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“The finding of the naval board of inquiry established that the origin of the explosion was external by a submarine mine, and only halted through lack of positive testimony to fix the responsibility of its authorship.
“All these things carried conviction to the most thoughtful, even before the finding of the naval court, that a crisis in our relations with Spain and toward Cuba was at hand. So strong was this belief that it needed but a brief executive suggestion to the congress to receive immediate answer to the duty of making instant provision for the possible and perhaps speedy probable emergency of war, and the remarkable, almost unique, spectacle was presented of a unanimous vote of both houses on the 9th of March, appropriating $50,000,000 for the national defense and for each and every purpose connected therewith, to be expended at the direction of the president.
“That this act of provision came none too soon was disclosed when the application of the fund was undertaken. Our forts were practically undefended. Our navy needed large provision for increased ammunition and supplies and even numbers to cope with any sudden attack from the navy of Spain, which comprised vessels of the highest type of continental perfection. Our army also required enlargement of men and munitions.
“The details of the hurried preparation for the dreaded contingency are told in the reports of the secretaries of war and of the navy, and need not be repeated here. It is sufficint to say that the outbreak of the war, when it did come, found our nation not unprepared to meet the conflict.
"Nor was the apprehension of coming strife confined to our own country. It was felt by the continental powers, which, on April 6, through their ambassadors and envoys, addressed to the executive an expression of hope that humanity and moderation might mark the course of this government and people, and that further negotiations would lead to an agreement which, while securing the maintenance of peace, would affirm all necessary guarantees for the re-establishment of order in Cuba.
“In responding to that representation I also shared the hope that the envoys had expressed that peace might be preserved in a manner to terminate the chronic condition of disturbance in Cuba so injurious and menacing to our interests and tranquillity, as well as shocking to our sentiments of humanity; and, while appreciating the humanitarian and disinterested character of the communication they had made on behalf of the powers, I stated the confidence of this government, for its part, that equal appreciation would be shown for its own earnest and unselfish endeavors to fulfill a duty to humanity by ending a situation the indefinite prolongation of which had become insufferable.
EFFORTS TO AVERT WAR PROVE VAIN. “Still animated by the hope of a peaceful solution and obeying the dictates of duty, no effort was relaxed to bring about a speedy ending of the Cuban struggle. Negotiations to this object continued actively with the government of Spain, looking to the immediate conclusion of a six months' armistice in Cuba with a view to effecting the recognition of her people's rights to independence. Besides this, the instant revocation of the order of reconcentration was asked, so that the sufferers, returning to their homes and aided by united American and Spanish effort, might be put in a way to support themselves and, by orderly resumption of the well nigh destroyed productive energies of the island, contribute to the restoration of its tranquility and well
Negotiations continued for some little time at Madrid, resulting in offers by the Spanish government which could not but be regarded as inadequate. It was proposed to confide the preparation of peace to the insular parliament, yet to be convened under the autonomous decrees of November, 1897, but without impairment in any wise to the constitutional powers of the Madrid government, which, to that end, would grant an armistice, if solicited by the insurgents, for such time as the general-in-chief might see fit to fix.
"How and with what scope of discretionary powers the insular parliament was expected to set about the 'preparation' of peace did not appear. If it were to be by negotiation with the insurgents, the issue seemed to rest on the one side with a body chosen by a fraction of the electors in the districts under Spanish control and on the other with the insurgent population holding the interior country, unrepresented in the so-called parliament, and defiant at the suggestion of suing for peace.
"Grieved and disappointed at this barren outcome of my sincere endeavors to reach a practicable solution, I felt it my duty to remit the whole question to the congress. In the message of April 1, 1898, I announced that with this last overture in the direction of immediate peace in Cuba, and its disappointing reception by Spain, the effort of the executive was brought to an end.
"I again reviewed the alternative course of action which I had proposed, concluding that the only one consonant with international policy and compatible with our firm-set historical traditions was intervention as a neutral to stop the war and check the hopeless sacrifice of life, even though that resort involved 'hostile constraint upon both the parties to the contest, as well to enforce a truce as to guide the eventual settlement.'
“The grounds justifying that step were: The interests of humanity, the duty to protect life and property of our citizens in Cuba, the right to check injury to our commerce and people through the devastation of the island, and, most important, the need of removing at once and forever the constant menace and the burden entailed upon our government by the uncertainties and perils of the situation caused by the unendurable disturbance in Cuba. I said:
“ 'The long trial has proved that the object for which Spain has waged the war cannot be attained. The fire of insurrection may flame or may smoulder with varying seasons, but it has not been, and it is plain that it cannot 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, the existing war in Cuba must stop.'
