizant of the constant efforts this Government has made, at the cost of millions and by the employment of the administrative machinery of the nation at command, to perform its full duty according to the law of nations. That it has successfully prevented the departure of a single military expedition or armed vessel from our shores in violation of our laws would seem to be a sufficient answer. But of this aspect of the Spanish note it is not necessary to speak further now. Firm in the conviction of a wholly performed obligation, due response to this charge has been made in diplomatic course.

Throughout all these horrors and dangers to our own peace this Government has never in any way abrogated its sovereign prerogative of reserving to itself the determination of its policy and course according to its own high sense of right and in consonance with the dearest interests and convictions of our own people should the prolongation of the strife so demand.

Of the untried measures there remain only: Recognition of the insurgents as belligerents; recognition of the independence of Cuba; neutral intervention to end the war by imposing a rational compromise between the contestants, and intervention in favor of one or the other party. I speak not of forcible annexation, for that can not be thought of. That, by our code of morality, would be criminal aggression.

Recognition of the belligerency of the Cuban insurgents has often been canvassed as a possible, if not inevitable, step both in regard to the previous ten years’ struggle and during the present war. I am not unmindful that the two Houses of Congress in the spring of 1896 expressed the opinion by concurrent resolution that a condition of public war existed requiring or justifying the recognition of a state of belligerency in Cuba, and during the extra session the Senate voted a joint resolution of like import, which, however, was not brought to a vote in the House of Representatives. In the presence of these significant expressions of the sentiment of the legislative branch it behooves the Executive to soberly consider the conditions under which so important a measure must needs rest for justification. It is to be seriously considered whether the Cuban insurrection possesses beyond dispute the attributes of statehood, which alone can demand the recognition of belligerency in its favor. Possession, in short, of the essential qualifications of sovereignty by the insurgents and the conduct of the war by them according to the received code of war are no less important factors toward the determination of the problem of belligerency than are the influences and consequences of the struggle upon the internal polity of the recognizing state.

The wise utterances of President Grant in his memorable message of December 7, 1875, are signally relevant to the present situation in Cuba, and it may be wholesome now to recall them. At that time a ruinousconflict had for seven years wasted the neighboring island. During all those years an utter disregard of the laws of civilized warfare and of the just demands of humanity, which called forth expressions of condemnation from the nations of Christendom, continued unabated. Desolation and ruin pervaded that productive region, enormously affecting the commerce of all commercial nations, but that of the United States more than any other by reason of proximity and larger trade and intercourse. At that juncture General Grant uttered these words, which now, as then, sum up the elements of the problem:

A recognition of the independence of Cuba being, in my opinion, impracticable and indefensible, the question which next presents itself is that of the recognition of belligerent rights in the parties to the contest.

In a former message to Congress * I had occasion to consider this question, and reached the conclusion that the conflict in Cuba, dreadful and devastating as were its incidents, did not rise to the fearful dignity of war. * * * It is possible that the acts of foreign powers, and even acts of Spain herself, of this very nature, might be pointed to in defense of such recognition. But now, as in its past history, the United States should carefully avoid the false lights which might lead it into the mazes of doubtful law and of questionable propriety, and adhere rigidly and sternly to the rule, which has been its guide, of doing only that which is right and honest and of good report. The question of according or of withholding rights of belligerency must be judged in every case in view of the particular attending facts. Unless justified by necessity, it is always, and justly, regarded as an unfriendly act and a gratuitous demonstration of moral support to the rebellion. It is necessary, and it is required, when the interests and rights of another government or of its people are so far affected by a pending civil conflict as to require a definition of its relations to the parties thereto. But this conflict must be one which will be recognized in the sense of international law as war. Belligerence, too, is a fact. The mere existence of contending armed bodies and their occasional conflicts do not constitute war in the sense referred to. Applying to the existing condition of affairs in Cuba the tests recognized by publicists and writers on international law, and which have been observed by nations of dignity, honesty, and power when free from sensitive or selfish and unworthy motives, I fail to find in the insurrection the existence of such a substantial political organization, real, palpable, and manifest to the world, having the forms and capable of the ordinary functions of government toward its own people and to other states, with courts for the administration of justice, with a local habitation, possessing such organization of force, such material, such occupation of territory, as to take the contest out of the category of a mere rebellious insurrection or occasional skirmishes and place it on the terrible footing of war, to which a recognition of belligerency would aim to elevate it. The contest, moreover, is solely on land; the insurrection has not possessed itself of a single seaport whence it may send forth its flag, nor has it any means of communication with foreign powers except through the military lines of its adversaries. No apprehension of any of those sudden and difficult complications which a war upon the ocean is apt to precipitate upon the vessels, both commercial and national, and upon the consular officers of other powers calls for the definition of their relations to the parties to the contest. Considered as a question of expediency, I regard the accordance of belligerent rights still to be as unwise and premature as I regard it to be, at present, indefensible as a measure of right. Such recognition entails upon the country according the rights which flow from it difficult and complicated duties, and requiresthe exaction from the contending parties of the strict observance of their rights and obligations. It confers the right of search upon the high seas by vessels of both parties; it would subject the carrying of arms and munitions of war, which now may be transported freely and without interruption in the vessels of the United States, to detention and to possible seizure; it would give rise to countless vexatious questions, would release the parent Government from responsibility for acts done by the insurgents, and would invest Spain with the right to exercise the supervision recognized by our treaty of 1795 over our commerce on the high seas, a very large part of which, in its traffic between the Atlantic and the Gulf States and between all of them and the States on the Pacific, passes through the waters which wash the shores of Cuba. The exercise of this supervision could scarce fail to lead, if not to abuses, certainly to collisions perilous to the peaceful relations of the two States. There can be little doubt to what result such supervision would before long draw this nation. It would be unworthy of the United States to inaugurate the possibilities of such result by measures of questionable right or expediency or by any indirection.

* See pp. 4018-4023.

Turning to the practical aspects of a recognition of belligerency and reviewing its inconveniences and positive dangers, still further pertinent considerations appear. In the code of nations there is no such thing as a naked recognition of belligerency, unaccompanied by the assumption of international neutrality. Such recognition, without more, will not confer upon either party to a domestic conflict a status not theretofore actually possessed or affect the relation of either party to other states. The act of recognition usually takes the form of a solemn proclamation of neutrality, which recites the de facto condition of belligerency as its motive. It announces a domestic law of neutrality in the declaring state. It assumes the international obligations of a neutral in the presence of a public state of war. It warns all citizens and others within the jurisdiction of the proclaimant that they violate those rigorous obligations at their own peril and can not expect to be shielded from the consequences. The right of visit and search on the seas and seizure of vessels and cargoes and contraband of war and good prize under admiralty law must under international law be admitted as a legitimate consequence of a proclamation of belligerency. While according the equal belligerent rights defined by public law to each party in our ports disfavors would be imposed on both, which, while nominally equal, would weigh heavily in behalf of Spain herself. Possessing a navy and controlling the ports of Cuba, her maritime rights could be asserted not only for the military investment of the island, but up to the margin of our own territorial waters, and a condition of things would exist for which the Cubans within their own domain could not hope to create a parallel, while its creation through aid or sympathy from within our domain would be even more impossible than now, with the additional obligations of international neutrality we would perforce assume.

The enforcement of this enlarged and onerous code of neutrality would only be influential within our own jurisdiction by land and sea and applicable by our own instrumentalities. It could impart to the United States no jurisdiction between Spain and the insurgents. It would give theUnited States no right of intervention to enforce the conduct of the strife within the paramount authority of Spain according to the international code of war.

For these reasons I regard the recognition of the belligerency of the Cuban insurgents as now unwise, and therefore inadmissible. Should that step hereafter be deemed wise as a measure of right and duty, the Executive will take it.

Intervention upon humanitarian grounds has been frequently suggested and has not failed to receive my most anxious and earnest consideration. But should such a step be now taken, when it is apparent that a hopeful change has supervened in the policy of Spain toward Cuba? A new government has taken office in the mother country. It is pledged in advance to the declaration that all the effort in the world can not suffice to maintain peace in Cuba by the bayonet; that vague promises of reform after subjugation afford no solution of the insular problem; that with a substitution of commanders must come a change of the past system of warfare for one in harmony with a new policy, which shall no longer aim to drive the Cubans to the "horrible alternative of taking to the thicket or succumbing in misery;" that reforms must be instituted in accordance with the needs and circumstances of the time, and that these reforms, while designed to give full autonomy to the colony and to create a virtual entity and self-controlled administration, shall yet conserve and affirm the sovereignty of Spain by a just distribution of powers and burdens upon a basis of mutual interest untainted by methods of selfish expediency.

The first acts of the new government lie in these honorable paths. The policy of cruel rapine and extermination that so long shocked the universal sentiment of humanity has been reversed. Under the new military commander a broad clemency is proffered. Measures have already been set on foot to relieve the horrors of starvation. The power of the Spanish armies, it is asserted, is to be used not to spread ruin and desolation, but to protect the resumption of peaceful agricultural pursuits and productive industries. That past methods are futile to force a peace by subjugation is freely admitted, and that ruin without conciliation must inevitably fail to win for Spain the fidelity of a contented dependency.

Decrees in application of the foreshadowed reforms have already been promulgated. The full text of these decrees has not been received, but as furnished in a telegraphic summary from our minister are: All civil and electoral rights of peninsular Spaniards are, in virtue of existing constitutional authority, forthwith extended to colonial Spaniards. A scheme of autonomy has been proclaimed by decree, to become effective upon ratification by the Cortes. It creates a Cuban parliament, which, with the insular executive, can consider and vote upon all subjects affecting local order and interests, possessing unlimited powers save as to matters of state, war, and the navy, as to which the Governor-General acts by his own authority as the delegate of the central Government. This parliamentreceives the oath of the Governor-General to preserve faithfully the liberties and privileges of the colony, and to it the colonial secretaries are responsible. It has the right to propose to the central Government, through the Governor-General, modifications of the national charter and to invite new projects of law or executive measures in the interest of the colony.

Besides its local powers, it is competent, first, to regulate electoral registration and procedure and prescribe the qualifications of electors and the manner of exercising suffrage; second, to organize courts of justice with native judges from members of the local bar; third, to frame the insular budget, both as to expenditures and revenues, without limitation of any kind, and to set apart the revenues to meet the Cuban share of the national budget, which latter will be voted by the national Cortes with the assistance of Cuban senators and deputies; fourth, to initiate or take part in the negotiations of the national Government for commercial treaties which may affect Cuban interests; fifth, to accept or reject commercial treaties which the national Government may have concluded without the participation of the Cuban government; sixth, to frame the colonial tariff, acting in accord with the peninsular Government in scheduling articles of mutual commerce between the mother country and the colonies. Before introducing or voting upon a bill the Cuban government or the chambers will lay the project before the central Government and hear its opinion thereon, all the correspondence in such regard being made public. Finally, all conflicts of jurisdiction arising between the different municipal, provincial, and insular assemblies, or between the latter and the insular executive power, and which from their nature may not be referable to the central Government for decision, shall be submitted to the courts.

That the government of Sagasta has entered upon a course from which recession with honor is impossible can hardly be questioned; that in the few weeks it has existed it has made earnest of the sincerity of its professions is undeniable. I shall not impugn its sincerity, nor should impatience be suffered to embarrass it in the task it has undertaken. It is honestly due to Spain and to our friendly relations with Spain that she should be given a reasonable chance to realize her expectations and to prove the asserted efficacy of the new order of things to which she stands irrevocably committed. She has recalled the commander whose brutal orders inflamed the American mind and shocked the civilized world. She has modified the horrible order of concentration and has undertaken to care for the helpless and permit those who desire to resume the cultivation of their fields to do so, and assures them of the protection of the Spanish Government in their lawful occupations. She has just released the Competitor prisoners, heretofore sentenced to death, and who have been the subject of repeated diplomatic correspondence during both this and the preceding Administration.

Not a single American citizen is now in arrest or confinement in Cuba of whom this Government has any knowledge. The near future will demonstrate whether the indispensable condition of a righteous peace, just alike to the Cubans and to Spain as well as equitable to all our interests so intimately involved in the welfare of Cuba, is likely to be attained. If not, the exigency of further and other action by the United States will remain to be taken. When that time comes that action will be determined in the line of indisputable right and duty. It will be faced, without misgiving or hesitancy in the light of the obligation this Government owes to itself, to the people who have confided to it the protection of their interests and honor, and to humanity.

Sure of the right, keeping free from all offense ourselves, actuated only by upright and patriotic considerations, moved neither by passion nor selfishness. the Government will continue its watchful care over the rights and property of American citizens and will abate none of its efforts to bring about by peaceful agencies a peace which shall be honorable and enduring. If it shall hereafter appear to be a duty imposed by our obligations to ourselves, to civilization and humanity to intervene with force, it shall be without fault on our part and only because the necessity for such action will be so clear as to command the support and approval of the civilized world.

