Mr. Gresham to Mr. Taylor.
Washington, March 14, 1895.
This Department is informed that on the 8th instant the United States mail steamship Alliança, on her homeward voyage from Colon to New York, when 6 miles from the coast of Cuba, off Cape Maysi, was repeatedly fired upon by a Spanish gunboat, with solid shot, which, fortunately, fell short. The Windward Passage, where this occurred, is the natural and usual highway for vessels plying between ports of the United States and the Caribbean Sea. Through it several regular lines of American mail and commercial steamers pass weekly within sight of Cape Maysi. They are well known, and their voyage embraces no Cuban port of call. Forcible interference with them can not be claimed as a belligerant act, whether they pass within 3 miles of the Cuban coast or not, and can under no circumstances be tolerated when no state of war exists. This Government will expect prompt disavowal of the unauthorized act and due expression of regret on the part of Spain, and it must insist that immediate and positive orders be given to Spanish naval commanders not to interfere with legitimate American commerce passing through that channel, and prohibiting all acts wantonly imperiling life and property lawfully under the flag of the United States. You will communicate this to the minister for foreign affairs, and urge importance of prompt and satisfactory response.