Mr. Sherman to Mr. Woodford.

No. 155.]

Sir: Referring to the Department’s instruction No. 147, of the 1st instant, advising you of the present state of affairs in Cuba, I have to inclose for your further information copy of a report from the commanding officer of the U. S. S. Montgomery concerning the condition of the population of Santiago de Cuba.

Respectfully, yours,

John Sherman.

Mr. Long to Mr. Sherman.

Sir: I have the honor to transmit, for your information, a copy of a report from the commanding officer of the U. S. S. Montgomery concerning the condition of the population of Santiago de Cuba.

Very respectfully,

John D. Long, Secretary.

Sir: Complying with instructions contained in Department’s telegram, I respectfully submit the following report of the condition of the people of the Province of Santiago de Cuba, and of the destitution prevailing.

The Province of Santiago de Cuba contained at the last census 267,511 inhabitants; but since the outbreak of the present revolutionary war there have been no reliable estimates of its population.

Before the war the city of Santiago de Cuba had 56,766 inhabitants. This number has been reduced to about 35,000 by departure of most of the able-bodied men to take part in the war. There have been about 5,000 “reconcentrados” quartered upon the city.

The number of deaths in the city for the past four months were as follows: October, 253; November, 320; December, 424; and in January, 486. During the first week of February the mortality was only one-half of the weekly average in January. This marked decrease is partially attributed to the free distribution of quinine through the United States consulate.

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The destitution here is not nearly as great as was found in Matanzas. The actual number of “reconcentrados” could not be definitely ascertained; but the best authorities state that there are less than 2,000 at present, and they are not in any great distress.

The two mining companies are in need of labor, and give employment and good wages to all who are able to go to the mines and work; consequently, the destitution of the lowest laboring classes is little greater than normal.

There is, however, considerable destitution among the better classes, especially the lower middle classes, who are too proud to ask relief, or to let their poverty be known.

The health of the city is remarkably good at present, and at this date there is not a single case of yellow fever.

There is but one means of public relief in operation. This is known as the “Cocino Economico” and is under the management of a German subject, Mr. Michaelson, of the firm of Schumann & Co.

The “Cocino Economico” is supported by the voluntary contributions of the citizens of Santiago. The Spanish Government has not aided the charity as yet, but the autonomy governor, Señor Capriles, has recently promised Mr. Michaelson that his government would contribute $1,000 toward the maintenance of the “Cocino Economico.”

The management of this charity has been highly successful. Cooked rations of soup, meat, rice, and a loaf of bread, which are estimated to be worth 30 cents, are issued for 5 cents and afford relief to those who most need it. These rations are issued in a large building admirably arranged to feed 1,500 people. All who come pay for these rations with five brass checks which can be bought for 5 cents. In many cases the “Ladies’ Relief Society” distribute these checks when they visit destitute families.

Those who feed in the “Cocino “go to a counter and take their choice of either rice and meat, or soup and vegetables, with one loaf of bread. The portions are served on china plates, which are taken to the tables where the purchasers sit and eat. Many are served at an outer counter, where a ration is put in a pail and carried home.

Wood, coal, and stores of provisions are contributed to sustain this charity, and there does not appear to be an urgent need in this city of further assistance from the United States.

Eighty-nine American citizens are now supplied by the United States consul, who daily expects to receive ample additional supplies.

The foregoing information has been derived from interviews with the civil officials; from the United States consul, Mr. Hyatt, and from Lieutenant-Commander Beehler, of this vessel, who personally visited the “Cocino Economico” and investigated matters relating to destitution and means of relief.

Very respectfully,

G. A. Converse,
Commander United States Navy, Commanding.

The Secretary of the Navy.