By a special message dated the 16th day of June last, I laid before the Senate a treaty signed that day by the plenipotentiaries of the United States and of the Republic of Hawaii, having for its purpose the incorporation of the Hawaiian Islands as an integral part of the United States and under its sovereignty. The Senate having removed the injunction of secrecy, although the treaty is still pending before that body, the subject may be properly referred to in this Message because the necessary action of the Congress is required to determine by legislation many details of the eventual union should the fact of annexation be accomplished, as I believe it should be.

While consistently disavowing from a very early period any aggressive policy of absorption in regard to the Hawaiian group, a long series of declarations through three-quarters of a century has proclaimed the vital interest of the United States in the independent life of the Islands and their intimate commercial dependence upon this country. At the same time it has been repeatedly asserted that in no event could the entity of Hawaiian statehood cease by the passage of the Islands under the domination or influence of another power than the United States. Under these circumstances, the logic of events required that annexation, heretofore offered but declined, should in the ripeness of time come about as the natural result of the strengthening ties that bind us to those Islands, and be realized by the free will of the Hawaiian State.

That treaty was unanimously ratified without amendment by the Senate and President of the Republic of Hawaii on the 10th of September last, and only awaits the favorable action of the American Senate to effect the complete absorption of the Islands into the domain of the United States. What the conditions of such a union shall be, the political relation thereof to the United States, the character of the local administration, the quality and degree of the elective franchise of the inhabitants, the extension of the federal laws to the territory or the enactment of special laws to fit the peculiar condition thereof, the regulation if need be of the labor system therein, are all matters which the treaty has wisely relegated to the Congress.

If the treaty is confirmed as every consideration of dignity and honor requires, the wisdom of Congress will see to it that, avoiding abrupt assimilation of elements perhaps hardly yet fitted to share in the highest franchises of citizenship, and having due regard to the geographical conditions, the most just provisions for self-rule in local matters with the largest political liberties as an integral part of our Nation will be accorded to the Hawaiians. No less is due to a people who, after nearly five years of demonstrated capacity to fulfill the obligations of self-governing statehood, come of their free will to merge their destinies in our body-politic.

The questions which have arisen between Japan and Hawaii by reason of the treatment of Japanese laborers emigrating to the Islands under the Hawaiian-Japanese convention of 1888, are in a satisfactory stage of settlement by negotiation. This Government has not been invited to mediate, and on the other hand has sought no intervention in that matter, further than to evince its kindliest disposition toward such a speedy and direct adjustment by the two sovereign States in interest as shall comport with equity and honor. It is gratifying to learn that the apprehensions at first displayed on the part of Japan lest the cessation of Hawaii’s national life through annexation might impair privileges to which Japan honorably laid claim, have given place to confidence in the uprightness of this Government, and in the sincerity of its purpose to deal with all possible ulterior questions in the broadest spirit of friendliness.

As to the representation of this Government to Nicaragua, Salvador, and Costa Rica, I have concluded that Mr. William L. Merry, confirmed as minister of the United States to the States of Nicaragua, Salvador and Costa Rica, shall proceed to San Jose, Costa Rica, and there temporarily establish the headquarters of the United States to those three States. I took this action for what I regarded as the paramount interests of this country. It was developed upon an investigation by the Secretary of State that the Government of Nicaragua, while notunwilling to receive Mr. Merry in his diplomatic quality, was unable to do so because of the compact concluded June 20, 1895, whereby that Republic and those of Salvador and Honduras, forming what is known as the Greater Republic of Central America, had surrendered to the representative Diet thereof their right to receive and send diplomatic agents. The Diet was not willing to accept him because he was not accredited to that body. I could not accredit him to that body because the appropriation law of Congress did not permit it. Mr. Baker, the present minister at Managua, has been directed to present his letters of recall.

Mr. W. Godfrey Hunter has likewise been accredited to the Governments of Guatemala and Honduras, the same as his predecessor. Guatemala is not a member of the Greater Republic of Central America, but Honduras is. Should this latter Government decline to receive him, he has been instructed to report this fact to his Government and await its further instructions.

A subject of large importance to our country, and increasing appreciation on the part of the people, is the completion of the great highway of trade between the Atlantic and Pacific, known as the Nicaragua Canal. Its utility and value to American commerce is universally admitted. The Commission appointed under date of July 24 last "to continue the surveys and examinations authorized by the act approved March 2, 1895," in regard to "the proper route, feasibility, and cost of construction of the Nicaragua Canal, with a view of making complete plans for the entire work of construction of such canal," is now employed in the undertaking. In the future I shall take occasion to transmit to Congress the report of this Commission, making at the same time such further suggestions as may then seem advisable.

Under the provisions of the act of Congress approved March 3, 1897, for the promotion of an international agreement respecting bimetallism, I appointed on the 14th day of April, 1897, Hon. Edward O. Wolcott of Colorado, Hon. Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois, and Hon. Charles J. Paine of Massachusetts, as special envoys to represent the United States. They have been diligent in their efforts to secure the concurrence and cooperation of European countries in the international settlement of the question, but up to this time have not been able to secure an agreement contemplated by their mission.

The gratifying action of our great sister Republic of France in joining this country in the attempt to bring about an agreement among the principal commercial nations of Europe, whereby a fixed and relative value between gold and silver shall be secured, furnishes assurance that we are not alone among the larger nations of the world in realizing the international character of the problem and in the desire of reachingsome wise and practical solution of it. The British Government has published a resume of the steps taken jointly by the French ambassador in London and the special envoys of the United States, with whom our ambassador at London actively co-operated in the presentation of this subject to Her Majesty’s Government. This will be laid before Congress.

Our special envoys have not made their final report, as further negotiations between the representatives of this Government and the Governments of other countries are pending and in contemplation. They believe that doubts which have been raised in certain quarters respecting the position of maintaining the stability of the parity between the metals and kindred questions may yet be solved by further negotiations.

Meanwhile it gives me satisfaction to state that the special envoys have already demonstrated their ability and fitness to deal with the subject, and it is to be earnestly hoped that their labors may result in an international agreement which will bring about recognition of both gold and silver as money upon such terms, and with such safeguards as will secure the use of both metals upon a basis which shall work no injustice to any class of our citizens.

In order to execute as early as possible the provisions of the third and fourth sections of the Revenue Act, approved July 24, 1897, I appointed the Hon. John A. Kasson of Iowa, a special commissioner plenipotentiary to undertake the requisite negotiations with foreign countries desiring to avail themselves of these provisions. The negotiations are now proceeding with several Governments, both European and American. It is believed that by a careful exercise of the powers conferred by that Act some grievances of our own and of other countries in our mutual trade relations may be either removed, or largely alleviated, and that the volume of our commercial exchanges may be enlarged, with advantage to both contracting parties.

Most desirable from every standpoint of national interest and patriotism is the effort to extend our foreign commerce. To this end our merchant marine should be improved and enlarged. We should do our full share of the carrying trade of the world. We do not do it now. We should be the laggard no longer. The inferiority of our merchant marine is justly humiliating to the national pride. The Government by every proper constitutional means, should aid in making our ships familiar visitors at every commercial port of the world, thus opening up new and valuable markets to the surplus products of the farm and the factory.

The efforts which had been made during the two previous years by my predecessor to secure better protection to the fur seals in the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea, were renewed at an early date by thisAdministration, and have been pursued with earnestness. Upon my invitation, the Governments of Japan and Russia sent delegates to Washington, and an international conference was held during the months of October and November last, wherein it was unanimously agreed that under the existing regulations this species of useful animals was threatened with extinction, and that an international agreement of all the interested powers was necessary for their adequate protection.

The Government of Great Britain did not see proper to be represented at this conference, but subsequently sent to Washington, as delegates, the expert commissioners of Great Britain and Canada who had, during the past two years, visited the Pribilof Islands, and who met in conference similar commissioners on the part of the United States. The result of this conference was an agreement on important facts connected with the condition of the seal herd, heretofore in dispute, which should place beyond controversy the duty of the Governments concerned to adopt measures without delay for the preservation and restoration of the herd. Negotiations to this end are now in progress, the result of which I hope to be able to report to Congress at an early day.

International arbitration cannot be omitted from the list of subjects claiming our consideration. Events have only served to strengthen the general views on this question expressed in my inaugural address. The best sentiment of the civilized world is moving toward the settlement of differences between nations without resorting to the horrors of war. Treaties embodying these humane principles on broad lines, without in any way imperiling our interests or our honor, shall have my constant encouragement.

The acceptance by this Government of the invitation of the Republic of France to participate in the Universal Exposition of 1900, at Paris, was immediately followed by the appointment of a special commissioner to represent the United States in the proposed exposition, with special reference to the securing of space for an adequate exhibit on behalf of the United States.

The special commissioner delayed his departure for Paris long enough to ascertain the probable demand for space by American exhibitors. His inquiries developed an almost unprecedented interest in the proposed exposition, and the information thus acquired enabled him to justify an application for a much larger allotment of space for the American section than had been reserved by the exposition authorities. The result was particularly gratifying, in view of the fact that the United States was one of the last countries to accept the invitation of France.

The reception accorded our special commissioner was most cordial, and he was given every reasonable assurance that the United States would receive a consideration commensurate with the proportions of our exhibit. The report of the special commissioner as to the magnitude and importance of the coming exposition, and the great demand for space by American exhibitors, supplies new arguments for a liberal and judicious appropriation by Congress, to the end that an exhibit fairly representative of the industries and resources of our country may be made in an exposition which will illustrate the world’s progress during the nineteenth century. That exposition is intended to be the most important and comprehensive of the long series of international exhibitions, of which our own at Chicago was a brilliant example, and it is desirable that the United States should make a worthy exhibit of American genius and skill and their unrivaled achievements in every branch of industry.

The present immediately effective force of the Navy consists of four battle ships of the first class, two of the second, and forty-eight other vessels, ranging from armored cruisers to torpedo boats. There are under construction five battle ships of the first class, sixteen torpedo boats, and one submarine boat. No provision has yet been made for the armor of three of the five battle ships, as it has been impossible to obtain it at the price fixed by Congress. It is of great importance that Congress provide this armor, as until then the ships are of no fighting value.

The present naval force, especially in view of its increase by the ships now under construction, while not as large as that of a few other powers, is a formidable force; its vessels are the very best of each type; and with the increase that should be made to it from time to time in the future, and careful attention to keeping it in a high state of efficiency and repair, it is well adapted to the necessities of the country.

The great increase of the Navy which has taken place in recent years was justified by the requirements for national defense, and has received public approbation. The time has now arrived, however, when this increase, to which the country is committed, should, for a time, take the form of increased facilities commensurate with the increase of our naval vessels. It is an unfortunate fact that there is only one dock on the Pacific Coast capable of docking our largest ships, and only one on the Atlantic Coast, and that the latter has for the last six or seven months been under repair and therefore incapable of use. Immediate steps should be taken to provide three or four docks of this capacity on the Atlantic Coast, at least one on the Pacific Coast, and a floating dock in the Gulf. This is the recommendation of a very competent Board, appointed to investigate the subject. There should also be ample provision made for powder and projectiles, and other munitionsof war, and for an increased number of officers and enlisted men. Some additions are also necessary to our navy-yards, for the repair and care of our large number of vessels. As there are now on the stocks five battle ships of the largest class, which cannot be completed for a year or two, I concur with the recommendation of the Secretary of the Navy for an appropriation authorizing the construction of one battle ship for the Pacific Coast, where, at present, there is only one in commission and one under construction, while on the Atlantic Coast there are three in commission and four under construction; and also that several torpedo boats be authorized in connection with our general system of coast defense.

The Territory of Alaska requires the prompt and early attention of Congress. The conditions now existing demand material changes in the laws relating to the Territory. The great influx of population during the past summer and fall and the prospect of a still larger immigration in the spring will not permit us to longer neglect the extension of civil authority within the Territory or postpone the establishment of a more thorough government.

A general system of public surveys has not yet been extended to Alaska and all entries thus far made in that district are upon special surveys. The act of Congress extending to Alaska the mining laws of the United States contained the reservation that it should not be construed to put in force the general land laws of the country. By act approved March 3, 1891, authority was given for entry of lands for town-site purposes and also for the purchase of not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres then or thereafter occupied for purposes of trade and manufacture. The purpose of Congress as thus far expressed has been that only such rights should apply to that Territory as should be specifically named.

It will be seen how much remains to be done for that vast and remote and yet promising portion of our country. Special authority was given to the President by the Act of Congress approved July 24, 1897, to divide that Territory into two land districts and to designate the boundaries thereof and to appoint registers and receivers of said land offices, and the President was also authorized to appoint a surveyor-general for the entire district. Pursuant to this authority, a surveyor-general and receiver have been appointed, with offices at Sitka. If in the ensuing year the conditions justify it, the additional land district authorized by law will be established, with an office at some point in the Yukon Valley. No appropriation, however, was made for this purpose, and that is now necessary to be done for the two land districts into which the Territory is to be divided.

