Mr. Woodford to Mr. Day.

No. 195.]

Sir: In continuance of my dispatch, No. 193, and dated March 27 instant, I have now the honor to acknowledge receipt of four dispatches in cipher, as follows:


Dispatch which reached me March 28 instant, at half past 9 in the morning, and which I translate as follows:

Woodford, Minister, Madrid:

Believe the Maine report will be held in Congress for a short time without action. A feeling of deliberation prevails in both Houses of Congress. See if following can be done:

  • First. Armistice until October 1, negotiations meantime looking to peace between [Page 722] Spain and the insurgents through friendly offices of the President of the United States.
  • Second. Immediate revocation of reconcentration order so as to permit people to return to their farms and the needy to be relieved with provisions and supplies from United States, cooperating with authorities so as to afford full relief.
  • Add if possible:
  • Third. If terms of peace not satisfactorily settled by October 1, the President of the United States to be final arbiter between Spain and the insurgents.

If Spain agrees as above, President will use friendly offices to get insurgents to accept the plan. Prompt action desirable.

Sunday, March 27, 3 p.m.



Dispatch which reached me March 28 instant at half past 10 in the evening, and which I translate as follows:

Woodford, Minister, Madrid:

Your cable 27 received. Full self-government with indemnity would mean Cuban independence. As to other matters, see Sunday telegram. Very important to have definite agreement for determining peace after armistice if negotiations pending same fail to reach satisfactory conclusions.



Dispatch which reached me March 29 instant at 9.45 a.m., and which I translate as follows:

Woodford, Minister, Madrid:

The President’s message with Maine report read in both Houses; referred without debate to Committees Foreign Affairs. The House adjourned.

Monday, 3 p.m.



Dispatch which reached me March 29 instant at 10 a.m., and which I translate as follows:

Woodford, Minister, Madrid:

Important to have prompt answer on armistice matter.

Monday night, 10.



Dispatch which reached me this day, March 30, at 10.07 a.m., and which I translate as follows:

Woodford, Minister, Madrid:

Your No. 60 just received. It is of the utmost importance that the conference be not postponed beyond next Thursday, and definite results then reached. Feeling here is intense.

Tuesday night, 9 o’clock.


Monday afternoon, March 28 instant: At close of my official interview with Spanish minister for foreign affairs in regard to the loss of the Maine and the report of American naval board thereon, and which interview I reported in my dispatch to Department, No. 194, dated March 28 instant, I asked the Spanish minister for early conference between himself, Señor Sagasta, the president of the council, Señor Moret, the minister for the colonies, and myself. This conference was held yesterday afternoon, March 29 instant, at President Sagasta’s office. The minister for the colonies acted as interpreter.

[Page 723]

I began by reading to them the following statement:

The President instructs me to have direct and frank conversation with you about present condition of affairs in Cuba, and present relations between Spain and the United States.

The President thinks that it is better not to discuss the respective views held by each nation. This might only provoke or incite argument, and might delay and possibly prevent immediate decision.

The President instructs me to say that we do not want Cuba.

He also instructs me to say with equal clearness that we do wish immediate peace in Cuba.

He suggests an immediate armistice, lasting until October 1, negotiations in the meantime being had looking to peace between Spain and the insurgents through the friendly offices of the President of the United States.

He wishes the immediate revocation of reconcentration order, so as to permit the people to return to their farms and the needy to be relieved with provisions and supplies from the United States; the United States cooperating with the Spanish authorities so as to afford full relief.

Here I stopped and waited for President Sagasta’s reply.

He said that he agreed with me in thinking any discussion at our then interview touching the respective views held by the two nations to be inopportune and useless.

He spoke first of the condition of the reconcentrados. He called my attention to the fact that this condition had been inherited from the old ministry, and said that the present Government is arranging to furnish employment for such as are able to work and to supply the necessities of the feeble and of the women and children. He made no serious objection to the United States assisting in this work of charity, and gave me to understand that this part of our request would be met promptly and in satisfactory manner.

He then mentioned the loss of the Maine, and expressed his appreciation of the manner in which the President had presented the subject to Congress, and added that be believed our method of dealing with this question would enable the two Governments to examine and adjust the matter in some way honorable and fair to both nations.

He then took up the question of the armistice, saying that he is in thorough accord with the President in desiring early and honorable peace. He suggested that there are difficulties in the Spanish situation here in the Peninsula, which I as a stranger could hardly understand, which made it almost impossible for the Spanish Government to offer such an armistice, but that if it were asked by the insurgents it would be granted at once; that the Cuban congress would meet on May 4, when they could make such a proposition; that only six weeks would intervene before that time; that he hoped the United States, which had waited so long, would now wait for these few weeks; that we should remember that the offer of autonomy had been accompanied by the clear and firm declaration that Spain would employ military operations in aid of civil reforms; that these operations are now being successfully conducted, and that he hoped and believed the power of the rebellion would be largely reduced before the Cuban congress should meet.

I replied, in substance, that the sober sense of the American people insisted upon immediate cessation of hostilities; that we could not wait until the Cuban congress should meet; that practical and effective peace must come now, and at once. In this connection I referred to the recent speech of Senator Proctor. I said that I knew Senator Proctor well; that he had been a member of President Harrison’s Cabinet; that [Page 724] he is one of the most conservative and reliable of our public men, and that after his public and serious statement I could no longer conscientiously consent, on the part of my Government, to the slightest delay in securing immediate and effective peace.

I then asked the Spanish ministers for an answer to the two suggestions which I had made, and upon their saying that they would give the matter careful consideration, but that they must have full time for deliberation and consultation with their colleagues and the Queen Regent, I told them, with all possible kindness of manner and courtesy of language, that I hoped to have a further interview with them on Thursaay afternoon of this week, March 31, when I hoped to receive satisfactory reply to my suggestions.

They demurred to the brief space of time, when I told them that I had intended to leave with them in writing a memorandum stating the President’s request, but that in order to avoid all appearance or suggestion of compulsion I would not do so, but should nope on Thursday afternoon, at an adjourned conference to be then held, to receive satisfactory proposals from the Spanish Government on the line of the requests made by my President.

They agreed to meet me on Thursday afternoon, March 31, at the President’s office for further and I trust final conference.

I then sat down at Señor Sagasta’s desk and in his presence wrote the following telegram, which I sent to President McKinley that afternoon in cipher:

Madrid, March 29, 1898.

President McKinley, Washington:

My No. 60. Have had conference this afternoon (Tuesday) with president of the council, the minister for foreign affairs, and minister for colonies. Conference adjourned until Thursday afternoon, March 31. I have sincere belief that arrangements will then be reached honorable to Spain and satisfactory to the United States and just to Cuba. I beg you to withhold all action until you receive my report of such conference, which I will send Thursday night, March 31.


Minister Moret read this telegram and translated it twice to his colleagues, so that there would be no misunderstanding as to its language and meaning.

The conference was then adjourned until Thursday afternoon, March 31, at 4 o’clock.

This (Wednesday) evening I received your cipher dispatch, which I translate as follows:

Washington, March 30, 1898.

Woodford, Minister, Madrid:

Your No. 60 is encouraging, but vague as to details. The United States can not assist in enforcement of any system of autonomy.

Wednesday morning, 10 o’clock.


I will bear this instruction carefully in mind at my conference with the Spanish ministers to-morrow (Thursday) afternoon.

Very respectfully, yours,

Stewart L. Woodford.