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“3. The destruction of the Maine occurred at forty minutes past nine in the evening of the 15th day of February, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, she being at the time moored to the same buoy to which she had been taken upon her arrival. There were two explosions of a distinctly different character, with a very short, but distinct interval between them, and the forward part of the ship was lifted to a marked degree at the time of the first explosion. The first explosion was more in the nature of a report, like that of a gun; while the second explosion was more open, prolonged, and of greater volume. This second explosion was, in the opinion of the court, caused by the partial explosion of two or more of the forward magazines of the Maine.
“The evidence bearing upon this, being principally obtained from divers, did not enable the court to form a definite conclusion as to the condition of the wreck, although it was established that the after part of the ship was practically intact, and sank in that condition a very few minutes after the destruction of the forward part. The following facts in regard to the forward part of the ship are, however, established by the testimony.
SPANISH SOLDIERS AT PRAYER. “4. That portion of the port side of the protective deck which extends from about frame 30 to frame 41 was blown up aft and over to port. The main deck from about frame 30 to frame 41 was blown up aft and slightly over the starboard, folding the forward part of the middle superstructure over and on top of the after part. This was, in the opinion of the court, caused by the partial explosion of two or more of the forward magazines of the Maine.
“5. At frame 17, the outer shell of the ship, from a point eleven and onehalf feet from the middle line of the ship, and six feet above the keel when in its normal position, has been forced up so as to be now about four feet above the surface of the water; therefore, about thirty-four feet above where it would be, had the ship sunk uninjured. The outside bottom-plating is bent into a reversed V-shape, the aft wing of which, about fifteen feet broad and thirty 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-plating. This break is now about six 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.
“6. The court finds that the loss of the Maine, on the occasion named, was not in any respect due to fault or negligence on the part of any of the officers or members of the crew of said vessel.
“7. In the opinion of the court the Maine was destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine, which caused the partial explosion of two or more of her forward magazines.
“8. The court has been unable to obtain evidence fixing the responsibility for the destruction of the Maine upon any person or persons.
“W. T. SAMPSON, Captain U. S. N., President.
"A. MARIx, Lieutenant-Commander U. S. N., Judge-Advocate. “The court, having finished the inquiry it was ordered to make, adjourned at 11 A. M to await the action of the convening authority.
“W. T. SAMPSON, Captain U. S. N., President.
“U. S. Flagship New York, off Key West, Fla., March 22, 1898. “The proceedings and findings of the Court of Inquiry in the above case are approved.
“M. SICARD, Rear Admiral, Commander-in-Chief of the United States Naval Force
on the North Atlantic Station.”
THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE.
Accompanying this report was the following explanatory message of the President:
“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 Cuban waters, in accustoming the people to the presence of our flag as the symbol of good will, and of our ships in the fulfillment of the mission of protection to American interests, even though no immediate need therefor might exist.
“Accordingly on the 24th of January last, after a 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 to 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 an 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 longinterrupted 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 nine on 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 two officers and two hundred and sixty-four 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, Alphonse 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 headquarters 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 calm 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 cei tainty could it de
termine 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 Marker women. 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 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 of 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 five and one-half to six fathoms of water. The state of discipline on board and the condition of her magazines, boilers, coalbunkers and storage com
ya partments are passed in
NATIVES SAWING WOOD. review, with the conclusion
that excellent order prevailed, and that no indication of any cause for an internal explosion existed in any quarter.
“At eight o'clock in the evening of February 15th everything had been reported secure, and all was quiet. At forty minutes past nine 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 minutes after the explosion. The forward part was completely destroyed.
“Upon the evidence of a concurrent external cause the finding of the court is as follows:
“(As in paragraphs 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Report.)
“I have directed that the finding of the Court of Inquiry, and the views of . the 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.
WILLIAM MCKINLEY. “Executive Mansion, March 28, 1898."
FURTHER OFFICIAL ACTS. In both branches of Congress the next day bills were introduced on Cuban affairs, and on April 1st, Congress passed a naval appropriation bill. In the days following there was a tempered discussion in Congress on Cuban affairs.
On April 7th, a note was received from the representatives of foreign powers, expressing a hope “that further negotiations will lead to an agreement which, while securing the maintenance of peace, will afford all necessary guarantees for
the establishment of order in Cuba.” This was signed by the representatives of Germany, Austria,
Hungary, France, Great Britain, Italy and Russia. President McKinley's reply was diplomatic and conciliatory but not in harmony with the voice of the people.
On March 27th, President McKinley had submitted to the Spanish gov
ernment propositions lookSTREET SCENE IN SAN FERNANDO.
ing to an armistice between Spain and the Cuban insurgents until October, with a view of coming to an adjustment of Cuban affairs. Soon thereafter General Blanco issued this proclamation:
“His Majesty's Government, yielding to the reiterated wish expressed by His Holiness, the Pope, has been pleased to decree a suspension of hostilities, with the object of preparing and facilitating the restoration of peace on this island, in virtue whereof I believe it convenient to order:
“Article 1. From the day following the receipt in each locality of the present proclamation hostilities are ordered to be suspended in all the territory of the Island of Cuba.
“The details for the execution of the above article will be the subject of special instructions that will be communicated to the several commanders-in-chief of the army corps for easy and prompt execution according to the situation and circumstances of the case.
BLANCO.” An ineffective revocation of Weyler's reconcentrado orders had been issued and Spain appropriated $600,000 for Cuban relief. However, all came to naught. The conditions mentioned in the Blanco proclamation were such that the insurgents could not comply—one being that they must surrender their arms. The appropriation failed of its ostensible intent, one of the conditions being that no one who was a relative of an insurgent in arms could have the benefit, and this would include nearly the whole Cuban population.
In a message to Congress, during this time, President McKinley used this significant language: “I need not speak of forcible annexation, for that cannot be thought of. That, by our code of morality, would be criminal aggression."
On the 11th day of April, President McKinley submitted his message to Congress, which put an end to controversy, and brought Congress to immediate and definite action. Its great length precludes a recapitulation of the whole. It dwelt upon the policies of his predecessors in regard to the vital questions involved ; told of the Spanish aggressions in Cuba, and the great menace to our material interests,