I concur with the Secretary of War in his suggestions as to the necessity for a military force in the Territory of Alaska for the protectionof persons and property. Already a small force, consisting of twenty-five men, with two officers, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Randall, of the Eighth Infantry, has been sent to St. Michael to establish a military post.

As it is to the interest of the Government to encourage the development and settlement of the country and its duty to follow up its citizens there with the benefits of legal machinery, I earnestly urge upon Congress the establishment of a system of government with such flexibility as will enable it to adjust itself to the future areas of greatest population.

The startling though possibly exaggerated reports from the Yukon River country, of the probable shortage of food for the large number of people who are wintering there without the means of leaving the country are confirmed in such measure as to justify bringing the matter to the attention of Congress. Access to that country in winter can be had only by the passes from Dyea and vicinity, which is a most difficult and perhaps an impossible task. However, should these reports of the suffering of our fellow-citizens be further verified, every effort at any cost should be made to carry them relief.

For a number of years past it has been apparent that the conditions under which the Five Civilized Tribes were established in the Indian Territory under treaty provisions with the United States, with the right of self-government and the exclusion of all white persons from within their borders, have undergone so complete a change as to render the continuance of the system thus inaugurated practically impossible. The total number of the Five Civilized Tribes, as shown by the last census, is 45,494, and this number has not materially increased; while the white population is estimated at from 200,000 to 250,000 which, by permission of the Indian Government has settled in the Territory. The present area of the Indian Territory contains 25,694,564 acres, much of which is very fertile land. The United States citizens residing in the Territory, most of whom have gone there by invitation or with the consent of the tribal authorities, have made permanent homes for themselves. Numerous towns have been built in which from 500 to 5,000 white people now reside. Valuable residences and business houses have been erected in many of them. Large business enterprises are carried on in which vast sums of money are employed, and yet these people, who have invested their capital in the development of the productive resources of the country, are without title to the land they occupy, and have no voice whatever in the government either of the Nations or Tribes. Thousands of their children who were born in the Territory are of school age, but the doors of the schools of the Nations are shut against them, and what education they get is by private contribution. No provision for the protection of the life or property of these white citizens is made by the Tribal Governments and Courts.

The Secretary of the Interior reports that leading Indians have absorbed great tracts of land to the exclusion of the common people, and government by an Indian aristocracy has been practically established, to the detriment of the people. It has been found impossible for the United States to keep its citizens out of the Territory, and the executory conditions contained in the treaties with these Nations have for the most part become impossible of execution. Nor has it been possible for the Tribal Governments to secure to each individual Indian his full enjoyment in common with Other Indians of the common property of the Nations. Friends of the Indians have long believed that the best interests of the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes would be found in American citizenship, with all the rights and privileges which belong to that condition.

By section 16, of the act of March 3, 1893, the President was authorized to appoint three commissioners to enter into negotiations with the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee (or Creek), and Seminole Nations, commonly known as the Five Civilized Tribes in the Indian Territory. Briefly, the purposes of the negotiations were to be: The extinguishment of Tribal titles to any lands within that Territory now held by any and all such Nations or Tribes, either by cession of the same or some part thereof to the United States, or by allotment and division of the same in severalty among the Indians of such Nations or Tribes respectively as may be entitled to the same, or by such other method as may be agreed upon between the several Nations and Tribes aforesaid, or each of them, with the United States, with a view to such an adjustment upon the basis of justice and equity as may, with the consent of the said Nations of Indians so far as may be necessary, be requisite and suitable to enable the ultimate creation of a State or States of the Union which shall embrace the lands within said Indian Territory.

The Commission met much opposition from the beginning. The Indians were very slow to act, and those in control manifested a decided disinclination to meet with favor the propositions submitted to them. A little more than three years after this organization the Commission effected an agreement with the Choctaw Nation alone. The Chickasaws, however, refused to agree to its terms, and as they have a common interest with the Choctaws in the lands of said Nations, the agreement with the latter Nation could have no effect without the consent of the former. On April 23, 1897, the Commission effected an agreement with both tribes-- the Choctaws and Chickasaws. This agreement, it is understood, has been ratified by the constituted authorities of the respective Tribes or Nations parties thereto, and only requires ratification by Congress to make it binding.

On the 27th of September, 1897, an agreement was effected with the Creek Nation, but it is understood that the National Council of said Nation has refused to ratify the same. Negotiations are yet to be hadwith the Cherokees, the most populous of the Five Civilized Tribes, and with the Seminoles, the smallest in point of numbers and territory.

The provision in the Indian Appropriation Act, approved June 10, 1896, makes it the duty of the Commission to investigate and determine the rights of applicants for citizenship in the Five Civilized Tribes, and to make complete census rolls of the citizens of said Tribes. The Commission is at present engaged in this work among the Creeks, and has made appointments for taking the census of these people up to and including the 30th of the present month.

Should the agreement between the Choctaws and Chickasaws be ratified by Congress and should the other Tribes fail to make an agreement with the Commission, then it will be necessary that some legislation shall be had by Congress, which, while just and honorable to the Indians, shall be equitable to the white people who have settled upon these lands by invitation of the Tribal Nations.

Hon. Henry L. Dawes, Chairman of the Commission, in a letter to the Secretary of the Interior, under date of October 11, 1897, says: "Individual ownership is, in their (the Commission’s) opinion, absolutely essential to any permanent improvement in present conditions, and the lack of it is the root of nearly all the evils which so grievously afflict these people. Allotment by agreement is the only possible method, unless the United States Courts are clothed with the authority to apportion the lands among the citizen Indians for whose use it was originally granted."

I concur with the Secretary of the Interior that there can be no cure for the evils engendered by the perversion of these great trusts, excepting by their resumption by the Government which created them.

The recent prevalence of yellow fever in a number of cities and towns throughout the South has resulted in much disturbance of commerce, and demonstrated the necessity of such amendments to our quarantine laws as will make the regulations of the national quarantine authorities paramount. The Secretary of the Treasury, in the portion of his report relating to the operation of the Marine Hospital Service, calls attention to the defects in the present quarantine laws, and recommends amendments thereto which will give the Treasury Department the requisite authority to prevent the invasion of epidemic diseases from foreign countries, and in times of emergency, like that of the past summer, will add to the efficiency of the sanitary measures for the protection of the people, and at the same time prevent unnecessary restriction of commerce. I concur in his recommendation.

In further effort to prevent the invasion of the United States by yellow fever, the importance of the discovery of the exact cause of the disease, which up to the present time has been undetermined, is obvious, and to this end a systematic bacteriological investigation should bemade. I therefore recommend that Congress authorize the appointment of a commission by the President, to consist of four expert bacteriologists, one to be selected from the medical officers of the Marine Hospital Service, one to be appointed from civil life, one to be detailed from the medical officers of the Army, and one from the medical officers of the Navy.

The Union Pacific Railway, Main Line, was sold under the decree of the United States Court for the District of Nebraska, on the 1st and 2d of November of this year. The amount due the Government consisted of the principal of the subsidy bonds, $27,236,512, and the accrued interest thereon, $31,211,711.75, making the total indebtedness, $58,448,223.75. The bid at the sale covered the first mortgage lien and the entire mortgage claim of the Government, principal and interest.

The sale of the subsidized portion of the Kansas Pacific Line, upon which the Government holds a second mortgage lien, has been postponed at the instance of the Government to December 16, 1897. The debt of this division of the Union Pacific Railway to the Government on November 1, 1897, was the principal of the subsidy bonds, $6,303,000, and the unpaid and accrued interest thereon, $6,626,690.33, making a total of $12,929,690.33.

The sale of this road was originally advertised for November 4, but for the purpose of securing the utmost public notice of the event it was postponed until December 16, and a second advertisement of the sale was made. By the decree of the Court, the upset price on the sale of the Kansas Pacific will yield to the Government the sum of $2,500,000 over all prior liens, costs, and charges. If no other or better bid is made, this sum is all that the Government will receive on its claim of nearly $13,000,000. The Government has no information as to whether there will be other bidders or a better bid than the minimum amount herein stated. The question presented therefore is: Whether the Government shall, under the authority given it by the act of March 3, 1887, purchase or redeem the road in the event that a bid is not made by private parties covering the entire Government claim. To qualify the Government to bid at the sales will require a deposit of $900,000, as follows: In the Government cause $500,000 and in each of the first mortgage causes $200,000, and in the latter the deposit must be in cash. Payments at the sale are as follows: Upon the acceptance of the bid a sum which with the amount already deposited shall equal fifteen per cent of the bid; the balance in installments of twenty-five per cent thirty, forty, and fifty days after the confirmation of the sale. The lien on the Kansas Pacific prior to that of the Government on the 30th July, 1897, principal and interest, amounted to $7,281,048.11. The Government, therefore, should it become the highest bidder, will have to pay the amount of the first mortgage lien.

I believe that under the act of 1887 it has the authority to do this and in absence of any action by Congress I shall direct the Secretary of the Treasury to make the necessary deposit as required by the Court’s decree to qualify as a bidder and to bid at the sale a sum which will at least equal the principal of the debt due to the Government; but suggest in order to remove all controversy that an amendment of the law be immediately passed explicitly giving such powers and appropriating in general terms whatever sum is sufficient therefor.

In so important a matter as the Government becoming the possible owner of railroad property which it perforce must conduct and operate, I feel constrained to lay before Congress these facts for its consideration and action before the consummation of the sale. It is clear to my mind that the Government should not permit the property to be sold at a price which will yield less than one-half of the principal of its debt and less than one-fifth of its entire debt, principal and interest. But whether the Government, rather than accept less than its claim, should become a bidder and thereby the owner of the property, I submit to the Congress for action.

The Library building provided for by the act of Congress approved April 15, 1886, has been completed and opened to the public. It should be a matter of congratulation that through the foresight and munificence of Congress the nation possesses this noble treasure-house of knowledge. It is earnestly to be hoped that having done so much toward the cause of education, Congress will continue to develop the Library in every phase of research to the end that it may be not only one of the most magnificent but among the richest and most useful libraries in the world.

The important branch of our Government known as the Civil Service, the practical improvement of which has long been a subject of earnest discussion, has of late years received increased legislative and Executive approval. During the past few months the service has been placed upon a still firmer basis of business methods and personal merit. While the right of our veteran soldiers to reinstatement in deserving cases has been asserted, dismissals for merely political reasons have been carefully guarded against, the examinations for admittance to the service enlarged and at the same time rendered less technical and more practical; and a distinct advance has been made by giving a hearing before dismissal upon all cases where incompetency is charged or demand made for the removal of officials in any of the Departments. This order has been made to give to the accused his right to be heard but without in anyway impairing the power of removal, which should always be exercised in cases of inefficiency and incompetency, and which is one of the vital safeguards of the civil service reform system, preventing stagnationand deadwood and keeping every employee keenly alive to the fact that the security of his tenure depends not on favor but on his own tested and carefully watched record of service.

Much of course still remains to be accomplished before the system can be made reasonably perfect for our needs. There are places now in the classified service which ought to be exempted and others not classified may properly be included. I shall not hesitate to exempt cases which I think have been improperly included in the classified service or include those which in my judgment will best promote the public service. The system has the approval of the people and it will be my endeavor to uphold and extend it.

I am forced by the length of this Message to omit many important references to affairs of the Government with which Congress will have to deal at the present session. They are fully discussed in the departmental reports, to all of which I invite your earnest attention.

The estimates of the expenses of the Government by the several Departments will, I am sure, have your careful scrutiny. While the Congress may not find it an easy task to reduce the expenses of the Government, it should not encourage their increase. These expenses will in my judgment admit of a decrease in many branches of the Government without injury to the public service. It is a commanding duty to keep the appropriations within the receipts of the Government, and thus avoid a deficit.



Washington, December 6, 1897.

To the Congress of the United States:

The act of Congress, approved July 19, 1897, entitled "An act making appropriations to supply deficiencies in the appropriations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1897, and for prior years, for other purposes," provided for the acceptance by the Government of the United States of the invitation extended by the Republic of France to participate in an international exposition to be held at Paris, from April 15 to November 15, 1900, and authorized the President to appoint a special commissioner with a view to securing all attainable information necessary to a full and complete understanding by Congress in regard to the participation of this Government in that exposition.

Maj. Moses P. Handy of Chicago, was appointed such special commissioner, and I now enclose his report, giving the details of his mission. It is a comprehensive and clear presentation of the situation. He recommends that an appropriation of $919,600 be granted, so that a creditable exhibit on behalf of the United States may be made. The details of this report will show how this appropriation may be profitably expended.

Besides securing a much larger amount of space than had been reserved, Major Handy obtained the gratifying assurance that the United States will be placed on a footing with the most favored nations, and "that in the installation of every important department the United States will have a location commensurate with the dignity and importance of the country and adjoining in every case countries of the first rank."