"In view of all this the congress was asked to authorize and empower the president to take measures to secure a full and final termination of hostilities between 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 tranquility, and the security of its citizens as well as our own, and the accomplishment of those ends to use the military and naval forces of the United States as might be necessary, with added authority to continue generous relief to the starving people of Cuba.
CONGRESS TAKES DECISIVE ACTION. "The response of the congress, after nine days of earnest deliberation, during which the almost unanimous sentiment of that body was developed on every point save as to the expediency of coupling the proposed action with a formal recognition of the republic of Cuba as the true and lawful government of that island-a proposition which failed of adoption—the congress, after conference, on the 19th of April, by a vote of 42 to 35 in the senate and 311 to 6 in the house of representatives, passed the memorable joint resolution, declaring:
“'1. That the people of the Island of Cuba are, and of right ought to be, free and independent.
“62. That it is the duty of the United States to demand, and the government of the United States does hereby demand, that the gov
ernment 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.
“'3. 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.
“4. 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.
“This resolution was approved by the executive on the next day, April 20. A copy was at once communicated to the Spanish minister at this capital, who forthwith announced that his continuance in Washington had thereby become impossible, and asked for his passports, which were given him. He thereupon withdrew from Washington, leaving the protection of Spanish interests in the United States to the French ambassador and the Austro-Hungarian minister.
“Simultaneously with its communication to the Spanish minister, General Woodford, the American minister at Madrid, was telegraphed confirmation of the text of the joint resolution, and directed to communicate it to the government of Spain, with the formal demand that it at once relinquish its authority and government in the Island of Cuba, and withdraw its forces therefrom, coupling this demand with announcements of the intentions of this government as to the future of the island, in conformity with the fourth clause of the resolution, and giving Spain until noon of April 23d to reply.
"The demand, although, as above shown, officially made known to the Spanish envoy here, was not delivered at Madrid. After the instructions reached General Woodford on the morning of April 21st, but before he could present it, the Spanish Minister of State notified him that upon the president's approval of the joint resolution the Madrid government, regarding the act as "equivalent to an evident declaration of war," had ordered its minister in Washington to withdraw, thereby breaking off diplomatic relations between the two countries, and ceasing all official communication between the respective representatives. General Woodford thereupon demanded his passports and quitted Madrid the same day.
FORMAL DECLARATION OF WAR. Spain having thus denied the demand of the United States and
initiated that complete form of rupture of relations which attends a state of war, the executive powers authorized by the resolution were at once used by me to meet the enlarged contingency of actual war between Spain and the United States.
On April 22d I proclaimed a blockade of the northern coast of Cuba, including ports on said coast between Cardenas and Bahia Honda, and the port of Cienfuegos on the south coast of Cuba, and on the 23d I called for volunteers to execute the purpose of the resolution.
By my message of April 25th the congress was informed of the situation, and I recommended formal declaration of the existence of a state of war between the United States and Spain. The Congress accordingly voted on the same day the act approved April 25, 1898, declaring the existence of such war, from and including the 21st day of April, and re-enacted the provisions of the resolution of April 20tii, directing the President to use all the armed forces of the nation to carry that act into effect.
Due notification of the existence of war as aforesaid was given April 25th by telegraph to all the governments with which the United States maintain relations, in order that their neutrality might be assured during the war.
The various governments responded with proclamations of neutrality, each after its own methods. It is not among the least gratifying incidents of the struggle that the obligations of neutrality were impartially discharged by all, often under delicate and difficult circumstances.
In further fulfillment of international duty, I issued, April 26th, a proclamation announcing the treatment proposed to be accorded to vessels and their cargoes as to blockades, contraband, the exercise of the rights of subjects and the immunity of neutral flags and neutral goods under the enemy's flag. A similar proclamation was made by the Spanish government. In the conduct of hostilities the rules of the declaration of Paris, including abstention from resort to privateering,, have accordingly been observed by both belligerents, although neither was a party to that declaration.
RECRUITING ARMY AND NAVY. Our country thus, after an interval of half a century of peace with all nations, found itself engaged in deadly conflict with a foreign enemy. Every nerve was strained to meet the emergency.
The response to the initial call for 125,000 volunteers was instant and complete, as was also the result of the second call of May 25th for 75.000 additional volunteers. The ranks of the regular army were increased to the limits provided by the act of April 26th.