Mr. Woodford to Mr. Day.

No. 193.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt on March 26 instant of telegraphic dispatch in cipher from the Department, dated March 25 instant, and which I translate as follows:

Washington, March 25, 1898—Midnight.

Woodford, Minister, Madrid:

The President’s desire is for peace. He can not look upon the suffering and starvation in Cuba save with horror. The concentration of men, women, and children in the fortified towns, and permitting them to starve, is unbearable to a Christian nation geographically so close as ours to Cuba. All this has shocked and inflamed the American mind, as it has the civilized world where its extent and character are known. It was represented to him in November that the Sagasta Government would at once relieve the suffering and so modify the Weyler order as to permit those who were able to return to their homes and till the fields from which they had been driven. There has been no relief to the starving, except such as the American people have supplied. The concentration order has not been practically superseded. There is no hope of peace through Spanish arms. The Spanish Government seems unable to conquer the insurgents. More than half the island is under control of the insurgents. For more than three years our people have been patient and forbearing. We have patrolled our coasts with zeal and at great expense, and have successfully prevented the landing of any armed force on the island. The war has disturbed the peace and tranquillity of our people. We do not want the island.

The President has evidenced in every way his desire to preserve and continue friendly relations with Spain. He has kept every international obligation with fidelity. He wants an honorable peace. He has repeatedly urged the Government of Spain to secure such a peace. She has still the opportunity to do it, and the President appeals to her from every consideration of justice and humanity to do it. Will she? Peace is the desired end. For your own guidance the President suggests that if Spain will revoke concentration order and maintain the people until they can support themselves and offer to the Cubans full self-government, with reasonable indemnity, the President will gladly assist in its consummation. If Spain should invite the United States to mediate for peace, and the insurgents would make like request, the President might undertake such office of friendship.


Last evening, and before the receipt of your telegram, which I have translated as above, the minister of colonies called at my residence and said that Señor Sagasta, the president of the council, would be glad to talk with me informally on the subject of an immediate suspension of [Page 713] hostilities in Cuba through the means of an armistice or truce. I told him that I would lay the matter before my Government and would be glad to meet Señor Sagasta as soon as I should receive the necessary authority.

Accordingly, I have to-day telegraphed you in cipher as follows:

Madrid, March 27, 1898.

Assistant Secretary Day, Washington:

Telegraphic instructions, signed “Day,” dated March 25, received Saturday evening, March 26. Do the words “full self-government” mean actual recognition of independence, or is nominal Spanish sovereignty over Cuba still permissible?

Instruct me fully as to what the words “with reasonable indemnity” mean and imply.

Under Spanish constitution, ministry can not recognize independence of Cuba or part with nominal sovereignty over Cuba. Cortes alone can do this and Cortes will not meet until April 25. If I can secure immediate and effective armistice or truce between Spanish troops and insurgents, to take effect on or before April 15, will this be satisfactory?

It is possible that I may induce Spanish ministry to submit the question of an early and honorable peace to the Cuban Congress, which will meet at Havana on May 4, and that Spanish Government will give such Cuban Congress all necessary authority to negotiate and conclude peace, provided such authority shall not diminish or interfere with the constitutional power vested by the Cuban constitution in the central government. If I can secure these two things with absolute and immediate revocation of concentration order may I negotiate? I believe that an immediate armistice means present and permanent peace. Also I believe that negotiations once open between insurgents and the Cuban government some arrangement will be reached during the summer which the Spanish home Government will approve, and that Cuba will become practically independent or pass from Spanish control. President of council of ministers wishes personal interview as to armistice, but I will not see him until after I get your reply to this telegram.


I have, etc.,

Stewart L. Woodford.