In view of the magnitude and importance of the approaching exposition, and of our standing among the nations which will be there represented, and in view also of our increased population and acknowledged progress in arts, science, and manufactures, I earnestly commend the report of Major Handy to your consideration, and trust that a liberal appropriation may be made.

Moreover, the magnificent exhibit of the French Republic at Chicago in 1893, on which a million dollars were expended, should be a strong incentive to reciprocal liberality on the part of the Government of the United States, and suggests to our citizens the necessity as well as the propriety of installing at the Paris Exposition an exhibit on a par with that of the Government and people of France at Chicago, and in keeping with the scope and extent of the preparations which are being made by nearly all the important nations of the earth for their proposed exhibits in that exposition.

I suggest that the subject be given timely and favorable consideration.



Washington, January 14, 1898.

To the Congress of the United States:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State in regard to the award of the commissioners appointed pursuant to the stipulations of the convention of February 8, 1896, between the United States and Great Britain, providing for the settlement of the claims presented by the latter against the former in virtue of the convention of February 29, 1892.

The report of the Secretary of State presents a clear epitome of the award and renders unnecessary any extended observations on my part further than to say that I cordially coincide with his recommendation and that our treaty obligations demand prompt and favorable action by Congress, which I urgently hope may be taken, to the end that these long-pending questions may be finally and satisfactorily terminated.

The total amount necessary to satisfy the award of the commissioners is $473,151.26, which I recommend be appropriated.



Washington,January 28, 1898.

To the Congress of the United States:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State, with accompanying papers, touching the lynching in 1895 at Yreka, Cal., of Luis Moreno, a Mexican citizen, and the demand of the Mexican Government for an indemnity for his relatives on account thereof.

Following the course adopted in the case of the lynching of three Italian subjects at Hahnville, La., on August 8, 1896, I recommend the appropriation by Congress, out of humane consideration and without reference to the question of liability of the Government of the United States in the premises, of the sum of $2,000 to be paid by the Secretary of State to the Government of Mexico, to be by that Government distributed among the heirs of the above-named Luis Moreno.



Washington,January 26, 1898.

To the Congress:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State and accompanying papers presenting the claim of Capt. B. Tellefsen, of the Norwegian steamer Albert, against the Government of the United States, for $998.96, being the expenses incurred by him in consequence of a violation of Article XIII of the treaty of commerce and navigation of 1827 between the United States and Sweden and Norway.



Washington, March 22, 1898.

To the Senate:

In connection with Senate Document No. 39, Fifty-fifth Congress, second session, and in further response to the resolution of the Senate of July 12, 1897, I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State, with additional papers, relating to postal telegraphs, telephones, and postal savings banks in Austria.


EXECUTIVE MANSION, March 28, 1898.

To the Congress of the United States:

For some time prior to the visit of the Maine to Havana Harbor our consular representatives pointed out the advantages to flow from the visit of national ships to the Cuban waters, in accustoming the people to the presence of our flag as the symbol of good will and of our ships in thefulfillment of the mission of protection to American interests, even though no immediate need therefor might exist.

Accordingly, on the 24th of January last, after conference with the Spanish minister, in which the renewal of visits of our war vessels to Spanish waters was discussed and accepted, the peninsular authorities at Madrid and Havana were advised of the purpose of this Government to resume friendly naval visits at Cuban ports, and that in that view the Maine would forthwith call at the port of Havana.

This announcement was received by the Spanish Government with appreciation of the friendly character of the visit of the Maine and with notification of intention to return the courtesy by sending Spanish ships to the principal ports of the United States. Meanwhile the Maine entered the port of Havana on the 25th of January, her arrival being marked with no special incident besides the exchange of customary salutes and ceremonial visits.

The Maine continued in the harbor of Havana during the three weeks following her arrival. No appreciable excitement attended her stay. On the contrary, a feeling of relief and confidence followed the resumption of the long-interrupted friendly intercourse. So noticeable was this immediate effect of her visit that the consul-general strongly urged that the presence of our ships in Cuban waters should be kept up by retaining the Maine at Havana, or, in the event of her recall, by sending another vessel there to take her place.

At forty minutes past 9 in the evening of the 15th of February the Maine was destroyed by an explosion, by which the entire forward part of the ship was utterly wrecked. In this catastrophe 2 officers and 264 of her crew perished, those who were not killed outright by her explosion being penned between decks by the tangle of wreckage and drowned by the immediate sinking of the hull.

Prompt assistance was rendered by the neighboring vessels anchored in the harbor, aid being especially given by the boats of the Spanish cruiser Alfonso XII and the Ward Line steamer City of Washington, which lay not far distant. The wounded were generously cared for by the authorities of Havana, the hospitals being freely opened to them, while the earliest recovered bodies of the dead were interred by the municipality in a public cemetery in the city. Tributes of grief and sympathy were offered from all official quarters of the island.

The appalling calamity fell upon the people of our country with crushing force, and for a brief time an intense excitement prevailed, which in a community less just and self-controlled than ours might have led to hasty acts of blind resentment. This spirit, however, soon gave way to the calmer processes of reason and to the resolve to investigate the facts and await material proof before forming a judgment as to the cause, the responsibility, and, if the facts warranted, the remedy due. This course necessarily recommended itself from the outset. to the Executive,for only in the light of a dispassionately ascertained certainty could it determine the nature and measure of its full duty in the matter.

The usual procedure was followed, as in all cases of casualty or disaster to national vessels of any maritime state. A naval court of inquiry was at once organized, composed of officers well qualified by rank and practical experience to discharge the onerous duty imposed upon them. Aided by a strong force of wreckers and divers, the court proceeded to make a thorough investigation on the spot, employing every available means for the impartial and exact determination of the causes of the explosion. Its operations have been conducted with the utmost deliberation and judgment, and, while independently pursued, no attainable source of information was neglected, and the fullest opportunity was allowed for a simultaneous investigation by the Spanish authorities.

The finding of the court of inquiry was reached, after twenty-three days of continuous labor, on the 21st of March instant, and, having been approved on the 22d by the commander in chief of the United States naval force on the North Atlantic station, was transmitted to the Executive.

It is herewith laid before the Congress, together with the voluminous testimony taken before the court.

Its purport is, in brief, as follows:

When the Maine arrived at Havana, she was conducted by the regular Government pilot to buoy No. 4, to which she was moored in from 5 1/2 to 6 fathoms of water.

The state of discipline on board and the condition of her magazines, boilers, coal bunkers, and storage compartments are passed in review, with the conclusion that excellent order prevailed and that no indication of any cause for an internal explosion existed in any quarter.

At 8 o’clock in the evening of February 15 everything had been reported secure, and all was quiet.

At forty minutes past 9 o’clock the vessel was suddenly destroyed. There were two distinct explosions, with a brief interval between them. The first lifted the forward part of the ship very perceptibly; the second, which was more open, prolonged, and of greater volume, is attributed by the court to the partial explosion of two or more of the forward magazines.

The evidence of the divers establishes that the after part of the ship was practically intact and sank in that condition a very few moments after the explosion. The forward part was completely demolished.

Upon the evidence of a concurrent external cause the finding of the court is as follows:

At frame 17 the outer shell of the ship, from a point 11 1/2 feet from the middle line of the ship and 6 feet above the keel when in its normal position, has been forced upon so as to be now about 4 feet above the surface of the water, therefore about 34 feet above where it would be had the ship sunk uninjured.

The outside bottom plating is bent into a reversed V shape (A), the after wing of which, about 15 feet broad and 32 feet in length (from frame 17 to frame 25), is doubled back upon itself against the continuation of the same plating, extending forward.

At frame 18 the vertical keel is broken in two and the flat keel bent into an angle similar to the angle formed by the outside bottom plates. This break is now about 6 feet below the surface of the water and about 30 feet above its normal position.

In the opinion of the court this effect could have been produced only by the explosion of a mine situated under the bottom of the ship at about frame 18 and somewhat on the port side of the ship.

The conclusions of the court are:

That the loss of the Maine was not in any respect due to fault or negligence on the part of any of the officers or members of her crew;

That the ship was destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine, which caused the partial explosion of two or more of her forward magazines; and

That no evidence has been obtainable fixing the responsibility for the destruction of the Maine upon any person or persons.

I have directed that the finding of the court of inquiry and the views of this Government thereon be communicated to the Government of Her Majesty the Queen Regent, and I do not permit myself to doubt that the sense of justice of the Spanish nation will dictate a course of action suggested by honor and the friendly relations of the two Governments.

It will be the duty of the Executive to advise the Congress of the result, and in the meantime deliberate consideration is invoked.


EXECUTIVE MANSION, March 31, 1898.

To the Congress:

I transmit herewith, for the information of Congress, a communication from the Secretary of Agriculture covering a detailed report showing the present condition of the beet-sugar industry in this country and the results of experiments made by the Department of Agriculture in the production of sugar from beets in the United States during the past year.



Washington, April 4, 1898.

To the Senate of the United States:

In response to the resolution of the Senate of January 17, 1898, I transmit a report from the Secretary of State, accompanied by copies of correspondence exchanged between Henry Woodruff, trustee and of counsel for the holders of a majority of the first-mortgage bonds of "The Railway of the East," of Venezuela, et al., and the Department ofState, and by a list of claims of citizens of the United States presented after August 1, 1898, and, so far as appears, not settled by Venezuela, nor disposed of by the commission of 1889-90.



To the Senate:

In response to the resolution of the Senate of February 26, 1898, requesting the President "if not incompatible with the public interest, to transmit to the Senate the proceedings of the international commission authorized in the concurrent resolution of Congress of April 29, 1890, and a subsequent international convention between the United States and Mexico of May 6, 1896, and also the correspondence relating thereto with Mexico by the Department of the Interior, Department of War, and Department of Justice, as well as the Department of State, relating to the equitable distribution of the waters of the Rio Grande River, including the draft of an incomplete treaty between said Governments, negotiated between the late Secretary of State, Mr. Olney, on the part of the United States, and Mr. Romero, on the part of Mexico, and all the correspondence between said officials relating thereto," I transmit herewith reports from the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Attorney-General, with accompanying papers.


EXECUTIVE MANSION, April 11, 1898.

To the Congress of the United States:

Obedient to that precept of the Constitution which commands the President to give from time to time to the Congress information of the state of the Union and to recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient, it becomes my duty to now address your body with regard to the grave crisis that has arisen in the relations of the United States to Spain by reason of the warfare that for more than three years has raged in the neighboring island of Cuba.

I do so because of the intimate connection of the Cuban question with the state of our own Union and the grave relation the course which it is now incumbent upon the nation to adopt must needs bear to the traditional policy of our Government if it is to accord with the precepts laid down by the founders of the Republic and religiously observed by succeeding Administrations to the present day.

The present revolution is but the successor of other similar insurrections which have occurred in Cuba against the dominion of Spain, extending over a period of nearly half a century, each of which during itsprogress has subjected the United States to great effort and expense in enforcing its neutrality laws, caused enormous losses to American trade and commerce, caused irritation, annoyance, and disturbance among our citizens, and, by the exercise of cruel, barbarous, and uncivilized practices of warfare, shocked the sensibilities and offended the humane sympathies of our people.

Since the present revolution began, in February, 1895, this country has seen the fertile domain at our threshold ravaged by fire and sword in the course of a struggle unequaled in the history of the island and rarely paralleled as to the numbers of the combatants and the bitterness of the contest by any revolution of modern times where a dependent people striving to be free have been opposed by the power of the sovereign state.

Our people have beheld a once prosperous community reduced to comparative want, its lucrative commerce virtually paralyzed, its exceptional productiveness diminished, its fields laid waste, its mills in ruins, and its people perishing by tens of thousands from hunger and destitution. We have found ourselves constrained, in the observance of that strict neutrality which our laws enjoin and which the law of nations commands, to police our own waters and watch our own seaports in prevention of any unlawful act in aid of the Cubans.

Our trade has suffered, the capital invested by our citizens in Cuba has been largely lost, and the temper and forbearance of our people have been so sorely tried as to beget a perilous unrest among our own citizens, which has inevitably found its expression from time to time in the National Legislature, so that issues wholly external to our own body politic engross attention and stand in the way of that close devotion to domestic advancement that becomes a self-contained commonwealth whose primal maxim has been the avoidance of all foreign entanglements. All this must needs awaken, and has, indeed, aroused, the utmost concern on the part of this Government, as well during my predecessor’s term as in my own.

In April, 1896, the evils from which our country suffered through the Cuban war became so onerous that my predecessor made an effort to bring about a peace through the mediation of this Government in any way that might tend to an honorable adjustment of the contest between Spain and her revolted colony, on the basis of some effective scheme of self-government for Cuba under the flag and sovereignty of Spain. failed through the refusal of the Spanish government then in power to consider any form of mediation or, indeed, any plan of settlement which did not begin with the actual submission of the insurgents to the mother country, and then only on such terms as Spain herself might see fit to grant. The war continued unabated. The resistance of the insurgents was in no wise diminished.

The efforts of Spain were increased, both by the dispatch of fresh leviesto Cuba and by the addition to the horrors of the strife of a new and inhuman phase happily unprecedented in the modern history of civilized Christian peoples. The policy of devastation and concentration, inaugurated by the Captain-General’s bando of October 21, 1896, in the Province of Pinar del Rio was thence extended to embrace all of the island to which the power of the Spanish arms was able to reach by occupation or by military operations. The peasantry, including all dwelling in the open agricultural interior, were driven into the garrison towns or isolated places held by the troops.

The raising and movement of provisions of all kinds were interdicted. The fields were laid waste, dwellings unroofed and fired, mills destroyed, and, in short, everything that could desolate the land and render it unfit for human habitation or support was commanded by one or the other of the contending parties and executed by all the powers at their disposal.

By the time the present Administration took office, a year ago, reconcentration (so called) had been made effective over the better part of the four central and western provinces--Santa Clara, Matanzas, Havana, and Pinar del Rio.

The agricultural population to the estimated number of 300,000 or more was herded within the towns and their immediate vicinage, deprived of the means of support, rendered destitute of shelter, left poorly clad, and exposed to the most unsanitary conditions. As the scarcity of food increased with the devastation of the depopulated areas of production, destitution and want became misery and starvation. Month by month the death rate increased in an alarming ratio. By March, 1897, according to conservative estimates from official Spanish sources, the mortality among the reconcetrados from starvation and the diseases thereto incident exceeded 50 per cent of their total number.

No practical relief was accorded to the destitute. The overburdened towns, already suffering from the general dearth, could give no aid. So-called "zones of cultivation" established within the immediate areas of effective military control about the cities and fortified camps proved illusory as a remedy for the suffering. The unfortunates, being for the most part women and children, with aged and helpless men, enfeebled by disease and hunger, could not have tilled the soil without tools, seed, or shelter for their own support or for the supply of the cities. Reconcentration, adopted avowedly as a war measure in order to cut off the resources of the insurgents, worked its predestined result. As I said in my message of last December, it was not civilized warfare; it was extermination. The only peace it could beget was that of the wilderness and the grave.

Meanwhile the military situation in the island had undergone a noticeable change. The extraordinary activity that characterized the second year of the war, when the insurgents invaded even the thitherto unharmed fields of Pinar del Rio and carried havoc and destruction up to the wallsof the city of Havana itself, had relapsed into a dogged struggle in the central and eastern provinces. The Spanish arms regained a measure of control in Pinar del Rio and parts of Havana, but, under the existing conditions of the rural country, without immediate improvement of their productive situation. Even thus partially restricted, the revolutionists held their own, and their conquest and submission, put forward by Spain as the essential and sole basis of peace, seemed as far distant as at the outset.

In this state of affairs my Administration found itself confronted with the grave problem of its duty. My message of last December * reviewed the situation and narrated the steps taken with a view to relieving its acuteness and opening the way to some form of honorable settlement. The assassination of the prime minister, Canovas, led to a change of government in Spain. The former administration, pledged to subjugation without concession, gave place to that of a more liberal party, committed long in advance to a policy of reform involving the wider principle of home rule for Cuba and Puerto Rico.

* See pp. 6251-6275.

The overtures of this Government made through its new envoy, General Woodford, and looking to an immediate and effective amelioration of the condition of the island, although not accepted to the extent of admitted mediation in any shape, were met by assurances that home rule in an advanced phase would be forthwith offered to Cuba, without waiting for the war to end, and that more humane methods should thenceforth prevail in the conduct of hostilities. Coincidentally with these declarations the new government of Spain continued and completed the policy, already begun by its predecessor, of testifying friendly regard for this nation by releasing American citizens held under one charge or another connected with the insurrection, so that by the end of November not a single person entitled in any way to our national protection remained in a Spanish prison.

While these negotiations were in progress the increasing destitution of the unfortunate reconcentrados and the alarming mortality among them claimed earnest attention. The success which had attended the limited measure of relief extended to the suffering American citizens among them by the judicious expenditure through the consular agencies of the money appropriated expressly for their succor by the joint resolution approved May 24, 1897, prompted the humane extension of a similar scheme of aid to the great body of sufferers. A suggestion to this end was acquiesced in by the Spanish authorities.

On the 24th of December last I caused to be issued an appeal to the American people inviting contributions in money or in kind for the succor of the starving sufferers in Cuba, following this on the 8th of January by a similar public announcement of the formation of a central Cuban relief committee, with headquarters in New York City, composed of threemembers representing the American National Red Cross and the religious and business elements of the community.

The efforts of that committee have been untiring and have accomplished much. Arrangements for free transportation to Cuba have greatly aided the charitable work. The president of the American Red Cross and representatives of other contributory organizations have generously visited Cuba and cooperated with the consul-general and the local authorities to make effective distribution of the relief collected through the efforts of the central committee. Nearly $200,000 in money and supplies has already reached the sufferers, and more is forthcoming. The supplies are admitted duty free, and transportation to the interior has been arranged, so that the relief, at first necessarily confined to Havana and the larger cities, is now extended through most, if not all, of the towns where suffering exists.

Thousands of lives have already been saved. The necessity for a change in the condition of the reconcentrados is recognized by the Spanish Government. Within a few days past the orders of General Weyler have been revoked. The reconcentrados, it is said, are to be permitted to return to their homes and aided to resume the self-supporting pursuits of peace. Public works have been ordered to give them employment and a sum of $600,000 has been appropriated for their relief.

The war in Cuba is of such a nature that, short of subjugation or extermination, a final military victory for either side seems impracticable. The alternative lies in the physical exhaustion of the one or the other party, or perhaps of both--a condition which in effect ended the ten years’ war by the truce of Zanjon. The prospect of such a protraction and conclusion of the present strife is a contingency hardly to be contemplated with equanimity by the civilized world, and least of all by the United States, affected and injured as we are, deeply and intimately, by its very existence.

Realizing this, it appeared to be my duty, in a spirit of true friendliness, no less to Spain than to the Cubans, who have so much to lose by the prolongation of the struggle, to seek to bring about an immediate termination of the war. To this end I submitted on the 27th ultimo, as a result of much representation and correspondence, through the United States minister at Madrid, propositions to the Spanish Government looking to an armistice until October 1 for the negotiation of peace with the good offices of the President.

In addition I asked the immediate revocation of the order of reconcentration, so as to permit the people to return to their farms and the needy to be relieved with provisions and supplies from the United States, cooperating with the Spanish authorities, so as to afford full relief.

The reply of the Spanish cabinet was received on the night of the 31st ultimo. It offered, as the means to bring about peace in Cuba, to confide the preparation thereof to the insular parliament, inasmuch as theconcurrence of that body would be necessary to reach a final result, it being, however, understood that the powers reserved by the constitution to the central Government are not lessened or diminished. As the Cuban parliament does not meet until the 4th of May next, the Spanish Government would not object for its part to accept at once a suspension of hostilities if asked for by the insurgents from the general in chief, to whom it would pertain in such case to determine the duration and conditions of the armistice.

The propositions submitted by General Woodford and the reply of the Spanish Government were both in the form of brief memoranda, the texts of which are before me and are substantially in the language above given. The function of the Cuban parliament in the matter of "preparing" peace and the manner of its doing so are not expressed in the Spanish memorandum, but from General Woodford’s explanatory reports of preliminary discussions preceding the final conference it is understood that the Spanish Government stands ready to give the insular congress full powers to settle the terms of peace with the insurgents, whether by direct negotiation or indirectly by means of legislation does not appear.

With this last overture in the direction of immediate peace, and its disappointing reception by Spain, the Executive is brought to the end of his effort.

In my annual message of December last I said:

Of the untried measures there remain only: Recognition of the insurgents as belligerents; recognition of the independence of Cuba; neutral intervention to end the war by imposing a rational compromise between the contestants, and intervention in favor of one or the other party. I speak not of forcible annexation, for that can not be thought of. That, by our code of morality, would be criminal aggression.

Thereupon I reviewed these alternatives in the light of President Grant’s measured words, uttered in 1875, when, after seven years of sanguinary, destructive, and cruel hostilities in Cuba, he reached the conclusion that the recognition of the independence of Cuba was impracticable and indefensible and that the recognition of belligerence was not warranted by the facts according to the tests of public law. I commented especially upon the latter aspect of the question, pointing out the inconveniences and positive dangers of a recognition of belligerence, which, while adding to the already onerous burdens of neutrality within our own jurisdiction, could not in any way extend our influence or effective offices in the territory of hostilities.

Nothing has since occurred to change my view in this regard, and I recognize as fully now as then that the issuance of a proclamation of neutrality, by which process the so-called recognition of belligerents is published, could of itself and unattended by other action accomplish nothing toward the one end for which we labor--the instant pacification of Cuba and the cessation of the misery that afflicts the island.

Turning to the question of recognizing at this time the independenceof the present insurgent government in Cuba, we find safe precedents in our history from an early day. They are well summed up in President Jackson’s message to Congress, December 21, 1836, on the subject of the recognition of the independence of Texas. He said:

In all the contests that have arisen out of the revolutions of France, out of the disputes relating to the crowns of Portugal and Spain, out of the revolutionary movements of those Kingdoms, out of the separation of the American possessions of both from the European Governments, and out of the numerous and constantly occurring struggles for dominion in Spanish America, so wisely consistent with our just principles has been the action of our Government that we have under the most critical circumstances avoided all censure and encountered no other evil than that produced by a transient estrangement of good will in those against whom we have been by force of evidence compelled to decide.

It has thus been made known to the world that the uniform policy and practice of the United States is to avoid all interference in disputes which merely relate to the internal government of other nations, and eventually to recognize the authority of the prevailing party, without reference to our particular interests and views or to the merits of the original controversy.

* * * But on this as on every trying occasion safety is to be found in a rigid adherence to principle.

In the contest between Spain and her revolted colonies we stood aloof and waited, not only until the ability of the new States to protect themselves was fully established, but until the danger of their being again subjugated had entirely passed away. Then, and not till then, were they recognized. Such was our course in regard to Mexico herself. * * * It is true that, with regard to Texas, the civil authority of Mexico has been expelled, its invading army defeated, the chief of the Republic himself captured, and all present power to control the newly organized Government of Texas annihilated within its confines. But, on the other hand, there is, in appearance at least, an immense disparity of physical force on the side of Mexico. The Mexican Republic under another Executive is rallying its forces under a new leader and menacing a fresh invasion to recover its lost dominion.

Upon the issue of this threatened invasion the independence of Texas may be considered as suspended, and were there nothing peculiar in the relative situation of the United States and Texas our acknowledgment of its independence at such a crisis could scarcely be regarded as consistent with that prudent reserve with which we have heretofore held ourselves bound to treat all similar questions.

Thereupon Andrew Jackson proceeded to consider the risk that there might be imputed to the United States motives of selfish interest in view of the former claim on our part to the territory of Texas and of the avowed purpose of the Texans in seeking recognition of independence as an incident to the incorporation of Texas in the Union, concluding thus:

Prudence, therefore, seems to dictate that we should still stand aloof and maintain our present attitude, if not until Mexico itself or one of the great foreign powers shall recognize the independence of the new Government, at least until the lapse of time or the course of events shall have proved beyond cavil or dispute the ability of the people of that country to maintain their separate sovereignty and to uphold the Government constituted by them. Neither of the contending parties can justly complain of this course. By pursuing it we are but carrying out the long-established policy of our Government--a policy which has secured to us respect and influence abroad and inspired confidence at home.

These are the words of the resolute and patriotic Jackson. They are evidence that the United States, in addition to the test imposed by public law as the condition of the recognition of independence by a neutral state (to wit, that the revolted state shall "constitute in fact a body politic, having a government in substance as well as in name, possessed of the elements of stability," and forming de facto, "if left to itself, a state among the nations, reasonably capable of discharging the duties of a state"), has imposed for its own governance in dealing with cases like these the further condition that recognition of independent statehood is not due to a revolted dependency until the danger of its being again subjugated by the parent state has entirely passed away.

This extreme test was, in fact, applied in the case of Texas. The Congress to whom president Jackson referred the question as one "probably leading to war," and therefore a proper subject for "a previous understanding with that body by whom war can alone be declared and by whom all the provisions for sustaining its perils must be furnished," left the matter of the recognition of Texas to the discretion of the Executive, providing merely for the sending of a diplomatic agent when the President should be satisfied that the Republic of Texas had become "an independent state." It was so recognized by President Van Buren, who commissioned a charge’ d’affaires March 7, 1837, after Mexico had abandoned an attempt to reconquer the Texan territory, and when there was at the time no bona fide contest going on between the insurgent province and its former sovereign.

I said in my message of December last:

It is to be seriously considered whether the Cuban insurrection possesses beyond dispute the attributes of statehood, which alone can demand the recognition of belligerency in its favor.

The same requirement must certainly be no less seriously considered when the graver issue of recognizing independence is in question, for no less positive test can be applied to the greater act than to the lesser, while, on the other hand, the influences and consequences of the struggle upon the internal policy of the recognizing state, which form important factors when the recognition of belligerency is concerned, are secondary, if not rightly eliminable, factors when the real question is whether the community claiming recognition is or is not independent beyond per-adventure.

Nor from the standpoint of expediency do I think it would be wise or prudent for this Government to recognize at the present time the independence of the so-called Cuban Republic. Such recognition is not necessary in order to enable the United States to intervene and pacify the island. To commit this country now to the recognition of any particular government in Cuba might subject us to embarrassing conditions of international obligation toward the organization so recognized. In case of intervention our conduct would be subject to the approval ordisapproval of such government. We would be required to submit to its direction and to assume to it the mere relation of a friendly ally.

When it shall appear hereafter that there is within the island a government capable of performing the duties and discharging the functions of a separate nation, and having as a matter of fact the proper forms and attributes of nationality, such government can be promptly and readily recognized and the relations and interests of the United States with such nation adjusted.

There remain the alternative forms of intervention to end the war, either as an impartial neutral, by imposing a rational compromise between the contestants, or as the active ally of the one party or the other.

As to the first, it is not to be forgotten that during the last few months the relation of the United States has virtually been one of friendly intervention in many ways each not of itself conclusive, but all tending to the exertion of a potential influence toward an ultimate pacific result, just and honorable to all interests concerned. The spirit of all our acts hitherto has been an earnest, unselfish desire for peace and prosperity in Cuba, untarnished by differences between us and Spain and unstained by the blood of American citizens.

The forcible intervention of the United States as a neutral to stop the war, according to the large dictates of humanity and following many historical precedents where neighboring states have interfered to check the hopeless sacrifices of life by internecine conflicts beyond their borders, is justifiable on rational grounds. It involves, however, hostile constraint upon both the parties to the contest, as well to enforce a truce as to guide the eventual settlement.

The grounds for such intervention may be briefly summarized as follows:

First. In the cause of humanity and to put an end to the barbarities, bloodshed, starvation, and horrible miseries now existing there, and which the parties to the conflict are either unable or unwilling to stop or mitigate. It is no answer to say this is all in another country, belonging to another nation, and is therefore none of our business. It is specially our duty, for it is right at our door.

Second. We owe it to our citizens in Cuba to afford them that protection and indemnity for life and property which no government there can or will afford, and to that end to terminate the conditions that deprive them of legal protection.

Third. The right to intervene may be justified by the very serious injury to the commerce, trade, and business of our people and by the wanton destruction of property and devastation of the island.

Fourth, and which is of the utmost importance. The present condition of affairs in Cuba is a constant menace to our peace and entails upon this Government an enormous expense. With such a conflict waged for years in an island so near us and with which our people have such trade andbusiness relations; when the lives and liberty of our citizens are in constant danger and their property destroyed and themselves ruined; where our trading vessels are liable to seizure and are seized at our very door by war ships of a foreign nation; the expeditions of filibustering that we are powerless to prevent altogether, and the irritating questions and entanglements thus arising--all these and others that I need not mention, with the resulting strained relations, are a constant menace to our peace and compel us to keep on a semi war footing with a nation with which we are at peace.

These elements of danger and disorder already pointed out have been strikingly illustrated by a tragic event which has deeply and justly moved the American people. I have already transmitted to Congress the report of the naval court of inquiry on the destruction of the battle ship Maine in the harbor of Havana during the night of the 15th of February.* The destruction of that noble vessel has filled the national heart with inexpressible horror. Two hundred and fifty-eight brave sailors and marines and two officers of our Navy, reposing in the fancied security of a friendly harbor, have been hurled to death, grief and want brought to their homes and sorrow to the nation.

* See pp. 6277-6280.

The naval court of inquiry, which, it is needless to say, commands the unqualified confidence of the Government, was unanimous in its conclusion that the destruction of the Maine was caused by an exterior explosion--that of a submarine mine. It did not assume to place the responsibility. That remains to be fixed.

In any event, the destruction of the Maine, by whatever exterior cause, is a patent and impressive proof of a state of things in Cuba that is intolerable. That condition is thus shown to be such that the Spanish Government can not assure safety and security to a vessel of the American Navy in the harbor of Havana on a mission of peace, and rightfully there.

Further referring in this connection to recent diplomatic correspondence, a dispatch from our minister to Spain of the 26th ultimo contained the statement that the Spanish minister for foreign affairs assured him positively that Spain will do all that the highest honor and justice require in the matter of the Maine. The reply above referred to, of the 31st ultimo, also contained an expression of the readiness of Spain to submit to an arbitration all the differences which can arise in this matter, which is subsequently explained by the note of the Spanish minister at Washington of the 10th instant, as follows:

As to the question of fact which springs from the diversity of views between the reports of the American and Spanish boards, Spain proposes that the facts be ascertained by an impartial investigation by experts, whose decision Spain accepts in advance.

To this I have made no reply.

President Grant, in 1875, after discussing the phases of the contest as it then appeared and its hopeless and apparent indefinite prolongation, said:

In such event I am of opinion that other nations will be compelled to assume the responsibility which devolves upon them, and to seriously consider the only remaining measures possible--mediation and intervention. Owing, perhaps, to the large expanse of water separating the island from the peninsula, * * * the contending parties appear to have within themselves no depository of common confidence to suggest wisdom when passion and excitement have their sway and to assume the part of peacemaker. In this view in the earlier days of the contest the good offices of the United States as a mediator were tendered in good faith, without any selfish purpose, in the interest of humanity and in sincere friendship for both parties, but were at the time declined by Spain, with the declaration, nevertheless, that at a future time they would be indispensable. No intimation has been received that in the opinion of Spain that time has been reached. And yet the strife continues, with all its dread horrors and all its injuries to the interests of the United States and of other nations. Each party seems quite capable of working great injury and damage to the other, as well as to all the relations and interests dependent on the existence of peace in the island; but they seem incapable of reaching any adjustment, and both have thus far failed of achieving any success whereby one party shall possess and control the island to the exclusion of the other. Under these circumstances the agency of others, either by mediation or by intervention, seems to be the only alternative which must, sooner or later, be invoked for the termination of the strife.

In the last annual message of my immediate predecessor, during the pending struggle, it was said:

When the inability of Spain to deal successfully with the insurrection has become manifest and it is demonstrated that her sovereignty is extinct in Cuba for all purposes of its rightful existence, and when a hopeless struggle for its reestablishment has degenerated into a strife which means nothing more than the useless sacrifice of human life and the utter destruction of the very subject-matter of the conflict, a situation will be presented in which our obligations to the sovereignty of Spain will be superseded by higher obligations, which we can hardly hesitate to recognize and discharge.

In my annual message to Congress December last, speaking to this question, I said:

The near future will demonstrate whether the indispensable condition of a righteous peace, just alike to the Cubans and to Spain, as well as equitable to all our interests so intimately involved in the welfare of Cuba, is likely to be attained. If not, the exigency of further and other action by the United States will remain to be taken. When that time comes, that action will be determined in the line of indisputable right and duty. It will be faced, without misgiving or hesitancy, in the light of the obligation this Government owes to itself, to the people who have confided to it the protection of their interests and honor, and to humanity.

Sure of the right, keeping free from all offense ourselves, actuated only by upright and patriotic considerations, moved neither by passion nor selfishness, the Government will continue its watchful care over the rights and property of American citizens and will abate none of its efforts to bring about by peaceful agencies a peace which shall be honorable and enduring. If it shall hereafter appear to be a duty imposed by our obligations to ourselves, to civilization, and humanity to intervene with force, it shall be without fault on our part and only because the necessity for such action will be so clear as to command the support and approval of the civilized world.

The long trial has proved that the object for which Spain has waged the war can not be attained. The fire of insurrection may flame or may smolder with varying seasons, but it has not been and it is plain that it can not be extinguished by present methods. The only hope of relief and repose from a condition which can no longer be endured is the enforced pacification of Cuba. In the name of humanity, in the name of civilization, in behalf of endangered American interests which give us the right and the duty to speak and to act, the war in Cuba must stop.

In view of these facts and of these considerations I ask the Congress to authorize and empower the President to take measures to secure a full and final termination of hostilities between the Government of Spain and the people of Cuba, and to secure in the island the establishment of a stable government, capable of maintaining order and observing its international obligations, insuring peace and tranquillity and the security of its citizens as well as our own, and to use the military and naval forces of the United States as may be necessary for these purposes.

And in the interest of humanity and to aid in preserving the lives of the starving people of the island I recommend that the distribution of food and supplies be continued and that an appropriation be made out of the public Treasury to supplement the charity of our citizens.

The issue is now with the Congress. It is a solemn responsibility. I have exhausted every effort to relieve the intolerable condition of affairs which is at our doors. Prepared to execute every obligation imposed upon me by the Constitution and the law, I await your action.

Yesterday, and since the preparation of the foregoing message, official information was received by me that the latest decree of the Queen Regent of Spain directs General Blanco, in order to prepare and facilitate peace, to proclaim a suspension of hostilities, the duration and details of which have not yet been communicated to me.

This fact, with every other pertinent consideration, will, I am sure, have your just and careful attention in the solemn deliberations upon which you are about to enter. If this measure attains a successful result, then our aspirations as a Christian, peace-loving people will be realized. If it fails, it will be only another justification for our contemplated action.



Washington, April 11, 1898.

To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit herewith, in response to a resolution of the Senate of the 14th of February last, calling for information and correspondence in regard to the condition of the island of Cuba and to negotiations for commercial relations between the United States and that island, a report of the Secretary of State, with its accompanying correspondence, coveringthe first inquiry of the resolution, together with a report of the special commissioner plenipotentiary charged with commercial negotiations under the provisions of the tariff act approved July 24, 1897, in response to the second inquiry.



Washington, April 11, 1898.


The Secretary of State has had the honor to receive, by reference from the President, a resolution adopted in the Senate of the United States on the 14th of February last, reading as follows:

"Resolved, That the President is requested, if in his opinion it is not incompatible with the public service, to send to the Senate copies of the reports of the consul-general and of the consuls of the United States in Cuba written or received since March 4, 1897, which relate to the state of war in that island and the condition of the people there, or that he will send such parts of said reports as will inform the Senate as to these facts.

"Second. That the President inform the Senate whether any agent of a government in Cuba has been accredited to this Government or the President of the United States with authority to negotiate a treaty of reciprocity with the United States, or any other diplomatic or commercial agreement with the United States, and whether such person has been recognized and received as the representative of such government in Cuba."

This resolution contemplates answer being made to two separable inquiries: First, in relation to the present condition of affairs in Cuba, and, secondly, with regard to the action had in view of the overtures of the Government of Spain for a reciprocal commercial agreement covering particularly the trade between the United States and the island of Cuba.

The conduct of commercial negotiations under the authority and in accordance with the conditions found in sections 3, 4, and 5 of the existing tariff act, approved July 24, 1897, having been intrusted to a special commissioner plenipotentiary duly empowered by the President to that end, it has been deemed convenient to leave to the commissioner the preparation of a report in answer to the second part of the Senate resolution, the undersigned reserving to himself the response to the first part thereof, which concerns the political and consular functions of the Department of State. The separate report of the Hon. John A. Kasson, special commissioner plenipotentiary, is therefore herewith independently submitted to the President with a view to its transmission to the Senate, should such a course be, in the President’s judgment, not incompatible with the public service.

The Senate resolution, while in terms calling for the submission to that honorable body of all or of a practical selection of the reports of the consul-general and consuls of the United States in Cuba written or received since March 4, 1897, which relate to the state of war in that island and the condition of the people there, appears to leave it to the discretion of the President to direct the scope of the information to be so reported and the manner of its communication. The undersigned, having taken the President’s direction on both these points, has the honor to lay before him a selection of the correspondence received by the Department of State from the various consular representatives in Cuba, aiming thereby to show the present situation in the island rather than to give a historical account of all the reported incidents since the date assigned by the resolution.

Respectfully submitted.



Office of Special Commissioner Plenipotentiary.

The President:

In response to the following resolution of the Senate, passed under date of February 14, 1898, and which was referred to the undersigned for report, viz--"Second. That the President inform the Senate whether any agent of a government in Cuba has been accredited to this Government or the President of the United States with authority to negotiate a treaty of reciprocity with the United States, or any other diplomatic or commercial agreement with the United States, and whether such person has been recognized and received as the representative of such government in Cuba "--

I have the honor to submit the following report:

In October, 1897, the minister of Spain at this capital verbally advised the undersigned that so soon as the new government in Spain had leisure to take up the question he would probably be authorized to enter into negotiations with the undersigned for reciprocal trade arrangements with Spain, and that a representative of Cuba would probably be associated for the interests of that island.

Under date of December 9, 1897, the minister of the United States at Madrid was instructed to ascertain the disposition of the Spanish Government in respect to these negotiations.

Under date of January 24, 1898, a dispatch from Mr. Woodford (referred to this office ) advised the Secretary of State that arrangements were made for the negotiation of a commercial treaty between Spain and the United States; that separate provisions would be made for Cuba, and that the Cuban insular government would appoint a delegate to represent that island in the negotiations. This was accompanied by a memorandum from the Spanish minister of colonies, stating that the same rules as for Cuba might be applied to Puerto Rico, and suggesting a basis for the negotiations. This communication was referred to this office on the 4th of February.

On the 6th of February the Spanish minister, Mr. Dupuy de Lome, called on the undersigned and announced that he was authorized to represent Spain in the pending negotiations and that a special representative would arrive from Cuba, under appointment of the insular government, to act as far as the interests of that island were involved. He mentioned the name of Senor Angulo as the gentleman who had been suggested in Cuba for that appointment; but the delegate was not officially notified to this office.

On March 17 a note from the Spanish minister, Senor Polo y Bernabe’, addressed, under date of the 16th instant, to the Secretary of State, was referred to this office. In that note his excellency advised this Government of his appointment by Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain to conduct these negotiations, assisted by Senor Manuel Rafael Angulo as special delegate of the insular government of Cuba, who would be aided by two technical assistants, also appointed by the Cuban government; and, further, that an officer from the treasury department would be added in the same character.

His excellency announced his readiness to commence the labors of the commission so soon as the Government of the United States should formulate the general plan for carrying on the work.

Respectfully submitted, March 17, 1898.


Special Commissioner Plenipotentiary.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, April 12, 1898.

To the Senate of the United States:

In response to a resolution of the Senate of the 4th instant, I inclose herewith a letter from the Secretary of the Navy, inclosing a copy of a report from the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation.



Washington, April 9, 1898.


SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Senate resolution of April 4, directing that the Senate be informed "of the total number of human lives that were lost by the sinking of the United States battle ship Maine in Havana Harbor, Cuba. on the 15th day of February, 1898, the total number of dead bodies rescued from said ship, the total number remaining unrescued, and what effort, if any, is being made to rescue them," and in reply thereto inclose a copy of a report from the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation covering the above inquiry.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully,

JOHN D. LONG, Secretary.



Washington, D.C., April 8, 1898.

Number on board the U. S. S. Maine at the time of the disaster:

Officers 26
Sailors 290
Marines 39

Number saved:

Officers 24
Sailors 60
Marines 11

Number lost:

Officers 2
Sailors 230
Marines 28

Bodies recovered:

Officers 1
Sailors and marines 177

Died from injuries:

Sailors and marines 8

Of the number recovered there were buried--

In the cemetery at Havana 166
At Key West 19
At Pittsburg, Pa. (officer) 1

Number of bodies not recovered:

Officers 1
Enlisted men and marines 73

The work of recovery was continued until April 6, when the wrecking tugs were withdrawn, and nothing is now being done in that direction so far as is known; and the last bodies reported as recovered were sent to Key West on the 30th ultimo. No estimate has been made of the portions of bodies which were recovered and buried. The large percentage of bodies not recovered is due, no doubt, to the fact that the men were swinging in their hammocks immediately over that portion of the vessel which was totally destroyed.


Chief of Bureau.


Washington, April 15, 1898.

To the Senate:

In connection with Senate Document No. 39, Fifty-fifth Congress, second session, and in further response to the resolution of the Senate ofJuly 12, 1897, I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State, with accompanying papers relating to postal telegraphs, telephones, and postal savings banks in the colony of Victoria.



Washington, April 25, 1898.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America:

I transmit to the Congress, for its consideration and appropriate action, copies of correspondence recently had with the representative of Spain in the United States, with the United States minister at Madrid, and through the latter with the Government of Spain, showing the action taken under the joint resolution approved April 20, 1898, "for the recognition of the independence of the people of Cuba, demanding that the Government of Spain relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba, and to withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters, and directing the President of the United States to use the land and naval forces of the United States to carry these resolutions into effect."*

*See pp. 6297-6298

Upon communicating to the Spanish minister in Washington the demand which it became the duty of the Executive to address to the Government of Spain in obedience to said resolution, the minister asked for his passports and withdrew. The United States minister at Madrid was in turn notified by the Spanish minister for foreign affairs that the withdrawal of the Spanish representative from the United States had terminated diplomatic relations between the two countries, and that all official communications between their respective representatives ceased therewith.

I commend to your especial attention the note addressed to the United States minister at Madrid by the Spanish minister for foreign affairs on the 21st instant, whereby the foregoing notification was conveyed. It will be perceived therefrom that the Government of Spain, having cognizance of the joint resolution of the United States Congress, and in view of the things which the President is thereby required and authorized to do, responds by treating the reasonable demands of this Government as measures of hostility, following with that instant and complete severance of relations by its action which by the usage of nations accompanies an existent state of war between sovereign powers.

The position of Spain being thus made known, and the demands of the United States being denied, with a complete rupture of intercourse,by the act of Spain, I have been constrained, in exercise of the power and authority conferred upon me by the joint resolution aforesaid, to proclaim, under date of April 22, 1898,* a blockade of certain ports of the north coast of Cuba, lying between Cardenas and Bahia Honda, and of the port of Cienfuegos, on the south coast of Cuba, and further in exercise of my constitutional powers and using the authority conferred upon me by the act of Congress approved April 22, 1898, to issue my proclamation dated April 23, 1898,+ calling forth volunteers in order to carry into effect the said resolution of April 20, 1898. Copies of these proclamations are hereto appended.

+See pp. 6473-6474.

In view of the measures so taken, and with a view to the adoption of such other measures as may be necessary to enable me to carry out the expressed will of the Congress of the United States in the premises, I now recommend to your honorable body the adoption of a joint resolution declaring that a state of war exists between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain, and I urge speedy action thereon, to the end that the definition of the international status of the United States as a belligerent power may be made known and the assertion of all its rights and the maintenance of all its duties in the conduct of a public war may be assured.++

++See p. 6348.


JOINT RESOLUTION for the recognition of the independence of the people of Cuba, demanding that the Government of Spain relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba and to withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters, and directing the President of the United States to use the land and naval forces of the United States to carry these resolutions into effect.

Whereas the abhorrent conditions which have existed for more than three years in the island of Cuba, so near our own borders, have shocked the moral sense of the people of the United States, have been a disgrace to Christian civilization, culminating, as they have, in the destruction of a United States battle ship, with 266 of its officers and crew, while on a friendly visit in the harbor of Havana, and cannot longer be endured, as has been set forth by the President of the United States in his message to Congress of April 11, 1898,^ upon which the action of Congress was invited: Therefore, Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, First. That the people of the island of Cuba are and of right ought to be free and independent.

^ See pp. 6291-6292.

Second. That it is the duty of the United States to demand, and the Government of the United States does hereby demand, that the Government of Spain at once relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba and withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters.

Third. That the President of the United States be, and he hereby is, directed and empowered to use the entire land and naval forces of the United States and to call into the actual service of the United States the militia of the several States to such extent as may be necessary to carry these resolutions into effect.


Fourth. That the United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said island except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and control of the island to its people.

Approved, April 20, 1898.


Washington, April 27, 1898.

To the Congress:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of State and accompanying papers relating to the claim against the United States of the Russian subject, Gustav Isak Dahlberg, master and principal owner of the Russian bark Hans, based on his wrongful and illegal arrest and imprisonment by officers of the United States district court for the southern district of Mississippi, and in view of the opinion expressed by the Department of Justice that the said arrest and detention of the complainant were wrongful and without authority of law, I recommend the appropriation by Congress of the sum of $5,000 to reimburse the master and owners of the vessel for all losses and damages incurred by reason of his said wrongful and illegal arrest and detention.



To the Congress of the United States:

On the 24th of April I directed the Secretary of the Navy to telegraph orders to Commodore George Dewey, of the United States Navy, commanding the Asiatic Squadron, then lying in the port of Hongkong, to proceed forthwith to the Philippine Islands, there to commence operations and engage the assembled Spanish fleet.

Promptly obeying that order, the United States squadron, consisting of the flagship Olympia, Baltimore, Raleigh, Boston, Concord, and Petrel, with the revenue cutter McCulloch as an auxiliary dispatch boat, entered the harbor of Manila at daybreak on the 1st of May and immediately engaged the entire Spanish fleet of eleven ships, which were under the protection of the fire of the land forts. After a stubborn fight, in which the enemy suffered great loss, these vessels were destroyed or completely disabled and the water battery at Cavite silenced. Of our brave officers and men not one was lost and only eight injured, and those slightly. All of our ships escaped any serious damage.

By the 4th of May, Commodore Dewey had taken possession of the naval station at Cavite, destroying the fortifications there and at the entrance of the bay and paroling their garrisons. The waters of the bay are under his complete control. He has established hospitals within theAmerican lines, where 250 of the Spanish sick and wounded are assisted and protected.

The magnitude of this victory can hardly be measured by the ordinary standard of naval warfare. Outweighing any material advantage is the moral effect of this initial success. At this unsurpassed achievement the great heart of our nation throbs, not with boasting or with greed of conquest, but with deep gratitude that this triumph has come in a just cause and that by the grace of God an effective step has thus been taken toward the attainment of the wished-for peace. To those whose skill, courage, and devotion have won the fight, to the gallant commander and the brave officers and men who aided him, our country owes an incalculable debt.

Feeling as our people feel, and speaking in their name, I at once sent a message to Commodore Dewey thanking him and his officers and men for their splendid achievement and overwhelming victory and informing him that I had appointed him an acting rear-admiral.

I now recommend that, following our national precedents and expressing the fervent gratitude of every patriotic heart, the thanks of Congress be given Acting Rear-Admiral George Dewey, of the United States Navy, for highly distinguished conduct in conflict with the enemy, and to the officers and men under his command for their gallantry in the destruction of the enemy’s fleet and the capture of the enemy’s fortifications in the bay of Manila.



To the House of Representatives:

I transmit herewith a communication from the Secretary of State, accompanying the annual reports of the consuls of the United States upon foreign industries and commerce. In view of the value of these reports to the business interests of the country, I indorse the recommendation of the Secretary of State that Congress authorize the printing of a special edition of 10,000 copies of the general summary entitled "Review of the World’s Commerce," and 5,000 copies of Commercial Relations (including this summary), to enable the Department of State to meet the demands for such information.



To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, House bill No. 2219, entitled "An act for the relief of theadministrators of Isaac P. Tice, deceased, and others," without my approval.

The object of this bill is to confer upon the Court of Claims jurisdiction to retry and determine a case brought by the representatives of Isaac P. Tice against the United States in the Court of Claims in the year 1873 to recover from the Government the sum of $25,000, the alleged value of certain meters invented by Isaac P. Tice for the purpose of measuring the quality and strength of distilled spirits.

It was claimed that this amount, together with the sum of $733.33 for storage of said meters, was due to the claimant under a contract made between Tice and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in pursuance of section 15 of the act of March 2, 1867 (14 Stats., 481). From the report of the case in 13 Court of Claims Reports, 112, it appears that the matter was fully and deliberately tried and argued both on behalf of the claimant and of the United States, and that at December term, 1877, the Court of Claims rendered a decision adverse to the claimant, expressly stating that the claimants had failed to establish their claim both in law and on the facts. Not satisfied with this conclusion of the Court of Claims, the claimants took an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, where the case was again argued and was decided, October term, 1878, the judgment of the Court of Claims being declared to be in accordance with the law and therefore affirmed. In these two decisions the law and the facts pertaining to the claim were fully set forth and discussed.

The bill further confers upon the Court of Claims jurisdiction to try and determine certain alleged claims of said Tice and others for money collected on account of the Tice meters, but not paid over to him or them under the regulations of the Treasury.

The amount of the latter claim, according to the report of the committee of the House of Representatives to which this bill was referred, is $140,000. It does not appear from the report of the committee, nor from any documents to which I have access, who are the other persons by whom this latter sum is claimed. The claim for $140,000 must have accrued prior to July, 1871, and therefore at this time is of at least twenty-seven years’ standing.

It will thus be perceived that the object of the bill is to remove from the pathway of the claimants two legal bars to the prosecution of their claim in the courts--one, the bar of the statute of limitations, which requires all claimants against the Government to present their claims and bring actions thereon within six years from the time the cause of action accrues; and the other, that bar of estoppel which arises by reason of a former adverse judgment, rendered in a court of competent jurisdiction. This is not a general modification of thelaw in these respects, but a special application of it to these particular claimants.

If the principle on which the statute of limitations is founded is wise and beneficent, then the effect of it ought not to be impaired by special legislative exemptions in favor of particular persons or cases except upon very clear and just grounds, where no lack of diligence in the prosecution of the claim is apparent. I cannot find in the papers submitted to me any sufficient grounds to justify a special exception from the ordinary rule in favor of these claimants. As to the claim for $140,000, no reason is stated why it was not included in the original suit nor why action upon it was not brought against the Government within the six years allowed by the statute for that purpose. To permit such an action to be brought now is simply, without any reason of a special nature, to grant a privilege to these claimants which is denied to all other citizens of the United States, in accordance with the provisions of the general statute of limitations. The principle underlying statutes of limitations and the reasons for the maintenance of such a rule of litigation are much more cogent when applied to claims against the Government than when applied to claims against individuals.

These claims do not differ in their character from ordinary business transactions such as transpire every day between private persons or business corporations. The Government can only defend itself against claims of this nature through its public officers and with the use of such public records as the Departments may furnish. Great difficulties are experienced by it in contesting fraudulent and unjust claims, and it is only fair in the interest of the public that a rigorous adherence to some rule of limitation should be maintained.

The provision of the bill which practically directs a new trial of the claim for $25,000, decided adversely to the claimants more than twenty years ago is still more objectionable. These parties had their day in court. They produced their witnesses and were heard both originally and upon appeal, and upon the case they were then able to make the court decided they had no claim against the Government. It is now suggested that other witnesses have been discovered who can supply the lack of proof which was produced on the former trial. Such a ground for a new trial would never be considered in any court of law in the land in a case between private parties where such a length of time had intervened since the former trial. No explanation of a satisfactory nature is furnished for the failure of the claimants to produce these witnesses upon the original trial.

The bill further provides that upon a retrial of the original claim, or upon the trial of the new claim, the claimants shall be at liberty to offer in evidence the depositions of witnesses now on the files of any of thecommittees of Congress in relation to the aforesaid matters, which may be introduced as evidence in case of the death or disability of the deponents.

This provision will enable the claimants to present ex-parte affidavits, prepared by the claimants or their attorneys, without opportunity being afforded to the Government to cross-examine, provided the claimants can show that the deposing witnesses are either dead or under disability, by which, no doubt, is intended any such disability by reason of absence, illness, and the like, as may render them legally incapable of being produced in person to testify upon the retrial. Such a provision as this is most dangerous to the interests of the Government.

I fail to see any reason in the facts connected with these claims for granting to these parties relief of this extraordinary nature.

The Treasury of the United States ought to be very carefully guarded against attacks of those who come forward with stale claims, and especially from the attacks of those who have already been fully heard according to the methods prescribed by the statutes.

To approve this bill would be to furnish a very dangerous precedent which would open the door to demands upon Congress in other cases which have been fully heard and determined.

For these reasons I am constrained to withhold my approval from this bill.



To the Congress of the United States:

The resolution of Congress passed May 9, 1898, tendering to Commodore George Dewey, United States, Navy commander-in-chief of the United States naval force on the Asiatic station, the thanks of Congress and of the American people for highly distinguished conduct in conflict with the enemy, as displayed by him in the destruction of the Spanish fleet and batteries in the harbor of Manila, Philippine Islands, May 1, 1898, and through him extending the thanks of Congress and the American people to the officers and men under his command for gallantry and skill exhibited by them on that occasion, required the President to communicate the same to Commodore Dewey, and through him to the officers and men under his command. This having been done, through the Secretary of the Navy, on the 15th of May, 1898, the following response has been received, and is hereby transmitted to the Congress:

I desire to express to the Department, and to request that it will be transmitted to the President and to Congress, my most sincere thanks for the great compliment paid to me.


JOINT RESOLUTION tendering the thanks of Congress to Commodore George Dewey, United States Navy, and to the officers and men of the squadron under his command.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, in pursuance of the recommendation of the President, made in accordance with the provisions of section 1508 of the Revised Statutes, the thanks of Congress and of the American people are hereby tendered to Commodore George Dewey, United States Navy, commander in chief of the United States naval force on the Asiatic station, for highly distinguished conduct in conflict with the enemy, as displayed by him in the destruction of the Spanish fleet and batteries in the harbor of Manila, Philippine Islands, May 1, 1898.

SEC. 2. That the thanks of Congress and the American people are hereby extended through Commodore Dewey to the officers and men under his command for the gallantry and skill exhibited by them on that occasion.

SEC. 3. Be it further resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to cause this resolution to be communicated to Commodore Dewey, and through him to the officers and men under his command.

Approved, May 10, 1898.


JOINT RESOLUTION authorizing the Secretary of the Navy to present a sword of honor to Commodore George Dewey, and to cause to be struck bronze medals commemorating the battle of Manila Bay, and to distribute such medals to the officers and men of the ships of the Asiatic Squadron of the United States.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Navy be and he hereby is, authorized to present a sword of honor to Commodore George Dewey and to cause to be struck bronze medals commemorating the battle of Manila Bay, and to distribute such medals to the officers and men of the ships of the Asiatic Squadron of the United States under command of Commodore George Dewey on May 1, 1898; and that to enable the Secretary to carry out this resolution the sum of $110,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.

Approved, June 3, 1898.


Washington, June 14, 1898.

To the Congress of the United States:

I transmit herewith (having reference to Senate Document No. 4, Fifty-fifth Congress, second session) a report made by Thomas W. Cridler, Third Assistant Secretary of State, who, upon the death of Maj. Moses P. Handy, I designated to continue the work as special commissioner, under the act of Congress approved July 19, 1897, in relation to the acceptance by the Government of the United States ofthe invitation of France to participate in the International Exposition to be held at Paris from April 15 to November 5, 1900.

I cordially renew my recommendation that a liberal appropriation be immediately granted.



To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit herewith a report from the Secretary of the Interior relative to Senate resolution of June 10, 1898, requesting the President "to make such arrangements as may be necessary to secure at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition to be held in the city of Omaha, Neb., the attendance of representatives of the Iroquois tribes and Delawares of Canada and of the Abenakis of St. Francis and Becaucourt, and such other Indian nations as have emigrated from the territory now of the United States to Canada.

To carry out this resolution, if it shall be found agreeable to the Government of Canada, it will be necessary for this Government to send an agent to visit the tribes and secure their assent, organize the representative delegations, escort them to the exposition, take charge of and care for them while there and until they are returned to their respective tribes.

The resolution seems to presuppose that there are funds which may be lawfully used to defray the expenses which must necessarily be incurred in the premises. By reference to the Secretary’s report, it will be seen that there are no moneys lawfully available for that purpose.

It is not to be presumed that the Senate, under such circumstances, would desire the Executive to take the action indicated in the resolution, and I am therefore constrained to await the requisite appropriation by Congress for the payment of the expenses that must be necessarily incurred in the accomplishment of the proposed objects.



To the Congress of the United States:

On the 11th of May, 1898, there occurred a conflict in the bay of Cardenas, Cuba, in which the naval torpedo boat Winslow was disabled, her commander wounded, and one of her officers and a part of her crew killed by the enemy’s fire.

In the face of a most galling fire from the enemy’s guns the revenue cutter Hudson, commanded by First Lieutenant Frank H. Newcomb, United States Revenue-Cutter Service, rescued the disabled Winslow, herwounded commander and remaining crew. The commander of the Hudson kept his vessel in the very hottest fire of the action, although in constant danger of going ashore on account of the shallow water, until he finally got a line made fast to the Winslow and towed that vessel out of range of the enemy’s guns--a deed of special gallantry.

I recommend that in recognition of the signal act of heroism of First Lieutenant Frank H. Newcomb, United States Revenue-Cutter Service, above set forth, the thanks of Congress be extended to him and to his officers and men of the Hudson, and that a gold medal of honor be presented to Lieutenant Newcomb, a silver medal of honor to each of his officers, and a bronze medal of honor to each member of his crew who served with him at Cardenas.

It will be remembered that Congress by appropriate action recognized the several commanders of ships of war for their services in the battle of Manila, May 1, 1898.

The commander of the revenue cutter Hugh McCulloch, present and in active cooperation with the fleet under Commodore Dewey on that occasion (by Executive order under the provisions of section 2757, Revised Statutes), is the only commander of a national ship to whom promotion or advancement was not and could not be given, because he already held the highest rank known to the Revenue-Cutter Service.

I now recommend that in recognition of the efficient and meritorious services of Captain Daniel B. Hodgsdon, United States Revenue-Cutter Service, who commanded the Hugh McCulloch at the battle of Manila (that officer being now in the sixty-third year of his age and having served continuously on active duty for thirty-seven years), he be placed upon the, permanent waiting-orders or retired list of the Revenue-Cutter Service on the full-duty pay of his grade.



To the Congress of the United States:

On the morning of the 3d of June, 1898, Assistant Naval Constructor Richmond P. Hobson, United States Navy, with a volunteer crew of seven men, in charge of the partially dismantled collier Merrimac, entered the fortified harbor of Santiago, Cuba, for the purpose of sinking the collier in the narrowest portion of the channel, and thus interposing a serious obstacle to the egress of the Spanish fleet which had recently entered that harbor. This enterprise, demanding coolness, judgment, and bravery amounting to heroism, was carried into successful execution in the face of a persistent fire from the hostile fleet as well as from the fortifications on shore.

Rear-Admiral Sampson, commander in chief of our naval force in Cuban waters, in an official report dated "Off Santiago de Cuba, June 3, 1898,"and addressed to the Secretary of the Navy, referring to Mr. Hobson’s gallant exploit, says:

As stated in a recent telegram, before coming here I decided to make the harbor entrance secure against the possibility of egress of the Spanish ships by obstructing the narrow part of the entrance by sinking a collier at that point. Upon calling upon Mr. Hobson for his professional opinion as to a sure method of sinking the ship, he manifested a most lively interest in the problem. After several days’ consideration he presented a solution which he considered would insure the immediate sinking of the ship when she had reached the desired point in the channel. * * * The plan contemplated a crew of only seven men and Mr. Hobson, who begged that it might be intrusted to him.

As soon as I reached Santiago and had the collier to work upon, the details were commenced and diligently prosecuted, hoping to complete them in one day, as the moon and tide served best the first night after our arrival. Notwithstanding every effort, the hour of 4 o’clock in the morning arrived and the preparations were scarcely completed. After a careful inspection of the final preparations I was forced to relinquish the plan for that morning, as dawn was breaking. Mr. Hobson begged to try it at all hazards.

This morning proved more propitious, as a prompt start could be made. Nothing could have been more gallantly executed. * * * A careful inspection of the harbor from this ship showed that the Merrimac had been sunk in the channel.

I can not myself too earnestly express my appreciation of the conduct of Mr. Hobson and his gallant crew. I venture to say that a more brave and daring thing has not been done since Cushing blew up the Albemarle.

The members of the crew who were with Mr. Hobson on this memorable occasion have already been rewarded for their services by advancement, which, under the provisions of law and regulations, the Secretary of the Navy was authorized to make; and the nomination to the Senate of Naval Cadet Powell, who in a steam launch followed the Merrimac on her perilous trip for the purpose of rescuing her force after the sinking of that vessel, to be advanced in rank to the grade of ensign has been prepared and will be submitted.

Cushing, with whose gallant act in blowing up the ram Albemarle during the Civil War Admiral Sampson compares Mr. Hobson’s sinking of the Merrimac, received the thanks of Congress, upon recommendation of the President, by name, and was in consequence, under the provisions of section 1508 of the Revised Statutes, advanced one grade, such advancement embracing 56 numbers. The section cited applies, however, to line officers only, and Mr. Hobson, being a member of the staff of the Navy, could not under its provisions be so advanced.

In considering the question of suitably rewarding Assistant Naval Constructor Hobson for his valiant conduct on the occasion referred to, I have deemed it proper to address this message to you with the recommendation that he receive the thanks of Congress and, further, that he be transferred to the line of the Navy and promoted to such position therein as the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, may determine. Mr. Hobson’s transfer from the construction corps to the line is fully warranted, he having received the necessary technicaltraining as a graduate of the Naval Academy, where he stood No. 1 in his class; and such action is recommended partly in deference to what is understood to be his own desire, although, he being now a prisoner in the hands of the enemy, no direct communication on the subject has been received from him, and partly for the reason that the abilities displayed by him at Santiago are of such a character as to indicate especial fitness for the duties of the line.



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Chicago: William McKinley, "First Annual Message.," Messages and Papers of William McKinley in James D. Richardson, Ed., a Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, William McKinley (U.S. Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), 9:6635-6636 6253–6262. Original Sources, accessed March 24, 2023,

MLA: McKinley, William. "First Annual Message." Messages and Papers of William McKinley, in James D. Richardson, Ed., a Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, William McKinley (U.S. Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), 9:6635-6636, pp. 6253–6262. Original Sources. 24 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: McKinley, W, 'First Annual Message.' in Messages and Papers of William McKinley. cited in , James D. Richardson, Ed., a Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, William McKinley (U.S. Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1910), 9:6635-6636, pp.6253–6262. Original Sources, retrieved 24 March 2023, from